How to get married at San Francisco City Hall. A Travelers Guide
Being that is it Valentine’s day, there is no doubt that many many people will be getting engaged today. After the engagement comes the planning and since The SF City Hall is a popular wedding location for people across the world I thought I would write up a post that would make getting married or elopeing there much easier!
San Francisco City Hall is stunning from the outside to every single detail inside. It’s ornate, has charm and gives you the option to have an elopement that is small and casual or a longer wedding where you can rent the mayors balcony or even the entire hall for a few hours on a Saturday. Regardless what you decide to do for your wedding, you can guarantee that your wedding will have personality and you will be surrounded by beautiful architecture and light. Oh the light! From mornings to evenings. Light and airy or a little more dramatic.
Sometimes the steps to get married can be confusing but I’m here to help! How to get married at San Francisco City Hall
First, you will need to get your marriage license. A marriage license is a permit to get married. It is valid for 90 days after applying. Meaning you will need to get another one if you do not have your elopement or wedding within the 90 days of signing. The permit cost $103.00 (cash, money order and/or debit card)
You will need to go to:
San Francisco County Clerk
City Hall, Suite 168
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4678
Phone: (415) 554-4950
You’ll need to call to make your appointment first between the hours of 8am and 4pm Monday -Friday.
You do not need to be a legal resident of California to apply either. So if you are visiting from out of state and want to get married here you are welcome to. Both parties need to be 18 and older and both be present. Don’t forget to have a legal I.D. card with you. Find out more here . To get to the city hall you can get there by BART and get off at Civic Center Bart station. Walk up the staircase to Market street and literately just walk straight, you’ll come to a split in the street, take the slight right on Hayes St. keep walking straight and then make a right on Polk. You won’t miss it. It’s huge. If you are driving There is a parking lot underneath Civic center plaza and you can enter on McAllister Street, between Polk and Larkin. There is a ton of street parking as well.
Once you have your license signed and paid for you will want to reserve your time slot for your wedding. Reservations for your ceremony costs $76 and need to be paid when booked. You can do it online (must have a credit card visa/master card) or in person up to 90 days in advance. If you go in person make sure you are both there and have your I.D.’s as well as a payment form of cash, money order and/or debit. Make sure it’s the date you want because you can’t change it or get a refund. You’ll have to pay again.
Ceremonies are available Monday-Friday at 9:30 a.m through 3:30 p.m. Every half hour. There are three reservation slots available during each time period. A very popular option for a more privet and larger event is renting the North or South 4th floor or the Mayors Balcony for your ceremony. You get a longer allotted time frame and can have up to 100 guests. It cost $1,002.00 and you’ll want to contact the Events Office at City Hall for more info (room 495, 415-554-6086
If you plan to purchase your marriage license on the same day as your ceremony reservation, you must make and pay for a marriage license reservation for the same day at least 30 minutes PRIOR to your ceremony reservation time. For example, if your ceremony reservation is 10:00 a.m., your marriage license reservation should be scheduled no later than 9:30 a.m.
The day of your wedding you will want to go to the information desk at City Hall, Room 168 to check in 10 minutes before your appointment time. (Don’t forget you have to go through the security line. Normally the line moves pretty fast but you should give yourself at least 30 minutes before you need to check in) You can bring up to two witnesses with you. There’s a waiting area outside of the room for your other guests. This where everyone signs the marriage license. =) (You can bring photographers with you as well. I’ve gone in with addition to the two witnesses and haven’t been told to leave yet. =)
Make sure to have your valid marriage license, both of your I.D’s and your witnesses. You need at least one witness. If you would like me (your photographer) to sign as your witness I would be honored to.
During the ceremony, they say the rule is no more than 6 guests and that includes a photographer. Because the hall itself is open to the public, I have seen people have more guests standing around. =) People have never been turned away. Which also means you may have standby-ers and tourists watching as you marry =) unless you have a more privet wedding in the mayor’s balcony. People may peek in but normally they will stay back and you won’t even notice them.
The ceremonies are from 9am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday and held mostly in the Rotunda on the second floor above the large staircase and are about 10 minutes long. Where you will be having your ceremony is really up to the judge that will be marrying you and how many other weddings are happening. If it’s slow and not many people are getting married before or after you, it’s always worth it to ask and see if you can get married on the 4th floor or the mayor’s balcony. You get to meet your judge when you sign your marriage license.
Fridays are the busiest days to get married at the city hall. While Mondays-Wednesdays in the early part of the day is the slowest at the hall. If it’s possible to get married on one of those days I always suggest it. This gives you and me better photo opportunities around the hall. Often times when it is very busy It’s much harder to get photos without people in the background. And tourists don’t think about the weddings that will be going on before they plan to come visit the hall. So they come in the dreaded neon green shirt and stand around oblivious to everything around them. Also, there is more waiting for areas while another photographer is using the space. For more information on ceremonies at city hall, you can read that here
You might want to spend a separate day just walking around the city hall to familiarize yourself with it. Figure out where certain places are in the building and the bathrooms =) The bathrooms are on the first floor on both sides in large room’s. If possible apply for your wedding license before the day you are going to get married. It can get really hot in the city hall. It’s a very old building and not insulated well. Don’t be shy to wear a fun shorter wedding dress other than a long heavy one.
If you plan on doing something after your wedding for your guests, there is an abundance of great food and restaurants around the city! Don’t forget to make your reservations before. You can also rent trolleys to give your guests a tour of the city! It’s very fun! You will get ton’s of love from all of the city natives and if your guests are from out of town they will love all the sightseeing that comes along with it! Don’t forget to have me document whatever celebration you have planned after! You will want the memories!
I hope you have found this article helpful and valuable in your planning. Please let me know if there is anything you have found helpful to add as well! Helping one another in this thing called life is by far one of the most important things we can do for each other!
Email me to find out more details and booking options for your day!