How to Register and Perform a Wedding By State
If you are either planning to be married or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in California, you've come to the right page. Ordained ministers with Open Ministry have successfully performed thousands of legal marriages in California and around the world!
The information provided below is designed to walk you through the most common steps to become a minister and perform a wedding ceremony in California.
Step 1 - How to Become Ordained
How to become an Ordained Minister in California
Ordination is completely free and can be completed in less than a few hours. Thousands of ministers have registered to perform marriages in California and other states each year!
If you haven't already, you should get ordained online with Open Ministry.
Get started today by clicking on the link below!
Step 2 - Contact The County Clerk
How to Register to Officiate a Marriage in California
Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk) in California. Let them know that you are a minister of Open Ministry in California, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage in California.
When speaking with the county clerk; it can be helpful to use the following phrases.
- What agency or department issues marriage licenses in your county and how may I contact them?
- I am an ordained minister with a church in California and I would like to register as a wedding Officiant in your county to perform and solemnize weddings.
- I have my Letter of Good Standing and/or Ordination Credential as proof of my ministry and ordination.
- What additional documentation is required for me to register as a wedding Officiant in your county?
Step 3 - Getting Licensed to Perform the Marriage
License to perform a wedding in California
After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our bookstore to purchase your official credentials and any required documentation (See California State Statutes for More Specific Requirements )
When registering in California you may be asked to display proof of your ordination to the county clerk's before they will accept the marriage license as having been legally solemnized. We typically advise ministers of California to get a Complete Minister Package for California which includes your Letter of Good Standing.
Having your ordination credentials will also provide peace-of-mind to any couple that you intend to marry. Additionally, we recommend that you have at least 4 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in time to register.
It is important to note that some county clerks in California may require wedding officiants to attach a statement avowing some of the elements in the marriage license upon submission, including the following:
- The time and location at which the wedding took place
- The names and places of residence of all official witnesses
- The religious organization in which the officiant is ordained
- The printed name and address of the officiant
Please note that, when filling out a marriage license, that California State may request you use the title "Minister" or "Reverend". The County Clerks may also require you enter your denomination, you can use "Non-Denominational". Failing to state a denomination may result in rejection and could require a duplicate marriage license.
400 Persons Authorized to Solemnize Marriage
Although marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not a religious, contract, a marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is 18 years of age or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination. A person authorized by this subdivision shall not be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. Any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision, either by an individual or by a religious denomination, shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any entity.
(b) A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.
(c) A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
(d) Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States:
(1) A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
(2) A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
(3) A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
(4) A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
(e) A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a Member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office.
Family Code - Division 3: Marriage - Part 3: Solemnization of Marriage - Chapter 1: Persons Authorized to Solemnize Marriage