Getting married in California allows you many options when it comes to your ceremony officiant. While some couples choose a person based on personal or spiritual likeness, other look for legality, convenience or affordability. Whichever route you take, it is important to make sure the person marrying you is legal to do so.
So who can perform a legal marriage in California?
California Family Code, Section 400 states the persons authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are as follows:
- A priest, minister, shaman or rabbi of any religious denomination.
- 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.
- A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
- Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States.
- A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court, 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.
- A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
- 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.
- Many County Clerks in California perform civil marriage ceremonies in their offices. For further information regarding civil marriage ceremonies, please contact the County Clerk's Office directly to see if they provide this service.
- Any person wishing to perform a ceremony can apply to become a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages, granting them this authority for one day only.
Officiants must complete the marriage license and return it to the county clerk within four days after the marriage.
Whomever you decide to help make your ceremony special, make sure they will be legally recognized by the state of California. If you don't know the officiant, don't be afraid to ask for their credentials or certificates beforehand. If it's someone who is performing their first ceremony for you, help them by contacting the marriage license office in the county you plan to marry and ask what information, if any, your officiant must provide.
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