Guide: How to Plan a San Francisco City Hall Wedding
San Francisco’s City Hall is an iconic place for San Francisco weddings and elopements. It is a gorgeous wedding venue steeped in San Francisco Bay Area history. Did you know that Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe had their wedding here in 1954?! If it’s time to create your own beautiful wedding memories in City Hall, read on for how to plan your own San Francisco City Hall Wedding.
Bonus! It’s close to many beautiful places and amazing restaurants in San Francisco. You could create an entire city adventure around your wedding day. San Francisco’s City Hall is the perfect place to elope in California.
If eloping in San Francisco’s City Hall sounds like your perfect wedding day, you’re in the right place. In this post I’ll share with you everything you need to know about planning a San Francisco City Hall wedding.
Types of San Francisco City Hall Elopement Ceremonies
There are two types of ceremonies available for your City Hall elopement. The first, and most common for an elopement, is a civil ceremony. The second is a private ceremony which offers more of a traditional wedding ceremony feel. Both are beautiful in their own way.
Civil Ceremony Elopements
Civil ceremonies are available Monday through Friday every half hour from 9:00am - 3:30 pm. The best time to book is 9:00 am as the building will get more and more crowded throughout the day. San Francisco City Hall will begin to empty out as it gets closer to closing time, so you can also have a more private ceremony by booking the last slot at 3:30. They don’t close until 5:00, so if you choose a 3:30 ceremony, you can also stay afterwards to take additional portraits there.
Keep in mind that this option only works for summer weddings; the sun sets too early in winter months to have good lighting for photos in the early evening.
Once you’ve picked a date, you can reserve your appointment online and pay the $98 fee. You can reserve your ceremony time slot up to 90 days in advance. If your preferred date is unavailable, you can always check back later in case of cancellations, but it’s a good idea to have a few different dates in mind.
Civil ceremonies are truly a small wedding as they only allow for up to 6 guests, including your photographer (which you’ll definitely want to have)! For larger groups, consider a private ceremony.
The ceremony location is determined by the commissioner. They’re usually held in the private ceremony room or the Rotunda. The Rotunda is one of the best elopement locations in City Hall and one of our favorite spots for photos. Unfortunately, as this is a public building, specific requests can not be accommodated for this location as it may not be available on your wedding day.
Private Ceremony Weddings and Elopements
A private ceremony at San Francisco City Hall is perfect for those who want more privacy, more time to enjoy their celebration, and a larger guest list. You also get a choice of location: you'll be able to pick the fourth floor gallery or the Mayor’s Balcony for the elopement.
There are perks and benefits of having private ceremonies. You are able to personalize your ceremony with live bands, decor, and have your very own personal officiant.
San Francisco City Hall events offer one hour, two hour, and evening weddings.
The one hour wedding package costs $1,000 and allows up to 100 guests in the fourth floor gallery or the Mayor’s Balcony. They do not include any equipment rentals, a marriage license, or the officiant.
Have you seen San Francisco City Hall wedding photos of the couple at the top of the Grand Staircase of the Rotunda? If that’s your vision for your City Hall wedding, it can be a reality with their two hour weddings. A bit on the pricier side, these two hour weddings cost $5,000 and accommodate up to 200 guests. This is only available on Saturdays.
If you want to turn your elopement into a more traditional wedding at City Hall, they do offer evening weddings. You could say your vows on the Grand Staircase under the Rotunda, host your cocktail reception in the North Light Court, and spend the evening celebrating your love in this beautiful building surrounded by your family and friends. The cost of evening weddings depends upon the guest count and other event needs.
One Hour Weddings
Two Hour Weddings
What to Bring to your SF City Hall Wedding
You will need to have your valid marriage license at the time of the ceremony.
If you’ve already purchased a marriage license, make sure you double check the expiration date as it’s only valid for 90 days.
To get your marriage license on the same day as your elopement, you must make an appointment for at least 30 minutes before your ceremony. There is an additional cost for your marriage license of $116.
Both members of the couple must present a valid government-issued ID.
For a public marriage ceremony, one witness must be present. If you’re having a confidential marriage ceremony, no witness is required.
5 Ways to Make Your San Francisco City Hall Elopement Extra Special
Eloping in San Francisco’s City Hall already creates an intimate wedding experience. Incorporating details that reflect who you are as a couple can make your elopement feel even more special.
- Plan a first look: A fun way to start your special day is with a first look at a meaningful predetermined location. I love to watch couples’ faces light up when they first see each other.
- Write your own vows: I love it when couples use personal vows. You may not have time at the civil ceremony, since it’s pretty quick. Instead, save them for your first look, or for an intimate reception with loved ones.
- Use a Deputy Marriage Commissioner: Sure, you can have the volunteer commissioner perform your ceremony. Or you could have someone special in your lives perform it as the deputy marriage commissioner. It takes about 30 minutes and $162 for this person to take the oath to perform your ceremony.
- Include a local adventure: One of the best things about eloping in San Francisco is that there are so many fun things to do in the city. You can take your small group out for a nice dinner at a top San Francisco restaurant, like Del Popolo. Or head to the Golden Gate Bridge or Sutro Baths with your elopement photographer for sunset elopement photos.
- Hire a professional photographer: San Francisco City Hall is a gorgeous place for an elopement, and it has some great photo locations. Plus your San Francisco City Hall elopement photographer can accompany you to other locations around the city for adventurous photographs. Contact me to discuss my San Francisco city hall elopement package.
Whichever ceremony you choose, you will not regret choosing San Francisco City Hall. The building is unique, beautiful, iconic, and there truly is no other place like it for an intimate wedding..
Meet the photographer
That unique spark that only you two can create together. I believe that everyone has a unique love story that deserves to be told. It should be as organic as your love. My job is to tell your unique love story through my lens.
Capturing a love story is like reading a good book. You never want it to end. From the little glimpses, to the tender touches that are often forgotten years from now. It’s all about the connection between you and your #1 person.