How to Get Your Washington Marriage License + Wedding Permits

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Class is in session, my friend: welcome to your guide to all things Washington marriage laws, license, and permits! I know, I know, this might not be the most fun part of the elopement planning process, but it’s obviously a necessary one. It’s also one that can easily become incredibly overwhelming—all the legal talk can definitely tire you out and become more of a pain than it needs to be. That’s why I’ve created this easy-peasy guide for you, where I’m walking you through the entire process of getting legally married in Washington State, from the basic WA marriage laws you’ll need to know, to how to actually obtain your license, to how to get the proper permits for your elopement location.

Hopefully, this guide will break down all the legal jargon into easy-to-understand steps, and will help you feel confident in your ability to get your license without the hassle. Please keep in mind that I am by NO means a legal professional; however, I have photographed many a Washington State wedding, and have helped a ton of couples go through the process of getting legally married. The information in this guide is all based off of legal + professional websites and resources, as well as my own experience and expertise from my years of being an elopement photographer.

Remember that you don’t have to do it alone—as your photographer, I’m here to help in any way I can right from the get-go, whether it be helping you find the perfect officiant for your ceremony or directing you to the right county to get your license ☺️ With all that said, let’s get started!

Washington State Marriage Law FAQ’s

Before I give you a rundown of how to obtain your Washington State marriage license, you first need to be familiar with the legalities and regulations that come with getting married in Washington. 

In general, Washington is a fairly easy state to get married in, with no special rules or tricky processes you’ll need to follow. However, if you’re looking for an even EASIER state to get married in (e.g. one without a waiting period, no witnesses required, or where self-solemnization is allowed), I’d consider California, Montana, or Colorado. 

How many witnesses do you need to get married in WA?

Washington requires you to have two witnesses present to sign your marriage certificate. If you’re inviting guests to your elopement, then this one will be easy for you—and if you’re not, then we can usually find somebody on the trail/in the area to sign them for us! I can also serve as one of your witnesses, so we’d just need to find one more person. My couples have never had an issue with this, there’s always someone around who’s more than happy to help out and congratulate you☺️

Can you get married the same day in WA?

Unfortunately no, as Washington has a mandatory 3-day waiting period before you can use your marriage license. The waiting period starts the day that your license fee payment is processed, and becomes valid for use three days later. For example, if your license were issued on a Monday, you could get married that Thursday. 

How long is a WA marriage license valid?

Once your 3-day waiting period is up, your Washington marriage license will be valid for 60 days. So if you got your license issued on June 1st of 2024, and your waiting period ended on June 4th, you’d be able to use your license between June 4th and August 3rd. Remember that your officiant has to return your marriage license to the proper county within 30 days after your ceremony in order to make it officially official.

Can I officiate my own wedding in WA?

Nope, self-solemnization (aka marrying yourself) isn’t legal in Washington. 

If you do want to elope in a state that allows self-solemnization so that you don’t need to hire an officiant, here are your options:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington DC

Note that Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington DC don’t have any witness requirements, either, which means you could get married in TOTAL privacy if you wanted to!

Who can officiate a wedding in WA?

Like most states, you just need somebody who is licensed or ordained to perform marriage ceremonies in Washington. This could include a local judge, an ordained minister or priest, or a friend/family member who gets ordained just for you. I actually offer officiant services for my couples: while I don’t officiate professionally, and I don’t do structured ceremonies (though I can refer you to some amazing officiants who do), if you’re just looking for someone to sign your documents, then I got you!

Is same-sex marriage legal in WA?

You bet it is! Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Washington since the end of 2012, so all forms of love are absolutely, wholly welcomed and affirmed here❤️

How much does it cost to get a WA marriage license?

The fee for a Washington marriage license varies by county, but on average, you can expect to pay between $25-$100 for your license. King County, for example, has a $69 application fee, whereas Snohomish County’s fee is $70, and Pierce County’s fee is $72.

How old do you need to be to get legally married in WA?

You have to be 18 or older to get legally married in Washington, but 17-year-olds can get married with parental consent or approval by a judge.

Does WA have common-law marriage?

Nope, Washington doesn’t allow common-law marriage. This means that in order to be recognized as a legally married couple, you do need to go through the process of getting legally married, no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship.

What documents do I need to get married in WA?

You’ll only need a current photo ID in order to get your Washington marriage license (US passport, military ID, driver’s license, etc.).

Do you need a birth certificate to get married in WA?

Nope, no birth certificate necessary. 

Got all that down? I knew I just threw a lot of info at you, so here’s a quick recap of the basic Washington State marriage laws and requirements:

  • Witness requirement: 2
  • Mandatory waiting period: 3 days
  • License is valid for: 60 days
  • License must be returned after ceremony within: 30 days
  • Self-solemnization legal? No
  • Officiant: Anybody who is licensed or ordained
  • Same-sex marriage legal? Yes
  • License cost: Varies by county; typically between $25-$100
  • Age requirement: 18, or 17 with parental consent
  • Common-law marriage legal? No
  • Documents required: Current photo ID
  • Birth certificate required? No

How to Get Your Washington State Marriage License

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what is required of you to get legally married in Washington, let’s talk about how to actually go about obtaining your Washington State marriage license. The steps you need to follow will vary slightly by county, so keep in mind that you’ll need to do your own research on the county where you’re getting your license. As an example, though, I’m going to give you a look at the process in Pierce County (where Mt. Rainier National Park is located):

