While we all know by now the big impacts that COVID has had on weddings, there are also some smaller but no less important details to be aware of. In particular, the issuance of marriage licenses has been affected by this pandemic and Lake Tahoe wedding officiant Christa Deane of Mountain High Weddings has given us the lowdown on what you need to know.
First of all, Lake Tahoe is BIG. The Tahoe/Truckee area is made up of two states (California and Nevada) and five surrounding counties. Pre-COVID, getting a marriage license was confusing and, unfortunately, it has now become a little more difficult. The good news is that things started opening up on June 1st, on a county by county and “by appointment” basis. So, the critical first step is to determine whether you will be getting married in Nevada or California.
In Nevada, you can obtain a marriage license at the County Clerk’s office. On the Nevada side, North Lake Tahoe is in Washoe County and South Lake Tahoe is in Douglas County. The county offices have a few locations where you can obtain licenses but be aware that their business hours have changed with the reopening. Check their website for hours and locations; for now, most are done by appointment-only. Most importantly, your officiant must be on the Nevada Officiant official list. If you are having an ordained friend or family member perform your ceremony, they must apply to the county in which the ceremony will occur, and the application can take a few weeks to process.
In California, there are two types of wedding licenses – public and confidential. (A public marriage license is public record and you need at least one witness. The confidential marriage license is not public record and no witnesses are required.) The public license can be obtained at the County Recorder’s office and some satellite offices of the county. The Placer County office is in Carnelian Bay and the El Dorado County office is in South Lake Tahoe. The confidential license can also be obtained at the county office. Additionally, a licensed Notary can issue a confidential marriage license in Placer and El Dorado counties. Any California marriage license that is issued can be used in any county in the state.
Other things to know: Both people need to apply in person together. No blood test is required in either state. After the ceremony takes place, it is the officiant’s job to mail the signed license to the state. It is up to the couple to request their certified copy, although some officiants will take care of it for the couple. The cost varies by county and Douglas County will let couples prepay for the certified copy when they issue it.
Whew! Thanks so much to Christa Deane for this detailed information about getting your marriage license during COVID! Christa is a long time local, highly respected wedding officiant, and a certified Notary in Placer County, where she has been issuing marriage licenses for 14 years. Learn more about her services here.