Hey friends! If you’re eloping in Washington state, then you’ve come to the right place – this is a complete guide to Washington marriage laws, where I’m walking you through everything you need to know about tying the knot in Washington. By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to get your Washington marriage license, what laws you’ll need to follow, and how to get permits for your Washington elopement! Ready to tackle all the legal stuff so that you can move onto the more, well, fun parts of elopement planning? Let’s do it!
Looking for info about Oregon marriage laws instead? Head over to my Complete Guide to Oregon Marriage Laws + Licenses!
Yes, you’ll need at least two witnesses over the age of 12 for your Washington marriage ceremony!
Yes, there is a 3-day waiting period once your Washington marriage license is issued! This means you’ll have to wait 3 days until you can use it for your ceremony, so make sure you plan in advance if you’re coming from out of state and will need to extend your trip to wait for 3 days. The 3-day waiting period begins the day you sign your application and pay the license fee, and can’t be waived for any reason.
Your Washington marriage license will be valid for 60 days following the 3-day waiting period.
You need to have some sort of legal ceremony with an officiant and two witnesses, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a huge, long, “traditional” ceremony! It could just be you, your partner, your officiant, and your two witnesses (two friends, or one friend & then your photographer as your second witness), in the mountains for a super casual ceremony that only lasts a couple minutes. No need to make it fancy – all that matters is that it’s legal and reflects you & your partner’s love!
You can also opt for a private vow exchange, if you’d like to say your vows in a more intimate setting, and then have a simple ceremony with your witnesses to get the legal part out of the way. This is something that many couples choose to do if they’re eloping and they’d rather keep their vows private, then knock out the legal ceremony with a few close friends afterward!
You can’t get married in Washington without a physical ceremony, but you can apply for your license online to expedite the process of getting your license.
To legally change your name after you get married in Washington state, you’ll need to go through the process of filling out various legal documents, get a certified copy of your marriage certificate reflecting your new legal name, updating your name on travel documents/your passport/etc, getting a new driver’s license, & more. I’m not the expert on this, so you can find instructions on how to change your last name through the Washington State Records website!
You need to be at least 18 years old to get married in Washington, or have parental consent if you’re 17.
Nope, no blood test is required to get a marriage license in Washington.
No! You do not need to be a Washington resident in order to get married in Washington.
Any regularly licensed or ordained minister/priest/judge can officiate a wedding in Washington.
Totally! As long as your friend goes through the appropriate process to become a licensed officiant/minister, they can legally marry you.
No, you can’t self-solemnize your wedding in Washington state – you have to have an officiant.
The fee for a Washington marriage license varies by county – you can find a list of County Auditors’ office websites that you can get your license through here.
If you’re eloping at one of Washington’s three national parks, here are the counties you’ll need to go through to get your marriage license, with links to marriage licensing info for each one! Note that North Cascades NP & Olympic NP encompass multiple counties, so you’ll have to do your research and figure out which county your ceremony will take place in once you narrow down your elopement location.
Now that you have a good grasp on the state marriage laws & requirements, here are the steps to follow to actually get your Washington marriage license.
Once you know where your elopement ceremony will be taking place, figure out which county you’ll be getting married in & look up that county’s specific rules, restrictions, fees, & processes. You can find a list of County Auditor’s offices and their websites here!
You will then complete your application either online to expedite the process or in-person at the local County Auditor’s office. If you fill it out online, one or both of you will then need to go to the office in-person to finalize the license and pay the necessary fees – make sure to bring a valid photo ID showing your birth date (e.g. your driver’s license, passport, etc.).
Once you’re issued your marriage license, you’ll need to wait the 3-day waiting period until you can have your ceremony! Remember that the 3 days begins on the day you’re issued your license, and the license will be valid for 60 days following the waiting period.
After you tie the knot, make sure that either you or your officiant submits your license back to the County Auditor’s office to finalize it!
In addition to getting your Washington marriage license, you’ll also need to get the appropriate elopement + wedding permits for the location you’re holding your ceremony at. If you’re getting married at a Washington National Park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit – here are links to further info about Washington National Park Special Use Permits:
To get married in a Washington state park, you’ll need to get a Special Activity Permit. Here are the materials you’ll need to include in your application for this Special Activity Permit:
Send your application materials to the park contact where you’ll be having your elopement, at least 60 days in advance – you can find contact info here!
Here are two links that will be helpful in the process of getting your Washington state marriage license!
Now that you’re familiar with all the most important Washington marriage laws, and know how to get your Washington marriage license, let’s move onto some of the more fun stuff! Check out a few of my favorite elopement resources & guides below that I KNOW you’ll love, and that will be sooo helpful when it comes to planning your PNW elopement.