San Francisco City Hall is a Fabulous Place to Get Married! Here’s How!
A wedding at City Hall is much simpler than planning a big wedding but there are still a few details that will make it a happy day run smoothly.
What Do We Do First?
You’ll need two make a reservations. One to obtain your marriage license and the second reservation is for your ceremony. You can make reservations up to 90 day in advance of your ceremony date. For popular days like holiday weekends, it’s a good idea to reserve as soon as your 90-day window opens. Days like Valentine’s Day and days with interesting numbers like 12/12/12 will be very popular and there will be a rush to reserve those dates.
To Reserve in Person
You can make reservations in person Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. City Hall makes reservations for three weddings at a time, each marriage ceremony time slot is for thirty minutes.
You will pay for your reservation at the time that you reserve it. The reservation can’t be changed after you reserve and pay for it. The date and the time are yours and can’t be changed. Your marriage license is valid for 90 days from the date it is issued.
To get our marriage license, go to Room 168, on the first floor. Information Desk to check-in 10 minutes before your appointment time.
If you plan to obtain your license and be married on the same day, it’s recommended that you make the two appointments an hour apart, for example, license at 10:00 am and ceremony at 11:00 am. Obtaining your license usually takes about 15-30 minutes.
What are the Fees?
The fee for the marriage license is $97.
The fee for the marriage ceremony in the Rotunda or in a private ceremony room is an additional $73. See this page for updated fees.
The fee to hold the ceremony on the Mayor’s Balcony or the Fourth Floor is $1,002 and will give you one hour time slot. See this page for info about reserving Mayors Balcony or 4th Floor.
To Make Reservations Online
If you choose to make your ceremony reservations online, go to Online Civil Ceremony Reservations. Reservations online may only be booked with a Visa or MasterCard. A $5 convenience fee is added.
How Many Guests May We Invite?
For ceremonies in the Rotunda or a private ceremony room, the limit is six guests. I personally have seen more than six guests in the Rotunda. Remember that at busy times of the day, another wedding party may be waiting close to your chosen spot. Unfortunately, City Hall can’t guarantee that you will have access to the Rotunda or any other area within City Hall. I can assure you that I can find a superb spot that will suit you perfectly.
Both the Mayor’s Balcony and the Fourth Floor can hold up to 100 guests. You may want to provide chairs and a table for beverages, so you’ll need to coordinate that with the Office of Special Events.
To reserve for the Mayor’s Balcony or the Fourth Floor contact the City Hall Events Department at (415) 554-6068 or visit them online. Their office hours are 9:00 am-5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
Is There a Best Place in City Hall?
Every bit of City Hall is charming and beautiful, offering its own special sense of place.
The Rotunda is beautiful and, best of all, it’s free. ? Unfortunately it can’t be guaranteed. Since this is a popular spot, other couples waiting to get married may be nearby so there isn’t as much privacy as you may want. There’s a limit of 10 minutes for the ceremony and photos. The ceremony takes about five of the ten minutes.
The 4th Floor and the Mayor’s Balcony are both more private, can accommodate up to 100 guests, and the space is yours for one hour. Remember that the Mayor’s Balcony and the Fourth Floor both require advance reservations through the Office of Special Events, as well as an additional rental fee of approximately $1,002.
Can We Get Married in City Hall on the Weekend?
Yes! For information on holding events in the evening or on a weekend, please contact the Office of Special Events, Room 495, at (415) 554-6079 or online at: www.sfgov.org/cityhallevents.
Where is San Francisco City Hall located? Where can I park?
The front entrance of City Hall is on 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, California 94102, between Grove and McAllister. There is underground parking across the street at Civic Center Plaza, entrance on McAllister St.
Civic Center is the closest BART station, three blocks from City Hall. City Hall is also accessible on Muni lines 42, 71, and the F Line to Market and Van Ness, Civic Center.
City Hall is wheelchair accessible.
Do We Need a Witness?
Yes, if you are obtaining a public marriage license, then you need one witness. Please note that City Hall cannot act as your witness. If you are obtaining a private marriage license, you do not need a witness. [See below for the legal stuff.]
Can My Photographer Act as My Witness?
Yes! I have done this for my clients in the past, and welcome the opportunity to do so again. I am pleased and honored to do it.
What Do We Need to Bring With Us on the Big Day?
You’ll need to bring legal photo identification, cash or check to pay all fees, a valid marriage license, 1 witness, and no more than 6 guests. And remember to bring your rings too!
We’re Married. Now What?
The special package I’ve designed allows plenty of time to take photographs in other parts of City Hall, catching whatever light is best at the time. After that we can go anywhere around the City for more photos. I can suggest several places where we’ll be able to get fantastic shots.
If you like, we can spend the entire two hours of coverage in City Hall without duplicating any shots.
I hope this information has been clear and helpful. My every wish is for a wonderful marriage ceremony and wonderful photos.
The Legal Stuff: Public Marriage and Private Marriage
Public Marriage License: You must be at least 18 years old. Persons under 18 with written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND permission from a California Superior Court Judge may marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process. Contact the County Clerk’s Office in your county for further information regarding these requirements. The marriage license may be obtained from any county in California. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased. You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony. (Your photographer can act as this witness). The license contains a place for two witnesses if you prefer. You may NOT have more than two witnesses sign the official marriage license. Licenses received with more than two witnesses signatures will be returned to the officiant and a duplicate marriage license will need to be purchased. There is no age requirement in California for witnesses, however, they must be old enough to know that they are witnessing a marriage ceremony, AND be able to sign their name on the official marriage license. The marriage license is registered at the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the license was purchased, and is a public record. Anyone may request copies of the marriage license by submitting the required fee to the County Recorder. Only one officiant may sign the marriage certificate as solemnized.
Confidential Marriage License: The participating parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for a confidential marriage license. Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license. The participating parties must be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license, and must sign an affidavit on the license attesting to those facts. The couple MUST be married in the county where the license is issued. No witnesses are required to be at the ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license. The marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the County Clerk’s Office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification together with the required fee to the County Clerk in order to do so. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order to the County Clerk in the county where the license is registered. Copies of confidential marriages are not available from the state office.
Is the Process the Same for Non-Citizens?
Both citizens and non-citizens follow the same process.
You don’t need to be a California resident, or a US citizen, to get married in SF City Hall
You book your marriage license appointment online, a maximum of 90 days in advance of the date you plan to get married. You can book with as little notice as 24 hours, providing there are open slots.
If you are from out of San Francisco, it is recommended to book the license and ceremony on the same date, and one hour apart, for example, license at 2:00 pm, ceremony at 3:00 pm.
In order to check in and be processed, and therefore be married, you will need to present valid authentic legal photo identification card containing photograph, full legal name, date of birth, date of issue, and date of expiration. Examples are: passport, driver’s license, naturalization certificate, resident alien card, military I.D. If the legal picture I.D. card does NOT contain your full legal name, that is, it only has a middle initial rather than your full middle name, you must ALSO present a certified copy of birth certificate or social security card, showing your full legal name.
You will also need a witness, which the photographer can serve as if you will not have any guests with you.
In order to receive a CERTIFIED copy of your marriage license a 2-4 week wait is normal. This means, if you will not be in San Francisco for 2 to 4 weeks after the ceremony, you will need to make arrangements to receive your copy in some other way. Many other countries require a Certified Marriage License in order to recognize unions that happen outside of the country.