Frequently Asked Questions      

Some couples don’t think finding an Officiant will be a problem because there are hundreds to choose from. Then once they start to research Officiants and realize the person they hire is going to be the voice of their wedding ceremony, suddenly it does make a difference who that person is. Another consideration is day of the week -- Saturdays and Sundays are the most popular days for weddings and, for most Officiants, those dates are the first to be booked.

Below are Officiant Frank Harlan's answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions he receives from couples who are just starting to plan their wedding day.


Number 1 Question:
How far in advance should we book our Wedding Officiant?
If you want choices, consider meeting with, and making a commitment to an Officiant as soon as you know your wedding date and have booked your venue. The details of your wedding ceremony can always be worked out closer to your wedding.

I have couples who have booked me as far out as a year and a half, especially for Destination Weddings with guests coming from other states and countries.

"After reading through my FAQ's, if you think I'm a good match for you and your partner, click on this quote to send me an email and confirm that your wedding date is available."

Q: How do we Apply for a Marriage License in Washington State?
CLICK HERE for info on obtaining a Marriage License in Washington.

When the page opens, Click on the county you live in. Out of State couples click on King County. You Do Not have to get your marriage license in the county you plan to wed. Your marriage license can be used anywhere in Washington State.

If you Live Out-of-State and are planning to come to Seattle to get married you may apply for your Marriage License through the mail and use it upon arrival.
for Marriage License Division of the King County

Downtown Seattle: 500 Fourth Ave., Suite 430 Sea, WA 98104
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30A-4:30P

Andreas and Maitha

"When we speak of equality, of women and men, of Blacks and Whites,
of all the world's people, we are talking about Humanism."
~Gloria Steinem, Humanist~

Q: Who can get married in Washington?
Anyone 18 years of age or older, who are not already legally married, may marry in Washington. Personally, I will not preside over a wedding ceremony for persons under 21 or under duress.

Q: Are couples required to be residents of Washington State to be married in Washington?
: No, you are not required to be a resident of Washington or of the United States to get married in Washington.

Q: How much do you charge to create and perform a Wedding Ceremony?
My fee to prepare, produce, and perform a wedding ceremony in Seattle, and surrounding metropolitan communities, is on par with other experienced full-time professional Wedding Officiants.

Q: How do we book you for our wedding?
Email me, we'll chat briefly on the phone, I will quote you a fee for my services, then if you would like, schedule a time to meet face-to-face or on Skype or Face Time. In all cases, to confirm services on your wedding date, a signed Service Agreement and a deposit is required.

Q: What is the percentage of Wedding Ceremonies you preform for Gay, Lesbian, Bi Transgender and Queer couples?
I have performed nearly 100 weddings for same-sex couples since the legalization of Marriage Equality in Washington. Currently Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Queer couples represent roughly 1 in 5 of all the weddings I presided over. I am honored by all of the LGBTQ+ couples who have allowed me to be a part of their wedding day celebration.

Q: Do you attend the Ceremony Rehearsal?
Yes, for weddings that include a wedding party, rehearsing the wedding ceremony is a must. Spending the time with the members of the wedding party always helps smooth out the details and gives everyone more confidence and a clear picture of how they actually fit into the wedding ceremony program.

NOTE: Rehearsals do not have to take place at the actual location. Keep in mind that during the peak of the wedding season your venue or I may not be avialable for a Friday or Saturday evening rehearsal.

Q: How long does a Wedding Ceremony take?
The average length of a ceremony that I script with a couple can be from 20 to 50 minutes long. Depending on the various elements incorporated into their ceremony. However, a marriage can be legally solemnized in less than 5 minutes, plus the time it takes to fill in the blanks and sign off on your legal documents.

Q: What makes our marriage legal?
In Washington and many other states, any Judge or Ordained Clergy Person (OCP) of a legally recognized church may marry you. It is the obtaining and filing of the certificate of marriage that makes a marriage legal. Your marriage license must be obtained by you; then legal documents completed and filed by the Officiant (or you).

