There is just something so utterly romantic about a courthouse wedding. From focusing on the love between two people to all the fun options for wedding day attire, what’s not to love? If you’re planning a wedding in Washington DC at a courthouse, then get ready to take some serious notes because today, we’re dishing out wedding planning advice for small celebrations!

Photo Credit: Amber Wilkie from Simple Washington DC Courthouse Wedding

Obtaining a Marriage License

In the District of Columbia, marriage licenses are issued through the DC Marriage Bureau and the DC Code requires a three-day waiting period from the date an application is received before the Marriage Bureau may issue a license. The DC Superior Court issues marriage licenses to couples who intend to be married within the District of Columbia, regardless of their current residency.

If you’re planning a destination wedding in Washington DC (or you can’t make it to the courthouse), couples may elect to have a proxy apply on their behalf—but that person must have copies of your IDs, application and fees.

Application: Download right here.
Fees: $35 for the application, $10 for the license
Expiration: None.

Read more about the marriage application rules in the DC-area right here.

Requesting a Civil Ceremony

During the marriage license application process, you are able to fill out a civil wedding request form (Download form right here.) The civil wedding calendar is general booked 2-3 week in advance. The marriage ceremony room holds around 10 to 15 guests. A court official will officiate your wedding ceremony, and you can receive a certified copy of your marriage license the same day.

Certificate Fee: $10.00
Marriage Ceremony Fee: None.

Getting a Wedding Officiant

Who Can Perform the Ceremony:

  • an authorized person of any religious denomination or society ($35 fee + application)
  • a civil celebrant ($35 fee + application)
  • a temporary officiant ($25 fee + application)
  • a judge (or retired judge of any court of record)
  • the Clerk of the Court of such deputy clerks of the Courts as may, in writing be designated by the Clerk and approved by the Chief Judge of the Court
  • a member of the Council
  • the Mayor of the District of Columbia

* “Temporary officiant” means a person authorized by the Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Court”) to solemnize a specific marriage. The person’s authority to solemnize that marriage expires upon the filing of the marriage license.

* “Civil celebrant” means a person of a secular or non-religious organization who performs marriage ceremonies.

The officiant application or the temporary officiant application may be submitted with the application fee in the Marriage Bureau in Room 4555 of the Moultrie Courthouse. For more information on persons authorized to perform ceremonies in Washington DC, be sure to check out DC Code § 46-406.


Will you and yours be getting hitched at the courthouse? Or did you already have your short and sweet ceremony? Share your thoughts and advice with us! And check through the blog for more courthouse wedding inspiration and ideas.

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

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