Requirements for the Minister
- Min. Age of Minister:
- Age 18
- Not Required
- Document(s) Required:
- Varies by County
- Online Ordination Recognized:
- Relevant Office of Registration:
- County Clerk
- Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
- After Ceremony
- Minister I.D. # Issued:
Ministers officiating weddings in California must be 18 years of age at minimum. This also happens to be the same age requirement to get ordained by the ULC. It does not matter where the minister lives, their beliefs, or their gender.
There is no statewide registration process for ministers in California. If a County Clerk has a question after the ceremony is performed they may reach out to the minister to verify or get documentation. Anything that they ask for can be presented at that time.
The ULC always recommends that after getting ordained online, ministers who are performing a wedding at minimum obtain an official copy of their ministry credential in their records. This will help to avoid any hassles if and when the documentation needs to be provided. To that end, many members report that the California Wedding Package is a great option.
FAM § 400. (a) Although marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not a religious, contract, a marriage may be solemnized by a priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older. A person authorized by this subdivision shall not be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of the person’s faith. Refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision, either by an individual or by a religious denomination, shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any entity.
Wedding Ceremony Requirements
- Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
- Minister Required to be Present:
The law of California says that there are no proxy marriages allowed as all parties (officiant, couple, and one witness) must be physically present. There is no minimum age requirement for a witness in the state, but they must be old enough to sign their name in the box and recognize that they are witnessing a wedding.
There is a very limited proxy marriage exception for members of the US Armed Forces who are stationed overseas and serving in a conflict zone. Other steps must be taken for a proxy to be granted power of attorney in such a situation and those steps should be addressed with a legal expert.
Other than making sure the couple, the officiant, and the single witness are all present to sign the documentation after the ceremony, there are two essential elements to the ceremony. The couple must give consent, which is commonly the “I do” exchange portion of the ceremony, and the minister must make a proclamation that they are married.
FAM § 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.
Marriage License Requirements
- Who Picks Up License:
- The Couple
- Where License is Valid:
- Any County in California
- Marriage License Pick-Up:
- In Person Only
- Cost of License:
- Varies by County
- Accepted I.D. Types:
- Photo ID
- Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
- Varies by County
- Blood Test Required:
In California, the couple is responsible for picking up the marriage license in person at the office of the County Clerk. They will need to bring and present photo identification, and in some places they will also want to see a copy of a birth certificate. If the applicant does not have suitable photo identification, credible witness affidavit or affidavits may be used in some cases.
In California the clerk may ask to see an official divorce decree for marriages that ended by dissolution or nullity. They will not require a blood test.
Once the marriage license has been picked up by the couple, it can be used for a wedding that takes place anywhere in California regardless of where it was issued. The license fee varies by county.
FAM § 350. (a) Before entering a marriage, or declaring a marriage pursuant to Section 425, the parties shall first obtain a marriage license from a county clerk
(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 476, Sec. 1. Effective September 10, 2004.)
FAM § 364 (a) Each applicant for a marriage license shall be required to present authentic photo identification acceptable to the county clerk as to name and date of birth. A credible witness affidavit or affidavits may be used in lieu of authentic photo identification.
(b) For the purpose of ascertaining the facts mentioned or required in this part, if the clerk deems it necessary, the clerk may examine the applicants for a marriage license on oath at the time of the application. The clerk shall reduce the examination to writing and the applicants shall sign it.
(c) If necessary, the clerk may request additional documentary proof as to the accuracy of the facts stated
(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816, Sec. 10. Effective January 1, 2007. Operative January 1, 2008, by Sec. 56 of Ch. 816.)
Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in California. Valid picture identification is one that contains a photograph, date of birth, and an issue and expiration date, such as a state-issued identification card, drivers license, passport, military identification, etc. Some counties may also require a copy of your birth certificate.
If you have been married before, you will need to know the specific date your last marriage ended, and how it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity). Some counties may require a copy of the final judgment if your previous marriage ended by dissolution or nullity.
Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will no longer be valid. You must purchase a new license.
The fees and hours of issuance for a marriage license may vary by county.
The person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable within 10 days of the date of the ceremony.
Marriage License Facts
- ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
- Mandatory Waiting Period:
- License Valid For:
- 90 Days
- License Must Be Submitted:
- Within 10 Days of Ceremony
It is important to make sure that the license the coupe picks up is for a “religious” ceremony and not for a “civil” ceremony. Even if the wedding is not going to contain specific religious elements. A Universal Life Church ordained minister has authority to perform religious ceremonies and therefore this is the type that the couple needs to make sure to procure. Civil ceremony licenses are used for weddings solemnized by a judge, a justice of the peace, or a similar figure.
In California there is no waiting period between when the license is issued and when the wedding can take place. It is possible for the couple to obtain a license and be married on the very same day.
The marriage license in California is valid for 90 days after it has been issued. The wedding must take place some time within this window, and it must be submitted back to the clerk for filing within 10 days of the wedding ceremony.
FAM § 356. A marriage license issued pursuant to this part expires 90 days after its issuance. The calendar date of expiration shall be clearly noted on the face of the license.
(Enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. Operative January 1, 1994.)
FAM § 357.
