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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a Marriage License to get married in California?
Yes. You need a license issued anywhere in the State of California.
Where do I get a Marriage License?
A marriage license can be purchased from any California County Clerk or from an authorized notary.
Does the license expire?
Yes.  The license expires ninety days from the date of issue.  If not used prior to its expiration, you must purchase another license before you can be legally married.
Do I have to purchase the license in the county where my ceremony is held?
No.  A license issued in California is valid anywhere in the state of California.
What happens if I don’t have or forget to bring the license to the ceremony?
If your Officiant is not presented with a valid marriage license he/she cannot legally marry you.  The Officiant may perform a ceremony, but it will be a Commitment ceremony and you will not be legally married.  The commitment ceremony will not include the words husband, wife, wedding or marriage.  Once you present a valid marriage you may be legally married (a quick “I Do” ceremony will satisfy the state’s legal requirement).  Your wedding date will be the date you were legally married (solemnized), not the date of the original commitment ceremony. 
How is my marriage license filed and recorded?
Your Officiant is required to file your marriage license with the Office of the County Clerk (in the county where the license was issued) within ten calendar days after your ceremony.  The County Clerk will then record it.  This can take up to sixty days.
How do I change my name?
Either or both parties may change their name when they apply for their marriage license.  If not done at that time, then you must go through the courts to have a legal name change (which can be costly).  Once the license is issued no changes can be made.
Does that also change my name with DMV or other agencies?
No.  It only changes your name with the office of vital statistics.  You must obtain a certified copy for name changes with DMV, Social Security, SSI, Employment records, Health Insurance and numerous other government or private agencies.  
Do I automatically get a Certified Copy of the license after it is recorded?
No.  You don’t receive any acknowledgment from the county.  If you need (or want) a copy, you must apply for a Certified Copy and pay the published fee per copy.  You must wait at least three weeks after the ceremony to apply for a certified copy either in person or by mail (unless you apply for it through your Officiant and pay the additional fee or purchase it from the county at the time you purchase your license).  If you order it by mail, the application must be notarized and may take from 3-10 weeks to receive.
Is a Blood Test or Marriage Counseling required to obtain a Marriage License?
No.  California does not require a Blood Test or Marriage Counseling to obtain a Marriage License or to get married in California.  They only require a valid (unexpired) Marriage License issued by the State of California.