How to Obtain a Washington State Marriage License When Out of State

Marriage Open

Washington State marriage licenses are only valid for 60 days.  Therefore, you do not want to begin this process until you are within that 60-day period.  For example, if your wedding date is August 30th, don’t mail your application until June 30th.  That puts the arrival and processing of the application within the 60-day valid period.  If you send it more than 60 days before your wedding date it will expire and you will have to re-apply.

Here are the steps:

  1. Click on this link to be taken to the King County Marriage Licensing Dept:
  2. When you land on the page, click on Applying for a Marriage License
  3. Next, click on Apply by Mail
  4. Click on Download a Marriage License Application (PDF)
  5. Download the application and print it off
  6. Take the application to a licensed notary (banks usually have at least one notary).  Please note: both of you must be present to get the application completed and your signatures notarized.  Be sure to bring valid photo ID, i.e. passport, driver’s license.
  7. Mail the completed license application in an overnight envelope with a cashier’s check in the amount of $64 made out to King County to:

King County Marriage Licensing
King County Administration Building
500 Fourth Ave., Suite 311
Seattle, WA 98104

Please call the courthouse (206-296-4021206-296-4021) approximately 5 days after you have mailed your application to ensure they have received it.  Next, shoot me an e-mail and let me know it’s ready to be picked up and I’ll swing by and get it and bring it to your ceremony.

The Art of the Small Wedding

I met Sara and Shane early last summer to talk about their small wedding at Willows Lodge in Woodinville.  They had made reservations at Willows for the special package called “I do for two.”  Willows Lodge is such a lovely place to have a wedding — small or large — and I was excited to be invited to be their officiant.

I have had the pleasure of officiating all sizes of weddings — from 2 to 400 guests, on hiking trails in boots and all dressed up with wedding parties of 22!  I am mostly always prepared for surprises and ready to hit the ground running in any situation.  I have to say that Sara and Shane’s wedding totally took me by surprise because it was small in numbers but absolutely gigantic in emotion.

Both Sara and Shane had their parents fly in from different parts of the country and they would be their only guests.  Sara looked gorgeous in her gown, hair and jewels, and the men wore tuxedos with bow ties.  What was so outstanding was that although there were only six of us at the ceremony, it felt like the space was filled with the love of a 1000 hearts.  Who says you can’t have a royal wedding with only six people?  After Sara and Shane’s wedding, I know I never will.  Special thanks to Renata Steiner at Nataworry Photography for capturing the emotion, especially the love, so brilliantly in the photographs below.

Sara and Shane Wedding

Sara and Shane Wedding

Sara and Shane Wedding

Sara and Shane Wedding

Sara and Shane Wedding


FAQ’s About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

I am so proud of Washington State since we passed Referendum 74, allowing same-sex couples to marry in our state.  I have had the honor and pleasure of officiating dozens of same-sex weddings since December 6, 2012 when this referendum passed.  I realize that those of you coming from in and out-of-state may have some questions around this subject, and I put together a list below of common questions and answers that I hope will help.

Questions and Answers: Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

1. Where do couples apply for marriage licenses?

Couples can obtain a marriage license from any county, usually at the county auditor.  They do not have to obtain their marriage license from the county where they reside or the county where they plan to have the marriage ceremony.  Follow this link to obtain information about county offices that issue marriage licenses:

2.  What if I am coming from out-of-state?  How do I apply for my marriage license?

You can apply for your marriage license by mail.  You will need to go to the King County Marriage License website and download the PDF Marriage License application.   You will then need to take the application to a licensed notary (banks usually staff a licensed notary) and have your signatures notarized after you complete the form.  You will need proper photo I.D. to have your signatures notarized.  Next, you will send the form with a cashier’s check or money order in the amount of $64 to:

King County Marriage Licensing
King County Administration Building
500 Fourth Ave., Suite 311
Seattle, WA 98104

If an application is mailed, the marriage license must be picked up at this location, it will not be mailed.  Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except holidays.  (Please note, I am happy to pick up your marriage license for you at the courthouse with a 48-hour notice.)

3.   How long do I have to wait before I can use the marriage license?

Washington law requires all couples to wait three days after applying for their marriage license before having their marriage ceremony.  So if a couple receives their marriage license on December 6, they will have to wait until December 9 to get married.

4.   Is there a fee to apply for the marriage license?

Yes.  The fee varies by county.  In King County, the fee is currently $64.   Cash or checks are accepted.

5. Can same-sex couples marry in Washington if they live in another state?

Yes.  There is no residency requirement to marry in Washington.  However, out-of-state couples should be advised that their marriage may not be recognized in their home state if their state does not permit same-sex couples to marry.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions about marriage for same-sex couples in Washington State.  I would love to be your officiant!

