After spending nearly a half-century as husband and wife, Bob and Norma Clark are finally married.

The couple from Redlands, an inland California city halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, celebrated their 48th anniversary in August, and in November they were getting their end-of-life documents in order and sought a copy of their marriage licence for Social Security purposes.

The Clarks, who met in college, took their vows at a church south of San Francisco in August 1964. But when clerks at the Hall of Records in San Mateo County tried to pull the licence last month, they came up empty.

"They went back to the year 1956, but no record of our marriage could be found," Bob Clark told the Redlands Daily Facts.

The church where they had married still had a record of the ceremony so they knew they hadn't imagined it, and several of the couple's family members and friends who had been wedding guests were about to come to town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

On Nov. 21 they made their marriage legitimate, filing their paperwork and obtaining their licence at the San Bernardino County Hall of Records, with the maid of honour and a junior usher from the original wedding serving as witnesses.

Bob Clark brought flowers for Norma, and at the urging of family and friends kissed the bride to seal the deal.