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Washington Marriage License Information

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!

Washington State Marriage Laws

No matter which county you decide to utilize for your marriage license, the rules remain the same across the board.

Click the image to head over to the King's County marriage license information website

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!

How To Apply for Your Washington State Marriage License

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.

  1. Apply Online, In Person, or By Mail
    In Person is fastest but not offered at all counties due to COVID
    By Mail is slowes
    t but you can be notarized wherever you live and they will mail your license, helpful if you're on a time crunch and you can't wait for the 3 day waiting period once arrived into WA
  2. Pay the County Fee
    Average cost is $70
    Your license will not be "live" until the fee is received
  3. Get Married!
    After waiting the 3 days of course

Washington Counties

Commonly Used Washington Counties for Marriage License

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

Making Your Ceremony Legal in Washington

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!

3 Day Waiting Period

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).

Graph from Pierce County Marriage License Website

Who Can Marry You

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!

Have A Family or Friend 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.

American Marriage Ministries
Universal Life Church

After the Ceremony

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.

  1. Couple Signs
    Sign your legal names at that time, not your new name if you plan on switching your last name
  2. Officiant Signs
  3. 2 Witnesses Sign
    Don't worry if you don't have anyone joining you during your elopement! I am always happy to sign and we can ask any stranger along the hike or in the parking lot to sign. Most people are ecstatic to sign a marriage license!
  4. Officiant will complete any other documentation and RETURN IT TO THE COUNTY THE LICENSE CAME FROM within 30 days

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!

VENDOR SPOTLIGHT: OFFICIANTS

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!

Officient Jimmie

Tapestry Event Co

and if all else fails, I'm ordained 🤘 so let's get you freaking married! Inquire Today!

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Comments Expand -
  1. These information are all so helpful. The one thing I LOVE most about weddings in the US is that almost anyone can be ordained and marry you. Like that makes it really special

  2. Such valuable information!! Sometimes these details get overlooked but so great to have all this information in one location!

  3. SUPER DUPER helpful and handy information! It can be a real pain in the rear to find this inFormation and to know what to do but you made it so easy!!

  4. totally referencing this for my washington wedding! WE are hoping to elope and had not clue where to start. thank you!

  5. This is amazing! Figuring out the technical and legal details are never fun and this makes it a breeze! So much good information here and laYed out in a way that is easy To follow. Thanks for puttinG this resource together! 😆

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