California Marriage License Information
Do I need a marriage license to have a wedding ceremony?
No. You do not need a marriage license to have a wedding ceremony. A wedding ceremony without a marriage license is not a legal marriage.
For a wedding ceremony to become a legal marriage – a marriage license needs to be applied for prior to the wedding ceremony taking place. Both the bride and groom need to go together in person to the country clerk – to show I.D. and sign in person.
You can apply for a public marriage license anywhere in California and get married anywhere in California.
If you apply for a confidential marriage license you need to have your wedding ceremony take place in the same county as the you received the marriage license. A confidential marriage license does not require a witness to sign.
When the marriage license is brought to the wedding ceremony and signed by the officiant the license can be filed for legal reasons. A marriage license can not be signed after the wedding ceremony itself.
When a marriage license is forgotten and not applied for before the wedding ceremony. The couple can later have a civil ceremony and file a marriage license.
When the marriage license is filed, the legal nature of marriage is bestowed.
So you don’t need a marriage license to have a wedding ceremony. You do need to have an officiant sign a marriage license to file with the clerk.
If you are having a wedding ceremony for the two of you without any witnesses My SF Wedding will provide a witness for your public marriage license.