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California Wedding Laws

Written and updated for precision by the California marriage law research team at GetOrdained™ on

First off, congratulations on being asked to perform a wedding. There is nothing more rewarding than helping two people come together, and California is one of the most beautiful places to perform a marriage. This guide can help you navigate the seemingly complex web of marriage law, ensuring you know all the facts to perform a legal and recognized wedding ceremony. We have gathered all of the information for you in this brief but thorough overview. Everything from couple requirements to license applications is provided within the next several paragraphs.

California Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:

California has no restrictions or reservations for same-sex couples, meaning these couples can legally wed in the state. However, California law does prohibit marriage for anyone under the age of 18 without parental consent and a court order. Even with parental consent, court orders are awarded on a case-by-case basis, meaning not every minor will be granted permission to marry.

Beyond the age restriction, California does not impose many barriers to marriage. The state has no residency requirements, meaning that anyone from out of state or country can marry by first obtaining a license. Neither party must live in the state to obtain a license, making the process straightforward for those wishing to have a destination wedding.

How to Get a California Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in California
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
Varies by County
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Varies by County
Blood Test Required:

Marriage licenses in California are valid throughout the state. However, the couple must pick up the license in person at the county clerk’s office. When the couple arrives at the clerk’s office, they will need to supply proof of identification. A photo ID is required, and some counties might require additional documents, such as a copy of a birth certificate. Sometimes people do not have the documents required by the state. In these instances, the couple might be able to present witness affidavits.

If an individual is getting married after a divorce, he or she might be required to present an official divorce decree. The document verifies the end of the previous marriage.

At one time, California did require a blood test. However, that is no longer a requirement in the state.

Applying For a Marriage License in California

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Mandatory Waiting Period:
License Valid For:
90 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of Ceremony

It is necessary to stipulate that a minister ordained by the Universal Life Church only maintains the authority to perform religious ceremonies. Therefore, regardless of the couple's intent to have religious elements in the ceremony or not, they will need to obtain a license for a religious ceremony, not a civil ceremony. Civil proceedings are performed by judges, justices of the peace, or someone in a similar position, meaning a minister does not have the necessary authority to perform such services.

Once the couple picks up the marriage license, they will have 90 days to get married. As the minister, you can perform the marriage anytime during this window but not after. Once married, the license must be returned to the county clerk within 10 days. Do not turn in the document late, or you risk the ceremony becoming invalid.

A nice aspect of California marriage licenses is there is no waiting period between license issuance and the wedding. Therefore, if a couple wants, they can receive the license and get married on the same day.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in California

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:

California requires all wedding officiants to be a minimum of 18 years of age. This is not a complication for any ULC ordained minister, as that is our age requirement as well. While some might be reluctant to become a ULC minister, remember the ULC does not discriminate based on beliefs, gender, or location.

Unfortunately, California does not have a statewide registration process for ministers, meaning the county clerk might require additional documentation or verification after the ceremony. Despite this added step, all ULC ministers will have access to all necessary documents to prove ordination.

For ministers who want to perform a wedding ceremony, the ULC recommends obtaining an official copy of the ministry credential. By ordering and keeping this document on file, you can reduce any potential hassles that could arise without it. While not always, there are times when a county clerk will request a copy of the document. The California Wedding Package is an excellent option for ministers looking to perform marriage ceremonies.

Getting Married in California

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
Minister Required to be Present:
Number of Witnesses Required:
Min. Age of Witnesses:
Not Applicable
Couple's Consent Required:
Pronouncement Required:

Though there is a proxy exception for the US Armed Forces, the state of California does not usually allow proxy marriages, meaning all parties must be present at the ceremony, including the couple, officiant, and one witness. While there are age requirements for couples and officiants, no such requirements exist for witnesses. The only rule for witnesses is that they must be old enough to sign their name to the witness box and comprehend what they are witnessing.

For US servicemembers serving in conflict zones overseas, there might be exceptions to the proxy rule. However, for the proxy to receive power of attorney, several legal steps must be taken. It is best to consult with an attorney on such matters, as they are outside the purview of the ULC.

Beyond having all parties present and accounted for, including the officiant, couple, and witness, a ceremony must contain a proclamation and a pronouncement to be legally recognized. The proclamation is when each party gives consent for the union, otherwise known as the “I do” portion of the wedding. The pronouncement is when the minister proclaims the couple married to the witness and all who are present.

Finalizing the Marriage

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

To complete the wedding ceremony, the officiant and all necessary parties must fill out the marriage license. The officiant will fill in the portions for title and name. In the title section, write “minister.” In the name portion, only write your legal name, no title. You can also write Universal Life Church Ministries if the license requests the name of the ordaining church. Finally, have the couple and the witness fill out the appropriate sections of the document.

Look over the document to ensure it is filled out correctly. Any errors could result in reissuing the license and fees. Make sure to turn the license into the clerk’s office within 10 days of the ceremony.

While all ministers are encouraged to keep a record of ceremonies, it is especially necessary for ministers who are paid for their services.

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