Crystal Moutain Summer Wedding

Last summer I was contacted by Nathan and Laura who immediately won my heart over with their love for each other.  Both nature lovers, they chose Crystal Mountain Resort for their outdoor ceremony with the reception to follow in the lodge.  I had no idea how magical this wedding was going to be.  The combination of their love and the beauty of Mount Rainier in the background as they shared their vows was such a gift to be a part of.  Daniel Sheehan of A Beautiful Day Photography captured some amazing moments throughout the day and my camera was clicking away as well.  This first picture is of a beaming Nathan on his way to his bride at the top of the mountain via the resort’s gondola.  And what Crystal Mountain wedding wouldn’t be complete without a cake depicting Mt. Rainier?  Congratulations Nathan and Laura!

Nathan and Laura Crystal Mountain Summer Wedding

Nathan and Laura Crystal Mountain Summer Wedding

Nathan and Laura Crystal Mountain Summer Wedding

Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding Officiant, Seattle Wedding, Wedding Seattle, Seattle Wedding Ceremony, Wedding in Seattle, Seattle Wedding Minister, Nondenominational Minister, Nondenominational Minister Seattle

Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding Officiant, Seattle Wedding, Wedding Seattle, Seattle Wedding Ceremony, Wedding in Seattle, Seattle Wedding Minister, Nondenominational Minister, Nondenominational Minister Seattle

Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding Officiant, Seattle Wedding, Wedding Seattle, Seattle Wedding Ceremony, Wedding in Seattle, Seattle Wedding Minister, Nondenominational Minister, Nondenominational Minister Seattle

Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Seattle Wedding Officiant, Seattle Wedding, Wedding Seattle, Seattle Wedding Ceremony, Wedding in Seattle, Seattle Wedding Minister, Nondenominational Minister, Nondenominational Minister Seattle

Getting Your Name Changed After Marriage

Now that you know how to get your marriage license application completed and get your marriage license at the courthouse (Getting Your Marriage License Made Easy), it’s time to talk about getting your name changed.  To get your name changed with the DMV, passport office, work insurance, etc. you must present a certified copy of your marriage license.  This process is even easier than getting your license.  I explain the steps in my consultations, but I also go over it again the day of your wedding.  A lot can happen between our consultation and your wedding day; months go by, paperwork gets misplaced, etc.  This is why I revisit this topic as we are signing your marriage license after the ceremony.

The first thing you need to know is that not all brides decide to change their last name. I would estimate that approximately 90% of my brides change their names to their husband’s last name. The choice to change your last name or keep it is entirely up to you and there is no law that says you have to change it. I had one bride tell me that she was the last one in her family with her father’s name and wanted to continue his legacy, and therefore decided to keep her maiden name.   You also have the option of hyphenating your last name with your husbands.  But again, you can keep your last name if you wish.

The form below is included in the marriage packet you will pick up at the courthouse.  It is very straightforward with the exception of a few things.  First take a look at the form and then read on below.

Changing your name after marriage, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, Seattle Wedding, King County marriage license

You will fill this form out and send it in 10 days after your wedding day.  By the way, you have up to a year to send this form in, so there is no rush.  For example, you can take care of  this after you return from your honeymoon. 

It’s important to know that the courthouse gets especially busy in the summer months and they need to receive your marriage license before they can process your certified copy request.  It’s up to your officiant to forward the marriage license to the courthouse after the wedding.  I take care of this either the same day or the very next business day after the wedding.  If you are in a hurry to get your certified copy you can go to the courthouse with your completed marriage license and pick up your certified copy in person.  Only one of you has to go.

Filling out the certified copy request is fairly straight forward:

  1. Address:  Enter the address where you want your certified copies mailed.  It is acceptable to use your parent’s address if you are in the military and move around a lot or are in some other kind of transition.
  2. E-mail: Either of your e-mails is acceptable.
  3. License Application Number: This number is found on the back of your “pretty” copy called “Certificate of Marriage”.  As a courtesy, I usually write this information down for my couples because there is too much going on at the moment of signing the documents to try to remember where that little number is.
  4. Groom’s Name: Groom, write your full legal name.
  5. Bride’s Name:  THIS IS IMPORTANT-BRIDES, WRITE DOWN YOUR MAIDEN NAME OR THE NAME YOU USED WHEN YOU APPLIED FOR YOUR LICENSE.  In other words, don’t write down your new married name.
  6. Date of Marriage:  I usually fill this in for the couple as well.
  7. Number of Certified copies:  I recommend 3-5 copies.  They are only $3.00 per copy so you may as well stock up.
  8. Finally, you will send a check that equals the number of copies you are ordering (5 copies = $15.00) to the address at the bottom of the form.

