Marriage License Information
You begin by ordering a Marriage License. When everything is complete, you obtain one or more copies of your Marriage Certificate. The License is an application to get married. The Certificate shows that you are married.
In Washington State you obtain marriage licenses from County offices. You may obtain your license from any County Courthouse/Community Service Center, then get married in any County in the State. Your completed license is then returned from the County where you ordered your license, regardless of where you got married. Most Counties allow applications for licenses in person and through the mail. Many have websites to help you including the largest County in the State, King County. Here is the website:
King County Marriage License Applications
You can search for County Court offices all over Washington State using this site: http://www.countyoffice.org/
When you apply for a marriage license you will receive a (usually) manila envelope with several pieces of paper.
1) General instructions and information.
2) A copy of the license that I get to keep for my records.
3) A decorative marriage license that is for your personal use but has no
legal meaning. I usually fill that out at the ceremony.
4) A receipt for your payment to the government.
5) A white piece of paper that is your actual License to get married. It has a
serial number, and usually has your names and addresses printed on it
based in information that you provide when you order it, or you may have
to fill them yourselves IN BLACK INK. It is valid for 60 days, but cannot be
used until at least 3 days after you order it. Your Marriage License is filled
out and signed and dated by me, you and your spouse, and two witnesses
when your ceremony is complete. Always use your unmarried name.
Name changes come later (see below). Your Marriage License must be
turned back in to the county government office from which it was issued.
I usually do this by mail using regular mail. It then takes the county a
week or two to process the license. At that time you may order Certified
copies of your Marriage Certificate.
While I normally just mail this in, you can also choose to take the document by hand to a County Courthouse/Community Service Center. They will process the document while you wait. You may then order, pay for, and immediately receive as many copies of your Certified Marriage Certificate as you like. Your Certified Marriage Certificate will show your spouse's pre-marriage name, as well as their married name if they choose to change their name. You may then submit a copy of your Certified Marriage Certificate to the US Passport office to have their passport changed.
6) You will also receive a form in the manila envelope that will let you order copies of your Marriage Certificate by mail. Some couples who want me to mail in the Marriage License will have this form filled in, and have a check (with your pre-printed name and address) written so that I can submit the License, the order form, and your payment to the government in the same envelope.
In summary, I will always fill out and sign the forms. You then have the choice of letting me mail them in, or handling them yourselves to get faster processing.
Once the county has processed your Marriage License and issued your Marriage Certificate, either one or both spouses may legally change their names. Instructions for that process may be found here:
Please note (from the website) -
There is no legal requirement for name change after getting married; it is a right a couple may choose to exercise.
If you intend to change your name after marriage, check with each agency for its requirements to change your records. If an agency requires more than a certified copy of your marriage license, check with King County District Court for details on a court-ordered name change.