Jail Weddings

We will officiate your wedding at an Orange County jail or prison for a flat fee of $275 (no discounts).  A jailhouse wedding can easily take 4 or more hours of our time, between waiting in line at the County Recorder with the bride to take an oath, and waiting through the visiting lines at the jail and performing the ceremony.

These instructions apply to getting married at James A. Musick Facility in Irvine, Theo Lacy Facility in Orange, and Men’s Central Jail IRC in Santa Ana.  The Santa Ana Jail has slightly different rules, but we’ve had weddings there as well.

NOTE:  You MUST have your fiances drivers license, California ID, or passport in your hand – or the Orange County Clerk will NOT issue you a marriage license.  Feel free to call them about their requirements.

Here are the requirements for Orange County:

Read these requirements carefully, and follow them to the letter!

First, the prisoner must submit an inmate message slip to the Classification Sergeant, requesting permission to get married while in jail.  A week or two later, the Classification Sergeant will send the prisoner a permission slip and the prisoner MUST HAVE THAT PERMISSION SLIP in hand, or the wedding will not be allowed to take place.  On 12/29/2018, we were turned away from officiating a wedding at Men’s Central Jail, because the prisoner did not have written permission.  This rule applies to all O.C. Jails, but probably Theo Lacy and Musick won’t enforce the rule (but why take a chance?).

The marriage license applicant who is able to appear before the County Clerk-Recorder must obtain an “Inability to Appear” form from the Orange County Clerk-Recorder Department and have it notarized by a Notary Public who visits the prisoner at the jail.  This “Inability to Appear” form must be signed by the prisoner in front of a notary. This form is available by walking into the Marriage License office in Santa Ana, or I have a copy.

The notary can NOT be the same person as the officiant.  A Notary Public with security clearance can visit the prisoner during the same hours as the attorneys.  A regular Notary who does not have security clearance may visit the prisoner with you on the weekend as a regular visitor, but note that some prisons limit visitors to 2 per day.

If you would like our notary to go into an Orange County jail and have the paperwork notarized for you, we charge $99 for that service.  Please note:  You MUST have a current drivers license or passport or government issued photo identification for the prisoner, or the County Clerk will not give you a marriage license.  If you aren’t sure that you have acceptable identification for the prisoner, you should go to the marriage license office and show the clerk what identification you have, to see if it is acceptable, before you spend money on a Notary, or your wedding minister.

The applicant (Bride or Groom) must appear at the County Clerk-Recorder Department (in the Old Courthouse in Santa Ana, on the corner of Broadway and Civic Center) to obtain the marriage license.  Your minister, the person “solemnizing the ceremony” (that’s us) MUST ACCOMPANY YOU.  Original Government Issued Photo I.D. for both the bride and groom are required (no exceptions), along with proof that the person is currently incarcerated – a recent receipt from the jail works, but the receipt must be dated within the past few weeks.  If you have any questions, ask the person working at the Marriage License counter.

IF your fiancé is in Immigration Holding (ICE), he must also get permission from that department prior to getting married.

Here’s a checklist for when you go to pick up your marriage license:

  1. Make sure your fiance has a written permission slip from the Classification Sergeant.
  2. Bring $275 cash for your wedding Officiant, or, you can pay us in advance using VENMO, Zelle, Chase QuickPay, Square, or Paypal to Family & Friends.  We can email you in invoice that you can pay with a credit card as well.  Money order or cashiers check are fine, but not a personal check, because we don’t have time to cash it.
  3. Bring $65 to pay for your CONFIDENTIAL marriage license (I believe the County Clerk accepts debit cards and checks)
  4. Bring the notarized Inability to Appear form (we have the document – this copy is just FYI:   Affidavit of Inability to Appear Form)
  5. Bring proof that your fiancé is incarcerated.  Any recent papers from the court showing your fiancé is in jail, or a receipt from depositing money into your fiancés account at the jail will suffice.  The County Clerk will not accept an old receipt.  Nor will they accept a receipt on your cell phone.  They want a paper receipt.
  6. Bring your drivers license.
  7. Bring your fiancé’s drivers license or passport (no exceptions – if you haven’t got your fiancé’s ID, call the County Recorder to ask for advice).

  • Before you go to pick up your marriage license, fill out the on-line application form for a CONFIDENTIAL MARRIAGE LICENSE on the County Clerk’s web-site HERE.  To get a confidential license, you must state that the two of you have been living together at the same address.  Don’t get a public license, because a witness will not be allowed to go with you on your prisoner visit.
  • Meet your Officiant on the FRONT steps to the old court house, or in the computer room at the Marriage License office.  The front of the court house faces Santa Ana Blvd., with the morning sunshine on the steps and canons on the grass.
  • Go inside with your Officiant.  If you haven’t filled out the on-line application, stop at a computer kiosk and fill out the information.  You will need to know information about your fiancés parents (names, places of birth, etc.) and the dates of past divorces. 
  • Tell the clerk to leave the date of marriage blank, just in case the marriage happens on a different date.  Plans can and do get messed up!  For instance, the jail could go on lockdown, and your visit for the day would be cancelled.
  • After you receive your license (they’re really slow), you and your Officiant will drive to the jail and get in line to visit the prisoner, where you will wait to visit the prisoner.  It is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY that you tell the guard when you check in that you need a visiting booth where you can “pass papers”.  Get the name of the guard who you told that you need to pass papers, and when it’s your turn to visit the prisoner, double check that you will be assigned a booth where you can pass paper – and get the name of that guard as well.  The guards like to play games, and pretend like you and/or your Officiant didn’t request to pass papers, so get their names so you can say, “Officer Hernandez out front said we would be able to pass papers.” 
  • Once in the visitors booth, your Officiant will try to get your fiancés signature on the paper at the beginning, and will conduct a legal wedding ceremony, after which your Officiant will take the completed marriage certificate (we will get it to the county recorders office), and leave you to spend the rest of your visit time with your new spouse.

The Officiant must complete and return the marriage license.

WOW!  That’s a lot of running around!