Marriage requirements for California


California marriage licenses are similar to those issued by most states, with one notable exception, which is useful if you happen to be a film idol or rock star. California actually has two types of marriage license, public, and confidential. The latter, although entirely legal, requires no witnesses and is not available for public viewing.

Licenses are issued by individual counties. The rules, fees, and county clerk’s hours may vary from one county to another. Usually, you can download a license application from the county’s website. If you are applying for a confidential license, you must marry in the county where you apply. For a public license, you can marry anywhere in the state, but not outside of it.

Here is an overview,  by the California Department of Public Health, of California’s marriage requirements and procedures.

Here is more specific information from some of the more popular counties in which destination weddings are held:

Palm Springs (RiversideCounty)

Los Angeles

San Francisco

San Diego




The California Name Equality Act 0f 2007 allows couples to determine the middle and last name they would like to go by after they are married. If you plan a name change, read the act carefully, as your choice does have legal implications.

The list of many people who can legally perform a wedding ceremony in California can include a friend or family member if a county clerk has appointed them a Deputy Commissioner for a Day.

Also from the California Department of Health, here is an overview of what wedding officiants need to know.



Want to know more about planning destination wedding travel in California? Our travel partners at Coastline Travel Advisors, a Virtuoso agency, are ready to help.