(a) The county clerk shall number each marriage license issued and shall transmit at periodic intervals to the county recorder a list or copies of the licenses issued.
(b) Not later than 60 days after the date of issuance, the county recorder shall notify licenseholders whose marriage license has not been returned of that fact and that the marriage license will automatically expire on the date shown on its face.
(c) The county recorder shall notify the licenseholders of the obligation of the person solemnizing their marriage to return the marriage license to the recorder’s office within 10 days after the ceremony.
(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816, Sec. 12. Effective January 1, 2007. Operative January 1, 2008, by Sec. 56 of Ch. 816.)
FAM § 359.
(a) Except as provided in Sections 420 and 426, applicants to be married shall first appear together in person before the county clerk to obtain a marriage license.
(b) The contents of the marriage license are provided in Part 1 (commencing with Section 102100) of Division 102 of the Health and Safety Code.
(c) The issued marriage license shall be presented to the person solemnizing the marriage by the parties to be married.
(d) The person solemnizing the marriage shall complete the solemnization sections on the marriage license, and shall cause to be entered on the marriage license the printed name, signature, and mailing address of at least one, and no more than two, witnesses to the marriage ceremony.
(e) The marriage license shall be returned by the person solemnizing the marriage to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.
(f) As used in this division, “returned” means presented to the appropriate person in person, or postmarked, before the expiration of the specified time period.
(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 2007. Operative January 1, 2008, by Sec. 56 of Ch. 816.)
FAM § 423. (a) 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.
FAM § 422. The person solemnizing a marriage shall sign and print or type upon the marriage license a statement, in the form prescribed by the State Department of Public Health, showing all of the following:
(a) The fact, date (month, day, year), and place (city and county) of solemnization.
(b) The printed names, signatures, and mailing addresses of at least one, and no more than two, 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 other authorized person of any religious denomination.
(d) The person solemnizing the marriage shall also type or print their name and mailing address.
(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 115, Sec. 9. (AB 1817) Effective January 1, 2020.)
Requirements for the Couple
- Min. Age of Witnesses:
- Not Applicable
- Couple's Consent Required:
- Pronouncement Required:
In California, the law says only adults 18 years of age or older can marry, though there are exceptions made for minors under 18 with parental consent who also obtain a court order. Court orders are reviewed individually and issued on a case-by-case basis.
There is no residency requirement in California for persons who want to be wed. This means either, or both, members of the couple can be from out-of-state or country and still obtain a license to be married in California.
Same-sex couples are legally able to get married in the state of California.
FAM § 301. Two unmarried persons 18 years of age or older, who are not otherwise disqualified, are capable of consenting to and consummating marriage.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 82, Sec. 3. (SB 1306) Effective January 1, 2015.)
FAM § 302. (a) An unmarried person under 18 years of age may be issued a marriage license upon obtaining a court order granting permission to the underage person or persons to marry, in accordance with the requirements described in Section 304.
(b) The court order and written consent of at least one of the parents or the guardian of each underage person shall be filed with the clerk of the court, and a certified copy of the order shall be presented to the county clerk at the time the marriage license is issued.
(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 660, Sec. 3. (SB 273) Effective January 1, 2019.)
FAM § 2200. Marriages between parents and children, ancestors and descendants of every degree, and between siblings of the half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles or aunts and nieces or nephews, are incestuous, and void from the beginning, whether the relationship is legitimate or illegitimate.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 82, Sec. 23. (SB 1306) Effective January 1, 2015.)
- Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
- Church/Ordaining Body:
- Universal Life Church Ministries
- Address of Church:
- Minister's Home Address
After the ceremony is completed there are only a few things left to make sure the wedding is legally recognized. In the portion of the marriage license that has a blank for the officiant’s title, make sure to put “minister”. For the officiant name, please only give a full legal name without any titles. If the license asks for the name of the ordaining church, list Universal Life Church Ministries.
Check to be certain the license is filled out completely and correctly by all parties. Then it is ready to submit back to the clerk’s office within 10 days of the ceremony. Be careful when filling out the document, because any errors can result in a need to reissue the license and additional fees.
ULC ministers should keep a record of any ceremonies that they perform. Especially in the case of a wedding, a contracted service, or any ministry work that is compensated.
Lastly, make sure to enjoy the day and share in the love and celebration of a joyful couple's greatest memory!
FAM § 307 This division, so far as it relates to the solemnizing of marriage, is not applicable to members of a particular religious society or denomination not having clergy for the purpose of solemnizing marriage or entering the marriage relation, if all of the following requirements are met:
(a) The parties to the marriage sign and endorse on the form prescribed by the State Department of Public Health, showing all of the following:
(1) The fact, time, and place of entering into the marriage.
(2) The printed names, signatures, and mailing addresses of two witnesses to the ceremony.
(3) The religious society or denomination of the parties to the marriage, and that the marriage was entered into in accordance with the rules and customs of that religious society or denomination. The statement of the parties to the marriage that the marriage was entered into in accordance with the rules and customs of the religious society or denomination is conclusively presumed to be true.
(b) The License and Certificate of Non-Clergy Marriage, endorsed pursuant to subdivision (a), is returned to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.
(Amended (as amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816) by Stats. 2007, Ch. 483, Sec. 9. Effective January 1, 2008.)