California Allows You to Get Married Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Learn how to get a marriage license online and have a virtual wedding ceremony in California during the COVID emergency.

By , Legal Editor

In April 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order (N-58-20) to allow couples to get marriage licenses and have their marriages solemnized (in a ceremony) online, via live videoconferencing, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the order was originally set to expire after 60 days, Executive Order N-71-20 later extended online marriages until California's State of Emergency ends (or the order is changed, if that happens sooner).

As of October 13, 2022, the State of Emergency was still in effect.

How to Get a Marriage License Online During the COVID Pandemic

California law usually requires that couples show up in person at the county clerk's office to get a marriage license. (Cal. Fam. Code § 359 (2022).) That in-person requirement is suspended during the COVID State of Emergency.

However, the provision for online marriage licenses is at the discretion of local county clerks, so you should check with clerk's office where you plan to apply for a license to make sure that the online option is available there and, if so, how to access it.

In order to get a license online, both you and your intended spouse will need to be physically present in California and present a photo ID during the video conference. You might also need to present proof that you're in the state, but that proof will be up to the county clerk.

How to Get Married Online During the COVID Pandemic

After you get your marriage license, you must have a ceremony (called "solemnization" of marriage in California law) in which you both declare that you take each other as spouses. Normally, you must do this in the physical presence of the officiant and at least one witness. (Cal. Fam. Code §§ 420, 422 (2022).)

But while California's State of Emergency is still in effect, you may have your wedding ceremony via video conference. The officiant and the witness(es) must take part in the remote ceremony, but they don't have to be physically present in California. You may also invite other people to participate in the virtual wedding.

How to Sign Marriage Documents Virtually

Part of getting married involves signing documents, including the marriage license and certificate. For this purpose, the executive orders allow electronic signatures (including photocopies or scans), as well as submitting the documents by email or another electronic means.

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