A few years ago, all the cool kids started leaving San Francisco and moving to Oakland. It certainly helped that you could still afford an apartment in Oakland without having to sell your kidneys, but there was something else that attracted these refugees – Oakland’s vibrant culture, community, and way of life.
That’s because from its pristine parks, majestic redwoods, of ocean vibes and inland spaces, and a huge freaking lagoon right in the middle of town, Oakland can go toe-to-toe with any other American city, without selling its soul.
That’s also why it’s the perfect city for your non-traditional (or traditional) wedding because whatever vibes you want to create, Oakland makes it possible.
But before you start exploring Temescal’s boutique shops, vintage stores, and killer eateries, there’s the bureaucratic stuff like getting ordained (if you’re the minister) or the marriage license process (for the couple) that we need to get out of the way. So, let’s cover that, and then we can talk about cool venues and the like.
California State marriage laws apply in Almeda County California, where Oakland is situated. The law states that the following people may solemnize marriage:
Once you get ordained with American Marriage Ministries, you become a minister in good standing with our church which puts you in the, “priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination” category. That could be you in just a few minutes. Click here and get ordained with AMM.
Once you are ordained, we recommend purchasing your ordination documents from our store. These official documents could be requested by government officials, and are an easy way to prove that the marriage was legal. They can be shown to couple, other wedding professionals, the venue, or even the San Francisco City and County Clerk may ask for proof of your status as an ordained minister.
Great, you’re ordained. Congratulations! Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but doing it well takes some research and planning. Check out our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly and that you feel confident up there.
Our website has everything you might need to officiate, from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
Ok, here’s the important part (well its, all important) and that’s taking care of the marriage license. It is the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the marriage license from the Almeda County Clerk’s office, but just be sure to double check that they have done so before performing the ceremony.
Once the ceremony is over and the marriage license is properly signed, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. In Oakland, the signed marriage license must be returned to the county clerk, or county recorder’s office in-person or by mail within ten (10) days after the ceremony.
It’s pretty easy and affordable to get married in Oakland, depending on what route you take. But as far as getting the marriage license, Oakland makes it pretty easy, allowing couples to start the process online, and then show up to get the paperwork later. Remember, there are limits on how the license may be used. The license may be used only in California, and is valid for 90 days from the date it was issued. Plan your location and date accordingly.
In order to obtain a marriage license, the couple must appear together in person and be 18 years of age and older. The following bullet points detail the rest:
Couples can submit their application online and appear in person to complete the process within 15 days of submittal: Click here for a link to start the process.
Issuance Office: Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Office, 1106 Madison Street, Oakland Ca 94607 or 7600 Dublin Boulevard, Dublin, CA 94568.
Fee: $81.00 for a public license and $90.00 for a confidential license
Waiting Period: none
Expiration: 90 days
Return: by Officiant
Oakland has more personality than your average city, and that means you’ve got options when it comes to planning your wedding. In practical terms, that means you can choose from glitzy wedding halls, or pay a taco truck to pull up for your back yard wedding and you’re going to have an awesome time either way.
September and October are the most popular months for Bay Area couples to tie the knot, and that means there might be increased competition for public venues and higher prices. Check if there are any larger public events (festivals, parades, sporting events, etc.) that might disrupt your plans or drive up prices if you’ve got a lot of friends visiting from out of town. That’s because hotel availability, traffic, and flights into town could be affected, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Oakland has great connectivity and airlines like Alaskan, Southwest, and most other US carriers offer cheap flights into the city if you plan ahead – which is why we’re doing this well in advance, right?
The BART transit system connects Oakland to San Francisco, where a lot of your guests might be staying. Beyond that, there are the usual rentals, rideshares, and taxis but traffic can get pretty dismal so take that into consideration.
Oakland has brilliant weather most of the year, which expands your options. Even winter months average in the 50s and 60s, but there’s still going to be a damp chill in the air on some days, so be careful what sort of outdoor weddings you plan for February. That said, with so many awesome parks, Oakland is a great outdoor wedding sort of a place.
That said, you aren’t going to get that “California Weather” that you’d expect in places like Los Angeles. For much of the year, you can expect sunny, gentle warmth.
Since Oakland’s weather is great year-round, it really depends on what months work for you. Keep in mind that September and October are the most popular months for Bay Area couples to wed, and prices are lower for off months.
If you are unsure what your status is, American Marriage Ministries offers free ordination that grants you full rights as a minister. Get ordained now and eliminate the guesswork. Otherwise, check with the county clerk to see if your status is accepted.