You’ve spent months planning your wedding and the day is finally here. Friends and family have come to watch you start this next chapter in your life and celebrate the night away. But, before you can walk down the aisle, recite your vows and say “I Do” you have to apply for and receive your marriage license.

Marriage laws vary in every state and your license must be obtained in the state you’re getting married. Even though D.C., Maryland and Virginia are in close proximity to each other the requirements to obtain your license vary greatly. In addition to that, each location has different laws as to who can actually marry you.

While you may think these details don’t need to be taken into consideration until closer to your wedding day, you won’t want to make any grand plans for your ceremony until reading the laws in your wedding state first.

Washington D.C.

If you’re getting married inside the beltway, both parties do not have to be present to get your marriage license. One of you must bring your completed marriage license application to the marriage bureau along with proof of age for both parties in the form a driver’s license, government issued non-driver’s ID or passport. Additionally, the name of your officiant must be known at the time of application. If neither you or your fiancé(e) can be present, a third party or proxy service can apply on your behalf provided they have proper identification for each of you and the fee.

Your license can be issued the same day you apply assuming all information is accurate and the fee is paid at the time of application. In D.C. you’re license does not expire and any of the following people can legally marry you:

  • A judge or retired judge of any court of record
  • The Clerk of the Court of such as deputy clerks of the Courts as may, in writing be designated by the Clerk and approved by the Chief Judge of the Court
  • A minister, priest, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination or society ($35 fee and application required)
  • A person appointed by a religious society without marriage customs ($35 fee and application required)
  • A civil celebrant ($35 fee and application required)
  • A temporary officiant ($25 fee and application required)
  • Members of the Council
  • The Mayor of the District of Columbia
  • The parties to the marriage (both parties to the marriage must apply in person with a valid government issued identification)

To apply for your license in D.C., you’ll need to visit:

Marriage Bureau in Room JM-690 of the Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Room 4485
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 879-4840

Washington D.C. Fees are as follows:

  • $35.00 Marriage Application Fee
  • $10.00 Certificate Fee
  • $35.00 Officiant Application Fee
  • $25.00 Temporary Officiant Application Fee

Important Websites:

Marriage License

Temporary Officiant Application

Officiant Application


In Maryland you’ll have to call the county you’re getting married in specifically as the requirements to obtain a license vary by county. It’s important to note that in Maryland, the license must be issued in the county you’re getting married. Regardless of the county you’re getting married in, your license can be issued the same day it’s applied for. However, you must wait 48 hours after receiving your license before you can get married and the license will expire six months after you receive it. Fees vary by county as well and range between $25.00-$85.00

Once you receive your license, any of the following people can marry you:

  • An ordained minister of a religious order
  • A judge
  • A Clerk or Deputy Clerk designated by the county administrative circuit court judge
  • Anyone over the age of 13 that has been ordained

Important Websites:

Marriage License - A list of County Circuit Court Offices can be found here:

Officiant Paperwork - The person of your choice can be ordained here:

**After being ordained, contact the Circuit Court Clerk's office in the county where the ceremony will take place and ask what documents they will need from you. They may ask to see a number of things, and be aware that these requirements vary from county to county.


A marriage license in Virginia is issued by the Clerk or a Deputy Clerk of a Circuit Court in any county or city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The ceremony may be performed anywhere within the state. To obtain your license, both parties must be present at the Clerk’s office. You will both need to provide government issued identification, social security number, full birth names of each of your parents including middle names and the application fee of $30.00.

Your license will be issued immediately and there is no waiting period following issuance. However, the marriage must be performed within 60 days or the license will expire. In Virginia, any of the following people can marry you:

  • Ordained minister who can show proof of ordination
  • Marriage commissioners
  • Justice of the peace
  • Judge or justice of court record
  • A one time marriage celebrant + $500 cash bond (once petition is authorized)

Your officiant will solemnize the marriage, complete the marriage register as well as the marriage return and send both to the clerk of court who issued the marriage license within five days of the wedding ceremony.

Important Websites:

List of local County Circuit Court Clerk Office

How to Get Married in VA MD DC.jpg

Photographer credit: Alicia Lacey Photography

About Sincerely Pete

Sincerely Pete is a full-service wedding planning and design company in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA who believes in a personal, curated & customized approach to each wedding couple we work with, taking their values & personalities into account and keeping the relationship as the focus of the wedding. We plan Washington DC weddings, Virginia weddings, Maryland weddings and destination weddings all over the world. 

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