getting a marriage license

Casting roses into the water
Casting roses into the water

Getting a Marriage License

Per California State law, you must obtain a marriage license before your ceremony and bring it with you on your wedding day--no exceptions.

To qualify for marriage licensing in California, you must:

  • be over 18
  • have valid unexpired ID showing your complete legal name
  • provide proof of any divorces or dissolutions that became final within the last two years, and
  • provide proof of any name changes that did not take place through marriage.

You may also be required to show additional documentation of identity or name change, so be prepared. Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the purchase date.

There are two types of California marriage licenses: public and confidential. A public license may be purchased by any qualified couple and requires one witness signature.

A confidential marriage license may only be purchased by couples who currently cohabit. This license does not require a witness signature and access to the marriage certificate is restricted.

There are two ways to obtain a marriage license if you're getting married in California:

  • Purchase a public or confidential marriage license at any California County Clerk or Clerk/Recorder office.
  • Purchase a confidential license from an authorized notary. Only couples who are cohabiting before their wedding day qualify for this service.

If you're purchasing a marriage license in L.A. County, go to to complete the online application and book an appointment to purchase your marriage license at any L.A. Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office. Be sure to book your appointment well before your ceremony, as the RR/CC's schedule books up quickly.

If you're purchasing a confidential marriage license from an authorized notary, you may have the option of having your license issued at your home or ceremony site (for an extra fee). Confidential marriage licensing is usually more expensive than the Clerk's office, but is can also be more convenient. We recommend having a Application for Confidential Marriage Record and Certificate of Identity (required for ordering your marriage certificates) notarized at the same time if you plan to submit a certificate order along with your completed marriage license.

If you prefer to obtain a confidential marriage license through an authorized notary, we can provide a referral once you've booked your ceremony. Confidential licenses are only issued to couples who currently cohabit and do not require a witness.