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.

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:

This state currently has legal same-sex marriage by Court Decision.

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 a letter of good standing from the church.

California Wedding Laws by County

Alameda County Recorder

1106 Madison Street
Room 214
Oakland, California
94607,

Phone: (510) 272-6362
Fax: (510) 208-9957
E-mail: Vitalrec@acgov.org
Alameda County Recorder website »

Alpine County Recorder

99 Water Street
P.O. Box 217
Markleeville, California
96120,
 
Phone: (530) 694-2281
alternate phone: (530) 694-2286
Fax: (530) 694-2491

Amador County Recorder

810 Court Street
Jackson, California
95642,
 
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
95965,

Phone: (530) 538-7690
alternate phone: (530) 538-7691
Fax: (530) 538-7975
E-mail: clerk@buttecounty.net
Butte County Recorder website »

Calaveras County Recorder

891 Mountain Ranch Road
Government Center
San Andreas, California
95249,
Phone: (209) 754-6375
alternate phone: (209) 754-6372
Fax: (209) 754-6733
E-mail: lorr@co.calaveras.ca.us
Calaveras County Recorder website »

Colusa County Clerk

546 Jay Street
Suite 200
Colusa, California
95932,

Phone: (530) 458-0500
Fax: (530) 458-0512
Colusa County Clerk website »

Contra Costa Recorder

555 Escobar Street
Martinez, California
94553,

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
95531,
Phone: (707) 464-7216
Fax: (707) 465-0321
E-mail: clerkrecorder@co.del-norte.ca.us
Del Norte County Recorder website »

El Dorado County Recorder

360 Fair Lane
Placerville, California
95667,

Phone: (530) 621-5490
Fmx: (530) 621-2147
E-mail: recorderclerk@co.el-dorado.ca.us
El Dorado County Recorder website »

Fresno County Recorder

2281 Tulare Street
Room 303
Fresno, California
93721,

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
95988,
Phone: (530) 934-6407
alternate phone: (530) 934-6412
Fmx: (530) 934-6305
E-mail: gcboard@glenncounty.net
Glenn County Clerk website »

Humboldt County Recorder

825 Fifth Street
Fifth Floor
Eureka, California
95501,
 
Phone: (707) 445-7593
alternate phone: (707) 445-7382
Fax: (707) 445-7430
Humboldt County Recorder website »

Imperial County Recorder

940 West Main Street
Room 206
El Centro, California
92243,
 
Phone: (760) 339-4427
alternate phone: (760) 482-4272
Fax: (760) 482-4271
Imperial County Recorder website »

Inyo County Recorder

168 N. Edwards Street
Independence, California
93526,
Phone: (760) 878-0410
alternate phone: (760) 878-0222
Inyo County Recorder website »

Kern County Clerk

1655 Chester Avenue
Bakersfield, California
93301,

Phone: (805) 868-3588
alternate phone: (661) 868-6449
E-mail: kcrecorder@co.kern.ca.us
Kern County Clerk website »

Kings County Clerk

1400 West Lacey Boulevard
Hanford, California
93230,
 
Phone: (559) 582-3211 ext. 2470
Kings County Clerk website »

Lake County Clerk

255 North Forbes Street
Lakeport, California
95453,
Phone: (707) 263-2293
Fax: (707) 263-3703
E-mail: Recorder@co.lake.ca.us
Lake County Clerk website »

Lassen County Recorder

220 S. Lassen Street
Suite 5
Susanville, California
96130,
Phone: (530) 251-8217
alternate phone: (530) 251-8234
Fax: (530) 257-3480
E-mail: lcclerk@co.lassen.ca.us
Lassen County Recorder website »

Los Angeles County Clerk

12400 East Imperial Highway
Room 1002
Norwalk, California
90650,
Phone: (562) 462-2137
Los Angeles County Clerk website »

Madera County Clerk

200 West 4th Street
Madera, California
93637,

Phone: (209) 675-7724
E-mail: countyclerkinfo@madera-county.com
Madera County Clerk website »

Marin County Recorder

3501 Civic Center Drive
Room 232
San Rafael, California
94903,
 
Phone: (415) 499-6092
Fax: (415) 499-7893
E-mail: recorder@co.marin.ca.us
Marin County Recorder website »

Mariposa County Recorder

4982 Tenth Street
Mariposa, California
95338,
 
Phone: (209) 966-2007
alternate phone: (209) 966-5719
Mariposa County Recorder website »

Mendocino County Clerk

501 Low Gap Road
No.1020
Ukiah, California
95482,
 
Phone: (707) 463-4370
alternate phone: (707) 463-4376
Fax: (707) 463-4257
Mendocino County Clerk website »

Merced County Recorder

2222 M Street
Merced, California
95340,
Phone: (209) 385-7501
alternate phone: (209) 385-7627
Fax: (209) 385-7626
Merced County Recorder website »

