Marriage Licenses and Ceremonies

This web page provides general information regarding the requirements for issuance and registration of public and confidential marriage licenses in California, specific to Sacramento County.

General Requirements
To marry in California, the couple must first obtain a marriage license from the County Clerk’s office.  In Sacramento County, marriage licenses are issued to applicants at any of our office locations. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen or California resident to apply for a marriage license.  Blood tests are not required.

To apply for a marriage license, the couple must meet the following general requirements:

  • The parties must be unmarried.  You may not be already married to each other or other individuals.
  • If either party has been married before, you must know the specific date the last marriage ended, and how it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity).  If the last marriage ended by dissolution or nullity, you must present a copy of the final judgment.
  • The parties must appear together in-person when the license issued.  Note: There are specific procedures for inmate marriages; please call our office at (916) 874-6131 for more information.
  • Each party must present valid, government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license, passport, or military I.D.
  • The appropriate fees must be paid.

Note: There are specific requirements related to the type of license selected.  Refer to “Public and Confidential Marriage Licenses” for details.

Couples meeting the requirements are issued a license on the spot.

There are 2 types of marriage licenses commonly issued in California:  public and confidential.  In addition to the general requirements listed above, there are specific requirements for each of the licenses listed below.
 
Public Marriage Licenses 
  • Both parties to the marriage must be at least 18 years old, or, if under the age of 18, must have written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND present a certified copy of the court order granting permission to marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process.
  • You are not required to get married in Sacramento County; however, your wedding ceremony must take place in California.
  • 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 witnesses’ signatures will be returned to the office, 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.
  • After the marriage ceremony, the license is registered in Sacramento County Recorder’s Office and becomes a public record.  Anyone may purchase copies of the marriage license.

Confidential Marriage Licenses

  • Both parties to the marriage must be at least 18 years old.  Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license.
  • The parties to the marriage must be living together as a married couple at the time they apply for the marriage license and must sign an affidavit attesting to those facts.
  • You MUST be married in Sacramento County (the county where the license was issued).
  • No witnesses are required at the wedding ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license.
  • After the wedding ceremony, the license is registered in the Sacramento County Clerk’s Office.  Only the married couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid photo identification 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.

Note: Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will be invalid AND you must re-apply and purchase a new license.

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Wedding Ceremony Options

In California, wedding ceremonies may be performed by any of the following officials:

  • Priests, ministers, rabbis, and authorized persons of any religious denonination
  • Commissioners of civil marriages
  • Legislators or constitutional officers of this state, while holding office
  • Members of Congress who represent a district within this state, while holding office
  • County supervisors, while holding office
  • Mayors of a city elected in accordance with Government Code §34900 et seq., while holding office
  • Judges (except State Bar court judges, judges from other state court systems, judges pro tem, and Federal Administrative Law Judges)

Note: Ships’ captains have no authority to solemnize California marriages unless they fall into one of the categories listed above.

Refer to Family Code §400 for complete information on persons authorized to solemnize marriages.

Wedding ceremonies performed in our office

You can arrange to have a civil marriage ceremony performed by staff in our office.

Our wedding rooms can accommodate parties of up to 26 people with seating for:

  • 18 at the Downtown office
  • 24 at the County Service Center, East
  • 21 at the County Service Center, South

To make an appointment call (916) 874-6334 or use the Online Marriage Appointment Calendar.

Note:  At least one witness is required for ceremonies performed using a public marriage license. You may bring a witness of your choosing, or for an additional cost, staff in our office can provide witness service.

Wedding ceremonies performed by a friend or relative, deputized for the occasion

You can arrange to have a friend or relative deputized as a "One-Time Deputy Marriage Commissioner" to perform your wedding ceremony.  The commission is limited to a single, specifically designated ceremony.

Complete and sign Deputy Commissioner Application Form and return it to our office at the address/fax number provided on the form. Once the application is received, a staff member will contact the applicant to schedule an appointment to appear in our office and be deputized.  A fee of $44.00 is due at the time of the appointment.

Note: The person to be deputized must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, and at least one person on the application form must reside in Sacramento County, California.

Fee Information

  • Public marriage license:  $84.00 (if issued outside regular* hours: $90.00)
  • Confidential marriage license:  $95.00 (if issued outside regular* hours: $100.00)
  • Civil marriage ceremony:  $36.00
  • Witness for civil ceremony (if the couple does not provide their own witness):  $29.00
  • One-Time Deputy Marriage Commissioner:  $44.00
  • Certified copy of marriage license:  $15.00 (for more information visit the Marriage Certificates page)

Find out about acceptable forms of payment.

To obtain a marriage license, the couple must meet the general requirements outlined at the top of this page and appear together in-person when the license is issued.
 
For faster service, we recommend you make an appointment before visiting our office and consider completing the online application form prior to your appointment:
 
Important:  The Name Equality Act of 2007 allows applicants for a California marriage license to elect to change the middle or last names by which each party will be known after solemnization of the marriage.  The elected names are entered on the marriage license when it is issued.  Couples should give serious thought to what their married legal names will be before applying for a license.  Changing a name after the license is issued (and before the couple marries) will require the purchase of a new license.  Changing a name after the marriage is solemnized requires a court order and can be a lengthy, expensive process.
 
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*Regular business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at our Downtown office, and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the East and South service centers. Extended hours for by-appointment-only wedding services at our downtown location are 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.