Here is some general information, followed by links to 4 county websites in southern California.
Types of Marriage Licenses
There are two types of marriage licenses commonly issued in California: the public marriage license and confidential marriage license. In addition to the general requirements listed above, there are additional requirements for each of the licenses listed below.
Public Marriage License:
You must be at least 18 years old. Persons under 18 with written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND permission from a California Superior Court Judge may marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process. Contact the County Clerk’s Office in your county for further information regarding these requirements.
The marriage license may be obtained from any county in California. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.
You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony. The license contains a place for two witnesses if you prefer. You may NOT have more than two witnesses sign the official marriage license. Licenses received with more than two witness’s signatures will be returned to the officiant and a duplicate marriage license will need to be purchased.
There is no age requirement in California for witnesses, however, they must be old enough to know that they are witnessing a marriage ceremony, AND be able to sign their name on the official marriage license.
The marriage license is registered at the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the license was purchased and is a public record. Anyone may request copies of the marriage license by submitting the required fee to the County Recorder. Only one officiant may sign the marriage certificate as solemnized.
Confidential Marriage License:
The participating parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for a confidential marriage license. Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license.
The participating parties must be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license and must sign an affidavit on the license attesting to those facts.
You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the confidential marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.
No witnesses are required to be at the ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license.
The marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the County Clerk’s Office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification together with the required fee to the County Clerk in order to do so. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order to the County Clerk in the county where the license is registered.
Consult these county websites for more information:
Yes, I am a “real” minister. I have been an active pastor of a non-denominational church in Thousand Oaks, California for over 25 years. The first church grew to 400. I recently planted a second church. I have officiated over 300 weddings, vow renewals, funerals and baby dedications.
I am ordained with two churches:
Rhema Ministerial Association International since 1986
Historically the term means that a church is not officially part of a denominational structure such as Baptist, Lutheran, or Methodist—just to name just a few as there are hundreds of Christian denominations in the United States. For most brides, “non-denominational” means a minister who is willing to adapt the ceremony to the spirituality of the couple, including non-religious ceremonies.
I perform religious, semi-religious, spiritual (with exceptions), and non-religious ceremonies. My emphasis is on creating a personally crafted ceremony for each couple irrespective of their religious beliefs. I am careful to recognize your religious tradition in a meaningful way. I am well versed in the use of scripture to express love and joy. I am respectful of your religious or non-religious background.
I currently provide officiant services in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. If your location is beyond these counties, arrangements are still possible with special consideration for travel.
The pre-marital session can include one of the several topics depending upon each couple’s need. It could consist of a post-divorce session if either the bride or groom is entering into a second marriage; a family history analysis; expectations each has for their marriage; goals in marriage; guidelines for the relationship with in-laws; basic financial considerations; or, even a question and answer session.
Keep in mind that I offer this as a pastor with real world experience. I am not a certified marriage counselor.
This post-marital session takes place approximately one year from the wedding ceremony. In this session, I ask each individual the same two questions and then let them answer. I’ve found that after one year the marriage has enough history for reflection and yet is young enough for flexible improvement.
Besides the fact that this package includes all the bells and whistles, there are two underlying advantages:
It frees me to focus on only one wedding and one event on your given day. People do a lot of multitasking in today’s world and that is true with wedding vendors. I regularly schedule multiple weddings on the same day and have officiated up to 4 in one day! I won’t schedule a second wedding with this package and that is beneficial for all.
It gives me the edge on travel delays due to heavy traffic and accidents in greater Los Angeles because I am able to depart my office earlier. I conducted a wedding once in which an accident closed all lanes of a freeway and most of the guests were on the other side of the accident. The wedding party and I lived close to the venue, but none of the guests could arrive on time. The ceremony started 4 hours late! Granted this is an unlikely event but if it happened once, it could happen again.
When you choose this package, everything, and I mean everything is included:
Complimentary Personal Consultation in person or by phone
Unlimited phone and email contact
A one-hour pre-marital session on a topic of your choice
Your choice of a Classic Ceremony or a Personal Ceremony
Officiating at the ceremony
Guaranteed credentialed officiant as a replacement in case of personal emergency to RevSteen.com
Exclusive to the Premier Package:
Follow-up Personal Consultation as needed
Separate-day rehearsal (no mileage fees for long distance travel)
Only one wedding officiated on your wedding day – yours!
Arrival at the wedding venue as early as one hour prior to the start time
Wedding gift to the couple of a certified marriage certificate
USPS Priority Mail Express or Personal Delivery (Ventura County only) for license filing
A one-hour 1st-anniversary marital session on a topic of your choice
Most ceremonies today follow a sequence similar to this. However, this sequence may be changed to suit your tastes:
Seating of the Guests: Pre-ceremonial music as the ushers seat the guests. Music begins 15 to 30 minutes before the ceremony.
Seating of Parents: After the guests are seated, the groom’s parents are escorted to their seats. The bride’s mother is the last to be seated. The bride’s father is waiting for the bride.
Groom Takes His Place: The officiant, groom, best man and ushers take their places.
Attendant’s Procession: The wedding party proceeds down the aisle with processional music in the background, including the flower girl and the ring bearer.
Bridal Procession: The bride’s father offers his arm as he escorts the bride down the aisle.
The Welcome: A welcome to the guests and expression of appreciation for their attendance at your wedding is appropriate here. Additionally, some choose to recognize those unable to attend.
The Address: The officiant speaks about marriage. The comments are generally focused on the origin of marriage, love, friendship, mutual trust and respect, and the joys and challenges found within choosing to love someone for life. This is where scripture can be included. These remarks will be inspired by our conversations and reviewed by the bride and groom.
Questions of Intent: This is the point in which you say the famous words, “I do.”
Exchange of Vows: Your vows are what you are promising one another. Whether you choose to use traditional or contemporary vows or to write your own, make sure they voice the promises you truly want to make. Your vows can be identical or different; they can be read or repeated after your officiant. Sample vows are provided on this website.
Exchange of Rings: This can be done as you recite your vows to each other or it can occur later in the ceremony.
Additional Options: This is the time where couples will symbolize their union by lighting a unity candle or blending sand or exchange salt or some other symbolic ceremony. This is a great time for background music to be played. Examples of specialty ceremonies are provided on this website.
The Pronouncement: This is when you are officially pronounced husband and wife.
The Kiss: When you kiss, it’s a great photo opportunity. Be sure it is not over too quickly!
The Introduction: This is the time you are introduced as husband and wife for the first time.
The Recessional: The bride and groom lead the wedding party back down the aisle.
Celebrate a Life That Passed
We must celebrate the lives of our dearly departed almost just as much as we celebrate the joining of two souls at a wedding. I offer various funeral packages that you may purchase for your future self or for your loved ones. Contact me for details.