California Marriage Laws

California is a wonderful place to have a wedding. If you are looking to get married or perform a wedding ceremony in the state of California, then this guide is for you! We will cover all of the need-to-know details for any couple or minister in California. If you have questions about the license or making sure a marriage is legally recognized, we have gathered all of the facts and relevant law together in one place to make it as easy as possible to have a legally binding wedding.

Requirements for the Minister

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

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.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes

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.

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:
No

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.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
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.

Requirements for the Couple

Min. Age of Witnesses:
Not Applicable
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

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.

Final Steps

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Minister
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!