How To Get Married Online in California (Step-by-Step Guide)

August 14, 2022
8 min

If you're looking for a hassle-free way to tie the knot in California, opting for an online marriage could be the perfect solution. Planning a traditional wedding can be overwhelming, involving numerous tasks such as finding a venue and managing the budget. 

However, with online marriages, you can skip the stress and easily complete the process with just a few simple online steps. So, if you're a California resident eager to get married without the fuss, here's everything you need to know about how to get married online in the Golden State.

The Legality of online marriages in California

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, strict laws governed the legality of weddings, requiring the physical presence of the couple and officiant. Additionally, couples had to visit the county clerk's office in person to obtain a marriage license. However, these requirements posed challenges during the pandemic, with the spread of the virus and the closures of county clerk offices.

Then in 2019, the Utah County marriage license office and information technology departments took the initiative to modernize their processes. They developed a comprehensive digital system for issuing and recording marriage licenses, fulfilling their promise to bring their services into the 21st century. This digital transformation allowed couples to apply for a marriage license, perform the ceremony, and have the officiant submit the necessary paperwork for the marriage certificate online. This convenient online procedure eliminated the need for couples to physically visit the office for their marriage license.

The most exciting aspect of Utah's online marriage process is that it is accessible to anyone, regardless of residency. Moreover, couples who go through this process receive a legal US Marriage Certificate. It's important to note that marriages performed legally in one state are recognized across the entire country, as long as they comply with federal and state laws.

Same-sex couple celebrating an online wedding ceremony with officiant on a laptop screen

In-person wedding requirements in California

When applying for a marriage license in California, both parties typically need to appear in person at the County Clerk's Office and provide valid identification with a photo, date of birth, and issue/expiry dates. Acceptable identification includes state-issued ID cards, driver's licenses, passports, and military IDs. Some counties may also request a copy of your birth certificate. 

If you have been previously married, you'll need to know the date and manner in which your previous marriage ended, such as through death, dissolution, divorce, or nullity. Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance, and if the marriage does not take place within this period, a new license must be obtained. While many County Clerks in California perform civil marriage ceremonies in their offices, it is advisable to directly contact the County Clerk's Office for information on their specific services. 

When applying for a marriage license, you'll need to provide the following:

  1. Your legal name, place of birth, and date of birth.
  2. The name you intend to take after marriage (if you plan to change your name).
  3. The legal names of both parents and their places of birth (state or country).
  4. The type of license preferred: Standard or Confidential. California offers a confidential marriage license for an additional fee.

It's important to note that the fees and hours of issuance for a marriage license may vary by county. For example, in Santa Clara County, the fee is $80. However, keep in mind that this cost does not cover expenses such as transportation, the ceremony, or officiation.

Obtaining a marriage license from California without visiting in person

In California, the ability to obtain a marriage license online varies from county to county. Santa Clara County has implemented a remote marriage license application process, allowing couples to apply without visiting in person. However, please note that other counties may still require applicants to go in person for the application process. 

Here is the procedure for obtaining a marriage license remotely in Santa Clara County:

  1. Fill out the Marriage License Application online.
  2. Select either the "Confidential" or "Standard" marriage license option to initiate the process.
  3. After completing the application, click the "COMPLETE" button and make a note of your order number (which typically starts with SST).
  4. Click the link provided at the end of the application to access the "Next Steps" page.
  5. Follow the instructions on the "Next Steps" page and email the requested information, along with the required attachments, to
  6. A clerk from the County Clerk's Office will assist you in scheduling a virtual appointment for the marriage service.

It's important to understand that the remote marriage license application process in Santa Clara County is specific to that county. Requirements and steps may differ in other counties across California. Therefore, it's advisable to check with the County Clerk's Office of the county where you plan to obtain the marriage license to determine their specific procedures.

Additionally, please keep in mind that obtaining a marriage license is only one part of the process. Planning and conducting the wedding ceremony are still necessary to be legally married. It's important to remember that for the wedding ceremony, you, your officiant, and your witnesses must be physically located within California. However, other guests can still join the ceremony online.

If you wish to simplify and streamline the entire process, Courtly offers a convenient solution. Using Courtly, couples can complete the entire procedure remotely from any location. Courtly optimizes the process, allowing for a quick and easy acquisition of a legitimate US marriage certificate with minimal documentation required.

Courtly: Simplifying the online marriage process

Courtly offers a comprehensive solution to simplify the online marriage process. With Courtly's services, couples can complete the entire procedure remotely, making it convenient and hassle-free. Whether it's applying for a marriage license, finding an officiant, or organizing the wedding ceremony, Courtly optimizes the process. Couples can acquire a valid US marriage certificate quickly and easily, with minimal documentation required. Courtly's streamlined approach provides a convenient way for couples to navigate the online marriage process and ensure a smooth and efficient experience.

The legality of online marriages outside the United States

If you intend for your online marriage to be registered and recognized in a country outside the United States, you may need to obtain an Apostille certification. An Apostille is a specialized certification that validates the authenticity and legality of your marriage certificate. It ensures that your marriage document is recognized and accepted by countries that are signatories to The Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. This certification is important to establish the legal validity of your marriage internationally.

While online marriage ceremonies conducted by a Courtly officiant are considered legally valid under United States law, acceptance by foreign governments or immigration officials may vary. It is essential to understand that the recognition and acceptance of an online marriage by foreign governments depend on their specific regulations and policies. In some cases, countries may require additional documentation or processes to recognize an online marriage. This consideration becomes particularly crucial if your partner is from another country. It is recommended to consult with the appropriate authorities or seek legal advice to understand the specific requirements and procedures for validating your online marriage in a foreign jurisdiction.

Processes involved in getting married online in California with Courtly

Couples can easily complete the entire process from anywhere with Courtly. Obtaining a valid US marriage certificate is quick and hassle-free, typically taking under 48 hours. Through our secure ID verification process, our concierge will assist you in obtaining your marriage license, eliminating the need for paperwork. Here's how it works:

1. Create an account

Joining Courtly is a breeze! Simply click the "Get Married" icon in the top right corner and follow the on-screen instructions. Once your account is created, you'll have immediate access.

2. Customize your ceremony format, setting, and officiant

Now it's time to make it uniquely yours! Choose your preferred venue and ceremony style that aligns with your vision. Based on your chosen time and day, we will match you with one of Courtly's legally qualified US officiants.

3. Receive email confirmation after payment

Complete the payment process, and you will receive a confirmation email from Courtly. This signifies that everything is in motion and your special day is on the horizon! For complete information on our available wedding packages and add-ons, please check our Pricing Page.

4. Celebrate your marriage online with family and friends

Finally, get ready to tie the knot online from the comfort of your own home (or any location with a reliable internet connection!). The ceremony typically takes around 15 minutes to complete. After your online wedding, you will receive a digital copy of your U.S. marriage certificate immediately, with a printed copy delivered to you in 1 to 2 weeks. You can also download your digital marriage within 24 hours after the ceremony.

couple getting married remotely with a licensed officiant via zoom

Getting married online in California is a fast and straightforward process with Courtly. With just a few simple steps, you can complete the entire process effortlessly. All you need is a valid email address, identification, and a secure payment method. To learn more about Courtly's commitment to making online marriages possible in California, please visit our website.


Getting married online in California with Courtly is an easy and quick process that offers a convenient alternative to traditional weddings. With Courtly, you can complete the entire marriage procedure remotely, eliminating the complexities and stress associated with traditional wedding planning. 

By simply signing up, uploading necessary documents, customizing your ceremony, making a payment, and celebrating your marriage online, you can obtain a valid US marriage certificate quickly, easily, and with minimal documentation. If you're seeking a hassle-free and streamlined way to tie the knot, Courtly provides the perfect solution. Say goodbye to wedding planning overwhelm and embrace the simplicity of online marriage with Courtly.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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