Los Angeles, CA Online Ordination Guide

Officiate Weddings in Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles has more than enough wedding venue options to suit the needs of any couple. Whether you are looking for a classic Hollywood wedding, a beach elopement, an intimate backyard ceremony, or an elaborate party at a historic hotel, LA has it all.

Regardless of where you get married, the more important factor is who officiates your wedding. Having a friend or family member carry out the honor of officiating your wedding may be the best thing you can do to make your wedding day that much more meaningful.

And having someone you know officiate your wedding is as easy as having them get ordained online, which takes only a few minutes. Beyond ordination, the state of California does not require ministers or wedding officiants to register with any government office. So once they are ordained they do not have to take any further steps through the California government. After ordination is granted they will have the legal right to perform marriage.

American Marriage Ministries ordains people to perform marriage. And there are already tens of thousands of AMM ordained ministers in LA. Better yet, ordination with AMM is free. They also provide all the information you need to help train up first-time officiants. Continue reading to learn more of the important facts regarding officiating a legally-binding wedding ceremony in Los Angeles.

STEP 1: Get Ordained with American Marriage Ministries

American Marriage Ministries ministers are legally allowed to perform marriage in Los Angeles. AMM is an IRS Certified 501c3 Non-Profit offering free online ordinations to perform marriage. Marriage ceremonies in the State of California must be performed by an authorized person defined in California Family Code Sections 400-402:

(a) Although marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not a religious, contract, a marriage may be solemnized by a priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older.

A person authorized by this subdivision shall not be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of the person’s faith. Refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision, either by an individual or by a religious denomination, shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any entity.

(b) Consistent with Section 94.5 of the Penal Code and provided that any compensation received is reasonable, including payment of actual expenses, a marriage may also be solemnized by any of the following persons:

(1) A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.

(2) A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.

(3) Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States:

(A) A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.

(B) A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of the United States Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.

(C) A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.

(D) A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.

(c) Except as provided in subdivision (d), a marriage may also be solemnized by any of the following persons who are 18 years of age or older:

(1) A Member of the Legislature or constitutional officer of this state or a Member of Congress of the United States who represents a district within this state, or a former Member of the Legislature or constitutional officer of this state or a former Member of Congress of the United States who represented a district within this state.

(2) A person that holds or formerly held an elected office of a city, county, or city and county.

(3) A city clerk of a charter city or serving in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 36501 of the Government Code, while that person holds office.

(d) (1) A person listed in subdivision (c) shall not accept compensation for solemnizing a marriage while holding office.

(2) A person listed in subdivision (c) shall not solemnize a marriage pursuant to this section if they have been removed from office due to committing an offense or have been convicted of an offense that involves moral turpitude, dishonesty, or fraud.


American Marriage Ministries ministers meet these requirements and are legally allowed to perform weddings in California under the designation of “an authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older”. All you need to do is to get ordained with AMM.

Begin Ordination

STEP 2: Prepare For Officiating the Wedding

Getting AMM ordained is the easy part. Your next step as the wedding officiant is to prepare for officiating the wedding ceremony. As the wedding officiant, there are two main things you need to prepare for:

  1. Non-Legal Duty – Officiating the Wedding Ceremony
  2. Legal Duty – Signing the Marriage License

Non-Legal Duties – You non-legal duties encompass all of the performative aspects of the wedding ceremony. How do I write a wedding ceremony? How do I get ready to perform marriage? What do I say at a wedding?

To learn the answers to all these questions and more, we recommend that you read through the officiant training pages on the American Marriage Ministries website. These resources cover all important aspects of performing marriage and is geared towards first-time officiants. You can also check out these pages for more ceremony prep info:

Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. The sooner you get started and the more time you allocate to practice, the better prepared you will be when it comes time to officiate the wedding.

Legal Duties – Your legal duties have everything to do with the marriage license. Your one legal job as the wedding officiant is to sign the marriage license for the couple. This is as simple as it sounds, kust complete and sign a piece of paper. That’s it!

