Wednesday, September 2, 2009

License to Wed

Ever wondered what the process is to get a marriage license in San Diego County? Well, I can tell you!

First, you have to call the County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk's office and make an appointment. Walk-ins are not accepted. They only take appointments between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but we had no trouble getting one for 8 a.m. the next day when I called.

You have to go online to the County's website and download the forms first. When you go to the appointment, you have to bring the completed forms, IDs for both people, and $50 for the fee. Your appointment will go something like this: You'll walk up to the counter, excited, expecting something important to happen. They'll ask you your names, check you off the appointment list, and tell you to take a seat. You'll sit in a gray waiting room, half decorated with white lattice stapled to the wall for that "wedding" look, for 15 minutes.

Then someone will call your names and ask you to take a seat at Window Number X. There, someone will check your IDs, type all of the info from your paperwork into a computer, print it out, have you check it, have a supervisor check it, have you sign on the dotted line, hand over your money, and PRESTO! You now have a marriage license in your hands.

Your wedding must take place and your officiant must complete and return the license has to be completed by your officiant within 90 days of being issued. Regarding the officiant, I learned something interesting in this process. We don't belong to a church, so we didn't want to get married in a church or by a clergy member. So we asked a good friend of ours to officiate. We had known other people who did this, and they had their friends get ordained online (there are several sites that do this -- our friend went through Universal Life Church). However, I discovered that you don't even need to do that. There's a form that you can complete with the County to become a "Deputy Commissioner" for the day, entitling you to perform marriages on that day only. It's just a simple form and a small fee, and any person of your choosing can officiate!

So that's it. Pretty quick and painless. No waiting period, no blood test, just some very light paperwork. It's kind of anticlimactic, the actual process, but seeing that marriage license in your hands is just a little bit thrilling.


  1. we did the deputy commissioner thing in massachusetts when dad married us.

    so excited for you!

  2. Congrats on the wedding. You know alternatively you could have someone you know do it through the American Marriage Ministries.