Making it Official | Marriage License FAQ's

The run down on applying for a marriage license .. tips and frequently asked questions

The marriage license is what seals the deal folks! All of this time spent thinking about your timeline, photos, flowers and the buffet.. don't forget to schedule a time to go to your county clerk's office together and sign on the dotted line! 

A snapshot of an application for a marriage license, courtesy of Butte County Clerk Recorders Office

A snapshot of an application for a marriage license, courtesy of Butte County Clerk Recorders Office

Here are some questions that we get often: 

  • We are getting married in another county, do we apply in the county we live in or the county we are getting married in?  You will apply for the license in the county you live in, and the ceremony can be performed anywhere in California. 
  • Can we apply online? No, both of you will need to be present
  • What forms of ID are required?
    Typically, you will just need a photo ID such as your drivers license, passport or military ID
  • Is there a waiting period? No waiting period; the license may be used upon issuance
  • What happens if we forget our license on our wedding day? Hopefully we can send a runner to go get it, but if it is truly not available for the ceremony than you can choose to proceed as a "commitment ceremony" and the officiant will not be able to state that you are husband and wife.  Then most likely you would need to make an appointment with your officiant to sign the license..Unfortunately that document cannot be backdated. It has to be signed on the date is presented. (But hey, that's why you hired a wedding coordinator and you will have us to nag you about bringing that license with you!)
  • What if we make a mistake when we are signing our license after the ceremony? Speaking from experience (our officiant signed on the wrong times) You will have to have an addendum issued by the clerks office.  This just means instead of a one page marriage license yours will be two pages.  

Have more questions? Make sure to visit your local county clerk recorder's website for specific instructions and feel free to leave us a comment or shoot an email to 

~ Happy Planning! ~


Your Name Doesn’t Have To Be Your Something Old

For many engaged couples, the prospect of sharing the same last name is joyous. However, for many women, changing their name is accompanied by a feeling of loss, of who they once were, and of their family heritage. Some women may even feel undervalued by the unequal treatment of only her changing her name. While the majority of brides still take the more traditional route and acquire their groom’s last name, more modern women keep their family surname, or hyphenate with their new hubby, a movement started during Women’s Lib. Some progressive husbands even change their name to hyphenate alongside their wife. But did you know that you have more options than your parents did?

CA’s name change law Laws change per state, but in California we have what’s called The Name Equality Act of 2007 (AB 102, Chapter 567, Statutes of 2007), and it’s opened up a world of name possibilities to those filing for marriage and domestic partnerships. Before it was passed, multiple couples had spoken out against the state for having archaic laws that promoted gender discrimination when it came to name changes, even if the man’s intention was as noble as wanting his wife’s family name to continue, despite having no brothers. Now a couple can change one or both of their middle and/or surnames, using any of their last names that are current, or from birth.

How it works You have the option of both taking his name *or* her name, hyphenating in either order, swapping names, or, for those looking for a truly unique moniker, combining your names in a sort of word scramble with segments of two or more letters, and arranging them in any way you find pleasing for your new last name. Middle names can stay untouched, be replaced by the old last name, or be hyphenated with the old last name. My husband and I opted for the “word scramble”, and after much time, effort, creativity, and names like Hartstetter, Lear, Ellis, and Muarette, our final choice was Arelleis.

Need a hand? If all these options give you too much of a headache, you can always turn to a Name Consultant. While many couples are turning to the opinions of friends and family, even creating online survey sites for them to visit, some hire a professional to layout all their options for them. The 530 Bride offers Name Change Consulting, along with other Wedding Planning services, for which we create a customized list of all possible names and initials for a couple.

Whatever reasons you have for choosing any direction with names for your new life together, just remember to do it in the name of love.

Posted by Kendall Arelleis, Event Coordinator with The 530 Bride


For further reading on Name Changing: More Men Taking Wives' Last Names To Be Safe, Call the Bride by Her First Name