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Getting Married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse? Here's everything you need to know!

The days of the micro wedding are here and it's become even more popular to minimize your wedding's footprint and opt for an intimate courthouse wedding. Through shooting hundreds of weddings we've put together this list of pro tips when getting married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Step 1: Get a marriage license!

If you are planning on having a private ceremony you’ll need to obtain a marriage license in advance. You do not have to get the license in the state where you are planning to get married, but if you plan to obtain your license at the county clerk's office in Santa Barbara you'll need to use the link here to fill out the online application before your visit. Within 7 days of completing the application, you must appear together at one of the county clerk's offices to obtain your license, locations. Be sure to bring a government issue I.D. along with you. The license is valid for 90 days.

If you are planning on having a civil ceremony, the Santa Barbara County Clerk's Office offers license + ceremony appointments where you will purchase your marriage license at your ceremony appointment. Appointments may be booked up to 90 days in advance at the County of Santa Barbara website. If you have already obtained a marriage license you can book a ceremony-only appointment.

Update: "Clerk-Recorder is offering "express" wedding packages at our Santa Barbara (1100 Anacapa Street, Hall of Records, Santa Barbara) and Santa Maria offices (511 East Lakeside Parkway, Suite 115, Santa Maria) with no appointment necessary." More info see bottom of page here.

Step 2: Decide if you want a civil ceremony or a small/large private ceremony.

Civil ceremony (SB county website)

  • Available during business hours on weekdays

  • Appointments may be booked up to 90 days in advance here

  • Cost:

    • Ceremony appointment reservation: $23 (you’ll pay this in advance when you make the appointment)

    • Ceremony fee: $104

    • Marriage license: $100 or Confidential license: $111

  • Up to 10 guests (including couple, photographer, and children)

  • Officiated by a Deputy Marriage Commissioner from the County Clerk-Recorder's Office

  • Performed outside at the Clerk Recorder Assessor Area

  • Option to book the Mural Room or the Courthouse Garden for an extra fee. To book the Courthouse Garden ($1200) or the Mural Room ($700) you will need to make a reservation with the Parks Division.

  • The County Clerk's Office offers license + ceremony appointments (60 min) where you will purchase your marriage license during your appointment. You can also book a ceremony-only appointment (30 min) and purchase your license ahead of time.

Small Private ceremony (SB county website)

Large Private ceremony (SB county website)

Step 3: What happens the day of your wedding (if you have a civil ceremony)

What to bring with you:

Identification: Valid form of I.D (driver's license or passport.

Payment Method: to cover license cost.

Witness: Bring a family friend along with you to be your witness (They must also bring along a vilid form of I.D unless you're doing a confidential license.

Rings: If you plan on exchanging rings during the ceremony.

Vows: The state assessor has the authority to allow or not allow you to exchange vows.

Parking is available on the streets around the Courthouse or in City Lot #7, which is the structure at 1115 Anacapa Street. The City Lot #7 parking is free for the first 75 min with a fee of $2.50 per hour after that. The street parking is free but limited to 75 min.

You’ll start by heading to the Hall of Records where you’ll obtain your marriage license and meet up with your Deputy Marriage Commissioner. Once everything is signed you’ll head outside to the Clerk Recorder Assessor Area where the ceremony will be held. The ceremony itself is usually around 10 min and you have the option to exchange rings. The Deputy Marriage Commissioner is not required to let you read your own vows during the ceremony, but some will allow it. Once the ceremony is done the Deputy Marriage Commissioner will head inside to get you your official signed marriage license to bring home. Make sure to get some family photos and portraits around the courthouse before you leave, there are many beautiful spots to take photos!

Step 4: Additional options: Photographer? Planner? Flowers?

If you want to add something extra to make your day extra memorable or get some help with the planning you may be thinking about getting a photographer, planner, flowers, cake, etc. A photographer is a great investment and one of the few things that will last past your wedding day! Many photographers have specific elopement packages with better prices for courthouse weddings. Fill in this contact form to get Q Films pricing guide for elopement weddings. If you are looking for a planner Distinctively Made Events have a lot of experience with the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

All the links you need to get started:



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