The Washington coast is the place to go if you enjoy rugged natural beauty. With most of the western part of the State undeveloped, it offers lots of options for couples who love the outdoors and want a wedding experience connected with nature.
From beaches scattered with fallen old growth trees to rocky formations dotting the seascape, there is no shortage of beauty on the Washington coast – and that makes for an unforgettable experience (and some pretty spectacular photos!). You could even ditch the beach for the serenity of the Hoh Rainforest.
Washington State devotees say the 360-mile route along the coastline is one of the most stunningly beautiful drives in the country, and unlike anything in the world (not a bad idea for an inexpensive honeymoon). And of course there’s the longest natural beach in the US and you’ve got the Olympic Peninsula, which is almost entirely national or state park.
Washington State also boasts some of the most popular and prized locations for getaways, namely Long Beach and Ocean Shores. And its great fishing makes Washington State’s seafood second-to-none.
Most Popular Beach Locations
Washington State offers some fantastic opportunities for something different – so think outside the square and take a look at what’s possible.
Cape Disappointment State Park - If your wedding is small, then why not marry in the North Head Lighthouse? Stunning views, breeze blowing, something unforgettable. Set on a cliff high above the Pacific Ocean, the lighthouse was built in 1898 and is heritage-listed. Six people can fit in the interior, with outdoor space for 20 guests. So if that number is about right, it’s definitely worth investigating. To find out more go to http://www.parks.wa.gov/dayuseplaces/
Columbia River, Fort Columbia State Park - The well-known Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean at the south coast, so what about near the river? You can get married in the heritage-listed turn-of-the-century theater at Fort Columbia. Located on the bank of the Columbia River, the all-wood building would create a stunning and very unique wedding experience. For bookings go to http://www.parks.wa.gov/dayuseplaces/
Kalaloch, Olympic National Park - Perfect for a romantic wedding nestled in the wilderness, Kalaloch is part of the world heritage listed Olympic National Park. With windswept beaches and a marine sanctuary covering 3,300 square miles, Kalaloch also offers beautiful accommodation for those wishing to explore this majestic area of beach, rainforest and more.
Long Beach Peninsula - Long Beach Peninsula, voted one of America’s favourite places by ForbesTraveler.com, ison the south coast, between Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It offers a long expanse of coastline, a mild climate, a great sunset, and a cozy seaside feel. The townson this peninsula include Illwaco, Seaview, Ocean Park, Nahcotta, Oysterville and Long Beach, and any one of them would make a good backdrop to your wedding. If Long Beach is your pick though, you need to book well in advance.
Lummi Island, Rosario Strait - Lummi Island is one of the San Juan Islands in the Rosario Strait near Bellingham. The home of sustainable fisheries, historic inns, organic farms and excellent restaurants, it is also a place where artists gather. Not to mention the trails through the wood and the tranquil beaches. The island is accessible via ferry from Bellingham, which makes the scenic, 6-minute crossing once an hour until midnight – what a fantastic way to get to a wedding! For a coastal setting without the sand, try The Willows Inn.
Westport Winery - A lovely romantic escape, why not marry at the Westport Winery by the sea. One of the best wineries in the region, it offers a relaxed setting and an indulgent atmosphere.
Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc). How to get there. - The best way to get to the Washington State coast is to fly to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From there you can hire a car and head north or south.
Entry Requirements; passports, visa, etc. - If you are from Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand you do not require a visa to enter the US. You only need a valid passport and proof of ongoing or return travel as long as your stay does not exceed 90 days. Citizens of other countries will require a visa. Note that the US government administers a strict entry regime. If in doubt, you should contact your nearest US embassy or consulate about your specific circumstances.
Languages Spoken / official language - The official language is English.
Currency - The official currency is the US dollar.
Tipping - In the US, most waiters and bartenders are paid below minimum wage, as they’re expected to make up the rest in tips. So if you’re in the US, you really should tip. A good rule of thumb is to tip 15 percent of the food bill to the waiter, and if the alcohol consumption has been substantial, split that part of the tip between the waiter and the bartender (if there is one). Always remember to pay the tip in cash directly to the person who has provided you with the service. Of course, if you think the service was terrible then you shouldn’t tip. For large groups, check your bill first as sometimes the tip is added automatically.
Taxes - In the US sales tax is applied to retail goods at the point of sale. There are also airport taxes, however generally these are paid along with the purchase of your airline ticket.
Electricity - The electrical systems in most residential and commercial sites in the US use 120V and 60Hz. The electrical plug in use is known as the Type A electrical plug, which has two flat parallel prongs.
