How to Officiate Weddings in Seattle
A guide for officiating weddings and planning ceremonies in the greatest city in the PNW
Forget about the “Seattle Freeze,” this Pacific Northwest city is a destination for people starting families -- and that means thousands of weddings every weekend. If you are planning your wedding in King County or the Seattle Metro area, or if you’ve been asked to officiate a Seattle wedding, then you’ll want to read this page.
With sweeping views of the Puget Sound, scenic municipal parks, and wedding venues to suit all tastes, performing a wedding in Seattle can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to comply with local regulations, and make sure that your paperwork is in order.
Our guide to performing weddings in Seattle explains the steps needed to apply for, fill out, sign and submit marriage licenses. We also provide tips for wedding officiants and couples. AMM has thousands of ordained ministers in the Seattle area, and we are excited to have you join our movement.
STEP 1: Get Ordained with American Marriage Ministries
The Revised Code of Washington § RCW 26.04.050 states that "...any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest of any church or religious denomination..." are authorized to solemnize marriages.
If you have been asked and have agreed to officiating a wedding the first thing you need to do is get ordained with AMM. Our ordination is free, takes only a few minutes, and meets § RCW 26.04.050, giving you the legal ability to officiate wedding ceremonies.
Minister Registration in Seattle -- Ministers are not required to register with the King County Auditor's office or Seattle Municipal government before officiating weddings. Washington state law does not require ministers to register with any government office before or after performing marriage. That being said, we advise that you keep proof of your ordination for your own records. It is good practice to keep your ministry credentials on hand in case you are asked to produce them for the couple.
STEP 2: Prepare for the Ceremony in Seattle
Getting ordained as an AMM minister is the easy part. Your next step is to prepare for the wedding ceremony. If you will be officiating your first wedding, have no fear! Our wedding training pages are a great resource for learning everything you need to know to perform your first wedding ceremony.
STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License
By this point you should be well prepared to conduct the wedding ceremony. Your one legal responsibility is to complete your section of the couple's marriage license.
After the wedding ceremony, the couple, the officiant, and two witnesses must sign the marriage license. For more details on filling in the individual fields such as “type of ceremony,” please consult our guide on how to complete a marriage license.
Once the marriage license is properly completed it needs to be returned to King County Auditor's office within 30 days of the ceremony. The officiant can deliver the completed license to any King County Community Service Centers in person, or use the self-addressed envelope provided with the marriage license to mail it.
Once the completed marriage license is returned, you have performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant.▲ TOP
File for the Marriage License from the King County Auditor's Office
The couple must apply for their marriage license in person at any Community Service Centers in King County. The couple can start the process online through the King County website. However, please be aware that Washington State Law requires couples to wait three days following the issuing of the license until the ceremony may be held. Please plan in advance to account for this mandatory waiting period.
When you apply for your marriage license, the following is required.
● Current photo ID (driver's license, state-issued photo ID, U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, U.S. military ID, permanent resident card, or foreign government issued passport)
● $67 Application Fee (Payable by CC)
If it is not possible for both partners to be present to pick up the license at least 3 days before the wedding, then they can also apply by mail.
The King County website provides a PDF of the mail-in wedding license application.
The couple will need to have the application notarized. Once notarized,the original notarized application must be mailed to:
500 4th Ave Room 430
Seattle, WA 98104
The couple must also include a check or money order in the amount of $67 payable to King County Recorder.
Once the application has been processed, either partner or an authorized person can pick up the license at the downtown Seattle office (500 4th Ave Room 430, Seattle, WA 98104).
Below is important information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in Seattle. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
Issuance Office: King County Auditor's Office
Waiting Period: 3 Days to Receive
Expiration: 60 Days
Return: Before Expiration
The Basics -- Seattle has it all. Mountains, Forests, Coastline, and wildlife if you’re willing to get out of the city (orca whales!). All things considered, it’s a great place to get married. August is the most popular month to tie the knot in Seattle, according to WeddingWire.
Before choosing a date, take some time to research the events and festivals going on in the city, if you want to avoid traffic and crowds, there are days you might want to pass on. Or, that might be just what you’re looking for. MAjor events include Seattle Pride Parade, the Seattle International Beerfest, Emerald City ComiCon, the Seattle Marathon, and the Seattle Street Food Festival.
Getting Around -- Seattle’s closest airport is Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA), about 13 miles south of downtown Seattle, and is connected by a light rail transit system.
Public transportation in Seattle is easy to navigate. The light rail system runs throughout downtown and greater Seattle, including the airport. There are also streetcars, buses, and ride sharing companies.
Weather -- While Seattle has a reputation for being one of the rainiest places in the country, there’s one important caveat. During Summer, Seattle is one of the sunniest, and most picturesque locations in the country. That doesn’t mean there isn’t the lingering chance of rain, but most Summer days are beautiful. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, have a contingency for rain.
Seattle winters are colder with more rain. The average high temperature during the winter is around 50 degrees and it can dip into freezing territory...
Tips For Finding The Right Wedding Officiant
Finding the right wedding officiant starts with a conversation about what sort of wedding ceremony you want to have. Will it be a big, public event, or a small intimate ceremony with family and close friends? Once you’ve got that square away, here are some points to consider when choosing an officiant:
● You want an officiant who is compatible with the ceremony you're planning. That means someone who is articulate, who is not afraid to speak in front of an audience, and who understands the honor of being asked to deliver your ceremony.
● Find a friend or family member who is going to create and deliver a wedding ceremony that fits you.
● Find an officiant who shares your values and beliefs. You want someone who will work with you to create a ceremony that is meaningful and personal to you. Consider asking someone who has known you since you were both kids, has grown with you, and who shares your vision and spiritual disposition.
● Make sure to give the family member or friend time to think about their answer, and (this is a tough one!) don’t take it personally if they say ‘no.’
● Seek seek guidance and assistance, especially if this is the friend or family member’s first time delivering a wedding ceremony.