California Outline

California Marriage Laws

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

Select a county

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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 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.

View the California Statutes on the official state site
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Alameda County Recorder

1106 Madison Street
Oakland, California

Phone: (510) 272-6362
Fax: (510) 208-9957
Alameda County Recorder website »

Alpine County Recorder

99 Water Street
P.O. Box 217
Markleeville, California

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

Amador County Recorder

810 Court Street
Jackson, California

Phone: (209) 223-6469
Fax: (209) 223-620
Amador County Recorder website »

Butte County Recorder

25 County Center Drive
Administration Bldg.
Oroville, California

Phone: (530) 538-7690
Fax: (530) 538-7975
Butte County Recorder website »

Calaveras County Recorder

891 Mountain Ranch Road
Government Center
San Andreas, California

Phone: (209) 754-6375
Fax: (209) 754-6733
Calaveras County Recorder website »

Colusa County Clerk

546 Jay Street
Colusa, California

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

Contra Costa Recorder

555 Escobar Street
Martinez, California

Contra Costa Recorder website »

Del Norte County Recorder

981 H Street
Crescent City, California

Phone: (707) 464-7216
Fax: (707) 465-0321
Del Norte County Recorder website »

El Dorado County Recorder

360 Fair Lane
Placerville, California

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

Fresno County Recorder

2281 Tulare Street
Fresno, California

Phone: (559) 488-2609
Fax: (559) 488-6841
Fresno County Recorder website »

Glenn County Clerk

526 West Sycamore Street
Willows, California

Phone: (530) 934-6407
Fax: (530) 934-6305
Glenn County Clerk website »

Humboldt County Recorder

825 Fifth Street
Eureka, California

Phone: (707) 445-7593
Fax: (707) 445-7430
Humboldt County Recorder website »

Imperial County Recorder

940 West Main Street
El Centro, California

Phone: (760) 339-4427
Fax: (760) 482-4271
Imperial County Recorder website »

Inyo County Recorder

PO Drawer F
Independence, California

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

Kern County Clerk

1655 Chester Avenue
Bakersfield, California

Kern County Clerk website »

Kings County Clerk

1400 West Lacey Boulevard
Hanford, California

Kings County Clerk website »

Lake County Clerk

255 North Forbes Street
Lakeport, California

Phone: (707) 263-2293
Fax: (707) 263-3703
Lake County Clerk website »

Lassen County Recorder

220 S. Lassen Street
Susanville, California

Phone: (530) 251-8217
Fax: (530) 257-3480
Lassen County Recorder website »

Los Angeles County Clerk

12400 East Imperial Highway
Norwalk, California

Los Angeles County Clerk website »

Madera County Clerk

200 West 4th Street
Madera, California

Madera County Clerk website »

Marin County Recorder

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, California

Phone: (415) 499-6092
Fax: (415) 499-7893
Marin County Recorder website »

Mariposa County Recorder

4982 Tenth Street
Mariposa, California

Mariposa County Recorder website »

Mendocino County Clerk

501 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, California

Phone: (707) 463-4370
Fax: (707) 463-4257
Mendocino County Clerk website »

Merced County Recorder

2222 M Street
Merced, California

Phone: (209) 385-7501
Fax: (209) 385-7626
Merced County Recorder website »

Modoc County Clerk

204 South Court Street
Alturas, California

Phone: (530) 233-2512
Fax: (530) 233-6666
Modoc County Clerk website »

Mono County Recorder

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

Phone: (760) 932-5241
Fax: (760) 932-5531
Mono County Recorder website »

Monterey County Recorder

168 West Alisal Street
Salinas, California

Phone: (831) 647-7906
Fax: (831) 755-5064
Monterey County Recorder website »

Napa County Clerk

900 Coombs Street
P.O. Box 29
Napa, California

Phone: (707) 253-4246
Fax: (707) 259-8149
Napa County Clerk website »

