Updated: Nov 18, 2018
A full on wedding is not for everyone. Seriously, I get that. So what do you need to know to elope here in Washington State?
To start, you can't truly elope here. And by that I mean you cannot decide to get married and then be married at the courthouse or a drive-thru chapel an hour later, Vegas style. In the State of Washington you must both go in person to apply for your marriage license (or have it signed by a notary and brought to the County office). Then, you have to wait three business days before it becomes valid. If you're hoping to elope on a Saturday, you have to get in there the Tuesday before at the latest to get your license.
You also have to have someone who is ordained to marry you. With the power of the internet, any one can be ordained in minutes for about $30. In Washington, a person does not need to register with the state to perform weddings. You can also hire a professional officiant.
What about the ceremony? Easy, as well. The only things legally required to be married is that you both declare your intention to marry (I do) in front of two witnesses and that signed marriage license. All the words around it are entirely up to you. If you're not feeling very creative, I suggest googling for other ceremony scripts and borrowing pieces of ones you like to customize for yourself.
Here's a recap of things you need:
Apply for your license at least three business days before you get married
Have an ordained person to officiate your wedding
Have two people to witness (if you're hiring a photographer, they can be witnesses!)
Ceremony that is whatever you want, as long as it declares your intention to marry
Location! Where do you have your ceremony? Well, nearly where ever you please. My personal favorite for Washington elopements is aboard a Washington State Ferry. You do have to let the ferry system know in advance of your plans. They have all the information you need to know right here.
I asked Kate Gansneder of GSquared Weddings where her top favorite locations to photograph elopements are. "I would round out my tops with the Ice Caves (we practice safety though and don't go very close to the mouth or inside it), Franklin Falls, Shangri La on the Green, the Hoh Rainforest, and Island House on Camano." GSquared has a detailed list on their website, including links to websites and information, of wondferfu