One of the topics that I discuss with couples in my consultations is the marriage license.  You can’t get married without one unless you are having a commitment ceremony or a vow renewal.   Signing a marriage license on your wedding day with your officiant and two witnesses is what makes your marriage legal.  I spend a lot of time on this subject because it can seem complicated, but it is one of the most important components of getting married — besides hiring a licensed officiant — and needs to be addressed.

I am going to share with you just how easy the paperwork can be in two easy steps.  Let’s begin with the marriage license application.

Step 1:  Marriage License Application

Depending on which county you live in, both the bride and groom will need to go to the county courthouse in your area (Snohomish, King, Pierce) to fill out your marriage license application.  The reason both of you have to be there is because your signatures need to be notarized by the county clerk.  This will require providing proper identification (driver’s license, passport) to the clerk and then he/she will stamp the application notarized.  You can do this Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Note: The application fee is $67.00 and the courthouse accepts cash, money order, cashier’s check, personal check or credit card.

If for some reason both of you cannot get the time off from work to go to the courthouse, you can go to your local bank and get your application notarized.  The benefit of having your signatures notarized by your bank is that only one of you will have to go to the courthouse to pick up your marriage license packet. (Note: Your bank may charge a small fee for notarizing your document.)  This method will require downloading the form shown below from one of the county courthouse websites and bringing it with you to the bank.    The example below is from the King County Courthouse and can be downloaded at this link: King County Courthouse.

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Step 2: Marriage License

After you fill out your marriage license application, have it notarized (either by the county clerk or your bank notary) and pay the county clerk the $67 at one of the county courthouses, you will be given your marriage license packet.   The marriage license packet includes these items:

  • Marriage License (legal document)
  • Marriage Certificate (what is sometimes referred to as the “pretty” copy and is not a legal document)
  • A form that you will need to fill out if you are changing your name (I will address this process in another post).

Below is what your marriage license will look like:

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Now you are ready to get married!  On the day of your wedding the marriage license will be signed and then forwarded back to the county auditor that it came from and will be recorded.  My last bit of important advice:  DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR LICENSE TO YOUR WEDDING!