The 2 Types of Marriage Licenses in California

marriage license in California

Marriage License

Of all tasks in planning your wedding, probably the most boring and tedious is getting the license but it’s one that is often forgotten until the last minute.

There are two types of marriage licenses in California–public and confidential. In either case, the license is only good for 90 days, so you must get married within 90 days of obtaining a license.

Public License
A bride and groom must both physically go to any county clerk’s office in the state to obtain this license. Many counties allow you to apply for the license online and then just go to the actual branch office to pick it up, rather than waiting in the office for it to be processed. Both LA and Orange counties have online applications that speed up the process. A public license can be used for a wedding in any county in the state of California. Additionally, with a public license your marriage is a public record and anyone can find out you are married by a search on the county website.

Confidential License
The bride and groom must be living together to apply for this type of license. The license must be used only in the county in which it was purchased. In other words, you can’t get an LA county confidential license if your wedding is in Orange county, and vice versa. The husband and wife are the only two people who can access the record, thus making it “confidential.”  Some officiants, including myself, are approved notaries with Los Angeles County and are able to issue confidential licenses so the bride and groom do not need to physically go to the county clerk’s office.

Links to County Clerk Offices for Marriage License Details and Prices

Los Angeles County Clerk Office–

Orange County Clerk Office–

Riverside County Clerk Office–

San Bernadino County Clerk Office–