Q: What are Frank Harlan's qualifications to perform legally-binding wedding ceremony?
Originally, I was ordained as a member of the Clergy of the Church of Spiritual Humanism. Since then I have been endorsed as a Humanist Celebrant by The Humanist Society in conjunction with the American Humanist Association. These credentials allow me perform legal functions of the Clergy in all 50 States. Philosophically, I consider myself a Secular Humanist.

Q: What does "Officiant and Celebrant " mean?
Officiant or Celebrant is a secular title used by an Ordained Clergy Person (OCP) who is legally authorized to preside over a wedding ceremony. Persons representing religious organizations may prefer
the title, Pastor or Minister.

Q: Are you available for an Elopement Ceremony?
Yes, an Elopement Wedding to me, is a gathering of up to a dozen people standing together with you to witness your Nuptials. At minimum you will need two witnesses present during the ceremony.

We eloped a couple years ago without telling anyone, now we would like to have a full-on formal wedding ceremony for family and friends, is that something you could do? As well as keep our secret?
Yes, of course. I get this request a few times each year. If this is your situation, you can count on me to create a first-time experience for you and a memoriable wedding for all of your invited guests without ever exposing "your secret

Q: How many witnesses do we need and can they be related to us?
You need two witnesses present for any Marriage Ceremony. It is required that they are 12 years of age or older. Any person can act as a witness; parents, siblings and friends. Even your photographer. The presiding Officiant (me) cannot act as a witness.

Q: Can we write our own vows?
Sure! You can do anything you want! It’s your ceremony! I'll even give you some pointers and my guide to "Creating Your Marriage Vows", anything you need to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing.

Q: Can we include elements from different cultural traditions into our Wedding Ceremony?
Of course! Anything you would like to add makes for an even more personalized ceremony. I can assist you in defining where and how your creative ideas can be incorporated.

Q: Will you incorporate religious readings and verse into our wedding ceremony?

Q: Can we include my friends and family members in our ceremony?
Yes, the majority of the ceremony must be performed by me as your Officiant but your friends can have minor roles throughout the wedding ceremony. I will show you all of your options when we have our initial consultation.

Monica and Linda (US Coast Guard)

Brian and Kathryn seal it with a kiss

Kris and Nikki (US Navy)

Rob and Susan's Handfasting

Jonathon and Domenica

I am a Humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead.
~Kurt Vonnegut~

Q: Is it okay to tip you?
I never turn down a contribution to my "Date Night Fund". I don’t know what other Officiants do, but any tips I receive I use to treat my "better half", Molly, to a night out on the town.

Q: What Venues in and around Seattle have you performed weddings?
As a full-time Wedding Officiant I have choreographed and presided over hundreds of wedding ceremonies hosted at dozens of popular Seattle area locations including, but not limited to Herban Feast SODO, Georgetown Ballroom, The Corson Building, The Ruins, Salish Lodge, Museum of Flight, Alexis Hotel, Monte Cristo Ballroom, Seattle Tennis Club, Ray's Boat House, Seattle Space Needle, Daybreak Star, Willow's Lodge, Sander's Estate, Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Urban Light Studios, Golden Garden's Bath House, Monte Villa Farmhouse, Palace Ballroom, Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo's Rose Garden, Within SODO, Point Defiance Pagoda in Tacoma, Mt. Baker, Point Roberts, Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands, Doe Bay Retreat on Orcas Island, The Canal in Ballard, Stemson-Green Mansion on Capitol Hill, FM Fine Art Gallery, Kitsap Memorial Statre Park, The Arctic Club, Cast Iron Studios, UW Center for Urban Horticulture, Clise Mansion at Marymoor Park and the Skansonia on Lake Union.

Smaller gatherings have taken place at a variety of intimate settings and public locations that have included the Sky Bridge at the Pike Place Market, Seattle Arboretum, While riding The Great Wheel, Volunteer Park Conservatory, Center for Wooden Boats, Sole Repair Shop, Tower Club, Ballard Locks, Edgewater Hotel, Discovery Park, The Parson’s Rose Garden, Gas Works Park, West Seattle’s Water Taxi Dock, Carillon Point, Alki Beach as well as on the beaches of Lake Washington, Golden Gardens and Bainbridge Island. Some of my favorite wedding ceremonies have taken place on condo rooftops, living rooms and in the backyards of neighborhood homes.

