While we’ve always done a lot of elopement photography, 2020 has truly ushered in the Micro Wedding movement.
Couples who come to us for elopements often have some questions about what they need to do to Elope, and what all GSquared can help them with. We wanted to put together a resource post for any of our awesome couples who are planning to come to Washington State for their elopement.
First things first, we will cover some of the more “boring” parts of eloping in Washington state.
For the purpose of this post, we will focus on providing links for Snohomish, King, Skagit, Whatcom, Pierce, and Kitsap counties – the areas we serve most frequently.
Getting the Marriage License.
You can obtain marriage licenses at the following links. Please make sure you familiarize with the current rules and timelines due to COVID-19 changes before applying or making plans. Some offices are no longer offering in-person or online applications, so a mailed application will be required. All licenses require a three-day waiting period before they can be used – this is mandatory and cannot be waived.
Where you get your license in Washington doesn’t matter TOO much though – just convenience. A marriage license purchased from any county in Washington State can be used to get married anywhere in the state. If you plan to marry in another state or country, you must apply for its marriage license and comply with its laws for getting married. A marriage in another jurisdiction is valid in Washington State if it is not prohibited by Washington state law.
In Washington State, you don’t have to have a specific person officiate the marriage (though we recommend hiring a professional officiant). State law prescribes who can perform a marriage ceremony: active and retired Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals judges, Superior Court judges, Superior Court commissioners, and judges of courts of limited jurisdiction, as well as any regularly licensed or ordained minister or priest of any church or religious denomination (yes, including online ordination).
Kate of GSquared is ordained, but she really, really prefers to not perform marriage ceremonies – she would rather leave that to the pros or someone special to your relationship. While this is obviously a bonus, we do recommend our couples think of it as a “back up” option only in emergencies – she would much rather be taking the photos.
Immediately following the ceremony, the couple, the officiant, and two witnesses must sign the marriage certificate. Although state law does not specify the age of witnesses, a witness is usually deemed “competent” for this purpose by the age of 18. We recommend two witnesses who are over 18 observe the exchange of vows (marriage) and sign the marriage certificate.
GSquared frequently serves at witnesses, and is more than happy to do so. Most of our elopement or micro wedding packages only include one photographer, so we recommend discussing this in more detail at booking so we can create a package for you that would include both Josh & Kate if needed.
Next, let’s talk location. Washington is one of the most incredibly beautiful places in the US, and it’s frequently a destination for elopements because of the epic ocean, mountains and forest views.
Nearly every scenery is easily accessible from the airport, lodging and transportation options are vast, and there are a ton of things to do around the Sound, even on a self-guided tour without any extra frills.
Some locations do require permits for marriages, so please make sure you research that and secure the permit if it’s needed.
Olympic National Park Mount Rainier Mount Baker Gold Creek Pond Lake Crescent Deception Pass Rosario Beach Deception Falls/Wenatchee National Forest Leavenworth Franklin Falls Kitsap Bellingham Suncadia Winthrop/Methow Port Townsend
When Should You Elope?
Washington has beautiful parts year round, but there are some things you should take into consideration when planning what time of year and what day of the week to elope.
Spring (march to june)
Summer (june to september)
Fall (september to december)
Winter (december to march)
THINGS TO KNOW
Tends to be rainy, overcast. Low level area snow is clearing, roads reopening. There can sometimes still be road closures. Weekday weddings will be best due to trail and location traffic.
Wildflowers begin to bloom, warmer temps and more mild weather. Fire smoke can hit mid-season impacting visibility. Most tourist things are open. Weekday weddings will be best due to trail and location traffic.
Fall colors, early snow in high elevations. Rain is possible as are storms and road closures. Most tourist things are still open. Weekday and weekend weddings should be ok this time of year.
Snow and Rain are both very likely, some prime locations may be closed due to weather (Diablo, Hwy 20, Hwy 410, some Mt Rainier acccess). Most tourist things are closed. Weekday and weekend weddings should be ok this time of year.
If you’re not getting married close to home, you’re going to need lodging. This will be the space you get ready in for your wedding, and probably where any hair & makeup services will be provided. Good natural light (windows) and neutral interior walls will be a bonus if you can find a space that has them.
we are AirBNB affiliates and may earn a small bonus when you book through this link, at no additional cost to you.
Now, we’re going to talk about extras. None of these things are things you have to have to get married – so whatever you choose to do is up to you!
Wedding Day Clothes. Whether this is a wedding dress, a suit, a sun dress, shorts, snowpants, hiking boots, sandals or skis – choose what you want to get married in. You may want to consider the season and location when choosing your footwear (and deciding if you’ll want a jacket).
Flowers. Professional floral really does make a difference – and if you’re socially conscious, they can always be donated to a nursing home or funeral home after your wedding. We have a list of awesome florists on our preferred vendor page.
Bouquet, boutonniere, arch or ceremony site floral are all things many couples purchase from a professional florist. Some elopements and micro weddings include a mini-reception, and some couples choose to order small additional arrangements for their reception tables.
Cutting Cake or Dessert. Many couples still want to do something special after the ceremony, even if it’s just the two of them. Sharing a cutting cake, cupcakes or pie and a glass of champagne, their favorite micro brew, or cider are really popular options. You can find some great bakers here.
Food. A lot of our favorite local caterers offer to-go options for just the couple or small micro weddings, but of course there are a ton of incredible restaurants all around the state that are perfect for that after-wedding celebration dinner!
The Day of Your Elopement.
Yay, it’s your wedding day! You’ll wake up in your AirBNB, hotel or home and eat breakfast. If you’ve hired hair and makeup, they’ll arrive and get to work.
GSquared will arrive about an hour before you get dressed. We’ll do detail photos (see the list of things we need when we arrive here) and then some photos of you guys getting ready.
Your flowers are usually delivered before we arrive, and sometimes even the day before your elopement. Make sure you ask your florist how to best store them so they look great!
Often at this point, we do a first look. After that it can go one of two ways: we head to your ceremony and get you married first, or we head off onto a photo adventure and then end the day with your ceremony. We prefer to end with a photo adventure, so for the sake of this post, we will go with that.
You’ll pack a bag to take with you when you leave the AirBNB – it should hold a pen, something hard to write on, your marriage license documents, your permits, a touch up kit for makeup needs, any payments for vendors still needed, your vows, your rings, a blanket, hand and foot warmers, a change of socks if needed, an umbrella, and anything you’ll need if you’re not returning to the AirBNB before any reception (cake cutting items, etc).
Now we head to your chosen location for your elopement. We’ll meet your officiant there, and you’ll get married. This part is super simple – if you’re doing your own vows, make sure you talk to your officiant about that during the booking process.
Once you’re married, you’ll sign your marriage license with your witnesses and officiant.
After that, we head off to your photo adventure. We explore and play and take a whole lot of photos of you. You can cut your cake, share a beverage, and eat dinner together during this adventure (unless you’re doing a mini reception, then it’s really up to you).
That’s it, you’re married!
After your Elopement.
After your elopement, if your officiant isn’t taking care of filing your marriage license, you will need to do that within the timeframe required by the state.
Once it’s officially filed, you’ll want to order multiple copies so that you can update any personal, financial or professional information, or if you’ll be changing your name.