Created and reviewed for accuracy by researchers at the Universal Life Church Ministries

California Outline

Have you agreed to officiate a wedding in California? Or perhaps you’re planning to get married there and are curious how the process works? Either way, you’ve landed in the right spot. This guide will explain everything you’ll need to know about holding a marriage ceremony in California, as well as how to legally officiate the wedding as a minister of the Universal Life Church. Let’s get going!

Quick Facts
  • ULC Ordination Accepted: Yes
  • Minister Registration Required: No
  • Minister's Residency: Irrelevant
  • Minister's Minimum Age: 18
  •  
  • Marriage License Waiting Period: 0 Days
  • Marriage License Valid For: 90 Days
  • Marriage License Return Within: 10 Days

1 How to Get Ordained in California

Becoming an ordained minister via the Universal Life Church is the first step in the officiating process. Just fill out the ordination form on our website (the process is free) and submit your application to become a minister. Once processed, you’ll officially be recognized as a member of the ULC! Just click the ordination button below to begin.

2 Officiating Weddings in California

After getting ordained, your next task is to reach out to the government office where the couple will be applying for their marriage license (most commonly a county clerk’s office). Explain that you’re ordained through the Universal Life Church and ask them what the requirements are in that area to officiate a wedding ceremony. Marriage officials sometimes ask that you present documentation before they will give the green light to proceed.

Choose the county you’d like to contact from the dropdown menu below to see their office’s information.

Select your County Clerk to quickly generate the contact information for your local marriage authority.



Select a county contact

California's Top Wedding Spot

California's Top Wedding Spot

San Diego strands like La Jolla's Windansea Beach

3 What Do You Need to Officiate a Wedding in California

After contacting marriage officials to confirm what is required, visit the catalog here on our site to order the necessary documents or materials. We usually encourage our members in California to get a California Wedding Package to ensure they have everything they’ll need to preside over a successful ceremony.

Although minister registration isn’t a common requirement in California, you should always be prepared to show proof of ordination, should a county clerk ask to see it. Having physical ordination documents on hand can also help the wedding couple relax (let’s be honest, they have enough to stress about – the last thing a minister wants to do is add to that).

When ordering these supplies, please do so well in advance of the wedding (3 weeks prior is a good rule of thumb) to make sure everything gets there on time.

There are more ministers who got ordained online with the Universal Life Church operating in California than in any other state! Every month our office is inundated with lovely photos and videos of weddings that took place in the scenic state.

Please note that certain California county clerks may ask that officiants write up a statement attesting to certain key details, such as:

  • Location and time the ceremony took place

  • Names and addresses and of the witnesses

  • The officiant’s religious organization

  • Name and address of the wedding officiant

When completing the marriage license, the state instructs ULC ministers to use a religious title such as "Reverend" or "Minister", and not "Officiant", in Box #29D.

The form may also require that you list a denomination, in box #29B. For this section, please list “Non-denominational.” If you forget to do this, the marriage license could get rejected.

4 How to Perform a Marriage in California

With all that covered, you’re almost ready to officiate the ceremony! A few quick pointers on marriage licenses:

  • Be sure the couple receives a California marriage license in advance of the ceremony.

  • The license will be valid for 90 days, and California does not require any waiting period (meaning the ceremony can take place immediately upon issuance.)

  • Don’t forget that the completed license has to be returned within 10 days following the date of the wedding.

Once you’ve touched base with the couple about these legal aspects, then it’s time to focus on the ceremony itself! Officiating a marriage ceremony is no small task, but the Universal Life Church has spent years developing resources to support its ministers in performing this important service. Don’t hesitate to visit our Wedding Training Center for tips, tools, and advice covering every aspect of the officiating process. More experienced officiants – or those looking to go even deeper in their preparations – may be interested in the wedding books offered in our online catalog, such as this popular wedding guide.

5 California Wedding Planning Tips

If you are being asked to officiate a wedding in California, there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind during your planning. It is the most ecologically diverse state, and California wedding venues can vary from northern alpine regions, to giant redwood forests, to beaches, and even to deserts. This means you should make sure to plan ahead for clothing and footwear choices that are appropriate for the location. Outdoor weddings venues in Southern California are ever-popular, but you will certainly need to plan ahead for the traffic. Los Angeles is world famous for the gridlock on its highways, so you should plan to leave plenty of time for travel to the big event.