Q: Do you perform weddings outside of Seattle?
Yes. Outside of Seattle and at destination wedding locations throughout the United States.

However, the primary area for my services is within a 75-mile radius of Seattle in the surrounding metropolitan communities of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties.

Destinations in Washington like San Juan Islands, Point Roberts, Levenworth, Mt. Baker and Cle Elum may required over night lodging and per dium.

Q: What kind of locations will you perform your Officiant services?
I will perform your wedding at any location of your choice indoors or out; reception halls, museums, restaurants, on a beach, a waterfront cruise or at a public park, hiking trails or your back yard.

Often in the cooler months, many smaller ceremonies take place in living rooms, hotel suites and private dining rooms. The venue, season, or weather conditions do not effect my ability to perform a wedding ceremony. To me, the environment is just another element of your wedding experience.

Q: What happens if it’s raining and our ceremony is outdoors?
Risk management is a very important consideration and you should ensure you have a wet weather alternative for your ceremony. A gazebo, covered area or hall is usually a good place if your ceremony is in a park or garden. Request guests be prepared for the worst if the possibility exists and note in the invitation “Rain or Shine”.

Q: After we are married, what is the process for Changing our Name?
A: All marriage license documents are signed with one's current legal name, never the intended new name. There is no legal requirement for name change after getting married; it is a right a couple may choose to exercise.So, the easiest way to answer this question is to suggest that you CLICK HERE for a more detailed answer.

Q: Are you available to perform weddings in other states or countries.
Because of my endorsement with The Humanist Society as a Humanist Celebrant. I can perform weddings in all of the United States. In other countries, I can perform your "Formal Wedding Ceremony" for family and friends, but it would not be legally-binding in your country.

Justin and Mona's Persian Wedding.

Randi and Nejowa exchange marriage vows.

Michele and Kristin, 13 years and 3 children.

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectively on sympathy, education and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."
~Albert Einstein, Humanist~

Q: What is the difference between a Non-Religious and a Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony?
Although structured somewhat like a traditional wedding ceremony,
a Non-Religious or Secular, wedding ceremony celebrates the love between the couple without invoking any religious content or subject matter. A Non-religious ceremony may include cultural symbolism and rituals in it's content. However, the primary focus and narrative is on the couple's commitment and fidelity to each other, and their shared optimism for their future together.

A Non-Denominational wedding ceremony is religion-based but not necessarily focused on a single religion’s belief system. It usually includes elements of various religious practices; readings religious text and prayer. Meaning that, the content and symbolism incorporated into the ceremony reflects a general belief in a higher power. As a Humanist Celebrant, Frank Harlan does not perform wedding ceremonies with religious content.

<><><>FAQ's for Other Countries<><><>

Q: We are a couple who are from Canada and plan to host our wedding in Washington. Can you perform our wedding ceremony and would it be recognized as a legal marriage in Canada?
The answers is Yes and No. I can create and perform your "Formal" wedding ceremony with you for all of your guests, however it would not be legal marriage in Canada. The Canadian couples I have worked with go to a Marriage Commissioner and get a simple civil ceremony (before or after their wedding with me) to make everything legal for the Canadian Government. Many Canadian couples opt to go this route because they want their destination wedding day celebration to take place in Washington State at a place that has personal meaning to them (Seattle, Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Pt. Roberts, San Juan Islands, Snoqualmie Falls, etc.). The date of this wedding ceremony will be their anniversary in the future.

CLICK HERE to find a Marriage Commissioner in BC.

Q: We are from Europe and, in addition to a Certificate of Marriage, our government requires an Apostille from your Secretary of State as proof that we were legally married in Washington. What is the process for obtaining an Apostille?
You don't have to make a special trip to Olympia,WA. you can actually get it taken care of through the mail. CLICK HERE for Information on obtaining an Apostille in Washington State.

Erin and Mark did it their way.

"There is something feeble and contemptible about a man
who cannot face life without the help of comfortable Myths."
~Bertrand Russell, Humanist~

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Frequently Asked Questions about Seattle Wedding Officiants