How to Get Legally Married in Washington, DC and Plan Your DC Wedding

Get ready to walk down the aisle in the nation's capital.
Emily Halonen Bratcher
by Emily Halonen Bratcher
Updated Sep 23, 2021

With its profusion of architectural wonders, its storied history and all four seasons, Washington, DC is a beautiful place to say "I do" for couples with a range of wedding-day visions. Plus, there is no shortage of photo backdrops (think: gleaming marble, green space and spurting fountains). In fact, there is so much variety in the District that it might be hard to narrow down your vendor and venue choices, particularly when it comes to booking your wedding ceremony and reception sites. But never fear: With tons of ideas for venues and vendors, The Knot Marketplace is a one-stop shop for all of your wedding research needs.

In addition to hosting a gorgeous DC wedding, you'll also want to make sure you're following all of the city's marriage laws. Read on for some tips about meeting all of the marriage license requirements for getting hitched in the District. Also, if you plan on changing your name after the wedding, check out this article with information about how to change your name.

How to Get Married in Washington, DC

Planning a District of Columbia wedding? Make sure you know all the legalities and logistics of getting hitched in the nation's capital.

Is there a waiting period to get married in Washington, DC?

There is no waiting period to get married in DC. You can get your marriage license the same day you fill out the application, though you should note that there might be some delays due to COVID-19.

What are the legal requirements to get married in Washington, DC?

To get married in Washington, DC, couples must be at least 18 years old and show proof of their age with a valid driver's license, passport or another form of government-issued ID. Couples who are 16 or 17 years old must have parental consent. Washington, DC marriage licenses are administered by the Marriage Bureau, located in the Moultrie Courthouse.

What's considered a common law marriage in Washington, DC?

The District of Columbia is one of only a few states and jurisdictions that recognize common law marriages. In DC, couples need to both mutually express a desire to be married and they must also reside together in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC Marriage License 101

Obtaining a marriage license in Washington, DC is fairly easy, especially since you can do it online. Quick tip: Make sure to fill out your online application well in advance as there might be delays (due to COVID-19) and DC marriage licenses don't expire.

What do you need to get a marriage license in Washington, DC?

To get a Washington, DC marriage license, couples will need to show proof of age with a valid driver's license, a government-issued identification card or a passport to the Clerk of the Court at the DC Marriage Bureau. Each party must be at least 18 years old—or 16 years old with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. There is no blood test required. Due to coronavirus, this process can be done online.

What does a Washington, DC marriage license cost?

The application fee for marriage licenses in the District of Columbia is $45, payable by cash or credit card. Checks and money orders will also be accepted, made payable to "Clerk, DC Superior Court."

How long does it take to get a marriage license in Washington, DC?

You can get your marriage license the same day you apply for it, but you should plan for some delays. Because of the pandemic and some court staff working remotely, marriage licenses may take up to five days to be issued.

Can you apply for a marriage license online in Washington, DC?

You can fill out a DC marriage license application online here. After submitting the online application, a DC court staff member will contact you. Note that it might take up to five days for the marriage license to be issued, as some court officials are working remotely.

How do you get a copy of your Washington, DC marriage license?

To get a certified copy of your marriage license, you can fill out an online application here. There is a $10 fee for each copy. Couples can also send their payment in the mail to the following address:

District of Columbia Superior Court
Marriage Bureau - JM 690
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

How to Plan a Washington, DC Wedding

After meeting all the legal marriage requirements for getting married in the District of Columbia, here are a few tips you can use to plan your dream big day.

The Different Cities and Areas to Consider for a Washington, DC Wedding

Washington, DC is filled with different neighborhoods like ritzy Georgetown or quaint Capitol Hill, which contain a variety of places to tie the knot. But since DC is located within striking distance of both Virginia and Maryland, you might also want to hunt for wedding locales in those states.

What to Look For in a Washington, DC Wedding Venue

The nation's capital is rife with ambient places to say "I do." There are venues perfect for rooftop weddings and garden weddings. There are others ideal for large weddings, while others are better suited for smaller affairs. But before you book your Washington, DC wedding venue, you'll want to have an idea of your headcount and your budget. Many wedding venues in DC come with a high price point, though that's not to say there aren't affordable options as well. You can learn more about Washington, DC wedding venues on The Knot Marketplace.

How to Find Washington, DC Wedding Vendors

You need a photographer and videographer to capture your big day. You need a wedding planner to make it all run smoothly. You need a dress, invitations, decor and more. A lot goes into planning a Washington, DC wedding, but The Knot Marketplace can help. With its extensive lists of wedding vendors, The Knot Marketplace offers an easy way to find your vendors all in one place.

The Best Times of Year to Have a Washington, DC Wedding for Good Weather

Fall is quickly becoming the most popular season to say "I do" in the District of Columbia, and it's no wonder. Average highs in October are in the upper 60s. This month also tends to be the peak time for fall foliage. Summer is also another popular time to wed in Washington, DC, but this season ushers in heat and humidity, which is something to be aware of, especially if you're planning an outdoor wedding ceremony or reception.

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