Congratulations are in order! Deciding to marry is not just about planning a fantastic celebration but also about taking a significant step towards a legal union. In the sunny state of California, getting a marriage certificate is both an exciting and essential part of this journey. Whether you’re eloping in a spontaneous affair or planning a grand event, understanding how to secure your marriage certificate in California is crucial. So, let’s dive into the details with enthusiasm and get you two lovebirds officially hitched!

Understanding the Basics

A marriage certificate in California is more than just a piece of paper; it’s a legal record that commemorates your union, serving as proof of your marriage. This document is essential for various purposes, such as changing your name, updating your social security information, and ensuring your spouse is recognized for medical, insurance, and legal matters. Obtaining your marriage certificate in California marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life, filled with shared responsibilities and rights.

Eligibility Criteria

Before you sprint to the altar, let’s ensure you meet the Golden State’s criteria for marriage. The love shared between you and your partner knows no bounds, but the State of California does have a few boxes for you to check:

Age Requirements: Both parties must be at least 18 years old. If younger, additional requirements must be met.

No Close Blood Relations: California says a big no-no to marrying someone closely related by blood.

Current Marital Status: Ensure any previous marriages are legally concluded through divorce, annulment, or a spouse’s death.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Your Marriage Certificate in California

Embarking on the quest for a marriage certificate in California? Here’s your roadmap to matrimony legality!

Step 1: Completing the Marriage License Application

Start your journey online or at your local County Clerk’s office by filling out a marriage license application. This is your first official step together as a soon-to-be-married duo, so savor the moment! Ensure all information is accurate to avoid any hiccups down the road.

Step 2: Visiting the County Clerk’s Office 

Both partners must visit the County Clerk’s office in person to submit the application. Consider this a mini-date! Bring valid photo ID and be prepared to swear that all the information you’ve provided is true. Don’t forget the fee, which varies by county.

Marriage certificate in CaliforniaStep 3: The Ceremony 

Who Can Officiate? In California, your ceremony officiant can be a religious figure, a certified secular officiant, or even a friend or family member who’s been deputized for a day. The important thing is to have fun and make it meaningful for you both.

Step 4: Signing the Marriage License

After your ceremony, it’s time to make it all official. Your officiant and at least one witness (if you’re having them) will sign your marriage license. This step is crucial—think of it as the “I do” of paperwork.

Step 5: Submitting the License to County Clerk

Your officiant will usually take care of submitting your signed license to the county clerk’s office for you. If you’re handling it yourselves, don’t delay! It must be submitted within a certain timeframe post-ceremony to be valid.

Step 6: Receiving Your Marriage Certificate in California 

Once your license is filed, you can request official copies of your marriage certificate from the county clerk’s office. There’s usually a small fee for each copy, but it’s worth having a few on hand for name changes and personal records.

Special Cases and Tips

Confidential Marriage Certificates — California offers a confidential marriage certificate option, where your marriage record is not public. This requires both partners to live together at the time of applying and to swear this under oath.

Marriage by Proxy —  If you or your partner can’t be physically present for the ceremony, California does permit marriage by proxy in specific circumstances, such as if one partner is in the military and stationed far away. This process has its own set of requirements, so check with your county clerk.

Tips for a Smoother Process

Double-check all requirements and fees with your local County Clerk’s office well in advance.Consider making an appointment to reduce wait times.Gather all necessary documents beforehand to avoid multiple trips.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can we get married the same day we apply for our marriage license in California?

Yes, there is no waiting period in California. Feel the love and the efficiency!

Do we need a witness for our ceremony? 

Yes, if you’re having a public ceremony. For confidential marriages, witnesses are not required.

How long does it take to receive our marriage certificate? 

This can vary, but typically, you’ll receive your marriage certificate a few weeks after your officiant submits the signed license.


Congratulations again on your upcoming nuptials! Remember, obtaining your marriage certificate in California is a significant step in your journey together. It’s about more than just the paperwork; it’s about legally recognizing your union and the love you share. So, embrace each step of the process with joy and anticipation. Here’s to the beginning of your happily ever after in the Golden State!

This guide aims to arm you with all you need to navigate the process of obtaining your marriage certificate in California, setting you on the path to marital bliss. Cheers to your love and your new life together! The Vasquez team would love to help you buy your first home, together!

Ana and Hector Vasquez

Ana and Hector Vasquez

Ana and Hector Vasquez are the founders of Vasquez Real Estate, pioneering a culture of excellence and service since 2001. Their collective expertise in real estate brokerage, sales, and management has empowered the team to guide home buyers and sellers across Contra Costa County, the Bay Area, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Joaquin County. They’re dedicated to ensuring every client experiences confidence, joy, and unmatched support throughout their real estate journey. At Vasquez Real Estate, exceeding expectations through transparency, honesty, and unwavering integrity is their commitment to making your real estate transaction a remarkable milestone in your life.