How to Get Married in California

Archived Q&A and Reviews

What are exact things I need to do to get married?

Aug 2004

Does anyone know the exact things you need to do to get married in California? I want to just have a civil ceremony, but I don't know what I need? What county do you get a marriage license in--the one you live in or the one you get married in? Is there a waiting period? I mean, can you apply for a license and get married on the same day? Do you have to bring witnesses? How do I change my name? Does anyone know any nice courthouses nearby? Any help and/or guidance would be greatly appreciated, including anything else I may have forgotten! new bride?

Trot yourself and your future spouse down to the county courthouse, fill out the form (make sure to spell your fathers' middle names husband and I both blew it on this one) and give them a check for $50 or so and you're good to go. No, nobody cares what county you live in, versus where you're getting married. I got married in LA County when I was living in South Carolina.

I think if you want them to do the wedding, you should make an appointment. If you have a priest hanging around, just have her sign at the bottom. BTW, they don't check the priest's credentials...I know because my husband's stepfather married us. He's part of a funky New Age church...and we've never had any questions from the state. He just wrote in ''Christian'' on the denomination blank.... Sara 6 years ago, we got the license and the mini-ceremony the same day at oakland city hall. not a scenic location, but efficient. now it seems they have reduced the nmber of locations performing ceremonies, but it's still pretty easy. congratulations!

We got married in our back yard with our closest friends in Oakland. One of our friends officiated the ceremony (we got him authorized for a little extra money). The whole process was extremely easy. One stop shopping service at Alameda County Clerk's office at 1106 Madison Street. You can call for information at 510-272-6362. The license was good for 90 days. I know you can get married on the same day because we got to witness a wedding right there. DiAnn

You get your marriage licence in the county you're getting married in (if you do a civil ceremony some where), OR the county you FILE in. For example, some friends of mine who live in Berkeley had a civil ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco, therefore, they have a San Francisco county Marriage Licence. I had a, um, *not* civil ceremony last September, in which my friend (who got ordained throught the Universalist Life Church) married us and then we filed with Alameda county (we live in Oakland) so we have an Alameda County marriage licence. I believe that all you need to do is make an appointment wherever you decide to have the ceremony (San Francisco City Hall is a wonderful place to have them, I understand), bring a couple of witnesses (and your ID, I think) and the filing fee (they'll tell you how much). I imagine other people will think of anything I've missed. Best of luck! Alameda County Newlywed

I got married just two years ago. Everything you need to know can be found at this website: Basically, you go to the county office to get your marriage license and, yes, I think you can get married the same day. We went to the Alameda Co. office in Oakland on 10th street (near the Oakland Museum), but there are a couple of branches. Anyway, this site should tell you the locations of these offices by county. You need one witness, but we had two just to be safe. We got our license in April and were married May 1st by the city clerk of Berkeley. He did a very nice ceremony and we had a couple of friends there as witnesses, along with my son. We then retired to a local pizza/beer garden for a quick ''reception.'' We then had two later weddings for family and friends, but that's a different story. Congratulations and good luck, Dianna

So the marriage process is pretty simple. You can go to the courthouse in Oakland, check out the city website for the exact address (it's in downtown Oakland). You and your partner bring a valid driver's license, pay the $80 fee for the marriage license and then you can get married that same day from 9am to 3:30. If you want to get married in a fancy location you can check out SF and register online. In Oakland you just have to show up and wait for you turn, no need to make an appointment. You can find out about the courthouse location on the web (for Oakland just go to the offcial city of Oakland website). Hope that helps and Blessings on your marriage Simple Marriage

I have 3 friends who decided to get married at City Hall in SF. I actually photographed one of their weddings, it's much nicer than most places. You've probably even seen it on the news with the gay marriage news coverage - big sweeping staircase and balconies. You call SF City Hall or check out, make an appt I believe or you may even be able to just show up and wait your turn. You can bring guests but if you don't want anyone but you and your fiance, someone there will witness the marriage for you so that's done. Wish you all the luck with your upcoming marriage. Congratulations. Jen

This link to the Alameda County Clerk's Office will answer some of your questions. anon