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How To Have A Seattle Courthouse Wedding

A Seattle Courthouse used for elopement wedding photography

Are you looking to escape the stress and expense that comes with having a large-scale wedding? If so, you may consider having a Seattle courthouse wedding instead.


This is a great option for couples who are looking to have a celebration that is much more intimate, while avoiding the headaches that come with planning a traditional wedding. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice any of the elements that make your wedding unique or special.


You can still wear the wedding dress or suit of your dreams, and some of your most important people can still witness your wedding ceremony. But how do you actually have a Seattle courthouse wedding?

To get a marriage license, you must be at least 18 (or 17 with parental consent), not already married, and able to present a government-issued photo ID. In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the most important steps that you need to take in order to have a courthouse wedding. I’ll also be sharing tips that will help make your wedding day even more memorable. 


Make sure to keep on reading to learn how to have the perfect Seattle courthouse wedding!


Planning Your Seattle Courthouse Wedding

Choose A Date

Seattle Municipal Court judges perform courthouse Seattle weddings every weekday at 4:30 PM, excluding holidays and weekends. However, judges can also perform marriage ceremonies at a flexible time and location of your choosing.


Keep in mind there are a limited number of ceremonies per day. If you want to secure a spot on your desired date, I suggest submitting your request as early as possible (but no earlier than 8 weeks from your requested date). About 6-8 weeks out is best.


Once your request has been submitted, you can expect an assistant from the court to contact you within a week with further instructions.


Obtain Your Marriage License

Just like any other wedding ceremony, you’re going to need to pay for and pick up your Marriage License before your wedding. This is crucial because without it, you won’t be able to legally get married. 


The court does not provide marriage licenses, so you’ll need to obtain one from the King County Recorder’s Office prior to your ceremony. 


To get a marriage license, you need to be at least 18 (or 17 with parental consent) years of age, not already married, and have a government-issued photo ID. Don’t worry if you’re traveling from outside of Washington as you don’t need to be a Seattle resident to be issued a marriage license.


It is also worth mentioning that marriage licenses are only good for 60 days after they’ve been issued. Make sure that you schedule your Seattle courthouse wedding within that time frame. This is why I suggest securing your wedding date first!


As soon as you’ve been married and completed your marriage license, you’ll need to return the license to the Records and Licensing Services Division office at King County, or the Seattle Municipal Court to be recorded. There’s even an online search tool that allows you to track when your marriage license has been certified. It is important to use your current legal name on your license, even if you intend to change your name after you are married.


Once your marriage license has been processed and recorded, you can then request a certified copy of your marriage license for $3 and any additional copies for $1.


Invite Witnesses

Having close family and friends to witness the ceremony can be important for some couples. Seattle courthouses allow you to invite a total of 6 people to celebrate your love story with you. 


This number includes you (the couple) and up to 4 witnesses. If you have a photographer, they are included in this number as well.

If you don’t have any witnesses, you can request one from the courthouse. Alternatively, if a photographer is present with you, they may be able to act as a witness for you (let me know if you would like me to be a witness for your wedding).


5 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Seattle Courthouse Wedding 

1. Don’t forget a photographer! Even if you’re not looking to have a large wedding ceremony, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t document the occasion. Many photographers offer special pricing for elopements and courthouse weddings.

2. This is still an opportunity to get dressed up! Just as you would for a larger wedding, you want to look and feel your best. Set aside time to prepare and look great – maybe even have your photographer there to document you and your partner getting ready.

3. Add as many personal touches to the day as you can. This could be a bouquet, a special bowtie, reservations at your favorite restaurant afterwards. Your options are limitless!

4. Schedule enough time for photos before your ceremony. Taking photos before and on your way to the ceremony will help build excitement as you prepare for it. This will also ensure that you can spend time with your witnesses immediately afterwards if you wish.

If you are wanting photos at the courthouse, Seattle courthouses only allow you to take photos inside the courthouse for the 30 minutes prior to your 4:30pm check-in (as well as during the ceremony). So, plan ahead, arrive early, and make sure you get some shots inside the courthouse!

5. Take time to celebrate! You don’t have to stop the celebration right away. Do something special afterwards!

Have a full reception, head to an upscale hotel, bar, restaurant, or venue of your choice and pop open a bottle of champagne! Enjoy a fun evening with your new spouse and guests of your choosing!


Seattle Courthouse Wedding Photos

When choosing your wedding photographer you can opt to have me present for only the ceremony, or, we can turn it into a half or even full day affair. Starting with getting ready, heading to the ceremony, even exploring the city afterwards. 


There are endless possibilities for where we can go for your wedding photos. Not sure where to start? As a Seattle wedding photographer, I can help suggest some of the best locations downtown Seattle has to offer. 


Never be afraid to brainstorm with your photographer and tell them what kind of photos you’re dreaming of. We can head on over to Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, or even the Seattle waterfront! Other fun options include the Olympic Sculpture Garden or a plethora of indoor photography studio rentals!



If a traditional wedding isn’t for you, or simply not right now, a Seattle courthouse wedding can be as special, or more. Your wedding is a day to celebrate the love and union between you and your partner. If invited, I will happily be there to document and celebrate every beautiful moment with you.


Planning a courthouse wedding and want to know more? Head over to my contact page and fill out the inquiry form to get in touch! 

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