Marriage License Info

First of all, know that California makes it easy to use any county’s license in any county. Therefore, you can get a license issued from any of the 58 counties and use them for a wedding with me. Many of my California couples find it easier to get a license issued in their home county, and that is absolutely fine. I’ll include links below to many of the Counties I tend to see from my couples most often.

For San Diego County, you can find all of the information you need on the San Diego County Clerk’s website. However, as this is usually an area of worry for my couples, and there are many details involved, plus the large majority of my couples get a license from San Diego County, I also wanted to include key information here as well. Scroll away! And know that I have your back and can help with questions, too.

Types of Licenses

standard / non-confidential license:

  • Fee in San Diego County is $70. Note that pricing is different in each California county.

  • Effective immediately (there is no waiting period in California), and valid for 90 days. May be married anywhere in the State of California.

  • No residency requirement in California and Blood Test not required.

  • Witness required for ceremony (one witness is required, but there is space on the license for two witnesses).

  • Certified copies of the marriage certificate are available approximately one to two weeks post-filing, after the wedding, and may be obtained, for a $15 fee, by only specific authorized individuals with proper identification. Written requests must have the signature of either party notarized.

  • A public record.

confidential license:

  • Fee in San Diego County is $89. Note that pricing is different in each California county.

  • Effective immediately (there is no waiting period in California), and valid for 90 days. May be married anywhere in the State of California.

  • No residency requirement in California and Blood Test not required.

  • Parties must be at least 18 years of age and living together as a married couple for a confidential license.

  • No witness required for ceremony.

  • Certified copies of the marriage certificate available approximately one to two weeks post-filing, after the wedding, and may be obtained, for a $15 fee, ONLY by either spouse with proper identification. Written requests must have the signature of either party notarized.

  • Not a public record. Clerk can only verify existence of marriage to anyone other than the two on the license.


How to Obtain

A marriage license may be obtained from one of the San Diego County Clerk's five offices. The two parties getting married must appear together with valid photo identification. If you have gotten a divorce within the last 90 days, you must also bring in your final divorce decree. And, no, you do not need to bring your witnesses with you to get the license - they only need to be present when we actually marry you (I get asked that often!).

You should download the application from the San Diego County Clerk's website to complete it prior to going to the County Clerk's office, or from the direct link here. **Note that it's now the same application to be use for both types of licenses.

Fee: a non-confidential marriage license is $70.00, a confidential marriage license is $89.00. Payment may be made using cash, check, and credit or debit card.

*** NOTE ***

The San Diego County Clerk's website states that "An appointment is required to obtain a marriage license and/or civil ceremony."

  • Appointment hours are from 8:00am - 4:30pm, Monday through Friday (except for the Kearny Mesa location).

  • To schedule an appointment, you can now do so online via this link. Or you can call (619) 237-0502.

  • Walk-in marriage license services are not available. Couples must have an appointment.

Here is a link to their Frequently Asked Questions: San Diego County Clerk's Office - FAQs


Filing the License and Getting Certified Copies

I often describe it as the Marriage License is permission to be married, while the Marriage Certificate is proof from the state that you are married, and is needed for all of the legal details, including any last name changes.

After the ceremony, the license must be returned to the issuing County Clerk's offices within 10 days of the wedding for recording. It is the officiant's responsibility to return it for you, either by mail or in person.

For my couples with a San Diego license, my services include the filing of your marriage license in person within a few business days after the wedding. For my couples with licenses from other California counties, my services including the filing of your marriage license via mail to the issuing county.

Certified copies may be purchased approximately 7 - 10 days after recording for San Diego County licenses and cost $15 each. Other counties process them at different speeds, so check with your specific county about when you can expect the certified marriage certificate to be ready for you.  And, no, they do not automatically mail you anything after the wedding - you must request and purchase a certified copy in order to get any documentation that you are legally married.

Legislation was passed to help protect against identity theft. Only specific authorized individuals will be permitted to receive certified copies of marriage certificates. This legislation requires notarization of applications for these records when requested by mail.

You can find details about getting copies of the marriage certificate on the San Diego County Clerk's website, using this link: Obtain a Marriage Certificate


Getting a Marriage License from Other California counties:

Orange County

Los Angeles County

Riverside County

San Francisco City/County

Santa Barbara County

Santa Clara County

Sacramento County

San Bernadino County

San Joaquin County

Banner Image at page top: Image by Blue Spot Photography, Sam + Jorge, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido