Applying For & Submitting a Marriage License - Orange County

As many questions arose from the legal side of my marriage journey, I wanted to share the steps I took to apply for a marriage license as well as submitting the license to receive the marriage certificate post ceremony. What’s great about applying for and receiving a license through the County of Orange is that the license can be used anywhere in the state of California - which worked perfectly for Scott and I since our ceremony took place down in Escondido, CA.

The following information is provided through my own personal experience. It is always best to consult with the County government directly if you have any questions regarding marriage licenses, certificates and the like. I am not responsible for any outcome or results from your own personal experience after reading this post should you choose to follow any of my instructions - this is merely a guide from the resources I found.


  1. Apply Online and Receive Physical Marriage License in Person (90 days before wedding date)

  2. Get Married - Officiant & Witnesses Complete their section of the License form

  3. Officiant or Couple mails in Marriage License (with payment) to be Recorded

  4. Marriage Certificate is processed 5-10 Business Days from receiving the license

  5. Receive the Certificate in the Mail


Step 1. Visit the OC Clerk-Recorder Marriage Licenses Page

The marriage licenses page will list the process and everything you need to do/qualify for applying for a marriage license. There are no citizenship/residence requirements or blood tests needed to obtain a license. Applicants must be over 18 years old and the marriage license will be valid for 90 days from the time it is issued to you. There are also details on if you wish to apply for a confidential marriage license or if you’re a member of the United States Armed Forces and are stationed oversees. A link to the online portal to submit your marriage license details is included on the page.

Step 2. Gather Couple & Parental Information for the License

I put this step before getting to the online portal to submit details for the license only because I had to save my license application a couple times to obtain the correct information before I could submit it. Although it is nice that you can “save your work” and come back to it instead of having to input and submit everything in one go. You’ll want birth name for yourself, significant other and full names for both sets of parents. Parents’ birth place, the usual personal information for the couple as well as the name you or your significant want to take/change to.

Step 3: Complete the Online Application

You’ll be directed to the OC Clerk-Recorder’s OC Weddings Online Application portal. Create a login to make it easier to save your work if needed. While you are inputting your information, you will have the option to choose a public or confidential license as well as if you want to make an appointment. Although walk-ins are welcome at the OC Clerk-Recorders offices, I recommend making the appointment to expedite your experience in case the office is busy. The marriage license information you submit will be sent to the OC Clerk-Recorder to be verified by you and the clerk then transcribes onto a physical license that is given to you.


If you’ve taken the step to submit your marriage license online prior to visiting the office, then the clerk-recorder will have all of your information on file and you don’t have to go through that process in person. You can still submit your marriage license info online without scheduling an appointment, but if you have an appointment - arrive and go to the counter for appointments (if there are separate counters), and check in for your appointment. The clerk will print out the information onto a license and have you review it to ensure all of the information is correct. Once it is verified by you and your fiance as correct, they give you the final copy with instructions on what to do with a completed form (post wedding) and an envelope to mail back your completed marriage license to the OC Clerk-Recorder office in Santa Ana.


As mentioned in step 4, you’ll receive the physical marriage license once the information is verified as correct. You must also pay a fee for this license:

  • Public Marriage License - $61.00

    A public marriage license is public record once recorded. Anyone can request a copy of the record. The license can be used anywhere in the State of California.

  • Confidential Marriage License - $66.00

    A confidential marriage license becomes a confidential record once recorded.

    The only individual able to obtain information and/or copy of the record is the couple stated on the license. This license can be used anywhere in the State of California.

    The requirement to obtain this type of license is:
    The couple must be living together prior to the purchase of a marriage license.


OC Clerk-Recorder accepts cash, personal checks, money orders, cashier’s checks and credit/debit cards. Credit Cards accepted: American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard and Visa Please make checks payable to the County of Orange Return Check Service Fee: $25.00. To view the entire fee schedule and information regarding payment - click here.

STEP 6: You Have Your Marriage License, Now What?!

Now that you physically have your marriage license:

  1. Don’t lose it, or else you will need to go through the steps of getting and paying for a new license.

  2. Use your license within 90 days of receiving it.

  3. Let your officiant know that you have the license - unless they’ve already inquired with you about it.

  4. Give the license to your officiant to complete. We were going to plan to have the license all signed off and completed a day before the wedding day, but we forgot and therefore had to get wrangled together during the reception to sign off on the license (and at that point, Scott and I had both had a bit to drink). So PRO TIP: have your officiant and 2 witnesses complete the form earlier in the day (during getting ready), but sign it immediately following the ceremony before it gets too hectic.

  5. Either have your officiant or you yourself mail in the license WITH the payment for your marriage certificate. I had my officiant mail in our license, but I FORGOT to include payment for the actual certificate. Once I realized I made that mistake, I had to complete a separate form and have it notarized (because I was mailing and not getting the certificate in person) then mail the form in with the payment to receive my certificate.

  6. I ordered 2 certificates ($15/each) in case anything ever happens to one of the them, as it is quite the process to obtain vital records. I also wanted to be able to have name changes done through the mail which I can do for my passport. In order to do so, I have to include a certified copy of my Marriage Certificate showing my new name - by having the second certified copy, if it somehow got misplaced or lost in the mail, then I would have another copy on hand.