When planning your wedding, one of the items that couples sometimes dread having to do is getting their marriage license. It sounds like it would be a major hassle, but it really isn’t too difficult. The requirements for getting your license varies state by state. And comparatively speaking, it really isn’t too difficult in California. At Olympia Banquet Hall, we get asked about how to get a marriage license every once in awhile. Here’s the best way!

Public Vs. Confidential Marriage License

We often hear the question, “What’s the difference between a public and a confidential license?” The main difference is that a public marriage license is open to the public and available for anyone to view or get a copy of. A confidential marriage license is not available for public viewing unless it’s requested by a court order.

In order to be eligible for a confidential marriage license, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Get married in the same county in which you receive your marriage license.
  • Be living with your spouse prior to applying for the license (you will be required to sign an affidavit for this).

Additionally, witnesses do not sign a confidential marriage license.

What You’ll Need For Your Marriage License

Again, this varies state by state, but in California, if you have not been previously married, all you’re going to be required to take with you is a valid ID. Some counties may require you to bring a copy of your birth certificate, so you should check with your local county clerk.

Forms of Valid ID:

  • Driver’s license
  • State ID card
  • Military ID
  • Passport
  • Green card

What If I’ve Been Previously Married?

If you’ve been previously married, you are required to know the exact date your marriage ended, and you’ll also need to provide the reasons why your marriage ended. You may be asked to bring documentation, depending on your specific county.

Where Can I Apply For My Marriage License?

You’re going to need to go to a local county clerk’s office to get your license. There should be a few locations in each various county in California. In Los Angeles County, there are seven locations you can choose from:

marriage license

How Long Does The Marriage License Last?

This is confusing to some people. They wonder why the license expires. All you need to know is that in California, your marriage license lasts for 90 days. This means that you must get married by a lawful officiant, have your license signed by witnesses (if you have a public license), and return the license to the county clerk’s office within those 90 days. Failure to do so will require you to re-apply for your license.

When Do I Get My Marriage License?

Many states have a waiting period from when you apply for your license until when you receive it. In California, there is no waiting period. You will receive your license the same day that you apply for it.

How Much Does It Cost?

In Los Angeles County, it costs $91 for a public license fee, and the confidential license fee costs $85. Prices will vary depending on what county you’re in.

What Happens After We’re Married?

After you’ve had your wedding ceremony and reception, take your signed marriage license back to the same county clerk’s office in which you received the license. After about a week, you’ll be able to purchase a copy of your marriage license from them.

There you go! Not so bad, is it? Good luck with your planning, and please contact us if you’re looking for a place to have an incredible wedding reception!

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