A step-by-step guide to getting and completing your marriage license and marriage certificate.
MARRIAGE LICENSE VS. MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
A marriage license is the first step in legally getting married whereas the marriage certificate is a government public record that proves you are legally married. The marriage license is a government document that you and your significant other will complete through a series of tasks, listed below, which upon completion will then produce a marriage certificate that proves, in fact, you are married.
THE STEPS TO APPLY
Have your date and location set prior to applying. Marriage licenses have waiting and expiration periods. If you plan to marry in another state or country from that which you reside, you must apply for its marriage license and comply with its laws.
Visit your state government information website “marriage license” page, as marriage licenses are applied for at the county level.
Follow the Applicant Requirements (such as meeting the age requirements and having current ID)
Complete the online or mail-in application and pay the required fees. Be sure to check with your state’s law on waiting periods and plan accordingly.
Have your ceremony and sign the certificate! All marriage license documents are signed with your current legal name. State law prescribes who can preforms a ceremony, be sure to confirm your officiant complies. Immediately following or during your ceremony, the couple, the officiant, and two witnesses must sign the marriage certificate. It is then your officiant’s responsibility to complete and return the signed license within the legally required time after the ceremony.
Obtain certified copies by searching the county you were married in online records and request a copy as needed (changing your name, credit cards, bank accounts, IRS, insurance, etc.)
TO GET MARRIED IN WASHINGTON STATE, KING COUNTY
Both applicants must currently be unmarried, be at least 18 years old, not be nearer of kin to each other than second cousins, whole or half blood, and have current photo ID. *17-year-olds can apply if one of the following conditions can be met: 1. A parent or legal guardian submits a notarized statement of consent or 2. The applicant is legally emancipated and takes the court-certified copy of the emancipation document with them to apply.
Complete the Marriage License Application either online or via mail in and pay the fee. A marriage license purchased from any county in Washington State can be used to get married anywhere in the state. Washington state law requires a three-day waiting period before you can use it. Licenses are valid for 60 days after the three-day waiting period. The King County Marriage licensing website has an easy calculator where you put in your wedding date and it calculates this timeline automatically for you.
Have your Ceremony! Active and retired Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals judges, Superior Court judges, Superior Court commissioners, and judges of courts of limited jurisdiction, as well as any regularly licensed or ordained minister or priest of any church or religious denomination are legally recognized to officiate ceremonies in Washington State.
Officiant completes and returns the signed license to King County within 30 days of your ceremony.
Verify your marriage certificate has been processed by searching here (for King County only) and order copies as needed. Now is also the time that if you or your spouse want to change your surname you may do so.