You will receive your certified copies in approximately two weeks; longer if it’s the middle of summer as the marriage licensing office gets swamped with paperwork this time of year.

Once you receive your certified copies of your marriage license, it’s time get started changing your name!  I hope this information was helpful.   I welcome your questions or comments!

Over the pass & thru the woods to Gini & Matt’s wedding!

Yesterday I drove to Cle Elum for Gini & Matt’s wedding at Suncadia resort.  Located just over Snoqualmie pass, Suncadia resort is tucked into a forest with beautiful surroundings including a winery, golf course and private homes that can be rented for your event.  Gini and Matt rented one of these beautiful lodge-like homes for their private wedding in the mountains that included about 30 of their family and friends.

Suncadia resort, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way

When I walked in, it was so warm and comfortable.  A fire was going in the big rock fireplace and Gini and Matt had a video running on the big screen TV above the fireplace of themselves and different adventures they had been on together.

suncadia resort wedding, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Destination Wedding, Elaine Way

Food was catered by Debra Lane at Chef to Go.  Gini and Matt had requested an “upscale comfort food theme,” which Debra orchestrated brilliantly! Before the wedding, guests nibbled on a beautiful assortment of local cheeses and wine, and post wedding Debra put together a wide variety of items including tomato fennel soup with grilled gruyere cheese sandwiches, beef tenderloin crostini with caramelized onion jam and gorgonzola cheese, and Italian meatball sliders with provolone and parmesan cheese.   Special requests, such as gluten free items, were also provided by Debra.

Food to go catering, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, wedding catering

The wedding was conducted upstairs from the balcony where the  guests down below could look up and see us.  Gini and Matt requested a short ceremony so they could focus more on their guests.  Right after the ceremony they came down, signed papers and came out to start the party!  Because of the intimate atmosphere of the lodge, guests could easily mingle around — picking up food or heading out to the deck overlooking the grounds.

Suncadia Resort Wedding, Seattle wedding officiants, Elaine Way

Suncadia lodge, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, Suncadia resort wedding











I was truly inspired by the decorations, the food, Gini’s dress, Matt’s calm and the general happiness of everyone who traveled to this unique “real wedding” in the woods!  Congratulations Gini and Matt!

DIY wedding, Seattle Wedding Officiants, Elaine Way, Suncadia Resort Wedding

Get Married – Give Back!

For many years now I have been searching for a good volunteering gig that satisfied my desire to give back to the community but was also a good fit for me.  I finally found it!  Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I had the pleasure of volunteering my time in the FareStart kitchen.

“FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Over the past 19 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 5,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 4.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.”

In addition to their contract kitchen, FareStart has a restaurant located on the ground level of their downtown location at the corner of 7th and Virginia.  The restaurant is available for events — parties and weddings — and I will be promoting this program along with their director of catering at the Wedding Show on January 7th and 8th at the Convention Center.  All proceeds from banquets held at the restaurant go right back into the program.  If you are heading to the wedding show, please stop by to say hello and learn about a fantastic program that I am proud to be a part of.

Farestart restaurant 7th & Virginia

Please take a moment to watch this short video to learn more about FareStart.   Congratulations are also in order for FareStart for winning the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award for 2011!


Wedding coordinator specializes in Asian-Pacific weddings

I recently had the opportunity to meet a unique wedding planner/designer/coordinator.  Rebecca Grant with New Creations Weddings  pleasantly surprised me with her background in “Asian-Pacific weddings, specifically Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan wedding customs.” Meeting Rebecca and hearing about her services was a big plus for me because of the many Asian weddings I have officiated.  I have incorporated many customs and rituals into my Asian weddings from the Japanese Red Thread Ritual to a Chinese Tea Ceremony to the Filipino Veil and Cord Ceremony.  Having Rebecca to call on for input about Asian customs, traditions and rituals will not only enhance my knowledge about this topic but will also enrich my couples’ ceremony experience.  Please enjoy my interview with Rebecca.

Rebecca Grant - New Creations Weddings

“What made you decide to become a wedding designer/coordinator?”

I struggled a lot after High School with what I was going to do with my life.  I bounced around from job to job, but none truly fulfilled all my interests and talents of design, organization, loving to work with people, and throwing parties.  No job seemed to cater to all my interests- until wedding planning came along.  When wedding planners started gaining popularity, I looked at what I already loved to do, and knew that this was the job for me!  Since then, I haven’t looked back and have been enjoying planning weddings in Hawaii and Seattle for over 6 years now!  I can’t imagine doing anything else!

 “What is your favorite part about designing/coordinating weddings?”

