Orange County Marriage License Requirements

Orange County
Marriage License Requirements

If you’re planning to tie the knot in Orange County, California, there are a few essential things you need to know about marriage licenses. Whether you’re opting for a public or confidential marriage license, understanding the requirements, fees, and procedures is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about getting your marriage license in Orange County.


Congratulations on your decision to take the next step in your relationship and get married! Before you exchange your vows, there’s an important administrative aspect you need to take care of: obtaining a marriage license. This legal document not only marks the beginning of your journey as a married couple but also provides you with the legal rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.

Marriage License Basics

A marriage license is a legal document that grants you the permission to get married. It’s a requirement in every state, including California. Whether you’re planning a grand wedding celebration or an intimate elopement, you need to have a valid marriage license to make your union official in the eyes of the law.

Types of Marriage Licenses

In Orange County, California, there are two main types of marriage licenses: public and confidential.

Public Marriage License

A public marriage license is available for public viewing. All the information on the license can be accessed by anyone who requests it. This type of license is ideal for couples who are comfortable with their personal information being publicly accessible.

Confidential Marriage License

On the other hand, a confidential marriage license offers a higher level of privacy. The personal information on this license is protected from public view. To obtain a copy of the information on a confidential marriage license, a court order or a notarized application from either spouse is required.

See also  Costa County Marriage License Requirements

Application and Appointment

Applying for a marriage license is a straightforward process. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Applicants must be over 18 years old.
  • Walk-in applicants are served on a first-come, first-served basis, with afternoons and Fridays being the busiest times.
  • Both parties must present a valid photo ID with their birth date (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.).
  • Couples need to decide on the names they wish to use after marriage, and this must be reflected on the license before it’s signed.
  • If a name change is desired after the license is signed, a court order is required.

Name Change and Identification

Choosing a name after marriage is an important decision. Couples are not required to change their names, but if they do, the chosen names must be correctly reflected on the marriage license before it’s signed.

Language Proficiency

Both individuals applying for a marriage license must be able to read, speak, and understand English. If not, they must bring a third-party translator to facilitate the process.

Appointment Convenience

While appointments for obtaining a marriage license are convenient, they are not mandatory. However, online applicants are given priority.

Residency Requirements

You do not need to be a California resident to get married in Orange County.

Waiting Period

Unlike some states, there is no waiting period in California. You’ll receive your marriage license immediately after submitting your application.

Marriage License Fees

The cost of a marriage license varies depending on the type:

  • Public License Fee: $61 (subject to change)
  • Confidential License Fee: $66 (subject to change)

You can make payments using cash, personal check, cashier’s check, money order, Discover, American Express, MasterCard/Visa credit, and debit cards.

See also  Sutter County Marriage License Requirements

Proxy Marriages

Marriage by proxy is not allowed in California. Both parties, the officiant, and any witnesses must be physically present during the ceremony.

Cousin Marriages

Yes, first and second cousins can legally marry in California.

Common Law Marriages

No, common law marriages are not recognized in California.

Marriage Blood Test

California does not require a blood test to obtain a marriage license.

Name Change Process

Getting a marriage license with your new name on it doesn’t automatically change your name. If you want to change your last name, you can use an online marriage name change kit.

Marriage Age Requirement

If either partner is under 18, one parent or legal guardian must be present. Proper evidence is required if a parent cannot be present.

Authorized Marriage Officiants

Several individuals are authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California, including priests, ministers, rabbis, judges, and more.

Return of Marriage License

The person officiating the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder within 10 days of the ceremony.

Legibility and Corrections

All information on the marriage license must be legible, unambiguous, and reproducible. Any changes require a duplicate marriage license.

Marriage Witnesses

The public marriage license requires the signature of one witness, with an option for an additional witness. Confidential marriage licenses do not require witnesses.

Expiration Date of Marriage License

Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. After this period, you’ll need to purchase a new license.


Obtaining a marriage license is a crucial step in the journey of marriage. Whether you opt for a public or confidential license, understanding the requirements and procedures ensures a smooth and legally valid union. Orange County, California, offers a streamlined process to help you embark on your marital journey with ease.

See also  San Luis Obispo County Marriage License Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I get a marriage license if I’m not a California resident? Yes, you do not need to be a California resident to marry in Orange County.
  2. Is there a waiting period for marriage licenses in California? No, there is no waiting period. You’ll receive your license immediately.
  3. How much does a marriage license cost in Orange County? The fee for a public license is $61, and for a confidential license, it’s $66.
  4. Can I change my name through the marriage license? While you can have your new name on the license, it doesn’t automatically change your name. You’ll need to follow the appropriate legal processes.
  5. Who can officiate a marriage ceremony in California? Various individuals, including religious leaders and judges, are authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California.

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