Obtaining a marriage license in Washington State: A Legal Guide

Eloping in Washinton state

Are you considering eloping but not sure how to obtain a marriage license in Washington state? While the legal side of things is not always the most exciting part of planning, it definitely is the most important. Every state is different in how they handle their marriage licensing and the legal side of things. I want to give you as much info upfront so you are prepared and ready for your elopement! Here is a legal guide for Washington elopements to answer some of your questions.

In this post on how to obtain a marriage license in Washington state, we will cover:

  1. Obtaining a marriage license
  2. Officiant and witnesses info
  3. Permits- special use permits and photography permits

Obtaining a Marriage License for your elopement in Washington state

Washington state law requires couple’s to obtain a marriage license at least 3 days before your elopement date and you have 60 days to use it or it becomes invalid.

2 ways to go about retrieving your marriage license:

  1. If you are local to Washington state or you arrive at least 3 days early (for anyone out of town), you can obtain a marriage license at any local office.
  2. If you are coming from out of state and do not plan to arrive early, your best option is to apply online and wait for your marriage license to be mailed to you. Apply online HERE and select “apply for my marriage license by mail”.

The application fee ranges from $60-75 depending on where you decide to apply and pick up your license. Payment options include: cash, signed money order, cashier’s check, personal check or credit/debit card. The marriage license is only valid for elopements in Washington state.

If you are applying in person, both parties will need to be present. You will need to have your government issued photo ID and provide your social security numbers. Be sure to arrive at least 1 hour before the office closes just to be safe.

Applying in-person

  1. Fill out the online application
  2. Submit the application with fee
  3. Get married
  4. Return certificate, signed by all parties

Applying online

  1. Fill out the online application
  2. Print and complete the online notary packet
  3. Mail in notarized affidavit and pay $72 fee.
  4. Once process, the office will mail your marriage packet unless you contact them stating you will pick it up in person.
  5. Get married
  6. Return certificate, signed by all parties

Will I need an officiant and witnesses for my Washington state elopement?

The answer is yes. If you are eloping in Washington state, you will need an officiant and two witnesses. While this may seem like it’s going to be a headache to figure out, fear not! Most elopement photographers (myself included, heyooooo!) are ordained and can be your Washington elopement officiant. If you are truly wanting that intimate “just us” experience, this option is perfect for you. Typically if you are deciding to elope somewhere in the outdoors, it’s pretty easy to find a couple of hikers or visitors who are willing and to be your witnesses and they are always stoked to sign!

If you plan to have a couple family members or friends join your Washington elopement, you also have the option for one of them to get ordained and perform your ceremony. And it’s free too! Visit Universal Life Church to become ordained instantly.

Will I need a permit to elope in Washington state?

Permits are typically required when eloping in Washington state. It really depends on where you are planning to elope and there are 2 different type of permits you will need to be aware of- special use permits and photography permits.

Special use permits

Special use permits are permitting the actual ceremony itself and giving you permission to elope in a certain location at a specific time. If you are planning your elopement in a National Park you will want to go to the special permits page on their website and follow the instructions on how to apply for a permit. I always recommend my couples to call the park’s ranger station as these permit systems change often.

Photography Permits

Photography permits in Washington state allow your photographer to legally take photos in the location of your elopement. Most elopement photographers will include this coverage in their packages, but it’s always good to check. These are a few of my packages that in include photography permits.. click here!

**Please note that for some locations permits aren’t required. Feel free to reach out to get a list of my location recommendations that DO NOT require permits. Get in touch!**

How much will a permit cost?

Permit costs depend on where you are planning to elope and how many guests will be attending. Typically the more guests that attend, the higher the cost. Permits can cost anywhere between $0-$500. For National Parks, please keep in mind the cost of vehicle entrance. For a Washington State National Park, it costs $30 to get in. If you plan to visit multiple National Parks, I highly suggest buying an American the Beautiful annual pass for $80. You can purchase one online here. It’s worth the money in my opinion AND you can put 2 signatures on the back allowing for you and one other person to use it.

How long will it take to get a permit?

Generally it takes about 4 weeks to get a permit in Washington state. This is why I always encourage my couple’s to first decide where they want to elope and then get to work on the legal side of things. This is the reason couple’s will travel to Las Vegas for a spur of the moment elopement because is the easiest place to obtain a marriage license last minute! Washington state has a lengthier process, but it’s for good reason. To protect the land and make sure we aren’t overcrowding these beautiful outdoor spaces.

I hope this legal guide to Washington elopements was helpful as you begin your planning! If you follow these steps from the beginning, the rest of your planning will be a breeze. If you are interested in hiring me as your Washington elopement photographer, please reach out and we can go over all these steps one at a time and get the ball rollin’. I want your elopement planing process to feel as stress free as possible.

Did you know every couple that books with me receives an elopement guide that is jam packed with all the information you need in order to plan your dream Elopement? You can find a sneak peak here –> PLANNING YOUR DREAM ELOPEMENT: A DAY WITH NO LIMITS, TAILORED TO YOU. AN ELOPEMENT PLANNING GUIDE.

xx Jackie

January 24, 2023

Written By:

Meet Jackie Krueger Photo | Your van-living, adventure-seeking, outdoor-living, Las Vegas + PNW elopement photographer. Documenting moments you can feel. Let's plan up something amazing and authentically YOU!






January 24, 2023

Written By: 

Jackie Krueger Photo- A Las Vegas + PNW Elopement and Wedding Photographer. Documenting every couple's unique love story and true authentic selves here, there and everywhere in between. Where will your GRAND adventure take you?






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