How to get Married in Washington State

So you’ve hired your caterer, picked your processional song, and have sent out Save the Dates...but, do you actually know how to get married in Washington? It is easy to forget about paperwork when you’re planning and dreaming about one of the most important and meaningful days of your life.

Here are the three important steps on how to obtain a marriage license.

Fort Worden, Port Townsend, Washington Wedding

Step 1: Submit your online marriage application

Click here for the marriage application and select your county, or the county in which you want your marriage license to be filed. No matter which county you get your marriage license from, the license can be used anywhere within the state.

Marriage licenses issued in Washington are only valid within the state (tip: if you’re getting married on a boat, make sure it is in Washington State waters!) The online application only takes about 20 minutes and is pretty painless. Be sure to have your social security number on hand.

Beach, Couple, Washington State

Step 2: Appear in person or mail it in  

Step two, two options.

Appear in person with your partner with a valid government issued ID and pay the fees in either cash or check. The fee for the marriage license varies from county to county. In Port Townsend (Jefferson County) the fees are $42, in Seattle (King County) the fees are $67.

Or, do a mail-in application (this one is for Jefferson County). After you submit your marriage application, there is a link on the government website for a mail-in application. Print out the form, fill it out, and mail it to the county you applied in.

Washington State wedding, Fort Worden, Port Townsend

Step 3: Wait Three Days but less than 60

Once the county has processed the fees, the three day waiting period begins. After the three day waiting period is over, your marriage license is now ready to be signed by you, your partner, two witnesses, and your officiant. After you have received your marriage license, you have up to 60 days to use the license or it becomes invalid.

Nobody likes paperwork, but Washington makes applying for your marriage license pretty easy. A few important things to remember…

  • You do not have to be a Washington state resident to apply for a Washington state marriage license.

  • It is much more fun to go cake tasting than to apply for the marriage application. Don’t forget to fill out the application!

  • When paying the license fees have cash or a check on hand. Most counties do not accept debit or credit cards.

  • Make sure to have two witnesses. Even if you are eloping, you need two witnesses to make it legal. The officiant does not count as a witness.

  • Return the license back to the county, some officiants will submit the paperwork for you. Either way, make sure you have a plan for filing the licence.  

Photo credit: Jen Lee Light

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