Many California counties allow you to arrange to have a friend or a member of your family perform your civil marriage ceremony.
Called the "Deputy for a Day Program", "Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a Day", "One-Time Deputy Marriage Commissioner", "Marriage Commissioner for the Day", or "One Day Deputization", your relative or friend will be required to go through some instruction, fill out a form, pay the fee, and be sworn in as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner.
NOTE: The deputization is for just one ceremony for one couple at just one location at a specific time. Religious wording is not allowed during the ceremony.
Section 401 (a) and (b) of the California Family Code states that a county clerk as a "commissioner of civil marriages may appoint deputy commissioners of civil marriages who may solemnize marriages under the direction of the commissioner of civil marriages and shall perform other duties directed by the commissioner."
Requirements for the Deputy for a Day Progam
Requirements vary from county to county, but these are general requirements for the Deputy for a Day Program in California:
- Either the bride or groom has to be a resident of the county where the marriage license was obtained.
- The person requesting to perform the ceremony must be at least 18 years of age.
- The applicant must be fluent in the English language.
- The applicant must appear in person and show valid photo identification.
- Pay required fee. This varies from $40 to $120.
- Attend training class. This varies in length of time from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.
- At the time of Deputization, a copy of the marriage license must be provided.
- At least two days prior to a scheduled training class, the request to be appointed as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a Day needs to be mailed or faxed as a written request (sample form) to the county clerk's office. We recommend having the paperwork for the Deputization completed two weeks before your wedding.
Check With County Clerk
Not all counties in California participate in this program. It is very important that you contact the county clerk where you want to be married to verify that the Deputy for a Day program is offered.
You can also check the county's web site page that lists the fee schedule. Some counties list the Deputy Commissioner fees under the Marriage category, some list the fees under the Non-Statutory Fees category, and some have other categories where the Deputy for a Day fees may be listed.
California County Web Sites Describing the Deputy for a Day Program or Listing the Fees for the Program
- Alameda County
- Butte County
- Colusa County
- Contra Costa County
- El Dorado County
- Humboldt County - pg. 14.
- Inyo County
- Lake County
- Los Angeles County
- Marin County
- Mariposa County
- Merced County
- Napa County
- Placer County
- Riverside County
- Sacramento County
- San Bernardino County
- San Diego County
- San Francisco County
- San Joaquin County
- San Luis Obispo County
- San Mateo County
- Santa Barbara County
- Santa Clara County
- Santa Cruz County
- Sierra County
- Siskiyou County
- Solano County
- Sonoma County
- Trinity County
- Tulare County
- Ventura County
- Yolo County