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California Ordination, Marriage License and Ceremony Information

Adapted from information provided by the State of California Department of Public Health, this article covers the most common situations involving the state’s marriage laws, and some of the complexities as well. And if you are interested in becoming ordained as a wedding officiant to perform marriage ceremonies in California — a very uncomplicated process — please click here.

State Seal of CaliforniaThis article will provide you with general information regarding the requirements for the issuance and registration of both public and confidential marriage licenses in California, as well as answer many frequently asked questions regarding the laws pertaining to marriage licenses and ceremonies in California.

If you are getting married in California, for further information please contact the County Clerk/Recorder’s Office in the county where you will be applying for the marriage license. Information regarding contacting the County Clerk/Recorder may be obtained at:
http://1.usa.gov/JK7766

The registration of public and confidential marriages in California is a local and state function. The California Family Code provides for a continuous and permanent marriage registration system. The system depends upon the conscientious efforts of local officials, clergy and other officiants in preparing the original records and in certifying the information on these records.

“Laws are mutually accepted rules by which, together, we maintain a free society. Liberty itself is built on a foundation of law. That foundation provides an orderly process for changing laws. It also depends on our obeying laws once they have been freely adopted.”

— From the Freedoms Foundation’s “Bill of Responsibilities”

County Clerk

The County Clerk issues public and confidential marriage licenses. The County Clerk is the local registrar of confidential marriages (Family Code, Section 511). The County Clerk maintains a permanent index of all confidential marriages registered.

Marriage Officiant

The marriage officiant, e.g., clergyperson or authorized individual who performs the marriage ceremony, is required by law to complete the marriage license and return it to the County Recorder’s office within 10 days of the event for registration. For confidential marriages, the marriage license is returned to the County Clerk’s office for registration. The State of California does not certify persons who intend to perform marriage ceremonies, and does not maintain a registry of persons permitted to perform ceremonies in the state. Bridal couples should ask their minister or officiant to present his or her active ordination credentials prior to the marriage ceremony.

For information on becoming ordained to perform marriage ceremonies in California, please click here.

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State of the Union: Serving As A Marriage Officiant In Rhode Island

This article is part of a series for ministers on performing marriage ceremonies in the United States and elsewhere. In this article, we focus on the magnificent state of Rhode Island and its rules and regulations.

Rhode Island has some of the most breath-taking scenery and some of the most picturesque places to have a wedding ceremony anywhere in the world. If you are legally ordained as a ceremonial minister, it’s also a very uncomplicated place to perform marriages.

Rhode Island Great SealAccording to Rhode Island law, everyone who is or has been the minister of any society professing to meet for religious purposes, or incorporated for the promotion of such purposes, and holding stated and regular services, and who has been ordained according to the customs and usages of such society may perform marriages.

Sounds complicated? It’s really not. If you are in good standing with the church, you can perform the ceremony. Rhode Island does not require ceremonial ministers to register with any agency in the state, but — as with most jurisdictions — you are required to present your active credentials to any legal authority, as well as the bridal couple, upon their request.

In addition, Rhode Island does not restrict non-resident ministers from serving in the state, as long as your ordination is in good standing.

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Making Beautiful Music … and Marriages, Too

We’ve heard and read countless stories over the years about wedding ministers that failed to show up for the ceremony. Not just late, but not at all!

For a bridal couple that has gone through months and months of planning for their perfect ceremony — having chosen the venue, the wedding dress, written their vows — and then not have the officiant show up to perform the ceremony can be tragic.

It’s always good to have a back-up plan in place, just in case. Of course, if the wedding is taking place at a church or chapel, then there is usually an assistant pastor or minister on hand to step in.

However, with more and more ceremonies taking place outside of churches these days, it takes some creativity to build a back-up plan. Remember, nearly every jurisdiction allows you to designate your officiant, whether it’s your favorite uncle, a close family friend or your old high school volleyball coach!

Become ordained as a wedding minister

Can your wedding DJ perform your marriage ceremony? Sure. And so could the wedding singer, if he’s ordained.

A great back-up plan is one that’s fairly obvious, but also often overlooked: your disc jockey. Your wedding DJ is a trained professional who probably has years and years of experience as a master of ceremonies, and has no problem getting up in front of an audience.

In addition to having the perfect mix of music to get your guests up and dancing, many wedding DJs are also ordained to serve as ceremonial ministers, and many of them have performed more marriage ceremonies than some ministers have!

It’s always a smart idea to have a back-up plan — hopefully, you won’t need anyone to step in to perform the ceremony, but now you have a potential pinch-hitter just in case!

By the way, if you are a wedding disc jockey and you aren’t legally ordained to perform marriage ceremonies, the process is quick, easy and affordable. Begin the ordination process right now!

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