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48 years later, California couple learns marriage wasn't legal

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In 1964 Norma and Bob Clark had a wonderful wedding in Northern California. Everything was perfect.

Nearly five decades later, the happily married couple, now in their seventies, live in Redlands.


But while getting paperwork in order in case one of them passed away, they made a somewhat disturbing discovery -- they were never legally married, because they had no marriage license.

"I couldn't find it, and couldn't find it for a reason, because it wasn't there," Norma Clark said.

When couples get a marriage license, the person who then marries them must return the license to their county record office, where it becomes a marriage certificate.

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The pastor who married the Clark's apparently never did that.

Bob Clark went to the San Bernardino County Hall of Records to try to fix everything. The couple first told the story to the Redlands Daily Facts.

"I just went in there thinking I could just do it, and she said, 'No, no, you have to have witnesses,'" Clark said.

"Well, you know most people at our wedding are dead. If we had waited a couple more years, we would have been in trouble,” he added.

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Luckily, the Clarks had their old maid of honor and junior usher in town for the holidays. The four of them, among others, finally made it official.

The Clarks' son, Alex, got to attend the second marriage.

“My sister and I, we just kind of joked that we didn't have to throw them a 50th anniversary party anymore," he said.

Norma Clark said their friends in Redlands had teased them, wanting to know when the reception would be.

And they have some advice: Check your marriage license.