I absolutely love my couples I get the honor to work with-that is by far my favorite part.  I get to work with couples and their families sometimes in excess of 1 year during one of the most pivotal, emotional times in their lives.  I get the privilege of working with extraordinary people that I probably would have never met, and end up being good friends with them even after the wedding!  When I work with a couple, my utmost responsibility is to truly tell their love story in one great day.  I want guests to leave seeing the couple truly represented in every aspect of their wedding, and know the couple better than they did before.

 “How long have you been doing this?”

I have been blessed to be a wedding planner for over 6 years now.  Hawaii was home to four and a half of those years.  Then, after moving back to the Seattle area, I launched my business here in November of 2009.

 “What do you feel sets you apart from other designers/coordinators”

With my background in planning weddings in Hawaii, I was so honored to be submerged in the ‘melting pot’ of culture that Hawaii is so famous for.  Because of this background, I am Seattle’s only planner who specializes in Asian-Pacific weddings, specifically Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan wedding customs.  I have presented to a group of peers through Wedding Network USA here in the Seattle area to teach fellow wedding vendors about Asian wedding customs.  I absolutely love the richness and traditions of multi-cultural weddings, and feel so incredibly lucky to be so comfortable and familiar with these customs and traditions on the couples’ wedding day.  Many other planners have to learn these traditions, and still don’t know the ‘why’ behind it.  I not only know the cultural reasons behind why traditions are done, I know how to handle them, and have them be an important feature within the couples’ wedding day.

 “What is your approach with couples?”

My approach to working with couples is as unique as they are.  I will be as hands on (to the point of choosing all of your vendors and booking them for you), or hands off (giving you a list of preferred vendors and setting you free) as the couple wants me to be.  My passion is for full design, which truly sets my design mind ablaze with ideas.  Working within the couples’ budget, I will design an ‘inspiration board’ for them making sure I am in tune with the direction they want to go.  Everything else for the wedding and reception take shape from there.  It is a fun way to see where we started and how it took shape to reality to truly represent the couple.

New trend in weddings: camping, hiking and everything outdoors!

Ok, so I can already hear a big sigh of “here she goes again” from my colleagues in the wedding industry, but I’m really feeling a trend lately.  That trend is creating a magical wedding day with friends and family at a rustic cabin in the woods, beach house or anywhere outdoors!  I don’t mean the kind where you book a farm location and have it catered by folks from the city or a big lodge in the mountains.  What I am referring to is gathering just close friends, family and the dogs; perhaps hiking a mile or less to a log cabin or beach house (with plumbing, of course); and decorating it in your own personal style.

Beach house with rustic decorations

I happen to LOVE this idea because I grew up in Washington state (yes I am a native) where you can go almost any direction and find numerous hidden getaways.  To the north we have waterfront, farmland and mountains.  To the south we have farmland and waterfront.  To the East we have the Cascade mountain range.   And to the west we have the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juans.   That’s just a general idea of what is available, but consider the following:

~ renting a cabin — or a couple of cabins is an alternative to the hotel or mansion where you are working within someone else’s guidelines
~having a DIY wedding/reception allows you literally a blank canvas to work out a beautiful plan for food, decorations, music and more!
~everyone loves to get out of town!  The entire feeling of your “getaway” wedding will be more relaxed — sort of like a mini vacation!

Wedding night bonfire on the beach!

Please do not misunderstand me.  I wouldn’t be in business if there weren’t any large hotel-style weddings.  But I would like you to consider the alternatives because the sky is the limit!  Be creative, take risks and mostly have fun planning your wedding!!

Me officiating wedding on Tiger Mountain, Issaquah

Check out these links to Seattle parks AND Washington trails: Seattle Parks and Recreation, Washington Trails Association-Seasonal Hikes

Choose Seattle For Your Destination Wedding

I am so inspired by my beloved city of Seattle!  I was born here, have lived here almost my entire life and can’t think of another place I would rather be.  Let’s face it, we would all like to be laying on a beach in sunny Hawaii during the cold winter months.  But Seattle’s climate is so manageable, and there is so much to do here:  Why not make Seattle your destination wedding location?

My background  includes planning and executing trips for travelers who want to experience Seattle.  As a result, my expertise in all things Seattle has been a terrific asset when working with couples who are coming here from out of town.   First and foremost, let me craft a beautiful ceremony for your special day.  Working together, we can create something you will always remember and cherish.  Then let me help you plan the weekend (or longer if you want to travel to other areas of the state).    I can set you up at a downtown hotel, find a venue for your destination wedding and recommend a fabulous restaurant where you can enjoy a meal created by one of our fantastic local chefs.  I can even set up a show for you at one of our downtown theaters.

Having the good fortune of experiencing Seattle first-hand my entire life has provided me with the tools and inspiration to create a destination wedding you will never forget.

Call me for a free consultation today!  206-406-7919