King County Administration Building, Room 311
500 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
When and Where The Marriage License Can Be Used To Get Married
- Washington State marriage licenses become valid for use on the third day following application and are then valid for 60 days. For example, if an application is made on Wednesday, the first day the marriage license can be used is Saturday and the last day it can be used is 60 days later.
- The wedding ceremony must take place within this period; if not, the couple will need to apply for a new marriage license.
- Under no circumstances can the three-day waiting period be waived.
- If a couple applies for their marriage license less than three days before their established wedding date, they will need to have a separate ceremony within the period the license is valid (in which the parties assent or declare, in the physical presence of the officiant and at least two attending witnesses, that they take each other to be spouses). The marriage license forms will be completed and signed using this date.
- A Washington State marriage license can be used to get married only within Washington State. A wedding ceremony on a boat must be in Washington waters.
- A marriage license purchased from any county in Washington State can be used to get married anywhere in Washington State. The permanent record of the marriage certificate will be recorded with the county from which the marriage license was purchased.
Who Can Officiate (Perform) The Wedding Ceremony?
Judges, Justices and Commissioners
- Justices of the Washington State Supreme Court
- Judges of the Washington State Court of Appeals
- Judges of the superior courts and superior court commissioners in Washington State.
- Judges of courts of limited jurisdiction (district courts or municipal courts) in Washington State.
- A pro-tem Washington State judge cannot perform a wedding ceremony in Washington State
- Any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest of any church or religious denomination.
- A minister from a church in another state can perform a wedding ceremony in Washington State and is not required to register with the State in order to do so.
- Washington State does not license persons to perform weddings. In this sense, the word, 'license', is not an official governmental function of issuing a license or permission to perform weddings, but more a function of recognition by the religious affiliation. If the minister or priest is recognized as ordained or granted the power by the religious organization to officiate wedding ceremonies, that person is 'licensed' to do so in Washington State.
- Washington State does not grant a one-day license for persons to perform wedding ceremonies.
- A ship captain can not perform a wedding ceremony simply by virtue of being a ship captain; however, if the ship captain otherwise meets the requirements, as above, he/she can do so.
- Neither the couple nor the two witnesses can officiate the wedding ceremony, even if they meet the requirements of the law to officiate weddings.
Preparing and Completing the Marriage License Forms
- Directions for completing marriage license forms and filing them after the ceremony can be found at Preparing and distributing the marriage license forms.
- Within 30 days of the wedding ceremony, the officiant must return the completed Washington State Department of Health Certificate to:
King County Marriage Licensing
500 Fourth Ave., Suite 311
Seattle, WA 98104
The Wedding Ceremony
- Proxy weddings (where someone stands in for the other party) are not recognized. The two parties must be physically present before the two witnesses and the officiant in order for the ceremony to be performed.
- A wedding ceremony must take place; simply applying for and obtaining a marriage license does not make you married.
- A minimum of five persons must be present at the wedding ceremony: the officiant, the couple, and two witnesses.
- The parties must assent or declare, in the physical presence of the officiant solemnizing the marriage and at least two attending witnesses, that they take each other to be spouses.
- Two persons are required to witness the exchange of vows.
- The officiant can not serve as a witness.
- State law does not specify the age of witnesses; however, the persons are witnessing a civil contract. As such, a witness is deemed competent for this purpose usually at the age of 18. If applicants wish to have persons under the age of 18 witness the ceremony, we recommend they have two other witnesses who are over 18 also observe the exchange of vows and sign the marriage certificates. More than two witnesses may sign the certificates.
Signing the Marriage License Forms
- All forms must be signed with current name, the one with which the party applied.