How to Get Your Marriage License

Another confusing wedding topic couples ask us about all the time- Marriage Licenses. How do I get it? What do I do with it? Where does it go later? Here are the basics you need to know (disclaimer: this is information about California, specifically Orange and LA County- Please check your local county laws. Also, we’re not lawyers ya’ll.)

#1 – Getting the License

You get it from the County Clerk’s Office within the 90 days before your wedding. Both of you have to be there in person. It’s a little like the DMV- not super romantic- so make it as fun as possible. You’ll probably have to take off from work to go get it anyway, so go have lunch and drinks after to celebrate- it’s a big deal!

More tips:

– You can do a lot of it online to speed the process along. You still have to go file it in person, but it will help. OC and LA links

– You can get your license in one County and get married in another- as long as it’s all in California.

– You will sign your marriage license while you are there, and get it on the spot, so technically you could go the couple of days before your wedding if you can’t get the time off before then.

#2 – The Wedding Day

Common misconception that the couple signs the license on the wedding day- you did that at the courthouse. The only people that sign on the wedding day are the officiant and 1-2 witnesses.

More tips:

– They are picky- it has to be signed in dark ink and if a mistake or scribble is made, or if someone goes outside the boxes, they may send it back. Not the end of the world but kind of a pain in the butt.

– There are instructions on the back! Just follow those and you should be ok!

– If Pop the Champagne is your day of coordinator…we take care of all of this for you :)

#3- After the Wedding

Just put the signed license back in the envelope they give you, stamp it, and drop it in the mail within one week. We recommend assigning someone to be in charge of this for you, especially if you are heading straight to your honeymoon. (Again, your PTC coordinator will do this for you). It will take about 6 weeks for the whole thing to process and for you to get proof so you can start changing your name, getting on your spouses insurance etc.

More tips:

– This is a big one ***You will not automatically get a copy of your license! You have to request the copy from the County in which you filed. OC and LA links.

– In the original packet you will get when you go to file, there will be a “request for copy” form- if you include this completed form along with a check when you send back the marriage license after the wedding- you will get a copy as soon as it is ready.


Any other tips you have to share?

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