This Sunday is the first day that same-sex couples can legally tie the knot in Washington, and even though all 140 slots are filled for the ceremonies being performed at City Hall in Seattle, you can still be a part of the festivities and show your support.
From the City of Seattle, here are some FAQs about this Sunday's events:
Can I still come if I'm not getting married?
To come inside City Hall, you'll have to be an invited member of a wedding party. However, the community will be celebrating this historic day on City Hall Plaza, on 4th Avenue, where you can cheer to congratulate each couple as they exit the building. Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Please join us on 4th Avenue at any point during the ceremonies to help make this an extra special moment.
How do I get a marriage license?
Washington State has a three-day mandatory waiting period after you receive your marriage license. In order to get married at Seattle City Hall on December 9th, you must obtain a marriage license on Dec. 6th, the first day they are legally available. Marriage licenses are issued by county auditors.
For more on requirements to be eligible for a marriage license in Washington State (age requirements, residency, etc.) and to download the required forms in advance, check out this FAQ from King County: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/marriage/faq.aspx
Below is information from King County on how to obtain your marriage license:
The Recorder's Office in the King County Administration Building, 500 Fourth Ave. in downtown Seattle, will be open for extended hours.
Thursday, December 6: 12:01 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, December 7: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 8: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Administration Building will be the only location in King County where couples can obtain a marriage license on these three days.
Licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
Couples can begin lining up on the Administration Building North Plaza (off James Street) two hours before the office opens each day. An official queuing area will be set up on the Plaza.
For individuals with mobility issues, an accessible entrance is located on Fourth Avenue. These individuals can enter the building from Fourth and use the elevator to access the North Plaza queuing area.
All couples who are in the official queuing area two hours before closing time will be served.
All couples applying for a marriage license, regardless of gender, will need to wait in line on these three days.
The application process takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
To help reduce delays, couples are strongly encouraged to download and fill out an application ahead of time, and bring it with them to apply.
Both applicants need to be present and have a photo ID to apply, along with the $64 fee (cash or local check, no credit or debit cards).
Once we have our license, can we just show up at City Hall on the 9th?
In order to make this work well for as many as possible, we asked people to RSVP in advance, noting that space was limited. We reached our limit on November 29th and are no longer accepting RSVPs. If we have cancellations or no-shows, we may be able to serve a few people who walk in without an RSVP but we can't make any guarantees, so it might be wise to make other plans.
If you'd like to wait on standby, feel free to come down to City Hall between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and join the celebration. Just be sure to let our staff know when you arrive that you'd like to get married so they can place you on the standby list. We'll try to serve everyone on the standby list, but our first priority will be those who registered in advance, so we can't make any promises.
What should I do when I arrive at City Hall?
Come to the 5th Avenue entrance of City Hall, between Cherry St. and James St., at the check-in time you were assigned via email after registering on line. We will have volunteers waiting there to check you in. Please arrive with your entire party. You will not be able to check in until your whole party is present.
We'll be letting people into City Hall only a few groups at a time to ensure that everyone's ceremony is a special moment in an appropriate atmosphere We will bring you inside early enough to primp a bit in our restrooms and get settled before your ceremony.
How long will I have to wait outside? What if it's raining?
You will have to wait outside for at least a little while, hopefully not more than a few minutes if you arrive on time. The 5th Ave. entrance to Seattle City Hall has an ample covered area.
What time does this all start?
The first weddings will be performed at 10 a.m. If you're getting married, please arrive at the check-in time you were assigned via email. If you're coming to celebrate on our 4th Avenue plaza with the community, arrive whenever you like between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
What if I'm late and I miss my check-in time?
Please don't be late! We may be trying to marry a lot of people who have waited for this day a very long time. The goal is to make the day and each ceremony special. If you arrive late, we may have to place you on standby. We will do our best to accommodate everyone on standby, but we can't make any promises.
How do I get there? Where can I park?
The City of Seattle parking garage across the street on 6th Ave. and James St., SeaPark, will be open especially for this event, though regular parking rates will be in effect. City Hall is right next to the Pioneer Square Station of Link light rail and Metro buses, and there will be taxis available outside City Hall to whisk you away after your ceremony if that's what is most convenient for you.
What can I expect to see when I arrive at City Hall on Dec. 9th?
We are working with local artist Jennifer Zeyl (http://www.jenniferzeyl.com) and Celeste Cooning (http://www.celestecooning.com) to create temporary art installations to provide a beautiful location for each couple's big moment. These installations will be tasteful, dignified and appropriate to the solemnity and joy of the moment. This is a big day that many have waited years or even decades to enjoy.
After your ceremony, there will be non-alcoholic drinks and snacks available, and an area to take photos. Seattle City Hall is one of several locations around the city hosting ceremonies. We hope you'll join us at the Paramount Theatre beginning at 6 p.m. for Love Wins -- A Wedding Reception For All, a free reception with a celebratory champagne toast, entertainment and desserts.
What will the ceremony be like? Is there a lot of paperwork?
After some time to prepare in our waiting area, the couple will join the judge for a private moment where you can discuss your vows and who you'll want your official witnesses to be (two witnesses over age 18 must sign your marriage certificate). Then we'll bring the rest of your party to join you, and the judge will conduct the ceremony based on your conversation. Afterward the judge, couple and witnesses will sign the marriage certificate. We'll make copies of the official document and the judge will file the paperwork for you (for details, visit the King County website: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/marriage/Weddingofficiantduties.aspx). Then you and your guests can take some time to celebrate and take photos.
How long will all this take?
Expect to be at City Hall for at least an hour after your check-in time. You will likely wait outside for 15 minutes, then inside for 15 minutes, and the ceremony itself should take at least 15 minutes. These are just estimates, so plan accordingly.
How do we exit City Hall?
You will exit down our grand staircase, likely to great fanfare from the waiting crowd. You can exit straight to your next event, or join the community celebration on City Hall Plaza on 4th Avenue.
Do I need to bring my own witnesses, photographers, cake, etc.?
You do not need to bring witnesses, though friends and family are more than welcome. We will have volunteers on hand to serve as witnesses and help out with last-minute wardrobe emergencies. There will be professional photographers volunteering to capture images of this historic day, but if you want to be sure to get the images you want, it might be a good idea to bring someone you trust to photograph your ceremony.
There will be cake, snacks and (non-alcoholic) drinks available, but you are welcome to bring your own celebratory cake and (non-alcoholic) drinks, as well. (Within reason, please – a lot of people are celebrating today, so please don't bring your own caterer to City Hall.)
What documents do I need to bring?
Please bring the original copy of your marriage license and legal identification such as a driver's license or passport for each partner.
How much does it cost to get married at Seattle City Hall on Dec. 9th?
Nothing! City Hall will be open to anyone wishing to marry there on this day.
Can opposite-sex couples also get married at City Hall on Dec. 9th?
Of course! Any loving couples with a valid marriage license can sign up. Please remember that this is a day that many have been awaiting for a long time.
Can I bring children?
Please! This day is all about families.