Nevada County Clerk

950 Maidu Avenue
Nevada City, California

Phone: (530) 265-1221
Fax: (530) 265-9842
Nevada County Clerk website »

Orange County Recorder

Santa Ana, California

Orange County Recorder website »

Placer County Clerk

2954 Richardson Drive
Auburn, California

Placer County Clerk website »

Plumas County Recorder

520 Main Street
Quincy, California

Phone: (530) 283-6305
Fax: (530) 283-6155
Plumas County Recorder website »

Riverside County Clerk

2724 Gateway Drive
Riverside, California

Riverside County Clerk website »

Sacramento County Clerk

600 Eighth Street
Sacramento, California

Sacramento County Clerk website »

San Benito County Clerk

440 Fifth Street
Hollister, California

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

San Bernadino Recorder

222 West Hospitality Lane
San Bernadino, California

San Bernadino Recorder website »

San Diego County Clerk

1600 Pacific Highway
San Diego, California

San Diego County Clerk website »

San Francisco County Clerk

101 Grove Street
San Francisco, California

San Francisco County Clerk website »

San Joaquin Clerk

44 N. San Joaquin Street
Stockton, California

Phone: (209) 468-2362
Fax: (209) 468-2901
San Joaquin Clerk website »

San Luis Obispo County Clerk

1055 Monterey Street
San Luis Obispo, California

Phone: (805) 781-5088
Fax: (805 781-1111
San Luis Obispo County Clerk website »

San Mateo County Clerk

555 County Center
Redwood City, California

Phone: (650) 363-4711
Fax: (650) 363-1903
San Mateo County Clerk website »

Santa Barbara County Clerk

1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, California

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

Santa Clara County Recorder

70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, California

Phone: (408) 299-2481
Fax: (408) 280-1768
Santa Clara County Recorder website »

Santa Cruz County Recorder

701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, California

Phone: (831) 454-2800
Fax: (831) 454-3169
Santa Cruz County Recorder website »

Shasta County Clerk

1450 Court Street
Redding, California

Phone: (530) 225-5378
Fax: (530) 225-5152
Shasta County Clerk website »

Sierra County Recorder

P.O. Drawer D
Downieville, California

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

Siskiyou County Clerk

311 Fourth Street
Yreka, California

Phone: (530) 842-8065
Fax: (530) 842-8059
Siskiyou County Clerk website »

Solano County Recorder

675 Texas Street
Fairfield, California

Phone: (707) 421-6319
Fax: (707) 784-9002
Solano County Recorder website »

Sonoma County Clerk

2300 County Center Drive
Santa Rosa, California

Phone: (707) 527-3800
Fax: (707) 565-3957
Sonoma County Clerk website »

Stanislaus County Clerk

1021 I Street
Modesto, California

Phone: (209) 525-5265
Fax: (209) 525-5804
Stanislaus County Clerk website »

Sutter County Recorder

433 Second Street
Yuba City, California

Phone: (530) 822-7120
Fax: (530) 822-7214
Sutter County Recorder website »

Tehama County Recorder

633 Washington Street
Red Bluff, California

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

Trinity County Recorder

11 Court Street
Weaverville, California

Phone: (916) 623-1222
Fax: (530) 623-8398
Trinity County Recorder website »

Tulare County Recorder

221 S. Mooney Blvd.
Visalia, California

Phone: (559) 733-6518
Fax: (559) 740-4329
Tulare County Recorder website »

Tuolumne County Clerk

2 South Green Street
Sonora, California

Phone: (209) 533-5570
Fax: (209) 533-6543
Tuolumne County Clerk website »

Ventura County Recorder

800 South Victoria Avenue
Ventura, California

Phone: (805) 654-2263
Fax: (805) 654-2295
Ventura County Recorder website »

Yolo County Clerk

625 Court Street
Woodland, California

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

Yuba County Clerk

915 Eighth Street
Marysville, California

Phone: (530) 741-6341
Fax: (530) 749-7854
Yuba County Clerk website »