Washington Wedding Laws
Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.
Welcome to the marriage laws guide for the state of Washington. Being asked to officiate a wedding is a huge honor, but - make no mistake - it's also a huge responsibility. For this reason, we here at the Universal Life Church have created this page to provide guidance to both couples and ordained ministers alike. In order to ensure that everything will go smoothly on the big day, we encourage you to follow the guide below. It will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Washington.
Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in Washington
Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is simpler than you might think. Our online ordination process is straightforward, fast, and entirely free. We believe everyone who feels so-called has the right to captain their own spiritual ship and work hard to facilitate that. Your faith is just that - yours! Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages each year. Once you have your minister license in hand, you'll be just a few small steps away from officiating a wedding! Click the button below to get started.
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Washington
You'll first need to contact the marriage licensing office of the county in which the wedding will take place. Identify yourself as a minister and inquire about what documents the officials will need to see from you. Officials may ask you to provide a number of items to verify your ordination status. Be aware, however, that these requirements often vary from county to county, so we recommend contacting officials well beforehand. Any documents or materials you might require are available in the Minister Store here on our site.
Select a county to see contact information for each office:
What Do You Need to Officiate a Wedding in Washington
Once you've spoken with your county's marriage officials, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and order whatever materials you need via our online catalog. Most ministers in Washington choose to order the Classic Wedding Set.
Ministers, in general, are not required to register in the state of Washington. That being said, it's not entirely uncommon for the County Auditor to ask for proof of your ordination before granting you the "green light" to begin performing marriage ceremonies. Additionally, it can give the couple some peace of mind to know that their wedding minister has all the official documents, like your ordination certificate, on hand. As requested by county officials, please be sure to order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.
How to Get a Washington Marriage License
In Washington, marriage licenses are issued by the County Auditor's office. Although it is the couple's job to pick up the license, a prepared minister fully comprehends all of the rules and regulations governing marriage licenses in Washington and its individual counties. Let's say, for example, that the couple is planning to get a King County marriage license. As the minister, you ought to know and be able to explain to the couple any of the specific rules for getting married in King County.
Marriage licenses in Washington are valid for 60 days. Also, take note that there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period, meaning that the couple must wait a minimum of 3 days after receiving the license before a ceremony can legally be performed. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned within 30 days.
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How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
Once all of the administrative work is completed and you have your paperwork in order, you're ready to perform the wedding! If you need any guidance in this area, don't hesitate to utilize the tools found below. These carefully-tailored resources provide helpful tips and information on all of the components of a successful wedding ceremony. Constructed with our ULC wedding officiants in mind, they contain everything you'll need to plan the perfect ceremony.
Many ULC ministers have used these same resources for guidance when becoming professional officiants!
Finalizing the Marriage
Now there's only one more step - but it's an important one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license as well as the couple and their witnesses. Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational".
For the address of ministry, put your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC's main office. You also won't be asked for a minister license number, nor were you ever given one when you became ordained. A final item of note: remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes! You wouldn't want to put yourself or the couple in a bad situation.
Washington Marriage Laws
Washington marriage laws are governed by Chapter 26.04 of Title 26 of the code of Washington. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Washington. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
The following named officers and persons, active or retired, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages, to wit: Justices of the supreme court, judges of the court of appeals, judges of the superior courts, supreme court commissioners, court of appeals commissioners, superior court commissioners, any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization, and judges of courts of limited jurisdiction as defined in RCW 3.02.010.
[2012 c 3 § 4 (Referendum Measure No. 74, approved November 6, 2012); 2007 c 29 § 1; 1987 c 291 § 1; 1984 c 258 § 95; 1983 c 186 § 1; 1971 c 81 § 69; 1913 c 35 § 1; 1890 p 98 § 1; 1883 p 43 § 1; Code 1881 § 2382; 1866 p 82 § 4; 1854 p 404 § 4; RRS § 8441.]