Getting married? One option besides the traditional route of getting hitched by a member of the clergy is to use the services of the Ceres city clerk Diane Nayares-Perez.
In September 2014, the state passed legislation AB 1525 to give City Clerks (elected or appointed) within California the authority to solemnize civil marriages. Prior to the law going into effect in 2015, marriages could only be performed by members of the clergy, members of Congress, legislators, constitutional officers, justices, judges, magistrates, county clerks and supervisors or an elected city mayor.
City Clerk Diane Nayares-Perez performed Ceres’ first-such ceremony in November at the Community Center after attending training offered by the Stanislaus County Clerk’s office. She is the first city clerk in Stanislaus County to take advantage of the change in law. Diane also participated in one of the county clerk wedding ceremonies performed on select Fridays each month.
So far Nayares-Perez has conducted only three ceremonies.
“Just recently the word has started to get out,” she said. After the first ceremony was advertised on Twitter, the interest is picking up.
“Some people are just not having a faith-based ceremony or obviously they want to save on expenses of a large wedding,” she said.
On Dec. 30 she received an inquiry from a couple who wanted to be married on the last day of the year. When she explained that the city offices were closed on Dec. 31, the couple was able to come down and get married – for the tax advantage for the 2019 filing period.
“I was very nervous for the first one because it was in Spanish. I do speak Spanish although I would say not perfect. So that was a little intimidating for me the very first one but it went well. And after I did the first ceremony I felt really good. I felt they were so happy. They had children start to come up to hug me and say, ‘thank you for marrying my mom and dad’ and saw how happy everybody was. I’m thankful I can offer this service to our citizens.”
The city now offers, by appointment, civil ceremonies on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Special requests can be made for a specific date and time and subject to availability of the City Clerk. Ceremonies are performed at the Ceres Community Center or at the Whitmore Park Gazebo as determined by the City Clerk. Nayares-Perez won’t rule out other venues in the future.
“We have some other nice parks as well,” said Nayares-Perez.
All the married couples have gone home or out to dinner to celebrate.
In order to be married by the City Clerk, a couple is required to obtain a marriage license from Stanislaus County and bring the original marriage license on the day of the ceremony. Both parties must present and have valid photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport. The fee for the ceremony is based on location and services provided.
The fee to be married at the Community Center is $60 for Ceres residents and $65 for non-residents. A ceremony at the Whitmore Park gazebo costs $70 for Ceres residents and $75 for non-Ceres residents.
Reservations require full payment at the time of booking. Appointments may be made in person at the Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, with the person making the reservation submit payment by cash, personal check or money order. Persons making appointments are advised to be certain because no refunds are offered for cancellation. A rescheduling fee of $20 is charged. Reservations may also be made online at https://www.ci.ceres.ca.us/514/Civil-Marriage-Ceremonies
For a public marriage ceremony at least one witness is required to be present however for a confidential marriage ceremony, no ceremony witness is required.
For additional information, contact the City Clerk at 538-5731.