Getting married in Los Angeles: a guide

The end of Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriages means an influx to county offices of couples looking to wed. But making it official involves more than merely saying, “I do.”

In Los Angeles County, there are two ways to apply for a marriage license: online and in-person at the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk branch offices, which will have extended hours Monday and Tuesday.

If a couple opts to apply for a license in person, both people must be present and have valid IDs. Expect processing time to take one hour, but increased demand could cause brief delays.

County officials say online applications minimize the processing time, but both parties in the couple still must go to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk branch to pay for and pick up the license. Marriage licenses cost $85 for a confidential license, $90 for a public license.


A full explanation of the differences between the two types of licenses is available here, but in short: Confidential licenses do not require witnesses, but the couple must get married in the county where the license is issued. Public licenses require witnesses, become part of the public record, and allow couples to get married in any county in California.

The wedding ceremony must take place within 90 days of obtaining the marriage license. Judges, city mayors and members of the clergy are some of those authorized to perform wedding ceremonies.

A civil marriage ceremony can also take place directly at the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office, and appointments can be made in person at the office. The only branch offering civil ceremonies on Monday and Tuesday is the Norwalk headquarters of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. In anticipation of heightened demand, the Norwalk headquarters will remain open until 7:00 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday in West Hollywood, civil marriage ceremonies will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis and free-of-charge from 1 to 7 p.m. The Long Beach City Clerk is also offering civil marriage ceremonies, but appointments must be made through the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

For the next 60 days, the cities of Long Beach and West Hollywood will offer civil ceremonies on Thursdays, but appointments must be made through the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk offices. This Thursday, July 4, West Hollywood is still offering civil ceremonies from 1 to 5 p.m. while Long Beach will be closed for the holiday.

On Wednesday and Friday this week, every branch office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk will offer both ceremonies and licenses, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Finally, couples can request the county to authorize anyone to perform their marriage. The county charges a $75 fee and the couple must give two months advanced notice.

County officials have posted a full guide online explaining how to apply for a marriage license and schedule a wedding ceremony.



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