The How-Tos of Marriage Licenses
and Weddings at the Courthouse
Get your License and Get Married at the Courthouse
By Terry Ortega | February 16, 2023
Read all of the stories in our 2023 Wedding Guide here.
Did you know that you must have a wedding ceremony to be legally married? And to have a legal ceremony anywhere in California you must get a marriage license. Let’s dive into what you need to know about marriage licenses, and if you would like, how to get married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, a national historic landmark considered one of the most beautiful public buildings in the country.
License Rules & Fees
Marriage licenses are issued in person (no appointment required) at the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office (Monday-Friday, excluding holidays, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) and must be purchased ($100-$111) before your ceremony wherever you decide to hold it. After you complete the online application, you and your betrothed must appear together to purchase the license. Be prepared to show a government-issued photo ID. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen or California resident to apply. A public license costs $100, anyone can obtain a copy, and at least one witness is required for the ceremony; a confidential license is $111, copies are not available to the public, and no witness is required (can you say elopement)? Be sure to check out the Name Change Information page to find out about the ability to change your middle and/or last names. This will be your only opportunity to do so.
Courthouse Civil Ceremony Fees and Other Fees
If you do not have someone to perform the ceremony, you can choose to book a 30-minute ceremony by appointment only, in English or Spanish, and you must have already purchased your license ahead of time and have brought it with you. Or you can book a 60-minute license and ceremony appointment. Both types of ceremonies are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. with a guest limit of 10 (including the couple). Other fees include the ceremony reservation ($23), ceremony fee ($104), Sunken Gardens or Mural Room site fee ($116), witness fee ($51), and the Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a Day fee ($51), which allows a family member, friend, or anyone of your choice to perform the ceremony (no religious affiliation is required).
The Courthouse’s beautiful surrounding gardens offer five spaces for the ceremony: the Sunken Gardens, Palm Terrace, Fiesta Stage, Birds of Paradise, and the Rotunda Lawn. Depending on the space you reserve, you can invite 15 or fewer guests or up to 250 with a price range of $104-$900. Indoor spaces include the Hall of Records Archway Door ($104) with a capacity of eight people total and the Mural Room ($600) for up to 100 guests. To reserve any space, you must email the County Parks Division or call at (805) 568-2460, option 4.
One thing is for certain: Getting married at this breathtaking S.B. landmark will make for beautiful memories and photos.
S.B. County Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St. (805) 568-2460 x4. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit countyofsb.org/595/Marriages.
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