Your Marriage License

Photo by Maria Sbytova/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Maria Sbytova/iStock / Getty Images

Obtaining your marriage license is the first step in legalizing your marriage.  When you go to the County Recorder's Office to obtain your license, be sure to bring picture identification for both the bride and the groom.  Check with your Recorder as to the method of payment they will accept:  i.e.: cash, check, credit card.

You'll be asked to review a copy of your license once the Recorder has typed it out and before s/he officially prints it as a final copy.  Read  every line and box checked for accuracy before you give the copy back to the Registrar for issuance.   This is a permanent record.  Mistakes happen.

 Designate a responsible person to bring the license and paperwork to the ceremony and give it to your Officiant immediately upon arrival.  Your Officiant is legally charged with checking the license to be sure it is still current before s/he can marry you. Your Officiant is further charged with filing the completed license in a timely fashion after the ceremony.  

Decide on either one or two people who will sign the license as your   witnesses.  They should be people who can follow directions carefully as the license must be filled out correctly (or it will be rejected resulting in a several weeks delay and an additional re-issuance fee.)  You can ask anyone you like to sign as your witness,  but its nice if someone from both the groom's and the bride's side is given this honor.   

Your photographer will want to start taking group pictures immediately after the ceremony. So as not to hold up the Officiant from leaving,  tell the one or two people who are signing as witnesses on your license, to immediately go to your Officiant and fill out their portions on the license and then join the family for photos.  Your Officiant will appreciate this.

You may obtain a Confidential license which requires no witness signatures.  But be aware that you must marry in the same county in which this license is obtained.  Regular licenses permit you to marry anywhere in California. 

County Recorders have different requirements for obtaining certified copies of your license.  Be sure to read all the material you are given to find out what the requirements are in the county which has issued your license.

 If you are in a hurry for your license to be filed and certified copies provided, it would be a good idea to get your license in Santa Barbara as larger counties may take weeks longer to get your license filed and certified copies back to you.   For an extra fee,  the receipt of certified copies can be expedited.

It's a good idea to always check with your Recorder's office for the latest changes to fees, issuance, obtaining of certified copies, etc.