“A wedding without a Marriage License is just an expensive party!”

You know that one of the small yet essential parts of your wedding day will be taking care of the legal details: Getting your Marriage License signed by your witness(es) and the Officiant.

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Witness signing the Marriage License (Photo by Teresa K Photography)

But do you know what you need to do to get your license, so you can “make it legal” on your big day?

Purchasing Your Marriage License

Here are 5 tips to help you get your Marriage License in California:

1.  Who needs to be present

You and your fiancé both need to appear in person to get the license.

You do not need to be a California resident or a U.S. Citizen as long as you can present proper ID (see Tip 4 below)

2.  When To Get Your Marriage License

Your Marriage License will expire after 90 days, so plan to get it sometime within that 90-day period.

You can ask Siri: “What’s 90 days before [fill in your wedding date]?” and she’ll tell you!

(Hint: The clerk will ask you when you’re getting married, and if you’re too early you’ll be told to come back.)

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Witnesses signed the license in a wine cave following this wedding at Saluti Cellars in Somerset, CA

3.  Where to go | Location and Hours

You can purchase your Marriage License anywhere in California, so find the clerk’s office that is most convenient for you based on location, hours and fees.

Here are some local Sacramento area County Recorder’s offices, with addresses, hours and current fees. Note: Hours are Mon. – Fri.; closed holidays & weekends.  Fees subject to change without notice.

 

Sacramento County Clerk-Recorder:  (916) 874-6334

600 8th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Hours 8:00 – 4:20 pm Daily (some evenings by appt. only) Public License $84; Confidential $95

(There are also offices in Fair Oaks and in the Elk Grove area. Check the website for location and hours)

 

El Dorado County Clerk-Recorder:  (530) 621-5495 – Appointment required

360 Fair Lane, Bldg. B, Placerville, CA 95667

Hours:  8:00 – 5:00 p.m. Public License: $68; Confidential: $58

 

Placer County Clerk-Recorder:  (530) 886-5600

2954 Richardson Dr., Auburn, CA 95603

Hours:  8:00 – 4:30 p.m.  Public License: $57; Confidential: $60

 

San Joaquin County Clerk Recorder: (209) 468-3939

44 North San Joaquin Street, Second Floor, Suite 260, Stockton, CA 95202

Hours: 8:00 – 4:00 p.m. Public License: $65; Confidential: $73

 

Yolo County Clerk-Recorder:  (530) 666-8130

625 Court St., Room 105, Woodland, CA 95695

Hours: 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.  Public License:  $98; Confidential: $109

4.  What You Need To Do

  • Decide whether you want a Public Marriage License or a Confidential Marriage License. Either type will be valid anywhere in California.
  • Complete the appropriate Application (some counties allow you to do this online, which saves time).
  • Make an appointment to appear – together – to get your license. (You might want to confirm the cost of the license and what method of payment – cash, check, credit card, etc. – is accepted.)
  • Take valid government-issued photo ID (Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID, etc.)
  • If either of you has been recently divorced (within the past year) call ahead and ask the clerk if you need to present a certified copy of the divorce decree.

The clerk will ask you to review the license (to make sure there are no typos or errors) and then you will sign under penalty of perjury acknowledging that all of the information is true and correct.

You’ll walk out of the Clerk’s office with a Marriage License that’s valid and ready to be used!

5.  And then what?

Give the Marriage License to your Officiant, who will see that it is properly signed and filed. (I ask couples to give me their license at rehearsal. I will see that it is accurately signed after the wedding ceremony, and I will file it with the appropriate county.)

A Public License requires one or two witnesses (often the Best Man and Maid of Honor) and the signature of the Officiant.

A Confidential License is signed by the Officiant only (no witnesses allowed).

The Officiant then files the Marriage License in the County where it was purchased.  (This must be done within ten days of the wedding.)

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Official duty done: Marriage License has been signed by the witnesses!

And A Bonus Tip!

After the Marriage License is filed you’ll need to purchase a Certified Copy of it so you can begin the process of changing your name, updating your status with Social Security, etc., etc.

You can purchase the Certified Copy anytime after the license is filed, so plan to get it sometime after you return from your well-earned honeymoon!

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Maid of Honor and Best Man signing a keepsake Marriage Certificate.

Any Questions About Getting Your Marriage License?

The County Clerk will be your best resource for questions about cost, appointments, and the actual process of getting the Marriage License.

And I’m happy to help too, so feel free to contact me by email or phone!