So you can plan your adventure elopement with confidence.
As you prepare for your wedding day, it’s essential to understand the marriage laws and licenses in the state of Oregon. With an elopement you may have to attend to the more legal aspects yourself (traditional weddings have the convenience of the officiant taking on some of these details). But it’s really not that complicated, just one extra item on your to-do list.
This is the least glamorous part of the planning process, but it’s the most necessary. Making it official is the whole point, right? It can feel daunting and confusing, but no worse than a trip to the DMV…
This guide will hopefully reduce that feeling of overwhelm, so you can move on to the fun part of planning with total confidence that the boring stuff has been dealt with properly.
Oregon Marriage Laws and License FAQs
Here are the answers to most of the questions you might have about the marriage laws in Oregon… and maybe some you didn’t think about!
How do you obtain a marriage license?
You and your partner will need to take a trip to the country clerk’s office. You can apply online or in person, but you both need to show up in person to complete the process. You’ll need your Social Security numbers and photo IDs before the county clerk will issue one.
Requirements vary slightly from county to county, so it’s a good idea to research which county you’ll apply through. Here’s a link to all the county clerks’ offices in Oregon.
How long is the waiting period for a marriage license in Oregon?
There is a three-day waiting period after obtaining a marriage license before it can be used. However, this waiting period can be waived under certain circumstances, such as if one of the parties is in the military and cannot appear in person to obtain the license.
How long is the marriage license valid?
Once obtained, you have 60 days to use the marriage license.
The license is valid anywhere in Oregon. You are not required to have your ceremony in the county where the license was issued. However, the paperwork will need to be returned to the issuing office.
After the ceremony, the person who performed the marriage has to complete the application and license paperwork (sign it, basically). It must then be returned to the same county clerk’s office that originally issued it within 10 days.
How much does it cost?
It varies from county to county, but you can expect to spend around $50-75.
Do I need to take a blood test to get a marriage license in Oregon?
No, Oregon does not require couples to take a blood test to obtain a marriage license.
Can we get married online?
While you cannot get married online, you can apply for a marriage license through any county online. You’ll still need to go to the county clerk’s office together to sign the paperwork. Don’t forget your photo IDs!
Can same-sex couples get married in Oregon?
Yes, same-sex marriage has been legal in Oregon since 2014.
Who can perform a wedding ceremony in Oregon?
In Oregon, judges, county clerks, and ordained ministers/officiants are authorized to perform wedding ceremonies. However, anyone can apply to become ordained and perform a wedding ceremony with the couple’s consent… so Cousin George could do it…
The officiant application process is simple and can be completed online. Some local governments may require tangible proof of ordination, which may incur a small cost (about $50).
Fun Fact: I’m ordained (AMM Minister ID: 1088775) and can easily facilitate the wedding. The only legal requirements to make the marriage official are:
- The Declaration of Intent. This is often covered in the “I do” portion of the ceremony, but can be customized to fit your personal style.
- The Pronouncement by the minister. The “I now pronounce you…” part.
Can we marry ourselves?
No. Self-solemnization is not legal in Oregon. As mentioned above, only judges, county clerks, and ordained ministers/officiants can legally marry two people.
Do we need witnesses?
Yes. Two witnesses need to be present at the Declaration. (The officiant doesn’t qualify.) This requirement can be filled a number of ways. Guests, of course, but a passing hiker or beachcomber will suffice as well. People are usually excited to be part of these celebrations.
Can our dog be a witness?
No. I know your dog is a very good boy (or girl), but sadly furry members of the family are not considered to be legal witnesses of marriage ceremonies in Oregon. But you can still find ways to include your pup in your special day.
Can I get married in Oregon if I am not a resident of the state?
Yes, you can get married in Oregon even if you are not a resident of the state. However, you must obtain a marriage license from an Oregon county clerk’s office and follow all of the state’s requirements for getting married.
Can you get married in Oregon without a ceremony?
You’ll need some sort of proceeding officiated by an ordained party, with your witnesses present. If you’re eloping, and not into the idea of a fancy schmancy wedding, it can be something as simple as an exchange of vows.
You can also opt to do all the legal legwork beforehand. Visit your local courthouse, attend to the legal details, and follow it up with a larger celebration. The larger celebration can be an adventure with just the two of you or a big party with all your friends… whatever suits you.
Dealing with the legal stuff ahead of time takes the pressure off… particularly if you’re planning a destination wedding or elopement. Especially if you’re crossing country lines… foreign policy can be tricky to navigate. You can avoid the hassles involved with embassies and consulates if you get married at home. The focus can then be entirely on a unity ceremony in whatever manner is meaningful to you.
What is the minimum age requirement for getting married in Oregon?
In Oregon, both parties must be at least 18 years old to get married. If one or both parties are 17 years old, they must obtain written consent from their parents or legal guardians. Parties under the age of 17 can only get married with a court order.
Can I change my name after getting married in Oregon?
Yes, you can legally change your name after getting married in Oregon. You can either take your spouse’s last name or hyphenate your last name with your spouse’s. You will need to update your name with the Social Security Administration, the Oregon DMV, the passport office and any other institutions where you hold accounts or identification.
What should I do if I have additional questions or concerns about getting married in Oregon?
Although any county clerk’s office in Oregon can address any concerns you might have, the Oregon State Bar has a webpage relating to marriage laws for quick reference.
OK, here’s an overview:
Who can officiate?
A judge, county clerk or ordained minister/officiant
Two. (Officiant doesn’t count)
18. (17 with parental consent.)
Oregon residency required?
Planning an Elopements on Public Land
So…Yay! You’ve been educated about the process of getting legally hitched in the state of Oregon. BUT that might not quite be the end of the legal stuff. There may be wedding/elopement permits required for the location you select, specifically if it is on public lands.
Roughly 53% of Oregon’s 61 million acres is public land. Largely overseen by the federal government (National Forest or BLM).
For state parks, you may need to obtain a special use permit, depending on which one you choose. At very popular parks, like Smith Rock, you’ll need a permit. Other parks, like Oswald West, no permit is needed for small groups. Here’s the link to Oregon State Parks Special Use Permit Application/Instructions.
Oregon only has one National Park, Crater Lake. But it has several National Monuments. Permitting through the National Parks Service can be a bit more involved or include higher fees. It depends on the time of year and the park. Below are links to each of Oregon’s NPS lands permitting resources.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Oregon Caves National Monument
Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
The National Forest and Bureau of Land Management are also branches of the Federal government that oversee large swaths of land. Depending on where you are, you may need special use permits. High traffic areas and popular hiking trails sometimes have more in depth permitting processes (like Three Sisters Wilderness and Mount Jefferson Wilderness). But generally, there are less rules in most these parts.
Here are some interesting areas run by National Forests:
Three Sisters Wilderness
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Mount Jefferson Wilderness
The Ochoco Mountains/National Forest
Umpqua National Forest
Deschutes National Forest
And here are some beautiful places on BLM land:
The Alvord Desert
The Oregon Badlands
Christmas Valley Sand Dunes
Crack in the Ground
By no means is this a comprehensive list, but it is a good starting point if you’re exploring your options.
Helpful Links and Further Information
I hope this guide has been a helpful resource for you in your planning processes. Whether you read every word or just skimmed it, I hope you got all the info you needed to feel confident moving forward in your wedding or elopement planning.
Here’s some helpful links you might find useful if any questions arise.
Oregon State Bar Marriage Laws
List of all of Oregon’s County Clerks Offices
OR State Park Special Use Permits
If there’s anything you’re still feeling confused about, remember you can always get in touch with me to talk all things elopements, planning, and adventuring!