February 29, 2024

Saying ‘I Do’ at San Francisco City Hall: Your Ultimate Guide

Posted in: Wedding/Elopement Tips

Congratulations! You’ve got a ring on your finger, a spring in your step, and perhaps a few butterflies doing the cha-cha in your stomach because you’re getting married! And not just anywhere, but at the grand dame of wedding venues, San Francisco City Hall. With its sweeping staircases, colossal windows, and Beaux-Arts architecture, it’s like someone left a slice of European grandeur on the West Coast. But how do you navigate the nuptials in this landmark? Fear not, lovebirds. Buckle up as we take a laid-back cruise through the ins and outs of tying the knot at this iconic spot, with a sprinkle of humor and a dollop of expertise on top.

San Francisco city hall wedding photographer

Getting Hitched Without a Hitch: The Booking Basics

Alright, you lovebirds gearing up for the matrimonial leap, let’s dive into the exhilarating world of paperwork – because nothing whispers eternal romance quite like filling out forms, right? First up on this matrimonial scavenger hunt is snagging your marriage license. Think of this as your VIP backstage pass to forever-after-land, obtainable from the County Clerk’s office. Here’s a hot tip: treat booking your license appointment like you’re trying to score tickets to the concert of the century – swift fingers and faster internet connections are your best friends here.

Next, it’s decision time. Are you envisioning a swift, just-the-two-of-us civil ceremony, or are you leaning more towards a grand affair with your nearest and dearest witnessing your love saga unfold? If you’re opting for the civil route, you’re looking at a straightforward, intimate “I do.” If a private ceremony is more your speed, get ready to play venue Tetris with City Hall’s booking calendar. Either way, approach this with the patience of a saint and the persistence of a toddler who wants a cookie. Ready, set, plan!

Choose Your Wedding Adventure: Civil Ceremony or Private Affair?

Decisions, decisions, am I right? If your vibe is more “let’s elope but make it official in front of a few peeps,” then the civil ceremony has your name written all over it. It’s the equivalent of an express lane to marital bliss – quick, fuss-free, and oh so sweet. Picture this: you, your sweetheart, and a couple of VIP guests (because let’s be real, you can’t NOT invite mom) sealing the deal in a charmingly brief affair.

Now, for those of you dreaming of a bit more pomp under those grandiose ceilings, opting for a private ceremony lets you crank up the volume on your big day. Imagine saying your vows with the grandeur of City Hall as your backdrop, your loved ones gathered around, and room for that dramatic entrance you’ve been planning in your head. It’s your chance to script your own rom-com finale – complete with the perfect setting, a crowd of adoring fans (aka your family and friends), and all the time you need to soak in those “just married” vibes.

San Francisco City Hall wedding

Three ways to get married at SF City Hall:

San Francisco City Hall offers three unique and customizable options for couples seeking to tie the knot. The first option is the one-hour wedding, which provides a simple and affordable choice for couples seeking flexibility and ample time to celebrate with their loved ones. This package includes the choice of the Mayor’s Balcony or the Fourth Floor Gallery, accommodating up to 100 guests with an additional fee for chair rental.

Link for more info on the ONE-HOUR WEDDING

The second option is the two-hour wedding, providing complete privacy and exclusivity with a full buyout of the City Hall. This package is ideal for weddings with larger guest lists, offering the breathtaking Grand Staircase of the Rotunda as the primary location for the ceremony. The package includes chair rentals and basic building services, accommodating up to 200 guests on Saturdays only.

Link for more info about the TWO-HOUR WEDDING

For those seeking a fully customized wedding experience, the evening wedding package is the perfect choice. With varying rental rates available on the website, couples have the option to privatize certain areas of the City Hall during public hours to ensure the utmost privacy and multiple locations. This package accommodates up to 2,000 guests, except on Tuesday evenings.

Link for more info on EVENING WEDDING

San Francisco City Hall provides a range of wedding packages for couples of all kinds. Whether it be a simple and affordable ceremony, an exclusive buyout, or a fully customized evening event, the City Hall has everything you need to make your special day unforgettable.

Picture-Perfect Moments: Photography Tips and Tricks

Alright, shutterbugs and selfie aficionados, let’s dish about immortalizing your City Hall shenanigans. The grandeur of this place could make your cellphone pics look like they belong in a gallery, but we’re aiming for legendary, not just post-worthy. Teaming up with a pro photographer who can navigate the majestic yet moody lighting of City Hall is like having a secret weapon. They’ll know just where to perch you so the light caresses your faces, rather than casting you into shadowy oblivion.

And hey, a heads-up: while it’s tempting to think Uncle Bob and his fancy camera can handle the job, there’s something to be said for the magic touch of someone who knows their ISO from their elbow. Plus, do you really want to risk the family drama if the photos don’t pan out?

Here’s the scoop – location scouting isn’t just for Hollywood directors. A pre-wedding meetup with your photographer at City Hall can turn a good photo op into a breathtaking one. They’ll have the 411 on those hidden nooks and perfectly lit crannies that’ll make your photos pop. So, let’s capture the laughs, the tears, and that inexplicably perfect candid shot where you both look like a million bucks, shall we?

SF City Hall wedding photographer

A Few Things to Consider While Planning Your San Francisco City Hall Wedding or Elopement

When planning a San Francisco City Hall elopement or wedding, there are a few important factors to consider in order to ensure a successful and memorable day. The first step is to book an appointment with the office to secure your elopement date, and it is important to have a few backup dates in case availability at the hall is limited. Once your date is confirmed, you will need to sign a contract and pay a rental deposit to secure the space.


When it comes to choosing a location for your ceremony, you can’t go wrong with any spot at SF City Hall. The exact location will depend on the rental option you choose, but some of the best spots for ceremonies and portrait photos include the Mayor’s Balcony, 4th Floor Gallery, Grand Staircase, and the area outdoors between the English Sycamore Trees behind City Hall.

Before you can get married at San Francisco City Hall, you must obtain a California marriage license. California offers two types of marriage licenses: public and confidential. Public licenses are the most common and allow you to get married anywhere in the state, but you will need 1-2 witnesses and an officiant to officiate the ceremony. To obtain a license, you can go to any county clerk’s office in California, including the San Francisco County Clerk’s Office for SF City Hall weddings. You will need to submit an application in person or online and present valid proof of ID. Licenses are effective immediately and valid for up to 90 days.

It is important to note that SF City Hall does not provide officiants or manage marriage licenses and certificates. Therefore, it is essential to obtain your license beforehand and arrange for an officiant to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience on your special day.

Overall, planning an SF City Hall elopement or wedding involves a few crucial steps, but with proper preparation and attention to detail, it can be a truly magical and unforgettable occasion.

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SAn Francisco City Hall photographer

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