Making It Legal
In California, obtaining a marriage license is simple. There is no residency requirement, nor do you need a blood test. Also, California does not require you to wait between obtaining a marriage license and tying the knot.
Counties in California are the gatekeepers for marriage licenses. Although there does tend to be some amount of consistence across counties keep in mind that during the COVID-19 Pandemic counties may have different policies regarding how a person can obtain a marriage license.
Until at least LABOR DAY 2020 at least one of the people getting the marriage license must live in Riverside County. Marriage licenses issued in other California counties are valid here in Palm Springs and Riverside County, so if you are coming from within the state you may want to get your license beforehand.
Currently in Riverside County marriage, licenses can only be obtained online via video conference (Skype, Zoom, or similar service), and are only being done by appointment. Appointments fill quickly and the clerks will book appointments up to 60 days out. As with all things during the COVID-19 era, getting your marriage license is going to involve some planning. To book your appointment visit https://asrclkrec.site/
All the other pre-COVID rules continue to apply:
- Both parties MUST be 18 years of age or older. (We are not issuing licenses to minors at this time.)
- Both parties MUST be present TOGETHER during their appointment to obtain the marriage license. (In the same room and on the same screen).
- Both parties MUST have a valid, current picture identification. The identification must be government issued. Some examples include state issued driver’s license or identification card; military identification; green card; naturalization certificate; or passport.
- If either party has been divorced or has had a dissolution of a State Registered Domestic Partnership within 90 days of the issuance of the marriage license, a copy of the FINAL dissolution IS REQUIRED. We will take a copy of the register of actions showing the written final decree of dissolution has been entered. The divorce paperwork does not need to be certified. A copy of a Minute Order IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
- Payment of fee for a public marriage license: $100.00.
The county clerk can also perform your ceremony online at the licensing appointment. You will need to provide at least one witness.
Although Gay Desert Guide will attempt to keep this page up to date given our ever-changing landscape please check the links to each city’s COVID-specific web page at the end of this post for the most recent changes.
But enough about rules. What do you and your beloved need to do to start your lives together?
First things first, you will need to “visit” the County Clerk.
Once restrictions relax a bit you should be able to go to any of the five offices across Riverside County that can help you— two in the city of Riverside, with the others in Hemet, Temecula, and Palm Desert, the one Coachella Valley location, about 30 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. The fee for a public marriage license is $100. Confidential marriage licenses have a fee of $110, but are strongly discouraged unless the confidentiality of the marriage date is of vital importance..
- Civil ceremonies— i.e. official, no frills fulfillment of the basic rites required for a union to be legally recognized— can also be arranged at any of the five offices listed above, by appointment only. This can be done on the same day the marriage license is issued, as long as you plan ahead. Remember to bring at least one witness to sign the license after the ceremony!(If you go this route, we suggest you consider either the Downtown Riverside or Temecula offices; the former does its service in the historic 1927 Riverside Chapel, and the latter in a shaded, leafy outdoor courtyard. The other three locations are far more drab, Conference Room 3B next to the water cooler-style accommodations.)
- The fee for a civil ceremony is $75; rings can be purchased for $16.20 to $21.60. Ceremony services must be paid in advance, upon scheduling the appointment. And that’s non-refundable, folks! Appointments are required and can be made by calling (760) 863-7490.
- Alternately, any couple wishing to have a marriage ceremony in Palm Springs, performed by any member of the Palm Springs City Council can call the Office of the Mayor and City Council at (760) 323-8200 to see if the Mayor or Council is available. Please note marriages are not currently being performed in City Hall.
- Want to have someone else perform the ceremony? The County Clerk, as Commissioner of Civil Marriages, has the power to appoint a deputy commissioner of civil marriage, known as Commissioner for the Day. Applicants must meet certain criteria (must be 18, appear at the office in person with government photo id, and know the location and date of the ceremony).
- Another route is to find someone who was internet ordained (or is willing to be). This grueling religious training involves several mouse clicks and inputting a credit card number. The Classic Wedding Package is $39.99 from the Universal Life Church and contains every item an ordained minister needs to perform a beautiful, memorable wedding ceremony that will be remembered for years. If you are staying at a hotel, ask at the front desk as they may already have someone ordained on staff or know someone who is.
- Palm Desert County Clerk’s Office
38-686 El Cerrito Road
Palm Desert, CA 92211
As of July 2020 in Riverside County, places of worship have been ordered closed.
Wedding receptions and parties are not permitted at this time.
Cathedral City http://www.discovercathedralcity.com/covid-19-info/
Desert Hot Springs https://www.cityofdhs.org/coronavirus-updates
Rancho Mirage https://covid19.ranchomirageca.gov/
Gay Desert Guide worked with the two men on their wedding plans, as well as documenting those wedding plans, for their popular YouTube channel and Facebook page. Zach & Evan rode in the 2018 Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade, and finally tied the knot in January 2019 at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, (see photos featured in this article, above) with Gay Desert Guide by their side along with a vast array of family, friends, and fans.