Solemnization of Marriage

Who May Perform a Marriage Ceremony
State law prescribes who can perform marriage ceremonies. Specifically, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) states the following:
  • RCW 26.04.050: Who may solemnize.
    The following named officers and persons, active or retired, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages, to wit: Justices of the supreme court, judges of the court of appeals, judges of the superior courts, superior court commissioners, any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest of any church or religious denomination, and judges of courts of limited jurisdiction as defined in RCW 3.02.010. [1987 c 291 § 1; 1984 c 258 § 95; 1983 c 186 § 1; 1971 c 81 § 69; 1913 c 35 § 1; 1890 p 98 § 1; 1883 p 43 § 1; Code 1881 § 2382; 1866 p 82 § 4; 1854 p 404 § 4; RRS § 8441.] NOTES: Court Improvement Act of 1984-Effective dates-Severability-Short Title-1984 c 258: See notes following RCW 3.30.010.
  • However, the RCW also permits unlicensed clerics to perform marriage ceremonies.
    RCW 26.04.060: Marriage before unauthorized cleric-effect.
    A marriage solemnized before any person professing to be a minister or a priest of any religious denomination in this state or professing to be an authorized officer thereof, is not void, nor shall the validity thereof be in any way affected on account of any want of power or authority in such person, if such marriage be consummated with a belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in marriage. [1975-'76 2nd ex.s. c 42 § 25; Code 1881 § 2388; 1866 p 83 §§ 10 and 11; 1854 p 405 § 6; RRS § 8442. Formerly RCW 26.04.060 and 26.24.200.] NOTES: Severability-Savings-Construction-1975-’76 2nd ex.s. c 42: See RCW 26.26.900 through 26.26.905.
Ministers from any state may perform ceremonies. Washington State does not license ministers; this is a function of religious institutions. The spouses may not perform their own ceremony.

Marriage Ceremony
There is no prescribed way in which a ceremony must be performed. The Revised Code of Washington states the following:
  • RCW 26.04.070: Form of solemnization.
    In the solemnization of marriage no particular form is required, except that the parties thereto shall assent or declare in the presence of the minister, priest or judicial officer solemnizing the same, and in the presence of at least two attending witnesses, that they take each other to be spouses. [Code 1881 § 2383; 1866 p 82 § 5;RRS § 8443.]
The applicants must agree to take each other as spouses in front of two witnesses and the officiant.
Proxy marriages are not allowed.

State law (see RCW 26.04.070, above):
  • Does not specify the minimum/maximum age of witnesses
  • Requires that marriage ceremonies be performed in the presence of two witnesses