Marriage License?

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.

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Ema Drouillard, Officiant/ Photographer Offering Intimate Wedding Events in San Francisco, Sonoma & Marin