Navigating bureaucratic regulations can suck any fun out of elopement planning faster than popping a bottle of champagne BUT making sure your elopement is LEGAL is super important. I recommend that couples first secure their elopement photographer then decide on a location and apply for any permits that may be associated. The last hurdle to get through is when, where, and how to get your marriage license!
No matter which county you decide to utilize for your marriage license, the rules remain the same across the board.
A huge benefit to couples eloping in Washington is that you can utilize any county to purchase your marriage license. Whether you’re driving through and picking it up ahead of time or grabbing it in Seattle after your flight but before you head to the mountains. The options are endless. If a county office is super busy, IE. kings county is always busy because it contains Seattle, consider utilizing another county nearby!
I will provide a generalized process for your application process. Please note, each county will have a slightly different process and with COVID many policies have been altered. It’s imperative that you check out the county specific marriage license website. I’ve provided a county map of Washington below AND links to commonly used counties for marriage licenses.
Kings County – Seattle
Pierce County – Tacoma
Clallam County – Port Angeles
Whatcom County – Bellingham
Skagit County – Mt Vernon
Snohomish County – Everett
Spokane County – Spokane
Chelan County – Wenatchee
Clark County – Vancouver
Every state requires different “things” to make a marriage legal – specific phrases said, signatures, witnesses, etc. You’ll first need to hire an officiant who can legally perform the marriage. As always, I’ve provided you a comprehensive list of WHO can perform the marriage, ways to have family & friends complete it, and wayyyy at the bottom of this resource, you’ll find recommended elopement officiants here in Washington!
This rule is the #1 biggest pain in the butt with Washington marriage licenses! You MUST wait 3 days after picking up your marriage license to be able to become legally wed. Below is a handy table supplied by the Pierce County to show when you need to pick up your packet (or apply if going in person).
Washington Law Recognizes the Following:
Justices of the supreme court
Judges of the court of appeals
Judges of the superior courts
Supreme court commissioners
Court of appeals commissioners
Superior court commissioners
Judges and commissioners of courts of limited jurisdiction
Judges of tribal courts from a federally recognized tribe
Priest, Imam, Rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization
Any regularly licensed or ordained minister – that means a close family member or friend can marry you!
It’s super easy and free to apply to become an ordained minister online! I’ve linked popular online resources for getting ordained.
Several signatures will be required to make the document legal after the ceremony. Your officiant will direct you through this process but many couples have friends/family who got ordained for this exact elopement so I’ll walk you through the basics. It’s always a good idea to verify with the county clerk when you pick up your license.
All this sounding too complicated? Consider eloping in Colorado where you can self-solmnize your own wedding without an officiant or witnesses! Your dog can be your witness with a paw print on your marriage license! Nomadic Weddings is always ready to travel and we’ve got several amazing locations in Colorado, reach out today!
Other than talking with the county office about marriage license, your officiant is going to be a super helpful person to run any questions through. They not only are providing you with a lovely ceremony but they assist with making sure the forms are correctly filled out/signed and turning in the forms to the county for processing. I’ve had the pleasure of working with several amazing officiants here in Washington who specialize in adventure elopements. Check out their websites below!
and if all else fails, I’m ordained 🤘 so let’s get you freaking married! Inquire Today!
hey, i'm molly!
This ain’t an all-day photoshoot, I’m not here to get you to grin at a camera all day long, that would suck. I’m here to capture all the natural and organic moments of a beautiful day filled with things you two love to do the most together. Whether that’s hiking, backpacking, camping, rock climbing, sailing, biking, exploring cities, or sipping on microbrews; whatever your heart desires.
Look around and stay a while!