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 How to "I Do"

 How to "I Do"


Now that marriage has become a possibility in California, the obvious question is: How do we do it? A practical guide to getting hitched in the Golden State

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If there was any upside to being denied the right to marry, it was the blissful ignorance of the marriage license process. Now that marriage equality has come to California, it's time to see what you've been missing. While the task may seem daunting, obtaining a marriage license and saying "I do" can be achieved in five simple steps.

1. Find out if you're eligible to be married

In order to be married in California, you and your partner must:

* Be 18 years of age or older (if not, other procedures and restrictions apply)

* Not be closely related by blood or marriage

* Not be married or be in a registered domestic partnership or civil union with another individual

Keep in mind, you do not need:

* A blood test or health certificate

* To be a resident of California

2.Locate your county clerk

You and your future spouse must apply for a marriage license at the Office of the County Clerk or County Recorder. If you're a California resident, you are not required to apply in the county you or your partner currently reside in. Out-of-state couples can just show up at the county clerk of their choice.

Some county clerks' offices require that you make an appointment in advance to apply for a marriage license (e.g., San Francisco), so it is best to call the clerk's office or visit its website to find out more information.

For links to all of California county websites visit:

3.Get a license

In order to receive a marriage license, both parties must apply for and pick up the license. Both of you must have:

* A valid photo ID (driver's license, passport, state ID card, resident alien card). If your photo ID doesn't list your full legal name, you must provide a certified copy of your birth record or a social security card.

* Payment. Prices vary among counties, but the license fee is generally under $100. Contact your chosen county clerk's office for the exact price and accepted methods of payment.

* Information about any previous marriages. If you have been married before, you will need to provide information about the specific date your last marriage ended. Some counties may even require a copy of the final judgment if your previous marriage ended by dissolution or nullity.

Keep in mind you can save time by downloading a license application ahead of time from most counties' websites.

4. Plan the Wedding

Your California marriage license is valid for 90 days, and your marriage can be performed anywhere within the state. The person performing your ceremony must complete and sign your marriage license, and at least one witness age 18 or older must also sign.

While many couples may choose to have a civil ceremony performed right away by a county clerk (for an additional fee, usually less than $50), clerks in some counties, such Kern County, won't perform the ceremony. Persons legally authorized to solemnize marriages include clergy, active and retired judges and court commissioners, active and retired commissioners of civil marriage, current or former federal court judges, state legislators, and members of Congress who represent a California district.

A friend can be deputized to perform a marriage ceremony through a county "Deputy Commissioner for a Day" program. Be sure to give the county clerk two months' advance notice.

5. Say "I Do"

How you choose to do this one is completely up to you.

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 How to "I Do"

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Christopher Mangum