Frequently Asked Questions about marriage records
I need a certified copy of my marriage record. Where do I go?
What marriage records are available and why aren't there more?
What marriage records provide the names of the parents of the bride and groom?
I know the couple I am looking for was married in King County, but a certificate was not found. Why is this?
There is an error on my marriage record and I need it corrected. What should I do?
I want to get married and need to know what steps to take.
How do I locate divorce records in King County?
I have tried searching for a marriage on the Washington State Digital Archives website but am having no luck. What am I doing wrong?
I don't need actual records, I just want to look up names and dates for my family history project. What kind of indexes are available?
My state-registered domestic partnership was converted to a marriage under Washington State law. How do I obtain a copy of my marriage certificate?
I need a certified copy of my marriage record. Where do I go?For marriages licensed by King County that occurred from 1855 - present, you can order certified copies from the King County Archives. Additionally, you can order certified copies from the Washington State Digital Archives (1855-1989) or the Washington State Center for Health Statistics (1968-present).
What marriage records are available and why aren't there more?King County maintained different types of marriage records at different times in its history. (See King County Marriage Records by Year.) In the past, license applications were not kept because they were not thought to have enduring historical value. These records are now being retained again by the King County Archives. Licenses themselves were not kept because according to state law, they were customarily retained by the wedding officiator, whereas the certificate was sent back to the county for filing.
What marriage records provide the names of the parents of the bride and groom?The only King County marriage record that provides information about the bride and groom's parents is the marriage return. These records are extensive between 1891 and 1915. There is also a small number of returns between 1916 and 1947, but these only account for about 1% of marriages during that time period. Although the marriage certificates issued by King County do not include parents' names, the state-level marriage certificates filed with Washington State Center for Health Statistics do include names of parents, but these only exist from 1968 to present. The names of bride's and groom's parents may be found in situations where either the bride or groom was a minor at the time of marriage. In those cases, one legal guardian was required to sign the license affidavit/application, giving their permission for the marriage. This type of record exists for the years 1866 to 1895 and from 1989 to present.
I know the couple I am looking for was married in King County, but a certificate was not found. Why is this?One possibility is that the couple could have purchased their license in a different county, even if they were married in King County. If that is the case, and the marriage occurred after 1946, the county that issued the license would hold the marriage record. It is also possible that the marriage record might not have been returned to the county for filing or it might have been misindexed. If the marriage certificate was not returned to the county for filing, it is still possible that a certificate was returned to the state beginning in 1968. If a certificate is not found in county records, it might be helpful to check with the Washington State Center for Health Statistics (1968 to present). If no civil record of the marriage exists, it is also possible that a religious institution may hold a non-civil record of marriage, if the marriage took place in a religious institution or was officiated by a religious authority. Please be as thorough as possible in providing name spelling variations or realistic date ranges when doing or requesting searches.
There is an error on my marriage record and I need it corrected. What should I do?You will need to file an Affidavit for Correction form from the King County Recorder's Office.
I want to get married and need to know what steps to take.Please visit the Marriage Licensing for everything you need to know to get married in King County, including lists of King County judges who can officiate weddings.
How do I locate divorce records in King County?Please see our FAQ entry about locating divorce records in King County.
I have tried searching for a marriage on the Washington State Digital Archives website but am having no luck. What am I doing wrong?As with most indexing, some degree of human error is guaranteed. There could be transcription errors in the database or the original certificate may in fact be incorrect. Make sure you are as thorough and thoughtful as possible in your search.
Remember that what you type in the name field will yield every result that begins with those letters.
Example: If you type "John" in the last name field, then you will get all last names beginning with John: Johnson, Johnston, and Johnstone. You can use this to your advantage. For example, you might be searching for a family name that frequently used different spellings (like Hanson and Hansen). In that case, it could be helpful to just type Hans in the last name field, thus yielding all results.
- Example: If you are searching for "Bettye Samuels" in 1946, you would probably type "Bettye" in the first name field, "Samuels" in the last name field and "1946" as the year. But, if the name was spelled "Betty Samuels" on the original certificate, you would get no results. So, if you leave the first name blank and search only for last name "Samuels" in 1946, then you should find your marriage record. You can search for any combination of search terms that you want, provided you fill out at least one field.