How To Get Married At The San Diego Courthouse

April 24, 2020

How to have a San Diego Courthouse Wedding

2020 could not have been a more exciting year to get married, it’s definitely a fun number to play with. 2020 got hit with a curveball though, COVID-19, and this has affected San Diego weddings and weddings across the world! As of now, we don’t have a firm date as to when events will reopen and up to what size, and thus many San Diego weddings have had to postpone. In the meantime, there is a solution for those wanting to just tie the knot already and adhere to the smaller group count of 10 people, having a San Diego courthouse wedding! With spectacular views of the Embarcadero Marina and walking distance to restaurants in Little Italy and Gaslamp in Downtown, it’s a sure win!

Here are 5 steps to get yourself ready for your San Diego Courthouse Wedding! Once the shelter in place starts to get lifted in California and in San Diego, you will want to be ready to get scheduling!

1. Get your Marriage License

  • You do not need to be a California resident to obtain a marriage license or marry within the state of California. * 
  • Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance and may only be used for ceremonies performed within the State of California.  If you do not have a ceremony within 90 days, then the marriage license will no longer be valid.  If your marriage license expires before there is a ceremony, then you must purchase a new marriage license; there are no refunds issued for unused marriage licenses.  
  • Both parties must appear in person at one of the office locations and present one form of valid picture identification.  An application for a marriage license must be completed prior to your appointment; printable applications to bring to your appointment are available online.  Original signatures are required.

The great thing here is that you can get your license and have the ceremony on the same day! Make sure you bring all required documents and payments. Bonus- you can even have your friend of family member marry you as long as they are ordained. Click here to apply for your marriage license.

2. Pick a date + Ceremony time

You can schedule your courthouse ceremony 45 days out from date you desire (currently offices are closed so once shelter at home starts to get lifted check website to see if you can schedule). Ceremonies at the Downtown location (County Administration Center) takes place during the weekday, by appointment only, from 8:00AM – 4:30PM

I recommend reserving between 8-9:30AM and 4-4:30pm, due to lighting, If that’s not available, don’t worry, there are so many spots around the courthouse that we can always find shade. I also recommend choosing the outdoor ceremony location for the scenery and for space. The ceremony room inside the office can accommodate up to 15 guests. Which depending on California’s CDC guidelines, is suffice. Outdoor ceremony is open space, but is subject to weather (which is usually pretty good in San Diego 🙂 ).

If the outdoor ceremonies are full, don’t worry. The ceremony only lasts about 10 minutes and we can walk over to the arch afterwards and do a mock ceremony for photos when the arch location is cleared. If you have a furry pet, feel free to bring him or her along too.

3. Choose Your Outfits!!

This is your day and you can wear whatever you heart desires. You don’t have to follow traditions and wear white. You can wear any color and any style dress. Some of my brides have found their dresses on BHLDN, Amazon, Vintage Thrift Store, Reformation, and more! There are so many possibilities! Just remember to try it on with enough time to get it fitted. Grooms can suit up as they like, even put on a kilt! I love seeing everyone’s personality come out in their wedding attire! Don’t think you will never use it again, we can always shoot anniversary photos and you can wear it all over again!

4. Choose Your Vendors

A bouquet is always great to have on your wedding day. A great accessory! Here are some recommendations on florals, rings, hair + makeup. Email me if you need more info.

Levant Lane
Bridget’s Blooms
Flowers of Point Loma

Amar Diamonds

Hair + MakeUp:
Aubree Brooke
Laura Claire
Emily Momand
*Don’t forget to get your nails done too 🙂 *

Grooming/ Shaving:
Lefty’s Barber Shop

And of course, choose your photographer 🙂 Email or call me for more info about your wedding photos + timeline! | 858-735-4898


Even intimate courthouse weddings can have couples a little overwhelmed or stressed the day of. If you have reviewed all the steps and have completed the preparations outlined on the San Diego County Marriage License page you should be good to go. Things to come up, one time a couple forgot their marriage license, but fortunately they were able to fill out another one and still continue with their ceremony. The people at the San Diego County Administrator building are so nice and helpful, they will make sure you have everything you need. I will make sure you feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera as well as keeping you laughing with my fabulous jokes. 🙂

Remember that your ceremony is in a prime location so you can even set up a lunch or dinner at a nearby restaurant for you and your guests to enjoy after the ceremony and your portraits are taken.

I am here to help answer any questions and guide you through the process, so don’t be shy and reach out. 🙂

Links to Courthouse Wedding Photos:
Lauren + Nathan
Glenda + Melvin
Megan + Mike
Tonia + James
Spencer + Matt
Connie + Mike
Clarissa + Josh

*DISCLAIMER: Information has been taken from the San Diego County Recorder website. Please always check website for the latest updates and for confirmed information. This post is simply to help, not officially advise, on scheduling your San Diego civil wedding. For more questions, please see their FAQ page. Thank you!


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