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California Wedding Laws

How to Officiate a Wedding in California

Performing a wedding in the state of California is a simple and straightforward process. Neither the state nor any county within it maintains a registry of clergy and in many ways the government of California keeps a hands-off policy in regard to marriage documents.

Wedding officiants are responsible for ensuring that the marriage is legal and that all marriage license papers are properly filed. Otherwise, the format of the wedding is entirely at the discretion of the people getting married. This lackadaisical approach to marriage legislation makes it simple for any minister ordained by the Universal Life Church Monastery to officiate a wedding. That said, it is important that anyone hoping to officiate a wedding keep track of the policies for your area so that the legality of those weddings cannot be disputed.

How to Become an Ordained Minister in California

According to the California Family Code, any individual over the age of 18 who is also an ordained member of the clergy of any recognized faith may officiate a wedding. This includes those who are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church Monastery via our online ordination platform. As an ordained minister, you are endowed with several rights and responsibilities within the state of California not granted to the everyday layperson. It is recommended that you keep proof of your ordination with your ordination credentials.

How to Perform a Wedding Ceremony in California

The two individuals getting married must, in the presence of the officiant, declare their wish to be husband and wife. There must be at least one additional witness to this agreement. The witness may be any age, though must also be able to understand what he or she is witnessing. The Universal Life Church Monastery can be a great resource for its ministers; those seeking additional guidance in how to properly officiate a wedding ceremony might look to the three-step guide we have made available as a tool for ministers.

Marriage Paperwork Required in California

The state of California requires a marriage license issued by the County Clerk's office. The officiant is required to examine the license and attach a statement to it that displays satisfaction with several facts, including:

  • The time and location at which the wedding took place
  • The names and places of residence of all official witnesses
  • The religious organization in which the officiant is ordained
  • The printed name and address of the officiant

This paperwork must be returned to the County Clerk within 10 days of the ceremony. The couple getting married may request a copy of these documents if they so choose.

For more detailed information, review California's code for yourself.

California Marriage Laws


The following is from California's FAQ page:

Where do I register to perform marriages in California? The laws of the State of California make it unnecessary for persons performing marriages to file credentials with the clerk of the court or with anyone else. The county and state are removed from any responsibility for verification of credentials. The State does not maintain a central registry of members of the clergy. Any such concern for verification is totally at the discretion of the parties to the marriage. (The Universal Life Church Monastery still recommends that you check with the county clerk where the ceremony will be held.)

What authorization do I need to perform a marriage in California? In California, it is the ordination or investment by the denomination that gives each clergy member the authority to perform the marriage rite. Family Code, Sections 400-402 are the statutes pertaining to whom can solemnize a marriage in California.

The following is from California Family Code sections:

400. Marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:

420. A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination. No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.

421. Before solemnizing a marriage, the person solemnizing the marriage shall require the presentation of the marriage license. If the person solemnizing the marriage has reason to doubt the correctness of the statement of facts in the marriage license, the person must be satisfied as to the correctness of the statement of facts before solemnizing the marriage. For this purpose, the person may administer oaths and examine the parties and witnesses in the same manner as the county clerk does before issuing the license.

422. The person solemnizing a marriage shall make, sign, and endorse upon or attach to the marriage license a statement, in the form prescribed by the State Department of Health Services, showing all of the following: (a) The fact, date (month, day, year), and place (city and county) of solemnization. (b) The names and places of residence of one or more witnesses to the ceremony. (c) The official position of the person solemnizing the marriage, or of the denomination of which that person is a priest, minister, rabbi, or member of the clergy. (d) The person solemnizing the marriage shall also type or print the person's name and address.

423. The person solemnizing the marriage shall return the marriage license, endorsed as required in Section 422, to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.

424. At the request of, and for, either party to a marriage, the person solemnizing the marriage shall issue a marriage certificate showing the facts specified in Section 422.

