How to Officiate Weddings in Riverside
A Riverside CA Guide for Wedding Ministers and Couples
Riverside County goes by many names. Whether you know it as the Inland Empire or Coachella Valley, there’s no denying there’s something enchanting about this quieter part of the Golden State. The area spans from the outskirts of Los Angeles to the Arizona border, fading from the coastal Mediterannean climate to the desolate yet beautiful desert landscape, and is home to the gorgeous Joshua Tree National Park and some of the most relaxing resort cities in the state -- Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage.
So if you’re planning to get married in the Riverside area, you have a lot of great nearby options right at your fingertips. We’ll help you narrow it down, but before you start the wedding planning process, let’s get the paperwork of your marriage out of the way first.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to California law, “a marriage may be solemnized by a priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older.”
If you do not fall into any of these categories, no sweat. You can get ordained with AMM to fall within the priest or minister category. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
When it comes time to perform your duties as the officiant, Riverside County may ask you to present documentation, which AMM provides for a fee. (You can call the county clerk’s office before you perform the ceremony to ask if they will require you to bring the certificate in person.)
Now that the easy part is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but can feel like a lot of pressure. You will appreciate our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly.
Here you can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
When it comes time to sign the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the marriage license, but just be sure to double check that they have a valid marriage license before the ceremony.
In Riverside, once you have performed the ceremony and notarized the marriage license, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. The couple will take care of the rest.
Now let’s turn our attention to the couple’s responsibilities. You can start by completing the marriage license application on the Riverside County website.
Then, to obtain your marriage license, you both members of the couple will have to visit the county clerk’s office in person at one of one of the following locations: CAC Downtown Riverside, Gateway East Riverside (which offers extended hours on Thursdays only from 5 – 7 pm), Hemet, Temecula, or Palm Desert.
When you go, just remember to bring:
- Government issued photo ID
- $100 (cash, check or debit/credit card)
Once the office accepts your application, you’re good to go! There is no waiting period to use your marriage license.
Issuance Office: 2724 Gateway Dr. Riverside, CA 92507 (Main Office)
Waiting Period: None
Expiration: 90 days
Return: by Couple
The Basics -- There are a few times of year you should watch out for when choosing your wedding date in Riverside County. Indio, a town about an hour’s drive east of Riverside, is home to the annual Coachella music and arts festival each April, which draws massive crowds to the region, driving up hotel prices and causing traffic on all major highways. It’s best to avoid planning an event during this time entirely.
And in December, there’s the Festival of Lights -- another popular tourist attraction -- hosted at the Mission Inn. If you are set on a date in April or December, just try to avoid choosing a venue that is in close proximity to these events, but be prepared to pay extra premiums on hotel prices and potentially face more traffic congestion than usual.
From the town of Riverside, you’re just 30 minutes away from the ocean, where you can find beaches California’s best beaches, and about 45 minutes to the mountains. But if you want to stay close-in to Riverside for the location of your wedding, you have a lot of great venue options to choose from.
If you’re envisioning the ultimate fairytale venue, you’ll love the The Marquess. The 5-acre estate, a 40-minute drive south of Riverside in Murrieta, is full of stunning features that make for perfect photo ops: a pond with a charming European-style bridge, a tiny French chapel, a vintage greenhouse, and the utterly royal bridal and groom suites.
Another option is the The Mission Inn in downtown Riverside, mentioned above, barring that you don’t want to get married in December. It’s home to two chapels, two courtyards and seven different indoor reception areas for you to choose from -- all of them elegant and picturesque. Plus, there’s the added bonus that if you have guests coming from out of town, they can stay right onsite. Be sure to take advantage of their spa services, too.
If you’d rather go a less traditional route, you can drive out to Joshua Tree National Park to have your ceremony among the cacti. (The Indian Cove is our favorite spot to say “I do” in the park.) You’ll have to move the party elsewhere if you plan to have a reception, such as the Desert Lily or the Sacred Sands, both of which are venues right outside the park -- but the sweeping desert views of the park set an unforgettable scene to say your vows that make it totally worth it. Check out this guide for more links and info and make sure to apply for your park permit as soon as you’ve chosen your wedding date.
Transportation -- Public transportation in Riverside is pretty comprehensive. The Riverside Transit Agency is well-organized and buses are usually on time. You can check their schedules and see route maps here. However, if you’re trying to get from point A to point B in a hurry, using Lyft or Uber (or renting a car) might be a better option, if you’re from out of town.
Weather -- In Riverside, summers are hot and clear and winters are slightly cool, and usually partly cloudy. Throughout the year, temperatures usually stay in the range of 67 degrees at the lowest daily high, to about 95, but can climb above 100 in the height of the summer. The “cold” season in Riverside lasts for about four months, from late November to March, with an average daily high temperature of 72. (Brrr!) Most people opt for fall or spring wedding dates, when the weather is the most mild. But you’ll be able to find the best deals on venue rates in the winter, after Christmas time.