Updated August 2020 to reflect COVID-19 civil ceremony policies.
- Appointment availability is currently limited to 60-minute reservations for license + ceremony in the same appointment during weekdays in September and October 2020.
(August is fully booked and November appointments are not yet available.)
- Exterior Courthouse grounds are available without a reservation for couples who have already obtained a marriage license.
Wondering how to get married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse? Look no further! We have all the details you need to make it official at one of the most beautiful city hall locations in California.
A small wedding at the Santa Barbara Courthouse is a great way to get married the same day you obtain a marriage license; it’s also an excellent choice if you’re looking for an easy, unfussy way to tie the knot (even if you’re planning to host a fun reception for family and friends later on).
A wedding at city hall is still a big deal! In fact, the intimate ceremony setting is a beautiful opportunity for candid, emotional photos with just the two of you (or your very small guest list) and some gorgeous portraits around the courthouse grounds.
Step 1: Understanding your options during COVID-19
As of August 2020, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is only allowing reservations for 60-minute weekday civil ceremony appointments (you’ll obtain your marriage license AND have your ceremony during the same appointment). Couples are permitted to bring only one guest to serve as witness (if you want to bring a photographer to capture the ceremony and portraits afterwards, your Anna Delores photographer can be your witness!).
To confirm an appointment for a civil ceremony, you’ll need to make a reservation online. Availability is limited to just a few appointments each day, so you might need to be flexible in your preferences for ceremony dates and times.
Because of the unpredictable nature of the current pandemic, this is the best option for the next few months of 2020. This post will be updated as we learn of any changes to the current options for getting married at the Courthouse.
Your best bet will be September or October 2020! There are currently no available appointments remaining during the month of August, and no Friday availability until October 2020. The Santa Barbara Courthouse is not currently taking appointments for November or December 2020.
Step 2: Decide whether you want a civil ceremony or a private ceremony.
You have two options for getting married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse; the big differences are whether you want a weekday or weekend, how many guests you’d like to invite, who performs the ceremony, and the location of the ceremony itself:
- Civil ceremony with one witness permitted // For a civil ceremony, the typical option is a 60-minute appointment, during which you get your marriage license and have the ceremony performed immediately thereafter. Alternately, if you’ve already applied your marriage license less than 90 days before your desired ceremony date, you can make a 30-minute appointment for just the ceremony to be performed at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. The ceremony is performed by a Deputy Marriage Commissioner (provided by the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office). The non-refundable appointment reservation fee is $23.
- Private ceremony with fewer than 15 guests // A private ceremony gives you a little more flexibility in terms of who will officiate the ceremony (you can choose your own officiant instead of having a Deputy Marriage Commissioner). You’ll need to obtain your marriage license ahead of time, but you can invite up to 15 guests, AND you’re able to pick a weekend date (weekends are not available for civil ceremonies).
NOTE: The Santa Barbara Courthouse is currently not taking reservations for marriage license-only appointments (only for combination license-ceremony appointments), but the Santa Maria office at the Betteravia Government Center CAN currently accommodate these appointments. You also don’t have to obtain your license in the same county where you’ll be married; you can make an appointment at any County Clerk’s office in California.
Ceremonies with fewer than 15 guests can get hitched at your choice of eight (8) exterior locations at the Courthouse, but these locations can’t be reserved (they are designated as A-H on the map below and are “first come, first served”).
Larger ceremonies requiring reservations at the five (5) outdoor lawn spaces or the Mural Room are NOT currently available through at least November 1, 2020.
Step 3: What do I need to bring to get married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse?
This is information for a civil ceremony, or if you’re applying for your marriage license ahead of your private ceremony. Here’s what you need to bring with you:
- A valid state-issued form of ID (driver’s license or passport)
- Form of payment to cover the cost of the license and ceremony (and any additional location options you choose). Here is the basic fee info:
– Ceremony appointment reservation: $23 (you’ll pay this in advance when you make the appointment)
– Marriage license: $100
– Confidential license: $111
– Ceremony fee: $104
- Witness (this person also needs to bring their ID; no witness needed if you’re doing a confidential license)
- Rings (if you plan on exchanging them during the ceremony)
- Vows (optional!). The Deputy Marriage Commissioner is not required to let you read your own vows during the ceremony, but it doesn’t hurt to ask (some will allow it)! You can always read them to each other privately afterwards if it’s not permitted during the ceremony itself.
Step 4: What happens on the day of my appointment at the Santa Barbara Courthouse?
Parking is available on the streets around the Courthouse or in City Lot #7, which is the structure at 1115 Anacapa Street. Street parking is a limit of 75 minutes; in City Lot #7, the first 75 minutes in the city lot are free, and then it’s $1.50 per hour thereafter!
Once you’ve parked, wait in your car for a representative of the courthouse to call you when they are ready for you. You’ll then head to the pop-up canopy tent on the lawn behind the Hall of Records on the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu Streets.
Step 5: What else do I need to do to prepare?
These are all optional preparations to make your wedding day a little more special! For brides, a white dress (or jumpsuit, like Julia wore!) is always appropriate. We also recommend getting flowers! Fleur de Rye or Hogue & Co. are our top suggestions for getting a bouquet and/or boutonniere for the ceremony (and photos afterwards).
Speaking of photos, that’s our other top recommendation for how to prep for your Hall of Records appointment: book a photographer! Even if you’re trying to keep everything low-key, which we suspect is the case since you’re going the courthouse route, it’s still a very special occasion and it should be commemorated with some beautiful photos of both the ceremony and the two of you together (and any family and friend photos with your guests!).
Get in touch to inquire about Santa Barbara Courthouse elopement coverage for your ceremony and portraits. We even have options to add flowers to your package!