King County Marriage Records, 1853-present
Over the years, King County has produced a variety of marriage records that are held at three different repositories: the King County Archives, the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives (external link) and the King County Recorder's Office. Many records have also been digitized and made available online at the Washington State Digital Archives (external link). A given marriage in King County may have several corresponding records. Not all marriage records were retained. These pages delineate which records are available and where they may be accessed.
Please visit Marriage Licensing for information on applying for a marriage license and other important information about getting married in King County.
at the Washington State Digital Archives
Online marriage record index, 1979-present
at the King County Recorder's Office
Types of Marriage Records
The following is a list of the official steps (and corresponding records) that have been involved in the marriage process in King County over time. (The links below include information about where to find each type of record.)
License Application (formerly License Affidavit) - required before issuance of a marriage license, ensuring that the couple can legally marry.
License - authorizes an official to solemnize the ceremony.
Certificate - officially documents that the ceremony took place.
Return - similar to the certificate, but contains more detailed statistical and personal information. It was also filed with a different county agency.
(Note: In many United States counties, the terms license, certificate and return are often used interchangeably as names for an official document proving that a marriage has occurred. In King County, they represent distinct records.)
- King County marriage records available by year.
- Locating divorce records in King County.
- Locating records for domestic partnerships converted to marriage under Washington State law.
- Online marriage indexes for all counties in Washington State
Certified Copies of Marriage Records
Certified copies of marriage certificates for all years are available from the King County Archives. The fee is $3.00 for each certified copy (+$2.00 processing fee per transaction if paid by credit or debit card). (Non-certified copies of certificates prior to 1991 may be downloaded or printed from the King County marriage records on the Washington State Digital Archives.)
Order by phone or email with credit card, check or money order, or electronic check (1855-present) - $3.00 per copy (+$2.00 processing fee for payment via credit card or $1.00 processing fee for payment by electronic check)
Please call the Archives at (206) 263-2480 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the names of both people at the time of marriage and the year of the marriage, plus your preferred delivery method (pick-up or postal mail). Once we locate the record(s), we will contact you by phone or email with the total. You can pay online by credit card or electronic check or mail us a check or money order. We will send the certificate(s) once we receive payment.
Order in person with cash, credit card, or check or money order (1855-present) - $3.00 per copy (+$2.00 processing fee for payment via credit card or $1.00 processing fee for payment by electronic check)
Visit us at the King County Archives or call in advance, and we can have your copies ready for you the same day. We are located in the First Hill area of Seattle and have free parking available. Additionally, you can order copies in person at the King County Recorder's Office in downtown Seattle or at any of the seven Community Service Centers throughout King County.
Order Online with a credit card (1855-1989 only) - $4.00 per copy
Search for and locate your record on the Washington State Digital Archives. Then, use a credit card to order at $4.00 per certified copy. This service is only available for certificates from 1855-1990.
Order Online with a credit card (1968-four months before present only) - $31.50 per copy
If the marriage occurred between 1968 and 4 months ago, you can use a credit card to order a certified state-level marriage certificate from VitalCheck (external link), via the Washington Center for Health Statistics. They provide the state version of the marriage certificate, which is slightly different than the county version. The cost for ordering from them with a credit card is currently $31.50 per certified copy.
A Brief History of Marriage in King County, Washington
King County was formed on December 22, 1852. The first recorded marriage in the county was solemnized between David Denny and Louisa Boren on January 23, 1853; which also represents the oldest surviving record of King County government. Although this was the first marriage under King County government, the first known marriage to occur in geographical King County was solemnized between John Bradley and Mary Relyea on November 19, 1852 (in what was then part of Thurston County). Although marriage records have been kept by King County, laws and regulations were enacted by the Territory and later the State. Laws and regulations in Washington Territory's earliest years were few and far between. It was not until 1866, that record of licenses or witnesses were required or that the content of marriage certificates was regulated. Marriage laws have been amended many times since then.
Some laws have changed over time or have been repealed due to cultural changes. For example, interracial marriage was illegal in Washington Territory from 1854 until 1868. The legal age for marriage has also changed over time. Originally, females had to be 16 years old and males had to be 21 years old (or 12 and 16 with parental consent). Currently, both parties must be 18 years old (or 17 with parental consent). For a number of years, the following people were barred from marriage: "common drunkards," "habitual criminals," "epileptics," "imbeciles," "feeble-minded persons," "idiots," or "insane" people (unless they were a woman over the age of 45 years).
A major cultural shift took place in Washington State with the establishment of state-registered domestic partnerships in 2007 and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2012.