Please note that, when filling out a marriage license, the State requests that you use the title "Minister" or "Reverend", and not "Officiant", in Box #29D.

The County Clerks also require that you enter your denomination, "Universal Life Church", in box #29B. Failing to state a denomination results in a rejection, and requires a duplicated marriage license.

Gay Marriage and Same Sex Wedding Laws: N/A

The Monastery Ordination Credential

To perform a marriage in California you need to be ordained and may be required to provide proof of ordination such as an ordination credential, wallet credential, or an updated letter of good standing from the church.

California Wedding Laws by County

Alameda County Recorder

1106 Madison Street
Room 214
Oakland, California

Phone: (510) 272-6362
Fax: (510) 208-9957
Alameda County Recorder website »

Alpine County Recorder

99 Water Street
P.O. Box 217
Markleeville, California
Phone: (530) 694-2281
Alternate phone: (530) 694-2286
Fmx: (530) 694-2491

Amador County Recorder

810 Court Street
Jackson, California
Phone: (209) 223-6469
Alternate phone: (209) 223-6468
Fmx: (209) 223-620
Amador County Recorder website »

Butte County Recorder

25 County Center Drive
Administration Bldg.
Suite 105
Oroville, California
Phone: (530) 538-7690
Alternate phone: (530) 538-7691
Fax: (530) 538-7975
Butte County Recorder website »

Calaveras County Recorder

891 Mountain Ranch Road
Government Center
San Andreas, California
Phone: (209) 754-6375
Alternate phone: (209) 754-6372
Fax: (209) 754-6733
Calaveras County Recorder website »

Colusa County Clerk

546 Jay Street
Suite 200
Colusa, California
Phone: (530) 458-0500
Fax: (530) 458-0512
Colusa County Clerk website »

Contra Costa Recorder

555 Escobar Street
Martinez, California
Phone: (925) 646-2360
Alternate phone: (925) 335-7900
Contra Costa Recorder website »

Del Norte County Recorder

981 H Street
Suite 160
Crescent City, California

Phone: (707) 464-7216
Fax: (707) 465-0321
Del Norte County Recorder website »

El Dorado County Recorder

360 Fair Lane
Placerville, California

Phone: (530) 621-5490
Fmx: (530) 621-2147
El Dorado County Recorder website »

Fresno County Recorder

2281 Tulare Street
Room 303
Fresno, California

Phone: (559) 488-2609
Alternate phone: (559) 488-3476
Fax: (559) 488-6841
Fresno County Recorder website »

Glenn County Clerk

526 West Sycamore Street
Willows, California
Phone: (530) 934-6407
Alternate phone: (530) 934-6412
Fax: (530) 934-6305
Glenn County Clerk website »

Humboldt County Recorder

825 Fifth Street
Fifth Floor
Eureka, California

Phone: (707) 445-7593
Alternate phone: (707) 445-7382
Fmx: (707) 445-7430
Humboldt County Recorder website »

Imperial County Recorder

940 West Main Street
Room 206
El Centro, California
Phone: (760) 339-4427
Alternate phone: (760) 482-4272
Fmx: (760) 482-4271
Imperial County Recorder website »

Inyo County Recorder

168 N. Edwards Street
Independence, California
Phone: (760) 878-0410
Alternate phone: (760) 878-0222
Inyo County Recorder website »

Kern County Clerk

1655 Chester Avenue
Bakersfield, California
Phone: (805) 868-3588
Alternate phone: (661) 868-6449
Kern County Clerk website »

Kings County Clerk

1400 West Lacey Boulevard
Hanford, California

Phone: (559) 582-3211 ext. 2470
Kings County Clerk website »

Lake County Clerk

255 North Forbes Street
Lakeport, California
Phone: (707) 263-2293
Fax: (707) 263-3703
Lake County Clerk website »

Lassen County Recorder

220 S. Lassen Street
Suite 5
Susanville, California
Phone: (530) 251-8217
Alternate phone: (530) 251-8234
Fmx: (530) 257-3480
Lassen County Recorder website »

