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Washington D.C. Wedding Laws

Written and updated for precision by the District of Columbia marriage law research team at GetOrdained™ on

The District of Columbia is home to the United States' capital city of Washington. The city is steeped in historical significance, which makes it a unique and appealing location for a wedding. It makes sense that, as the place where federal legislation takes place, the District of Columbia requires strict adherence to its marriage laws. Fortunately, the laws are fairly straightforward. With this guide to explain what is required of you, compliance should not be a problem.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Washington D.C.

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Application w/ Marriage Bureau
Online Ordination Recognized:
Relevant Office of Registration:
Marriage Bureau
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Before Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:

There is a wide range of both religious and civil officiants that the District of Columbia can authorize to solemnize marriages. These include religious leaders and authorized members of religious societies without recognized leadership, as well as the mayor of DC and current or retired judges from any court. The law in DC recognizes Universal Life Church ministers ordained online as religious actors without regard for their personal beliefs. The minister's gender is not a consideration.

In addition to the other qualifications, the District of Columbia does require that marriage officiants be at least 18 years old. Prior to the ceremony, the minister must file an application with and pay a fee to the Marriage Bureau. If the registration is temporary, the fee is $25; otherwise, it is $35.

Getting Married in Washington D.C.

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
Minister Required to be Present:
Number of Witnesses Required:
Min. Age of Witnesses:
Not Applicable
Couple's Consent Required:
Pronouncement Required:

Together with the officiant performing your wedding, you and your spouse-to-be have nearly complete control over the manner in which the ceremony takes place. Interfering with specific beliefs or theological doctrines is strictly forbidden by DC law.

However, there are some general requirements that you must meet for the marriage to be legally binding. No witnesses to the ceremony are required, but you, your spouse-to-be, and the minister must all be physically present. You and your significant other must declare your intention to wed one another formally, and the minister must make a pronouncement solemnizing the marriage.

How to Get a Washington D.C. Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Anywhere in D.C.
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person
Cost of License:
Accepted I.D. Types:
Standard Government Issued I.D.
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Blood Test Required:

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the District of Columbia is currently requiring that all applications for marriage licenses take place virtually. This requirement will remain in effect until further notice. Otherwise, you and your spouse-to-be would ordinarily have to present to a clerk in person to fill out the necessary application.

Whether you apply virtually or in person, the information you are required to disclose is the same. At the very least, you need to provide your ages and full names. If related, you must disclose the degree of blood relations between you. If married before, you must list previous marriages. If under age 18, you must provide the names of your parents or guardians.

If you and your significant other entered into a domestic partnership in the past and have a certificate from the District of Columbia to prove it, you can present this upon applying for your marriage license to have the fee waived. Otherwise, obtaining your license will cost you $45.

Applying For a Marriage License in Washington D.C.

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Mandatory Waiting Period:
License Valid For:
Does Not Expire
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of the Ceremony

A marriage license from the District of Columbia gives you a lot of flexibility as to the timing of the ceremony. Once issued, the license remains valid until the wedding takes place. The license does not expire, and there is no waiting period. In other words, the license imposes no deadline on you, the couple. The only time constraint is that the officiant who solemnizes the wedding has to return it along with the completed marriage certificate within 10 days of the ceremony to the same clerk's office that issued it initially.

Washington D.C. Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:

If you have been married before, the law of the District of Columbia requires that the previous marriage be terminated by divorce or the death of your spouse before you can remarry. The law also requires that couples seeking marriage not be any closer in blood than first cousins. However, neither sex nor gender has any bearing on the eligibility of you and your significant other to marry one another.

The law does require that both you and your intended spouse be at least 18 years old. With the written consent of a parent or legal guardian, an exception can be made for 16- and 17-year-olds. Minors younger than 16 wishing to marry require the approval of a judge in addition to a guardian's written consent.

Finalizing the Union

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

Following the ceremony, the officiant must fill out two copies of the marriage certificate. One copy must be returned to the issuing clerk within 10 days following the ceremony. The minister faces a $50 fine if he or she fails to comply. The other copy goes to you and your new spouse. Both copies must bear the date and place of the ceremony, the minister's name, and the names of you and your spouse.

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