Debbie Elisa is a mini adventure elopement and wedding photographer based in VIrginia, traveling worldwide for lovers who want a little something different.


Self-officiating in Washington D.C.

Debbie Perez


April 6, 2023

An unforgettable and remarkable experience awaits couples who choose to tie the knot in Washington, D.C. With its iconic landmarks, stunning architecture, and rich history, the city provides a unique backdrop for weddings and elopements. And for couples looking to make their day even more special and personal, self-officiating their ceremony has become an increasingly popular option.

Self-officiating in Washington D.C. allows couples to take charge of their wedding day by creating a personalized ceremony that reflects their love story. It’s an opportunity for them to make every moment count by designing a ceremony uniquely tailored to their personalities and values. And with so many online resources, planning your wedding in D.C is easier than ever.

One of the most significant benefits of self-officiating is the ability to save money on external officiant costs. Instead of hiring someone else to perform your ceremony, you can do it yourself (or ask a friend or family member to officiate for you). This not only adds a personal touch but also allows you greater control over the elements of your ceremony.

Moreover, self-officiating offers ample opportunities for creativity when capturing those once-in-a-lifetime moments. Debbie Elise Photography specializes in documentary-style photos that capture candid emotions and genuine moments throughout your wedding day. So, while you focus on the details of your ceremony, we will provide gorgeous memories that will last a lifetime.

Whether you’re planning an intimate elopement or a grand wedding celebration with all your loved ones present, there are several steps that must be taken to make your special day official in the eyes of the law, and there are several legal requirements that must be fulfilled before tying the knot. I have here all the information needed to self-officiate in Washington D.C.

1. Apply for a marriage license in Washington D.C.

The first step is to obtain a marriage license from the District of Columbia Superior Court’s Marriage Bureau. Couples must provide at least one valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate, and pay a fee of $45. The marriage license is valid for only 60 days from the date it was issued, so couples must plan to have their ceremony within that time frame.

There is an online application option, but couples must still appear in person at the Marriage Bureau to complete the process and receive their official marriage license.

Take the completed application form to:

Moultrie Courthouse

500 Indiana Avenue NW, Room 4485

Washington, D.C., 20001

Telephone: 202-879-4840

The courthouse is accessible by Metro, and the closest station is Judiciary Square station on the Red Line.

2. Apply to become an officiant

Then, you must apply with the District of Columbia Superior Court to become an officiant. This application will require you to provide your name, address, and contact information.

You’ll also need to pay a fee ($35 to become a temporary officiant or $45 to become a permanent officiant.) A temporary officiant permit is valid for 90 days and can be used for a single ceremony, while a permanent permit lasts one year and allows the officiant to perform multiple ceremonies.

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive an official certificate of appointment which must be present at the ceremony.

3. Self Officiating your wedding!

Once the formalities are out of the way, couples can host their dream ceremony in any of D.C.’s stunning locations – from its picturesque parks to unique rooftop venues to historic landmarks and grand ballrooms.

Don’t forget that for your marriage to be legally binding, you must satisfy some specific stipulations. These include previously becoming a temporary or permanent wedding officiant through the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau, having two witnesses present, and signing the marriage license.

Submitting your marriage license is easy too. After the ceremony, simply sign and return it to the Marriage Bureau within 10 days. Congratulations – you’re now officially married!

Final thoughts

Self-officiating in Washington D.C. is a relatively straightforward process. The benefits of undertaking this task yourself are endless, from having greater control over the elements of your ceremony to being able to save money and time. With the help of Debbie Elise Photography, you can also capture stunning photos that will forever remind you of the joy of this day. With its plethora of stunning locations, Washington, D.C., is the ideal place to exchange vows and start your happily ever after.

Congratulations on taking this exciting step! Please get in touch with us to discuss how we can make your special day even more memorable. We look forward to hearing from you!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *