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Los Angeles Jail Wedding Procedure
Although I’m not certified as a wedding officiant, many people have contacted me about this service. Occasionally someone will request information about marrying someone who is incarcerated. This article outlines the procedure for obtaining a marriage license in Los Angeles County where I work as a notary.
The County Recorder requires identifications from the bride, groom, and the officiant who will be performing the wedding ceremony. Each form of identification must be valid, original, and in good condition. Valid forms of identification in California must include a photograph, description of the person, signature of the person, and an identifying number. In most cases, signers use a California Driver’s License or a passport. An inmate in custody may also have an inmate identification card.
Once valid forms of identification are confirmed for all parties, an “Inability to Appear” package must be obtained from the County Recorder. At this point, the notary will have the incarcerated person complete the “Affidavit of Inability to Appear” form, the marriage license application, and a Jurat (oath) notarial form. The notary cannot be the one who will perform the wedding ceremony–that person is the officiant.
The bride or groom and the officiant must appear together at the County Recorder with the aforementioned documents and valid forms of identification for the bride, groom and officiant. Assuming there are no problems, the request for the marriage license is processed, the license fee is paid, and the marriage license is issued that day.
Los Angeles Jail Wedding Procedure
After the marriage license is issued, the couple must comply with the facility’s procedures for intimate weddings. During this process, a date will be set for the wedding ceremony. When permission is granted, the officiant is notified about the date and time scheduled for the ceremony. The officiant will then appear at the appointed time to perform the wedding ceremony, which usually takes place during normal visiting hours through glass. The officiant then completes the wedding license and leaves as quickly as possible to file it with the County Recorder (the newlyweds are then free to spend the remainder of their visit time together).
A certified copy of the marriage license/certification can be obtained 6 to 8 weeks after the filing, though expedited service can usually be arranged ahead of time through the officiant.
Los Angeles Jail Wedding Scam Alert
Are you planning a jail ceremony? Watch out for scam artists. If anyone claims they can perform your wedding ceremony over the phone, hang up! In California, such ceremonies are not legal.
Similarly, if anyone wants to sell you a marriage license, they’re not being truthful. Marriage licenses must be obtained and purchased from the County Recorder. In Los Angeles County you will need to contact the incarcerated party’s facility for a list of approved officiants.
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