Los Angeles County Clerk

12400 East Imperial Highway
Room 1002
Norwalk, California
Phone: (562) 462-2137
Los Angeles County Clerk website »

Madera County Clerk

200 West 4th Street
Madera, California
Phone: (209) 675-7724
Madera County Clerk website »

Marin County Recorder

3501 Civic Center Drive
Room 232
San Rafael, California
Phone: (415) 499-6092
Fmx: (415) 499-7893
Marin County Recorder website »

Mariposa County Recorder

4982 Tenth Street
Mariposa, California

Phone: (209) 966-2007
Alternate phone: (209) 966-5719
Mariposa County Recorder website »

Mendocino County Clerk

501 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, California
Phone: (707) 463-4370
Alternate phone: (707) 463-4376
Fmx: (707) 463-4257
Mendocino County Clerk website »

Merced County Recorder

2222 M Street
Merced, California
Phone: (209) 385-7501
Alternate phone: (209) 385-7627
Fmx: (209) 385-7626
Merced County Recorder website »

Modoc County Clerk

204 South Court Street
Room 107
Alturas, California
Phone: (530) 233-2512
Alternate phone: (530) 233-6205
Fmx: (530) 233-6666

Mono County Recorder

74 North School St.
P.O. Box 237
Annex 1
Bridgeport, California
Phone: (760) 932-5241
Alternate phone: (760) 932-5535
Fax: (760) 932-5531
Mono County Recorder website »

Monterey County Recorder

168 West Alisal Street
First Floor
Salinas, California

Phone: (831) 647-7906
Alternate phone: (831) 755-5041
Fax: (831) 755-5064
Monterey County Recorder website »

Napa County Clerk

900 Coombs Street
P.O. Box 29
Room 116
Napa, California

Phone: (707) 253-4246
Fmx: (707) 259-8149
Napa County Clerk website »

Nevada County Clerk

950 Maidu Avenue
Nevada City, California
Phone: (530) 265-1221
Fax: (530) 265-9842
Nevada County Clerk website »

Orange County Recorder

Santa Ana, California

Phone: (714) 834-2500

Placer County Clerk

2954 Richardson Drive
Auburn, California
Phone: (530) 889-7948
Alternate phone: (530) 886-5600
Placer County Clerk website »

Plumas County Recorder

520 Main Street
Room 102
Quincy, California
Phone: (530) 283-6305
Alternate phone: (530) 283-6218
Fmx: (530) 283-6155
Plumas County Recorder website »

Riverside County Clerk

2724 Gateway Drive
Riverside, California
Phone: (909) 486-7000
Riverside County Clerk website »

Sacramento County Clerk

600 Eighth Street
Sacramento, California

Phone: (916) 874-5522
Alternate phone: (916) 874-6334
Sacramento County Clerk website »

San Benito County Clerk

440 Fifth Street
Room 206
Hollister, California
Phone: (831) 636-4029
Fmx: (831) 636-2939
San Benito County Clerk website »

San Bernadino Recorder

222 West Hospitality Lane
First Floor
San Bernadino, California
Phone: (909) 387-8314
Alternate phone: (909) 386-9095
San Bernadino Recorder website »

San Diego County Clerk

1600 Pacific Highway
Room 260
San Diego, California

Phone: (619) 237-0502
San Diego County Clerk website »

San Francisco County Clerk

101 Grove Street
Room 105
San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 554-4176
Alternate phone: (415) 701-2311
San Francisco County Clerk website »

San Joaquin Clerk

44 N. San Joaquin Street
Suite 260
Stockton, California

Phone: (209) 468-2362
Alternate phone: (209) 468-8075
Fax: (209) 468-2901
San Joaquin Clerk website »

