How to Officiate Weddings in Santa Ana
An OC Guide for Wedding Ministers and Couples
If you’re planning to get hitched in SoCal, you may be a bit overwhelmed with the abundance of perfect wedding locations concentrated in the southern chunk of the Golden State -- Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Monica are all fabulous (and super popular) wedding destinations. But have you considered veering off the beaten path and exploring some of the lesser-chosen options?
Orange County area gets a bit of a bad rap thanks to the many TV shows depicting privileged valley girls and white suburbia, but Santa Ana is actually one of the most diverse cities in coastal region of Southern California, smack dab in the middle of the OC, with its own thriving cultural scene completely unique from Los Angeles. With the added bonus that it’s just 10 minutes from the beach, we think that this smaller, more affordable suburban pocket of SoCal is highly underrated -- and a perfect spot to tie the knot.
But before we get into our wedding planning tips, let’s get the logistics of your marriage squared away, starting with getting your chosen wedding officiant registered.
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.
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 it’s your job to double check that they have a valid marriage license before the ceremony, review the marriage license with them, and see that it is returned to the county clerk’s office after the ceremony. Once you’ve turned it in, your part is over! You can sit back and relax.
Now let’s turn our attention to the couple’s responsibilities. You can start the application process online. It’s not a requirement to do so, however, it saves time for when you and your partner go to the office to present your ID and complete the process. Plus, online applicants are given priority above applicants that have not started the process online. You can also call to make an appointment if you want to skip any potential wait times, but an appointment is not required.
To obtain your marriage license, you both members of the couple will have to visit an Orange County clerk’s office at any of its four locations; Anaheim City Center, Westminster, the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana, or Laguna Hills. You have 90 days from the date that your online application is submitted for both parties to appear together to complete and obtain your official marriage license.
The marriage license is $61, but there are additional fees to perform ceremonies and to get additional copies of the marriage license, if those are services that you want to utilize. Click here and scroll down to page two for those details.
When you go, just remember to bring:
- Valid non-expired, government issued ID
- $61 (all forms of payment accepted)
- At least one witness (if you are having a marriage ceremony performed onsite)
Issuance Office: Four locations
Waiting Period: None
Expiration: 90 days
Return: by Officiant
The Basics -- When it comes to picking a wedding venue in the OC, you won’t have any shortage of choices. In fact, your real problem will likely be narrowing down your options. It’s no secret that there is an overabundance of venues in the area thanks to many beach resorts to country clubs. But if you don’t have a Real Housewives of Orange County kind of budget, you’ll have to do a little bit of digging.
There are some super impressive options to be found with lower price tags than the typical hotel or resort. The Old World, a charming German-themed restaurant with a warm storybook charm, is perfect for a small or large celebration. You can have your ceremony in their lovely garden, exchanging rings under their gazebo. Once you move the party inside, there is a banquet hall with a capacity of up to 850 people. And if you’re a fan of authentic German schnitzel and beer, your choice is made.
We also recommend the Red Horse Barn in Huntington Beach for the couple that is looking for an wide-open outdoor venue with a balance between elegance and the ever-so-popular rustic, country aesthetic. The expansive green property is framed by beautiful old trees and white picket fences that make for stunning photos. You can even snap a few pics in the 10-horse stable if you so desire.
Or, if you want to stick with a California classic -- “I do” on the beach at sunset -- you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the Golden State, such as Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, are located in Orange County. You can get a special events permit on the OC Parks website, where you can also find a list of vendors with verified insurance.
Transportation -- If you want to get anywhere in a hurry in Santa Ana, public transportation is a no go. If you’re just using it to navigate the downtown area, it can be useful, but as far as traveling throughout Orange County, you’re better off using Lyft or Uber (or renting a car) if you’re from out of town. Traffic isn’t as bad as it is in LA, but you still want to make sure to give yourself extra time to get from place to place, as practically everybody here drives.
Weather -- Weather in Orange County is regarded by many as the best in the country. The average daily highs in December, January and February are 70 degrees. In July and August, it’s hot, but it rarely gets above 92 degrees, and the weather is arid and dry. When choosing your wedding date, take into account that fall is peak wedding season in California -- so that’s when venues and hotel rates will be at their highest. Winter is the least popular season for weddings, so if you’re trying to be thrifty, you should consider choosing a date between December and March.