Fees for wedding officiants in California are dependent on a number of factors. Consider, for example, how much professional experience the officiant has, whether they’ll be required to travel to the ceremony destination, and how much preparation is required. The cost of living is greater in California than most places, and services like those provided by wedding officiants are not exempt -- don't be surprised to see higher price tags than you might in other states.


California Flag

California Marriage Code

Marriage in California is governed by California's Family Code. Ministers who got ordained online with the Universal Life Church have successfully solemnized thousands of weddings in the state. Below, you will find that we have reproduced a relevant excerpt of this code.

§ 400. Marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older: § 420. (a) No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the physical presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as spouses. § 422. (c) The official position of the person solemnizing the marriage, or of the denomination of which that person is a priest, minister, rabbi, or other authorized person of any religious denomination. View the California Statutes on the official state site.

To view the in-depth wedding laws for California state:

California Marriage Laws
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Alameda County

1106 Madison Street
Oakland, California

Phone: (888) 280-7708
Alameda County Marriage Laws »

Alpine County

99 Water St.
Markleeville, California

Phone: (530) 694-2281
Fax: (530) 694-2491
Alpine County website »

Amador County

810 Court Street
Jackson, California
95642

Phone: (209) 223-6465
Amador County website »

Butte County

155 Nelson Ave
Oroville, California
95965

Phone: (530) 538-7691
Fax: (530) 538-7975
Butte County website »

Calaveras County

891 Mountain Ranch Road
San Andreas, California
95249

Phone: (209) 754-6371
Fax: (209) 754-6733
Calaveras County website »

City and County of San Francisco

City Hall, Room 168<br>1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, California
94102

Phone: (415) 554-4950
City and County of San Francisco website »

Colusa County

546 Jay Street Suite 200
Colusa, California

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

Contra Costa County

555 Escobar Street
Martinez, California

Phone: (925) 335-7900
Contra Costa County Marriage Laws »

Del Norte County

981 H Street – Suite 160
Crescent City, California

Phone: (707) 465-0383
Del Norte County website »

El Dorado County

360 Fair Lane
Placerville, California
95667

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

Fresno County

2220 Tulare St
Fresno, California
93721

Phone: (559) 600-2575
Fresno County website »

Glenn County

516 West Sycamore Street, 2nd Floor
Willows, California
95988

Phone: (530) 934-6412
Fax: (530) 934-6571
Glenn County website »

Humboldt County

825 5th Street, 5th Floor
Eureka, California
95501

Phone: (707) 445-7593
Humboldt County website »

Imperial County

940 W. Main Street Suite 202
El Centro, California
92243

Phone: (760) 482-4427
Fax: (760) 482-4271
Imperial County website »

Inyo County

168 N. Edwards Street,
Independence, California

Phone: (760) 878-0222
Fax: (760) 878-1805
Inyo County website »

Kern County

1115 Truxtun Ave., 1st Floor
Bakersfield, California

Phone: (661) 868-3743
Kern County website »

Kings County

1400 W. Lacey Blvd.
Hanford, California
93230

Phone: (559) 582-2470
Fax: (559) 582-6639
Kings County website »

Lake County

255 North Forbes St
Lakeport, California
95453

Phone: (707) 263-2311
Lake County website »

Lassen County

220 S. Lassen Street, Suite 5
Susanville, California
96130

Phone: (530) 251-8217
Lassen County website »

Los Angeles County

12400 Imperial Highway
Norwalk, California
90650

Phone: (800) 201-8999
Los Angeles County Marriage Laws »

Madera County

200 W. 4th Street
Madera, California
93637

Phone: (559) 675-7721
Madera County website »

Marin County

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, California

Phone: (415) 473-6772
Marin County website »

Mariposa County

5100 Bullion St. & 10th
Mariposa, California

Phone: (209) 966-2007
Mariposa County website »

Mendocino County

501 Low Gap Road Room 1020
Ukiah, California
95482

Phone: (707) 234-6822
Fax: (707) 463-4257
Mendocino County website »

Merced County

2222 M St.
Merced, California

Phone: (209) 385-7627
Fax: (209) 385-7626
Merced County website »

Modoc County

108 E. Modoc Street
Alturas, California

Phone: (530) 233-6205
Modoc County website »

Mono County

74 School St., Annex I
Bridgeport, California
93517

Phone: (760) 932-5530
Fax: (760) 932-5531
Mono County website »

Monterey County

168 West Alisal Street, 1st Floor
Salinas, California

Phone: (831) 755-5450
Monterey County website »

Napa County

2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive Building #4
Napa, California

