California Marriage Laws

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

California Outline

Congratulations! If you've found yourself at this page it is likely that you are either planning to be married or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in California. Ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of legal marriages in California. The information provided below will walk you through the steps one must follow to become a minister and perform a valid wedding ceremony in the state of California.

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 Become an Ordained Minister in California

If you haven't already, you should get ordained online with the Universal Life Church. Ordination is free and can be completed in just a matter of minutes. Thousands of legally valid marriages are performed by ULC ministers around the world every year. Begin the process by clicking the big blue button below!

2 How to Officiate a Marriage in California

Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk). Let them know that you are a minister of the Universal Life Church in Seattle, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage.

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

Select a county contact

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California's Top Wedding Spot

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3 License to Marry in California

After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our online store to purchase whatever documentation will be required. We typically advise ministers in California to get an Ordination Package and to add a Letter of Good Standing to her or his order. While Minister registration is not technically required in California you may be asked to display proof of your ordination to the county clerks before they will accept the marriage as having been legally solemnized. Having this proof of your ordination will also provide peace-of-mind to any couple that you intend to marry. Additionally, please attempt to leave at least 3 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in advance.

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.

It is important to note that some county clerks in California may require wedding officiants to attach a statement avowing some of the elements in the marriage license upon submission, including the following:

-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

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.

4 How to Perform a Wedding in California

Now that you've done all of the above, you are ready to perform the wedding! Be sure that the couple has picked up their California marriage license from the appropriate office. This license is valid for 90 days, and there is no mandatory waiting period between when the couple receives the marriage license in California and when the ceremony may be legally performed. Please be aware that the signed license must be returned to the issuing office within 10 days of the marriage license signing.

At the Universal Life Church we receive several calls from wedding officiants in California, after they've received their license to marry by getting ordained online, asking for guidance on how to perform a wedding ceremony. Once the legal matters have been taken care of, officiating a wedding (while a sometimes-daunting task) can be a great deal of fun. We would suggest that new California wedding ministers concerned about the ceremony peruse one of our helpful wedding guides. The minister training section of our website should offer a helpful refresher for more experienced ministers.

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.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is stationed overseas and serving in a conflict or a war and is unable to appear for the licensure and solemnization of the marriage may enter into that marriage by the appearance of an attorney in fact, commissioned and empowered in writing for that purpose through a power of attorney. The attorney in fact shall personally appear at the county clerk's office with the party who is not stationed overseas and present the original power of attorney duly signed by the party stationed overseas and acknowledged before a notary or witnessed by two officers of the United States Armed Forces. Copies in any form, including by facsimile, are not acceptable. The power of attorney shall state the full given names at birth, or by court order, of the parties to be married, and that the power of attorney is solely for the purpose of authorizing the attorney in fact to obtain a marriage license on the person's behalf and participate in the solemnization of the marriage. The original power of attorney shall be a part of the marriage certificate upon registration. The completion of a power of attorney shall be the sole determinant as to whether the county clerk's office and the State Registrar will accept the power of attorney.

(c) A contract of marriage, if otherwise duly made, shall not be invalidated for want of conformity to the requirements of any religious sect.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 130, Sec. 1. (AB 2128) Effective January 1, 2017.)

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.

(Enacted by Stats. 1992, Ch. 162, Sec. 10. Operative January 1, 1994.)

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 his or her name and mailing address.

(Amended (as amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816) by Stats. 2007, Ch. 483, Sec. 12. Effective January 1, 2008.)

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.

(b) For purposes of Section 102356 of the Health and Safety Code, the person solemnizing the marriage shall include with the marriage license described in subdivision (a) a copy of the court order granting permission to marry described in Section 304, if one or both of the parties to the marriage were minors at the time of solemnization of the marriage.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 660, Sec. 6. (SB 273) Effective January 1, 2019.)

425. If no record of the solemnization of a California marriage previously contracted under this division for that marriage is known to exist, the parties may purchase a License and Certificate of Declaration of Marriage from the county clerk in the parties' county of residence one year or more from the date of the marriage. The license and certificate shall be returned to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816, Sec. 20. Effective January 1, 2007. Operative January 1, 2008, by Sec. 56 of Ch. 816.)

426. If for sufficient reason, as described in subdivision (d), either or both of the parties to be married are physically unable to appear in person before the county clerk, a marriage license may be issued by the county clerk to the person solemnizing the marriage if the following requirements are met:

(a) The person solemnizing the marriage physically presents an affidavit to the county clerk explaining the reason for the inability to appear.

(b) The affidavit is signed under penalty of perjury by the person solemnizing the marriage and by both parties.

(c) The signature of any party to be married who is unable to appear in person before the county clerk is authenticated by a notary public or a court prior to the county clerk issuing the marriage license.

(d) Sufficient reason includes proof of hospitalization, incarceration, or any other reason proved to the satisfaction of the county clerk.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 816, Sec. 21. Effective January 1, 2007. Operative January 1, 2008, by Sec. 56 of Ch. 816.)

View the California Statutes on the official state site
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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

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

Butte County

155 Nelson Ave
Oroville, California

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

Calaveras County

891 Mountain Ranch Road
San Andreas, California

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

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

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

Fresno County

2220 Tulare St
Fresno, California

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

Glenn County

516 West Sycamore Street, 2nd Floor
Willows, California

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

Humboldt County

825 5th Street, 5th Floor
Eureka, California

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

Imperial County

940 W. Main Street Suite 202
El Centro, California

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

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

Lake County

255 North Forbes St
Lakeport, California

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

Lassen County

220 S. Lassen Street, Suite 5
Susanville, California

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

Los Angeles County

12400 Imperial Highway
Norwalk, California

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

Madera County

200 W. 4th Street
Madera, California

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

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

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

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

Orange County

211 West Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, California

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

Placer County

2954 Richardson Drive
Auburn, California

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

Plumas County

520 Main Street, Room 102
Quincy, California

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

Riverside County

4080 Lemon St, 1st Floor
Riverside, California

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

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

San Bernardino County

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

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

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

San Mateo County

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

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

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

Santa Cruz County

701 Ocean Street, Rm. 210
Santa Cruz, California

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

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

Solano County

675 Texas Street, Suite 1900
Fairfield, California

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

Sonoma County

585 Fiscal Dr, Room 103
Santa Rosa, California

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

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

Tehama County

633 Washington St., Room 11
Red Bluff, California

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

Trinity County

11 Court Street
Weaverville, California

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

Tulare County

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

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

Tuolumne County

2 S. Green Street, Second Floor
Sonora, California

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

Ventura County

800 S. Victoria Ave
Ventura, California

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

Yolo County

625 Court Street, Rm. B01
Woodland, California

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

Yuba County

915 8th St., Suite 107
Marysville, California

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