bride and groom on a ski resort chair lift in lake tahoe

So, you’re ready to say “I Do” to your best friend and you’ve chosen to make it official in beautiful Lake Tahoe. Congratulations! We’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need to plan the perfect wedding and make it official here in Tahoe. 

1. A Venue for Your Wedding

Step one is to pick a venue. This is key because you have to file your marriage license application in the county where you’re getting married. Lake Tahoe can be a little tricky since our top wedding venues are split across states and counties, so proper documentation depends on which venue you choose.  Keep in mind that much of Lake Tahoe sits on federal Forest Service land, so even your secret hiking location or walk-in beaches still need appropriate permitting and approval.

No matter what Lake Tahoe wedding venue you choose, you’re sure to get stunning mountain views and top-notch customer service. Check out all of our venues or contact the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority to get started. 

2. A Wedding Date

Choosing a date usually goes hand-in-hand with picking a venue. Once you know where you want to get married, it’s time to figure out when. This is important because you have to get married and file your marriage license before the license expires, which is 90 days from the date it’s issued in El Dorado County and 1 year in Douglas County. 

With that in mind, you don’t want to apply for your application too early. However, it can take some time to receive your marriage license after you apply, so you don’t want to wait too long either. Usually applying about 3-4 weeks before your wedding date is the sweet spot. 

3. Marriage license

Once you know when and where you’re getting married, you can apply for a marriage license in the appropriate county. As of right now, marriage licenses are available by appointment only and you can complete your application online ahead of time. 

  • To schedule an appointment and fill out an application in El Dorado County, click here
  • To schedule an appointment and fill out an application in Douglas County, click here.  

What documents do I need to apply for a marriage license?

This is a great question. Again, the rules and requirements vary slightly depending on whether you’re applying in California or Nevada. You’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you have everything you need to make the process go smoothly. 

  • A valid photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, to verify age (over 18) and identity.
  • If you’re divorced, you’ll need to know the date and location your divorce was finalized. If you were divorced recently (within 90 days), you may need to provide copies of the final dissolution papers. 
  • Your social security number.
  • Parental consent if you’re under 18. 

This should be all the information you need, but we recommend checking the County Clerk websites (noted above) or contacting them specifically if you have questions. 

How much does a marriage license cost?

Yes, you’ll have to pay for your license. On the California side of Tahoe, a regular public marriage license will cost you $80. On the Nevada side, you’ll pay $60. 

4. An officiant

Once you have obtained your license, you’ll need to have an officiant perform the ceremony and sign the marriage license. An officiant can be:

  • A regularly ordained minister, priest, rabbi, or other authorized individuals
  • All judicial officers (Judges) of Nevada or California (depending on the location)
  • Authorized Notary Publics 
  • Chaplains of the Armed Forces.

Check with your specific county at the links above for specifics if you have questions about who qualifies as an officiant. Also, many South Lake Tahoe venues have packages that include officiants, or they can provide recommendations, so be sure to check with your wedding venue. 

El Dorado County also has a Deputy Commissioner of Marriage Program, which allows the public an opportunity to legally perform a civil marriage ceremony for a loved one. The program requires the person to visit the county office, fill out some paperwork, and pay a small fee. This can be a great option for couples without religious affiliations or who are keeping their wedding small and intimate. 

5. A Witness

You’ll also need at least one witness present at the ceremony. This can be a relative, your best man/maid-of-honor, or a friend. This person has the honor of signing your marriage certificate as well. 

And that’s all. Once you have those pieces in place, you’re all set to get married. Ready to get started?