We understand how important it is to make sure the marriage license is properly completed. If you do find yourself confused by some of the fields on the marriage license, check out our page on How to Fill Out a Marriage License.

STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding

Regarding your performative duties, this is where you shine. If you have done your due diligence in preparing for the wedding ceremony, you will do an amazing job. In fact, you may have a lot more fun officiating a wedding than you might think. Many officiants that are AMM ordained to officiate one wedding eventually go on to officiating several. It’s really a lot of fun!

Regarding the marriage license – The couple is responsible for applying for the marriage license. Make sure to double check with the couple before performing the ceremony. At some point on the wedding day, the couple must present to you their marriage license. Your job is to complete and sign it in their presence and any required witnesses. The marriage license can be completed before or after the ceremony, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that all the fields are completed properly and that it bears your signature.

Once the marriage license is properly signed, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. Afterwards we recommend that you follow-up with the couple to make sure the marriage license has been returned to its issuance office.

Getting Married in Los Angeles

It is the responsibility of the couple to file for their marriage license with the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC). Couples can apply for a marriage license online before visiting a RR/CC office. Depending on COVID restrictions, you may only be able to apply online.

The marriage license is good for 90 days after they are issued to the couple, so factor the wedding date into your application process. Remember that both partners need to pick up the marriage license from any RR/CC location within 15 days of applying for a marriage license (if the office is open to in-person pickup).

Couples can apply online here, or find the nearest office here.

Los Angeles Officiant & Couples FAQ

How much does a Los Angeles County Public Marriage License cost?

Marriage licenses in Los Angeles cost $91.00 however we recommend that you check with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) in case prices have been changed.

What authorization do I need to perform a marriage in California?

According to the California Department of Public Health, in Los Angeles, it is the ordination or investment by the denomination that gives each clergy member the authority to perform marriage rites. Your online ordination through American Marriage Ministries allows you to assume that legal authority to perform weddings.

Family Code, Sections 400-402, are the statutes pertaining to whom can solemnize a marriage in California. We advise that you keep proof of your ordination credentials for your own records. It is good practice to keep your ordination certificate on hand in case you are asked to produce them by the couple.

Where do I register to officiate weddings in California?

In California it not required for persons solemnizing marriage to file their credentials with the clerk of the court or with anyone else. The county and state are removed from any responsibility for verification of ministerial credentials. California does not maintain a central registry of members of clergy in the state. Verification is at the discretion of the parties to the marriage.

Can ministers from another state perform a marriage ceremony in California?

Yes. As long as ordained ministers meet the requirements of Family Code, Section 400, out-of-state ministers may perform marriages in Los Angeles and anywhere in the State of California. As an AMM minister, you can officiate wedding ceremonies in California, no matter where you are from or what your nationality is.

Do I need to review the marriage license before I solemnize the marriage?

Yes. It is the legal duty of the wedding officiant — that’s you — to review the marriage license on the wedding day. According to the California Department of Public Health, “any person who solemnizes a marriage without first reviewing the license is guilty of a misdemeanor (Penal Code, Section 360).” Don’t forget to review and verify that the information is correct to the best of your knowledge.

Can an ordained minister perform a marriage ceremony for more than one couple at the same time in California?

Yes. There are no laws in California that prohibit multiple couples from being married at the same time. However, all couples must have already applied for valid marriage licenses no more than 90 days prior to the wedding date.

Los Angeles Marriage License Info

Marriage LicenseIt is the couple’s responsibility to file for the California Marriage License. That being said, below is important information regarding applying for a marriage license in Los Angeles County. If you need more clarification on what is meant by “Waiting Period”, “Expiration”, and “Return”, check out the Marriage License Definitions page on the American Marriage Ministries website.

Where do I file for the marriage license?

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk
4716 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90022

How much does the marriage license cost?


How long must I wait before completing my marriage license?

No waiting period.

When does the marriage license expire?

90 Days

Who returns the marriage license?

The Couple

When must the marriage license be returned after the wedding?

Within 10 Days