Washington Marriage Laws

Written and edited for accuracy by the Washington marriage law researchers at the Universal Life Church on

Washington has very specific laws and statutes governing the formation of legal unions. This page will cover the details and nuances of Washington marriage law, including requirements for both the couple and the officiant, as well as rules regarding marriage licenses and the exact processes that must be followed for the marriage to be considered legal.

Requirements for the Couple

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 17 With Guardian Consent
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
Second Cousins
Marriage Equality:

In Washington, only adults 18 years of age or older can legally marry. There are some exceptions, however. A 17-year-old can get married as long as they have parental consent, and younger minors can petition a court for “special circumstances” to wed. These would be determined on a case by case basis.

It doesn’t matter where either member of the couple is from, whether they be citizens of any U.S. state or even another country.

Like all U.S. states, Washington honors marriage equality so same-sex couples can wed. Unlike most other states, Washington actually enacted this policy by popular vote with R-74 in 2012.

Marriage License Requirements

Min. Age of Witnesses:
18 Years
Couple's Consent Required:
Pronouncement Required:

Members of the couple are responsible for obtaining the marriage license, as is the case across the country. Usually these are obtained from a county clerk’s office, though they can also be issued by some probate courts.

Washington is similar to most states in that a marriage license should be obtained from the same county in the state where the ceremony will be held. Ministers need to be aware of this so they advise the couple appropriately, should the wedding be in a county other than the one where the couple resides.

Typically the couple needs to pick up the license in person. Though the cost of the application varies from office to office, they will always need to present some form of official government-issued identification, and proof of divorce from a previous marriage if applicable.

No state requires blood tests from the couple in order to obtain the marriage license.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Mandatory Waiting Period:
3 Days
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
By Expiration

The marriage license obtained must be good for a religious ceremony solemnized by a minister, and not just for a civil ceremony officiated by a celebrant or justice of the peace. This is the case even if none of the participants is religious, and even if no mention is made of faith or an appeal to deities during the ceremony. ULC ministers perform legally binding weddings by way of their ordination, so by definition all would be considered “religious” actors.

Please be aware that simply having completed the license application process is not a green light to go ahead and have the wedding immediately. In Washington, there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period that must be observed before proceeding with the nuptials. This means that, for example, if the application is completed on Monday, the wedding cannot be held until at least Thursday. This waiting period typically cannot be waived for any reason.

A Washington marriage license is good for 60 days after issuance, which just means the wedding must take place sometime within that roughly 2 month window. It also must be submitted back to the office that issued it before it expires.

Requirements for the Minister

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:

Ministers officiating weddings in Washington must be at least 18 years of age, which is the same age requirement to get ordained online by the Universal Life Church. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter where the minister lives, what they believe, or their gender.

The minister needs to contact the exact same office that issued the marriage license to ask if they need to provide ministerial documentation in order to perform the ceremony. The answer to that question can vary from office to office. The ULC generally recommends that ministers have their ordination certificate on-hand, though some clerks may not require any documentation. We recommend ministers order the Classic Wedding Package to have all relevant documents.

If documentation is required, it’s best to submit it with the completed marriage license after the wedding has taken place. You will not need a church-issued I.D. number to put on the license in order to complete it.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
Minister Required to be Present:

It’s very important that all legally relevant parties be physically present for the ceremony. This includes the officiating minister, 2 adult witnesses, and both parties of the couple, as Washington does not allow for marriage by proxy.

The contents and flow of the ceremony can be entirely customized to the couple’s wishes. However, while exact wording doesn’t matter, the couple must give some form of consent to marry and the officiating minister must pronounce them as such. This would be the familiar “I do” and “I now pronounce you…” parts of the wedding we are all rather familiar with.

Final Steps

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

Once the wedding is over, there remain a few important tasks left to ensure it is legally binding.

There is a section of the marriage license that the officiating minister must fill out. If it asks for a title, you should put “minister,” and for the name of the church or ordaining body, put “Universal Life Church Ministries.” If the license asks for the address of the minister’s church, it should be the ordained individual’s own address and not that of the ULC headquarters (it sounds odd, but that is the best option).

Make sure that the license is filled out completely – and correctly – by all the parties involved. Take care to not make any errors, as doing so could result in the couple needing to purchase a new license.

In Washington, the completed marriage license needs to be submitted back to the office where it was obtained within 60 days of issue. This is typically done by the minister, though the couple can perform the task as well. Officiants should take note that any failure to return the license that can be attributed to negligence or malice on the part of the wedding minister is considered a crime, and carries financial penalties between $25 – $300.

ULC ministers do not record or share with church headquarters any information about weddings they perform, or plan to perform. That said, it is recommended that personal records be kept, particularly if a contract was involved or any reimbursement for services rendered.

Interested in Performing a Washington wedding?

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Are you Considering Becoming a Minister in Washington?

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