Modoc County Clerk

204 South Court Street
Room 107
Alturas, California
96101,

Phone: (530) 233-2512
alternate phone: (530) 233-6205
Fax: (530) 233-6666

Mono County Recorder

74 North School St.
P.O. Box 237
Annex 1
Bridgeport, California
93517,

Phone: (760) 932-5241
alternate phone: (760) 932-5535
Fmx: (760) 932-5531
Mono County Recorder website »

Monterey County Recorder

168 West Alisal Street
First Floor
Salinas, California
93901,

Phone: (831) 647-7906
alternate phone: (831) 755-5041
Fax: (831) 755-5064
E-mail: recorderclerk@co.monterey.ca.us
Monterey County Recorder website »

Napa County Clerk

900 Coombs Street
P.O. Box 29
Room 116
Napa, California
94559,
 
Phone: (707) 253-4246
Fax: (707) 259-8149
Napa County Clerk website »

Nevada County Clerk

950 Maidu Avenue
Nevada City, California
95959,
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
95603,
Phone: (530) 889-7948
alternate phone: (530) 886-5600
E-mail: clerk@placer.ca.gov
Placer County Clerk website »

Plumas County Recorder

520 Main Street
Room 102
Quincy, California
95971,
Phone: (530) 283-6305
alternate phone: (530) 283-6218
Fax: (530) 283-6155
E-mail: clerkrecorder@countyofplumas.com
Plumas County Recorder website »

Riverside County Clerk

2724 Gateway Drive
Riverside, California
92507,
Phone: (909) 486-7000
Riverside County Clerk website »

Sacramento County Clerk

600 Eighth Street
Sacramento, California
95814,

Phone: (916) 874-5522
alternate phone: (916) 874-6334
E-mail: sacrec@saccounty.net/
Sacramento County Clerk website »

San Benito County Clerk

440 Fifth Street
Room 206
Hollister, California
95023,
Phone: (831) 636-4029
Fax: (831) 636-2939
San Benito County Clerk website »

San Bernadino Recorder

222 West Hospitality Lane
First Floor
San Bernadino, California
92415,
 
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
92101,
 
Phone: (619) 237-0502
San Diego County Clerk website »

San Francisco County Clerk

101 Grove Street
Room 105
San Francisco, California
94102,

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
95202,
 
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
D120
San Luis Obispo, California
93408,
Phone: (805) 781-5088
alternate phone: (805) 781-5080
Fax: (805 781-1111
E-mail: dgraton@co.slo.ca.us
San Luis Obispo County Clerk website »

San Mateo County Clerk

555 County Center
1st Floor
Redwood City, California
94063,
 
Phone: (650) 363-4711
alternate phone: (650) 363-4500
Fmx: (650) 363-1903
E-mail: countyclerk@care.co.sanmateo.ca.us
San Mateo County Clerk website »

Santa Barbara County Clerk

1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California
93101,
 
Phone: (805) 568-2250
Fmx: (805) 568-2266
Santa Barbara County Clerk website »

Santa Clara County Recorder

70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, California
95110,

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
95060,

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
96001,
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
95936,
Phone: (530) 289-3295
Fmx: (530) 289-2830
E-mail: clerk-recorder@sierracounty.ws
Sierra County Recorder website »

Siskiyou County Clerk

311 Fourth Street
Room 107
Yreka, California
96097,
Phone: (530) 842-8065
alternate phone: (530) 842-8066
Fmx: (530) 842-8059
E-mail: cbaker@co.siskiyou.ca.us
Siskiyou County Clerk website »

Solano County Recorder

675 Texas Street
Suite 2700
Fairfield, California
94533,

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
95403,

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
95354,
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
95991,
 
Phone: (530) 822-7120
alternate phone: (530) 822-7134
Fmx: (530) 822-7214
Sutter County Recorder website »

Tehama County Recorder

633 Washington Street
Room 11
Red Bluff, California
96080,

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

Trinity County Recorder

11 Court Street
Weaverville, California
96093,
 
Phone: (916) 623-1222
alternate phone: (530) 623-1215
Fmx: (530) 623-8398
E-mail: recorder@trinitycounty.org
Trinity County Recorder website »

Tulare County Recorder

221 S. Mooney Blvd.
Room 103
Visalia, California
93291,
 
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
95370,

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
93009,
 
Phone: (805) 654-2263
alternate phone: (805) 654-3666
Fax: (805) 654-2295
E-mail: county.recorder@ventura.org
Ventura County Recorder website »

Yolo County Clerk

625 Court Street
Room B01
Woodland, California
95695,
 
Phone: (530) 666-8130
Fax: (530) 666-8109
E-mail: cntyclrk@yolorecorder.org
Yolo County Clerk website »

Yuba County Clerk

915 Eighth Street
Suite 107
Marysville, California
95901,
Phone: (530) 741-6341
alternate phone: (530) 749-7851
Fmx: (530) 749-7854
Yuba County Clerk website »