San Luis Obispo County Clerk

1055 Monterey Street
San Luis Obispo, California
Phone: (805) 781-5088
Alternate phone: (805) 781-5080
Fmx: (805 781-1111
San Luis Obispo County Clerk website »

San Mateo County Clerk

555 County Center
1st Floor
Redwood City, California

Phone: (650) 363-4711
Alternate phone: (650) 363-4500
Fmx: (650) 363-1903
San Mateo County Clerk website »

Santa Barbara County Clerk

1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California
Phone: (805) 568-2250
Fmx: (805) 568-2266
Santa Barbara County Clerk website »

Santa Clara County Recorder

70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, California

Phone: (408) 299-2481
Alternate phone: (408) 299-5669
Fax: (408) 280-1768
Santa Clara County Recorder website »

Santa Cruz County Recorder

701 Ocean Street
Room 230
Santa Cruz, California

Phone: (831) 454-2800
Alternate phone: (831) 454-3222
Fmx: (831) 454-3169
Santa Cruz County Recorder website »

Shasta County Clerk

1450 Court Street
Suite 208
Redding, California

Phone: (530) 225-5378
Alternate phone: (530) 225-5678
Fax: (530) 225-5152
Shasta County Clerk website »

Sierra County Recorder

P.O. Drawer D
Downieville, California
Phone: (530) 289-3295
Fax: (530) 289-2830
Sierra County Recorder website »

Siskiyou County Clerk

311 Fourth Street
Room 107
Yreka, California
Phone: (530) 842-8065
Alternate phone: (530) 842-8066
Fmx: (530) 842-8059
Siskiyou County Clerk website »

Solano County Recorder

675 Texas Street
Suite 2700
Fairfield, California
Phone: (707) 421-6319
Alternate phone: (707) 784-6294
Fax: (707) 784-9002
Solano County Recorder website »

Sonoma County Clerk

2300 County Center Drive
Suite B-177
Santa Rosa, California

Phone: (707) 527-3800
Alternate phone: (707) 565-2645
Fmx: (707) 565-3957
Sonoma County Clerk website »

Stanislaus County Clerk

1021 I Street
Suite 101
Modesto, California

Phone: (209) 525-5265
Alternate phone: (209) 525-5251
Fmx: (209) 525-5804
Stanislaus County Clerk website »

Sutter County Recorder

433 Second Street
Yuba City, California
Phone: (530) 822-7120
Alternate phone: (530) 822-7134
Fax: (530) 822-7214
Sutter County Recorder website »

Tehama County Recorder

633 Washington Street
Room 11
Red Bluff, California

Phone: (916) 527-3350
Fmx: (530) 527-1745
Tehama County Recorder website »

Trinity County Recorder

11 Court Street
Weaverville, California

Phone: (916) 623-1222
Alternate phone: (530) 623-1215
Fmx: (530) 623-8398
Trinity County Recorder website »

Tulare County Recorder

221 S. Mooney Blvd.
Room 103
Visalia, California
Phone: (559) 733-6518
Alternate phone: (559) 636-5050
Fax: (559) 740-4329
Tulare County Recorder website »

Tuolumne County Clerk

2 South Green Street
Sonora, California
Phone: (209) 533-5570
Alternate phone: (209) 533-5531
Fmx: (209) 533-6543
Tuolumne County Clerk website »

Ventura County Recorder

800 South Victoria Avenue
LN 1260
Ventura, California
Phone: (805) 654-2263
Alternate phone: (805) 654-3666
Fax: (805) 654-2295
Ventura County Recorder website »

Yolo County Clerk

625 Court Street
Room B01
Woodland, California
Phone: (530) 666-8130
Fmx: (530) 666-8109
Yolo County Clerk website »

Yuba County Clerk

915 Eighth Street
Suite 107
Marysville, California
Phone: (530) 741-6341
Alternate phone: (530) 749-7851
Fax: (530) 749-7854
Yuba County Clerk website »