Phone: (707) 253-4247
Fax: (707) 259-8149
Napa County website »

Nevada County

950 Maidu Avenue, Suite 210
Nevada City, California
95959

Phone: (530) 265-1221
Nevada County website »

Orange County

211 West Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, California
92701

Phone: (714) 973-6605
Orange County Marriage Laws »

Placer County

2954 Richardson Drive
Auburn, California
95603

Phone: (530) 886-5610
Fax: (530) 886-5687
Placer County website »

Plumas County

520 Main Street, Room 102
Quincy, California
95971

Phone: (530) 283-6218
Plumas County website »

Riverside County

4080 Lemon St, 1st Floor
Riverside, California
92501

Phone: (951) 955-6200
Riverside County Marriage Laws »

Sacramento County

600 8th Street
Sacramento, California

Phone: (916) 874-6334
Sacramento County Marriage Laws »

San Benito County

440 Fifth Street, Room 206
Hollister, California
95023

Phone: (831) 636-4029
Fax: (831) 636-2939
San Benito County website »

San Bernardino County

222 W. Hospitality Lane, 1st Flr.
San Bernardino, California
92415

Phone: (909) 387-8306
San Bernardino County Marriage Laws »

San Diego County

1600 Pacific Highway, Ste 273
San Diego, California

Phone: (619) 237-0502
San Diego County Marriage Laws »

San Joaquin County

44 North San Joaquin St. Second Floor Suite 260
Stockton, California

Phone: (209) 468-3939
Fax: (209) 468-8040
San Joaquin County website »

San Luis Obispo County

1055 Monterey St., Rm. D120
San Luis Obispo, California
93408

Phone: (805) 781-5080
Fax: (805) 781-1111
San Luis Obispo County website »

San Mateo County

555 County Center, 1st Flr.
Redwood City, California
94063

Phone: (650) 363-4500
San Mateo County website »

Santa Barbara County

1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California

Phone: (805) 568-2250
Fax: (805) 568-2266
Santa Barbara County website »

Santa Clara County

70 West Hedding Street, 1st floor
San Jose, California
95110

Phone: (408) 299-5688
Santa Clara County Marriage Laws »

Santa Cruz County

701 Ocean Street, Rm. 210
Santa Cruz, California
95060

Phone: (831) 454-2060
Santa Cruz County website »

Shasta County

1643 Market St.
Redding, California

Phone: (530) 225-5730
Fax: (530) 225-5454
Shasta County website »

Sierra County

100 Courthouse Sq., Rm. 11
Downieville, California

Phone: (530) 289-3295
Fax: (530) 289-2830
Sierra County website »

Siskiyou County

510 North Main St.
Yreka, California
96097

Phone: (530) 842-8084
Fax: (530) 841-4110
Siskiyou County website »

Solano County

675 Texas Street, Suite 1900
Fairfield, California
94553

Phone: (707) 784-7485
Solano County website »

Sonoma County

585 Fiscal Dr, Room 103
Santa Rosa, California
95403

Phone: (707) 565-3800
Fax: (707) 565-3957
Sonoma County website »

Stanislaus County

1021 I Street
Modesto, California

Phone: (209) 525-5250
Fax: (209) 525-5804
Stanislaus County website »

Sutter County

433 Second Street
Yuba City, California
95991

Phone: (530) 822-7134
Sutter County website »

Tehama County

633 Washington St., Room 11
Red Bluff, California
96080

Phone: (530) 527-3350
Fax: (530) 527-1745
Tehama County website »

Trinity County

11 Court Street
Weaverville, California
96093

Phone: (530) 623-1215
Fax: (530) 623-8398
Trinity County website »

Tulare County

221 S. Mooney Blvd. Courthouse, Room 105
Visalia, California
93291

Phone: (559) 636-5051
Fax: (559) 740-4329
Tulare County website »

Tuolumne County

2 S. Green Street, Second Floor
Sonora, California
95370

Phone: (209) 533-5573
Fax: (209) 533-5627
Tuolumne County website »

Ventura County

800 S. Victoria Ave
Ventura, California
93009

Phone: (805) 654-2263
Ventura County website »

Yolo County

625 Court Street, Rm. B01
Woodland, California
95695

Phone: (530) 666-8130
Fax: (530) 666-8109
Yolo County website »

Yuba County

915 8th St., Suite 107
Marysville, California
95901

Phone: (530) 749-7850
Fax: (530) 749-7854
Yuba County website »