Getting Married in California

There are very few requirements to marry in California – not even a blood test is necessary. Both parties must be adults and competent to marry. (If either party is a minor, other legal issues apply before the couple can marry.)

Although California residency is not necessary to marry in California, neither spouse-to-be can already be married to someone else or already be married to each other. They also cannot be married by proxy (substitute for one of the spouses-to-be). Both spouses-to-be, the wedding officiant and a witness to the act must be present during the ceremony. The only exception to the proxy law, according to Section 420 of the Family Code, is: “…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…”

At the time of the marriage ceremony (or solemnization), the wedding officiant shall request a marriage license from the parties. According to Family Code Section 422, the officiant shall make, sign and endorse upon the license (or attached statement to the license): the fact, date, time and location of the wedding (city or county); the names and residences of witnesses, and his/her name, address and his/her official position to perform marriages and if relevant, his/her religious denomination. (A religious ceremony is not necessary a marriage solemnization to be a legal marriage.)

After the wedding, the officiant must return the filled-out marriage license to the county recorder’s office where the ceremony was performed. He/she must do so within ten days of the ceremony.

If either spouse requests a copy of the filled-out marriage license at the time of the ceremony, according to Family Code Section 424, the officiant shall issue a marriage certificate showing the facts specified in Section 422.

	And, according to Family Code Section 425, “…if no record
	 of the solemnization of a marriage previously contracted 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. The license
	 and certificate shall be returned to the county recorder of the county
	 in which the license was issued.”

	For more information on who may officiate a wedding visit the State of
	 California Department of Public Health’s website at

	For more information on obtaining a marriage license, contact the California
	 county registrar/county clerk’s office where the ceremony will be
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