Getting Your Marriage License

Photographer: Hope Boat

Photographer: Hope Boat


Obtaining a wedding license is one of those things that seems difficult and daunting, but let me relieve your stress a little - it’s so easy! I swear!

For a little bit of background, a marriage license is the document that allows you and your future spouse to be legally married. You have to have this present at your wedding for your officiant and witnesses to sign, confirming you did actually get married! The license is issued to you on the spot at the courthouse and can be obtained as far at 90 days out from your ceremony (sorry over-achievers, you can’t get it before then or it won’t be valid!). Some states have different waiting periods of how soon you receive your license and how soon you can get married after receiving it, so make sure you check your state requirements. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick with Orange County CA since that’s where our offices are based and a majority or our couples are located. Alright, let’s do this!

Locate the website for your city’s Clerk Recorder office. The one for Orange is here:

Go to the “Marriage Services” tab.

You’ll find all the instructions on that tab, but basically here are the things you need: 

  • Both of you have to show up in person

  • Both of you need one form of valid government I.D. like a driver’s license or passport

  • Payment for the license made by cash, check, debit/credit card, money order, etc.

Okay, so now that you know exactly what you need, let’s make an appointment! It is certainly not required but for those of you that like to plan ahead, it’s always a good idea so you don’t get stuck during wedding license rush hour. Plus, if you set an appointment you can fill out the form in advance and just show up that day ready to rock.

Once you make your appointment you’ll get an email confirmation with all the details.

Show up! Your appointment will be held at the Clerk Recorder’s office (there is a sign at the OC courthouse that directs you), sign in, and wait for your names to be called. The clerk will check your paperwork, file your IDs, take payment, and ask you about your wedding details (if they’re nice, which they usually are). The last part is swearing that all information you’ve provided is the truth with your hands raised and everything, just like on Law & Order. It’s super official. 

**A note for those of you who are planning on changing your name, make sure you SIGN the completed form with your NEW name. If you don’t do this you’ll have to get a court order to change your name on the license after your wedding and that is just a pain you don’t need.

And BOOM! You’ll have your license in hand and are officially ready to be married! Taking an excited photo of the soon to be newlyweds holding the license is optional, but definitely encouraged! Now that you’ve got that step out of the way, you can focus on your impending nuptials. See, wasn’t that easy?