Figuring out the legalities of getting married can be confusing, but I am here to guide you through how to elope in Los Angeles!

These guidelines apply to California, and there may be slight variations for getting married in a different state.

1. Marriage License

Firstly, to be lawfully married in Los Angeles, you’ll need to obtain a current marriage license issued by Los Angeles County. A marriage license from any other county, state, or country won’t be valid! There are several locations in LA where you can obtain a marriage license. However, if you will be documenting this with photos, I’d recommend the Beverly Hills location. It’s the most central to the best parts of the city and has fairly easy parking. Here is a list of all the locations that issue marriage licenses:

Beverly Hills*

Van Nuys




East Los Angeles

LAX Courthouse

You can obtain a hard copy of your marriage license at one of the branch offices mentioned above or you can apply online with the Los Angeles County Clerk. Both partners must be present to pick up the formal marriage license. You’ll need a form of ID (a current driver’s license or passport). Confidential marriage licenses are $85, and public marriage licenses cost $91. Your marriage license is good for 90 days.

2. Officiant

The next thing to consider is hiring an officiant. If you would like to make it official at the courthouse, they have officiants available for hire (by appointment only, on Wednesday & Friday at the Beverly Hills location). If you opt for a civil ceremony, the process takes about 15 minutes and costs $35. Outside officiants are not allowed if you do a courthouse civil ceremony.

However, you do not have to get married at the courthouse! You could always hire an officiant of your choice and have them come to any other location. If you’d like a friend or family member to officiate, they just have to be an ordained minister! Which is easy to do through Universal Life Church or similar online organizations.

3. Witness

In California, you need one witness to sign your wedding paperwork. If no other guests are present, I am happy to serve as your witness!

How to Elope in Los Angeles - wedding couple toasting with champagne

Where Can We Get Married?

Though you could do the legal ceremony at the courthouse as described above, another option is to have your ceremony at another location in LA. Your Airbnb, the beach, or other intimate venue are all possibilities. Additionally, I take care of location scouting and obtaining any required permits if it’s in a public location.

Commitment Ceremony

If you want to get legally married in your home county, state, or country or you prefer to complete the legal paperwork on a different day, you could plan to document your commitment ceremony with incredible photos.

This is where you get dressed up, say your vows, and go on a full-day adventure together. It can include any symbolic act of love. Since you will have already completed the legal marriage process, you won’t need an officiant or witness. There are so many ways to go about this, so we can be creative. I want to hear your crazy ideas!

How to Elope in Los Angeles - have a commitment ceremony

Record Your Marriage Certificate

Lastly, record your marriage certificate with the Los Angeles County Clerk. This is the final step to legalizing your Los Angeles civil marriage. Once the ceremony is over and the marriage certificate has been signed by both parties, the officiant, and your witness, register it with Los Angeles County to make it official. Many officiants will handle this part for you!


Katie photographs elopements for modern, discerning couples. Based in Los Angeles and available worldwide.