  1. Complete the online application
  2. Schedule an appointment with the Pierce County Auditor’s Office
  3. Both of you must go to your appointment* with government-issued photo ID’s and the $72 fee
  4. Get married after your 3-day waiting period
  5. Return your signed marriage certificate within 30 days + get certified copies ($3 each)

*If applying by mail, both of you must print and sign your application in front of a Notary Public, then mail your notarized application + $72 check or money order to the following address:

Pierce County Auditor

Attn: Marriage License

2401 S. 35th St., Room 200

Tacoma, WA 98409

It’s important to note that once you have your Washington State marriage license, you can use it anywhere in Washington—so you don’t have to get it in the same county where you’ll be eloping!

Below is a list of other counties in Washington that you may need to look into, based on popular elopement locations, along with quick links to their marriage licensing info:

Washington State Wedding + Elopement Permits

In addition to getting your Washington State marriage license, you also need to get the proper permit if you’re eloping in a national or state park. Parks have rules and regulations in place around weddings for a reason: to protect the area, minimize damage/impact, and to respect other visitors—so it’s super important that we follow them! Below, I’ve broken down all the info you’ll need to know about getting permits in each of our national parks, as well as state parks.

Washington National Park Wedding Permits

To get legally married or have any sort of vow renewal/exchange in a Washington national park, you’ll need a park-specific Special Use Permit. You’ll also need to pay the regular park entrance fees (except for North Cascades NP, which has free entry!).

Olympic National Park

An ONP Special Use Permit will cost you between $50-100, along with any necessary park monitoring fees, and must be applied for at least 3-4 weeks in advance (though I recommend applying as early as possible). 

How to apply for an ONP Special Use Permit:

  1. Download and complete this application form.
  2. Email your completed application to the park, or mail it to the following address:

Olympic National Park Fee Ofifice 

Olympic National Park

600 East Park Ave

Port Angeles, WA 98362

  1. Pay the application processing fee via the link sent to you by the park, or via check/money order included with your mail-in application.
  2. Wait for your permit to be approved.
  3. Upon approval, you’ll receive your permit for a final signature.
  4. Return your permit to the park office for final approval.

I have a full Olympic National Park elopement guide with tons more info about eloping in this breathtaking park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Same goes for Mt. Rainier—you’ll need a Special Use Permit, which includes a $175 non-refundable application fee and must be applied for at least 4 weeks in advance. This permit allows you to have your ceremony in certain locations in the park depending on your party size; e.g. groups of 1-12 people may use certain trails, picnic areas, and roadside locations, whereas groups of 60+ people are limited to campground amphitheaters. The smaller your group, the more freedom you’ll have!

How to apply for an Mt. Rainier NP Special Use Permit:

  1. Download and complete this application form.
  2. Email your completed application to mora_special_use@nps.gov
  3. Upon further instructions from the permit coordinator, pay your fee online.
  4. Wait for your permit to be approved.
  5. Upon approval, you’ll receive your permit for a final signature.
  6. Return your permit to the park office for final approval.

I’ve got a complete Mt. Rainier Elopement Guide for you, too!

North Cascades National Park

You know the drill by now! North Cascades NP also requires you to obtain a Special Use Permit, which grants you access to most locations in the park for a small ceremony. Some locations have specific conditions or restrictions you’ll need to follow, so I recommend getting in touch with the permit coordinator to discuss specifics.

How to apply for a North Cascades NP Special Use Permit:

  1. Contact the Commercial Service Office to receive application materials.
  2. Pay your $50 non-refundable application fee upon instruction from the office via Pay.gov. 
  3. Wait for your permit to be approved.
  4. Upon approval, you’ll receive your permit for a final signature.
  5. Return your permit to the park office for final approval.

And last but not least, Your Ultimate North Cascades National Park Elopement Guide.

Washington State Park Wedding Permits

Getting married in Washington State Parks is fairly straightforward! You will need a Special Activity Permit, which should be applied for no later than 60 days in advance of your desired date. You’ll also need a Discover Pass to enter any park, and your photographer may need an additional film permit.

How to apply for a Washington State Park Special Activities Permit:

  1. Complete, print, sign, and date the Special Activity Permit Application.
  2. Include a copy of a park map that shows the desired location for your elopement.
  3. Include payment of the $45 application fee.
  4. Submit your application to the appropriate park contact.

There you have it, my friend—every little detail you need to know about getting legally married in Washingon State, from permits to licenses to marriage laws. I hope you feel 10x more prepared now to go through all the logistics of planning an elopement in Washington, and remember: you can absolutely ask for help from professionals! As a seasoned Washington elopement photographer, I’ll be more than happy to answer all your questions & guide you every step of the way. I’ve been a Washington bride myself, too, so I’ve been through it all firsthand ☺️ Let’s get in touch so we can get the ball rolling for your special day!


Looking for more elopement-planning resources? I’ve got plenty up on the blog, or feel free to check out a few recent ones below.

What to Do At Your Elopement Ceremony – Ideas, Traditions, Vows, & More

What to Eat On Your Elopement Day: 10 Creative Food & Meal Ideas

4 Tips for a Breathtaking & Photogenic Elopement Day

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