How do you elope in California?

Answered by Willie Powers

To elope in California, you’ll need to follow a few steps and gather some necessary documents. I recently went through this process myself, so I can share my personal experience and offer some guidance.

1. Research the county requirements: Each county in California may have slightly different requirements for eloping. It’s important to do your research and find out what specific documents and fees are needed in the county where you plan to get married. Most counties have their own website where you can find this information easily.

2. Gather required identification: You will need to bring a government-issued identification for each person eloping. This can be a driver’s license, passport, or state ID card. Make sure the identification is current and not expired.

3. Obtain proof of legal separations (if applicable): If either you or your partner has been previously married and legally separated, you may need to provide proof of the legal separation. This can be in the form of a divorce decree or court documentation showing the legal separation. Check with the county clerk’s office to see if this is required.

4. Bring copies of birth certificates: Some counties may require you to bring copies of your birth certificates. It’s always a good idea to have these on hand, just in case they are needed.

5. Prepare the necessary fees: In California, the marriage license fee is typically around $100. However, this can vary by county, so it’s important to check the specific fee for the county where you plan to elope. Make sure to bring cash or a credit card to pay the fee.

6. Schedule an appointment with the county clerk: Once you have gathered all the necessary documents and fees, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with the county clerk’s office. This can usually be done online or by phone. During the appointment, you’ll fill out the marriage license application and provide all the required documents.

7. Obtain the marriage license: After submitting your application and documents, the county clerk will issue you a marriage license. This license is valid for 90 days, so make sure to plan your elopement within that timeframe.

8. Find an officiant: In California, you’ll need an officiant to perform the marriage ceremony. This can be a religious leader, a judge, or a registered officiant. Make sure to arrange for an officiant before your elopement date.

9. Plan your elopement ceremony: Decide on the location and any additional details for your ceremony. You can choose to have a simple ceremony at the county clerk’s office or find a scenic spot in California for a more intimate ceremony.

10. Celebrate and enjoy your special day: Once you have your marriage license and everything is in order, it’s time to celebrate and enjoy your elopement! Take the time to cherish the moment and create beautiful memories.

Remember, these steps may vary slightly depending on the county you choose to elope in, so it’s essential to check the specific requirements for that county. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to double-check with the county clerk’s office or consult an attorney to ensure you have all the necessary information and documents for a smooth elopement process.