Each of my couples is unique and special, from all over the globe to right here in Southern California, where I am based. While there are many differences between the weddings I plan, they all have one aspect in common: the need for a wedding license. A wedding license is required to legally perform a wedding and is one of the most important documents you will obtain as a soon-to-be-married couple. The process for getting your marriage license is extremely easy, especially once you work your way through the requirements and know exactly what you need. Below I have outlined what you need to get a marriage license in the three biggest counties I work with in Southern California, including their small differences, so you are sure to have everything you need.

The requirements for applying for a marriage license are the same throughout the state of California, regardless of the county. There are no blood test or residency requirements, so the following are the only items needed when you apply for a license. You will need to complete an application, provide a form of ID (driver’s license, passport, or alien resident card), and both parties of the couple must appear together in person. The last remaining piece is paying the fee, and you will receive your license upon completion of the process. All that’s left is the best part – getting married!

It is important to remember that each county records marriages completed within that county, so you must file for your marriage license in the county you will be getting married in. When planning your trip to the clerk-recorder’s office, note that marriage licenses are available up to 90 days in advance of your wedding ceremony. If you are not married within that 90-day point, you will need to re-apply and complete the process again. Another important reminder when filling out your license is that if you are planning on changing your name after your wedding, you need to use your future name when signing. This cannot be changed on your license or certificate, so read everything closely and start practicing your new signature.

Below are a few differences between the marriage license process in Southern California counties along with resources for obtaining the correct application.

Photographer: True Photography

Los Angeles County: From Malibu to Long Beach, and Downtown LA to Pomona, LA County has the highest population of any county in the US. There at seven office locations within LA County and they do not take appointments for licenses, so keep that in mind when choosing a day and time. An application can be completed online, but you must pick up your license within 15 days of completing that application. The application can be found by following this link, as well as fee details and office locations:  https://www.lavote.net/home/county-clerk/marriage-licenses-ceremonies/apply-for-a-marriage-license/apply

Photographer: Brian Leahy

Orange County: Found South of LA, Orange County is a hub for tourism and boasts many cities on the West Coast, such as Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente. Your application can be completed online and processed at one of four locations in Orange County. They accept appointments as well as walk-ins at any of their locations. http://www.ocrecorder.com/services/marriage

Photographer: Katie Beverly

San Diego County: Drive a little further south and you’ll hit San Diego County, 70 miles of coast bordering Orange County and Baja California. Appointments are required at each of their five branches and an application must be completed before you arrive at your appointment. Online or print versions of the application are available at the following link. https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Pages/marriage-licenses.aspx

Once you have gathered all the requirements and obtained your wedding license, you’re ready to get married! This small but crucial step will allow you to be married legally and begin your new life together as a married couple.