Other (immunizations, health issues) - All travellers going overseas should be up-to-date with their routine vaccinations, which are usually given to babies and children, with some boosters given in adult life. Adults should have had a Tetanus booster in the last 10 years and consider having an Influenza vaccination if they have not had one in the past year.
Marriage Requirements, Licenses & Wedding Information
As state and county marriage license requirements often change, it’s important that you verify all information with a local marriage license office or County Clerk before confirming your wedding or travel plans.
Currently the Following Applies:
- You do not have to be a resident of Washington State to get married there.
- You need to apply for a marriage license from a County Clerk.
- You will need to provide a driver's license or other form of ID that contains a photo and your date of birth, or a birth certificate.
- The license fee will cost about $52. Cash is required.
- There is a 3-day waiting period after submitting your application.
- The license is valid for only 60 days.
- If you are divorced, your divorce needs to be final and filed before applying for the license. Documentation is not required.
- Same-sex marriage is not permitted.
- Applicants between 17 and 18 years of age need to have a parent (legal custodian) present with them to provide their consent. If you are under 17 years old, you will need to have the age requirement waived by a superior court judge of the county in which one of the parties resides. Proof of age is required.
- You need to have two witnesses present at the ceremony.
- Marriage ceremonies can be performed by Clergy (licensed or ordained) and Justices of the Peace who will sign your marriage license. You must then send the license to the County Auditor within 30 days for the marriage to be legally recognized.
Requirements for a Beach Wedding:
- You might need a special permit to hold your wedding on a beach or other public space. You might also need to show proof of liability coverage before issuing a permit. The permits are generally very modest in price, but vary widely so it’s important to check with the local county.
Tourism Office Information
Other Washington State Related Websites
Climate Information & The Best Time to Travel
Although there is some climatic variation along the Washington coast, generally November through February are the wettest months, so unless you love the rain, it’s best to steer clear of those. July and August see daily temperatures up to about 75°F, while June and September get to around 70°F, and precipitation is very low throughout these months.
High & Low Season for Travel
As with most places, the low season is when it’s cold (unless you’re after a ski resort!). So if you want a good day for a wedding in Washington State, it’s best to pay the extra dollars for warmer weather and little rain from June to September. You could also consider weekdays (Monday through Thursday), when you’ll find cheaper airfares and accommodation rates.
Map of Washington State
Local Attractions & Must Do’s
The wilderness is key in Washington State. From hiking along scenic coastal trails or the rugged national parks to whale watching or just collecting shells on the beach, there is just so much to explore.
Long Beach Peninsula is one of the most popular areas on the coast, offering guests excellent accommodation, museums, great restaurants, historic lighthouses, cranberry bogs, oyster farms, horse riding, and of course the beach. And just south of there is Fort Canby State Park, which the locals say has the most breathtaking views in the State.
The Olympic Peninsula offers huge wilderness areas, including the Hoh Rainforest. The entire peninsula is filled with waterways and forest, allowing for many hiking and camping opportunities.
Well-known as the best place to catch salmon and other bottom fish, such as rainbow trout, Washington State is also perfect for fishing. Anywhere is great, but Westport in the south would be a good start, where you’ll find many fishing charter companies.
A time-honored local pastime, you can also go digging for razor clams in the afternoons. If you don’t know how, you can join a clam digging school and no doubt meet some interesting folk along the way!
Top 5 Most Popular Hotels
Following are some of the most luxurious places to stay. You can find more to suit your needs at Staying In Washington.
Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort, Long Beach - This resort offers one, two, and three bedroom condo-type units right next to the ocean with kitchens, fireplaces, decks and spa. A very private experience. http://www.lighthouseresort.net/
Ocean Crest Resort, Moclips - Ocean Crest Resort is the premiere destination on the Washington Coast. With it’s one-of-a-kind setting perched high on a cliff in a forest by the sea, it will more than meet your expectations of a romantic getaway. Throw in some outstanding personalized service, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle - Seattle’s only luxury waterfront hotel, The Edgewater Hotel boasts dramatic views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains and the downtown skyline. Its location on Pier 67 at the city’s dynamic doorstep is second-to-none.
The Willows Inn, Lummi Island - Washington State’s premiere destination for authentic farm-to-table dining, at The Willows Inn you can find out what eating from the landscape is all about, with the addition of some fine wines. Along with elegant accommodation, you can drink in the views, watch whales, or relax with a cocktail by a blazing fire – now that’s romantic!
Vacations by the Sea, Westport - Vacations by the Sea offers luxury one and two bedroom condos, just a two-hour drive from Seattle. A modern vacation resort only moments to the beach, accommodations include spas and fireplaces, as well as stunning views. It’s definitely worth a visit.