No need to head west to the expensive venues in the Bay Area or south to boujee beach towns; Modesto is the perfect spot to host a classic California wedding. World famous wine, unbeatable taco trucks… what more could a person need from a town? And once you start exploring the wedding venues in the area, you’ll find that the Central Valley is full of hidden gems.
If you have been asked to officiate a wedding in Modesto, it's a particular honor! This city has a long history of empowering online ordained ministers. Modesto was the birthplace of the Universal Life Church ULC), founded by the late Rev. Kirby J. Hensley in 1962. And even though AMM is not affiliated with the ULC, we acknowledge their long history of empowering non-traditional ministers.
In our guide, we have all the need-to-know info about how to get married in Stanislaus County, how to get your officiant-of-choice legally ordained to perform your ceremony, and a few extra tips to make sure your wedding goes as smoothly as possible.
Have you been asked to officiate a wedding but don’t have the legal credentials? We’ll help walk you through the process. It’s easier than you think.
In Stanislaus County’s website, “marriage may be solemnized by any priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination.” By getting ordained with AMM, you can become a minister of our non-denominational non-profit church. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
In California, you do not need to register your ministerial credentials with the state, so once you’re ordained with AMM, you can start officiating weddings!
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 to the marriage license, it is the couple’s responsibility to download all the necessary forms online and drop them off at the county clerk recorder’s office to apply. Among these forms, there is an affidavit that you will need to provide you signature for, as the officiant, so plan to meet up with the couple to sign it.
After they have dropped off their application, the recorder’s office will review it. If all the correct documents are there, you should expect to receive their marriage license by mail. So, make sure the couple has your current address.
On the day of the wedding, after you perform the ceremony, you will help the couple complete and notarize the marriage license correctly. Your final task is to physically return all completed forms to the county clerk recorder’s office within five days of the ceremony.
You can use the drop box located outside the office at 1021 Street Suite 101 between 8am and 4pm. Don’t forget to call (209)-525-5251 to inform them that you have done so.
The procedure for obtaining a marriage license has changed slightly due to COVID-19. These days, you need to download the forms online, fill out printed copies and take them to the Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder’s drop box, located at 1021 Street Suite 101. You can find the full instructions here.
With all the completed forms, remember to include:
If you want a certified copy of your marriage certificate, you should also fill out those required forms which are included in the above link. Each copy costs $15.
Once the recorder’s office verifies that all your documents have been received, they will mail your marriage license to your officiant and he or she will help you complete it on the day of the wedding.
Issuance Office: 1021 Street Suite 101
Waiting Period: None
Expiration: 90 days
Return: By officiant within 5 days of ceremony
Now that all of the legal logistics have been taken care of, let’s talk about the fun stuff -- the wedding details! When choosing your wedding date, keep in mind the different brewfests and festivals that take place in Modesto, which draw in large crowds. If your wedding venue is in close proximity, parking and traffic could be a real pain. So before committing to a venue or date, check some local events calendars first.
Speaking of venues, Modesto has some real gems. Redwood Events is a beautiful garden venue tucked in north Modesto near the Vintage Faire Mall that comes with all the fixings -- tables, chairs, linens, napkins, set-up and clean-up, a stocked bar with a bartender, and catering hook-ups. This versatile, well-manicured venue has both indoor and outdoor spaces and minimalistic decor, so it’s a great fit for any couple.
If you’re looking for an indoor restaurant setting, check out Greens on Tenth. Its warm brick interiors and polished concrete floors create a cozy, urban hideaway kind of atmosphere. One big draw is its in-house catering service, which will serve your favorite dishes on your big day.
You’ve probably driven past the McHenry Mansion hundreds of times, but not everyone realizes the historic Victorian house is also a wedding venue -- and it’s surprisingly affordable to rent! You get access to the whole mansion, so you and your bridal/groom parties can get ready in the rooms upstairs before stepping into the lovely courtyard for the ceremony.
Those are our top picks in town, but if you want to expand your search outside of the Modesto area, you are free to do so, as your Stanislaus-issued marriage license is valid anywhere in California.
If you’re from Modesto, you already know that the city’s public transportation is not great for getting around in a hurry. So, if you are coming in from out of town, then it’s best to either rent a car or download Lyft and/or Uber. Or, if you want to get swanky, you can always utilize a limo service -- and what’s a better occasion to do so than your wedding day? Legacy Limousine is the highest rated service in Modesto.
When choosing your wedding date and venue, it’s also important to consider the seasons. If you’re planning a winter or summer wedding, an indoor venue is best so that you have shelter from the elements. Autumn is a beautiful season for an outdoor wedding in Modesto. The city’s famous Western Pistache and Liquid Amber trees are changing color and the average daily temperature is in the mid 70s. March, April and May are also comfortable and usually dry -- perfect wedding weather.
Yes, if you have been ordained online by an organization like AMM, you can legally perform weddings in the state of California.
No, California does not ask officiants to register with their offices, so once you have been ordained online, you can officiate weddings.
Yes. For now, you must apply by downloading forms online and using the clerk recorder’s offices drop box. The process is detailed in the above section.
After you receive your marriage license, you can hold your ceremony the very same day. But because of COVID-19, you cannot apply in person and receive your marriage license the same day, so make sure to apply at least a few weeks before your actual wedding day.
You and your partner have 90 days to hold your ceremony from the date of issuance of your marriage license. If you still haven’t held your ceremony after the 90 days, you will have to purchase a new marriage license to get married.
Yes, you can host your wedding anywhere in the state of California, but your marriage license should be returned to the clerk’s office in which it was obtained.
It is the job of the officiant to return the marriage license within five days of the wedding ceremony.