When Does The 30-Day Waiting Period Start In California?

California has a mandatory 30-day waiting period for couples getting married. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: In California, the 30-day waiting period generally starts on the day you file your marriage license application with your county clerk. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through California’s marriage license process step-by-step, explain exactly when the 30-day clock starts ticking, discuss exceptions that waive the waiting period, and provide tips for tracking dates and finalizing all required paperwork on time.

Overview of California’s Marriage License Process

Getting married in California involves a few important steps, including applying for a marriage license, solemnizing the marriage, and returning the necessary paperwork. Understanding the process can help ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Let’s take a closer look at each step:

Applying for a License

Before getting married in California, couples must first apply for a marriage license. This can be done at the county clerk’s office, where both parties need to appear in person and provide valid identification.

It’s important to note that California has a 30-day waiting period before the marriage license becomes valid. This means that couples cannot get married until at least 30 days after receiving the license.

However, there are circumstances in which this waiting period can be waived, such as for active military personnel.

Solemnizing the Marriage

Once the 30-day waiting period is over, couples are free to solemnize their marriage. This can be done by a licensed officiant, such as a minister, priest, rabbi, or authorized government official. It’s important to ensure that the officiant is legally authorized to perform marriages in California.

After the ceremony, the officiant will sign the marriage license, along with the couple and any witnesses present. This is a crucial step to legalizing the marriage.

Returning Paperwork

After the marriage has been solemnized, the couple must return the signed marriage license to the county clerk’s office within a certain timeframe. Failure to do so may result in the marriage not being officially recognized.

The exact timeframe may vary by county, so it’s important to check with the specific county clerk’s office for their requirements. Once the paperwork is received and processed by the county clerk, the marriage will be officially recorded and a certified copy of the marriage certificate can be obtained.

For more information on the marriage license process in California, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Public Health. Their website provides detailed information and resources to help couples navigate the marriage license process.

When the 30 Days Starts

When it comes to the 30-day waiting period in California, it’s important to understand when exactly the countdown begins. Here are some key factors to consider:

Day of Application

The starting point for the 30-day waiting period is the day you submit your application. Once your application is received by the appropriate authorities, the clock begins ticking. It’s important to keep in mind that this is the date that matters, not the date when your application is approved or processed.

County Filing Date Controls

In California, the county filing date is what determines the start of the 30-day waiting period. This means that if you submit your application to one county and then decide to transfer it to another, the 30-day waiting period will start over.

It’s crucial to double-check the requirements and procedures specific to your county to ensure you start the waiting period at the right time.

Tracking Your Dates

It’s essential to keep track of the dates involved in your application process to ensure compliance with the 30-day waiting period. Consider using a calendar or a tracking system to keep tabs on when you submitted your application and when the waiting period will end.

This will help you stay organized and avoid any potential delays or misunderstandings.

Remember, the 30-day waiting period is a legal requirement in California, and it is in place to provide a cooling-off period for individuals before their marriage is officially recognized. By understanding when the countdown starts, you can ensure a smooth and timely process for your marriage application.

Exceptions to the Waiting Period

Military Waiver

One of the exceptions to the 30-day waiting period in California is the military waiver. This waiver is available to active-duty military personnel who are getting married. The purpose of this exception is to accommodate the unique circumstances of military service, where quick marriages may be necessary due to deployment or other military obligations.

According to the California Family Code, military personnel can request a waiver of the waiting period by submitting a written request to the county clerk. The request must include a copy of the military orders requiring the marriage to take place within a specific time frame.

Once the waiver is granted, the couple can proceed with their marriage without having to wait for the full 30 days.

For more information on the military waiver and the process of obtaining it, you can visit the official website of the California Courts at www.courts.ca.gov.

Confidential Waiver

Another exception to the waiting period in California is the confidential waiver. This waiver is available to couples who want to keep their marriage license confidential. It allows them to bypass the 30-day waiting period and obtain their marriage license immediately.

In order to qualify for a confidential waiver, both parties must be at least 18 years old and currently living together as spouses. They must also sign an affidavit stating that they meet these requirements.

The purpose of this exception is to accommodate couples who have already been living together as spouses and do not wish to wait for the full 30 days to formalize their marriage.

If you are interested in applying for a confidential marriage license and obtaining a waiver of the waiting period, you can find more information on the official website of the California Department of Public Health at www.cdph.ca.gov.

Planning Your Wedding Timeline

Planning a wedding involves many details and timelines that need to be carefully coordinated. One important aspect of the wedding planning process is understanding when the 30-day waiting period starts in California.

This waiting period is a mandatory requirement for obtaining a marriage license and can impact your overall wedding timeline.

Booking Ceremonies and Receptions

When it comes to booking your wedding ceremony and reception venues, it’s important to keep the 30-day waiting period in mind. In California, you must obtain your marriage license at least 30 days before your wedding date.

This means that you’ll want to secure your venue and set your wedding date well in advance to allow enough time for the waiting period and any necessary paperwork.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to check with your chosen venue to see if they have any specific requirements or restrictions regarding the marriage license waiting period. Some venues may require you to provide proof of your marriage license before confirming your booking.

Finalizing Guest Plans

Finalizing your guest plans is another important step in your wedding timeline. Once you have a confirmed wedding date and venue, you can start sending out save-the-date cards or invitations to your guests. However, it’s essential to keep in mind the 30-day waiting period when making these plans.

Consider sending out your save-the-date cards or invitations at least a couple of months before your wedding date to ensure that your guests have enough time to make arrangements to attend. This extra time will also allow for any delays that may occur during the marriage license application process.

Rushing Paperwork

While it’s recommended to plan your wedding timeline well in advance, sometimes circumstances may require you to rush the paperwork process. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to obtain your marriage license quickly, there are options available.

California offers a confidential marriage license option, which allows couples to bypass the 30-day waiting period. However, this option is only available to couples who meet specific requirements, such as living together as spouses before obtaining the license.

It’s important to check the requirements and guidelines set by the California Department of Public Health to determine if you qualify for a confidential marriage license.

Keep in mind that rushing the paperwork process may come with additional fees or requirements, so be sure to consider these factors when making your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Changing License Info

Many couples wonder what happens if they need to change their license information after it has been issued. In California, if you need to make changes to your license, such as correcting a misspelled name or changing your mailing address, you can do so by contacting the County Clerk’s office where your license was issued.

They will be able to guide you through the process and ensure that your license reflects the correct information.

Out of State Weddings

If you are planning to get married in California but are not a resident of the state, you may be wondering how the 30-day waiting period applies to you. The good news is that the waiting period does not apply to out-of-state couples.

As long as you meet the other requirements for obtaining a marriage license in California, you can get married as soon as you receive your license. However, it’s important to note that you will still need to wait for your license to be issued before you can legally marry in the state.

License Expiration

Another common question is what happens if your marriage license expires before you have the chance to use it. In California, a marriage license is valid for 90 days from the date it is issued. If you do not use your license within that time period, you will need to apply for a new one.

Keep in mind that there may be additional fees associated with obtaining a new license, so it’s best to plan your wedding within the allotted time frame.


California’s 30-day waiting period can impact wedding planning, but knowing exactly when it starts and allowing proper time for processing marriage licenses can help your nuptials go smoothly. Paying close attention to county filing dates, tracking paperwork timelines, and finalizing all details well in advance are key to making your big day a success.

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