No doubt San Francisco City Hall is one of the most beautiful places to get married at. If you are planning a City Hall wedding and need an experienced photographer, we have four packages tailored just for that.
CEREMONY PACKAGE – This package was created for couples who prefer to keep it simple. It includes coverage of your wedding ceremony during which we will capture the couple and the wedding participants. It will also include a total of five formal or posed bridal or group portraits. All high resolution files taken during the actual ceremony as well as the five high resolution formal or posed files will be available for download.
ONE HOUR PACKAGE - In additional to capturing the ceremony as in the Ceremony Package above, we will take many pre- and post-ceremony candid shots including inside the County Clerk’s office. After the ceremony we will spend time taking photos around the building which has many great photo opportunities. All files will be available for download.
TWO HOURS PACKAGE - This is our most popular package and it is very similar to our One Hour Package above. The added hour helps to take a full advantage of all four levels of San Francisco City Hall. It is created for those who appreciate the potential of San Francisco City Hall architecture as a backdrop for your wedding. Alternatively, we can visit another location. All files will be available for download.
FOUR HOURS PACKAGE - This option was created for couples who would like photos of the bridal preparations, the first look, and possibly the reception. This package offers greater flexibility than the One Hour and Two Hour Packages. Extra time can be added to this package. As with the One Hour or Two Hours Packages, all files will be available for download.
• We recommend getting your marriage license on a different day then your actual ceremony day, if possible. Sometimes it might take 20-30 minutes or more before you get a chance to sign it. Especially on Fridays. Additionally, there are some commissioners (judges) that may not be the best choice for everyone. If photography is on your priority list, please contact us prior to making a reservation with City Hall to make sure we are available and to learn more about best timing.
• Unless renting a space from City Hall’s event department, the County Clerk office does not allow ceremony reservations beyond 90 days in advance so those who are planning on popular dates, long weekend dates, etc., we suggest to reserve your ceremony time immediately 90 days prior to your intended date.
• If City Hall already booked for the date you prefer to get married, you can always hire an independent wedding officiant who can perform (and even customize) your Ceremony. Among other benefits, you won’t have to check in with the County Clerk office and officiant will file all the paperwork on your behalf.
• If you are planning to get married at San Francisco City Hall from across the world, all you need is valid passports. City Hall commissioner will perform your ceremony while we can act as your witness.
• Best time for the Ceremony is early morning or around noon as City Hall is less crowded that time of the day: waiting is shorter and it is easier to get panoramic photos without roaming tourists in the background.
• If you are planning a larger number of guests, I’d suggest having your marriage ceremony at the 4th floor. It’s well lit area and usually very quiet. See #4 in picture below. However, City Hall charges extra for that.
• We strongly recommend arriving at City Hall for your ceremony at least 20 minutes in advance. This way, you will be the first in the check-in line for the ceremony.
• And finally if you’re planning a dinner reception afterwards, 3:30PM will be the best time to start.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: We have more then six guests, will this be a problem getting a Rotunda Ceremony? A: Even though City Hall website states six guests is a limit for Rotunda Ceremony, we’ve witnessed many ceremonies with over 30 guests attending inside the Rotunda with no restrictions. The only day we recall we weren’t able to get the Rotunda, was 08/08/08. Still don’t take our word for it and make sure to verify that City Hall doesn’t hold assembly meeting on your date as there may be large group of people gathering around the Rotunda. SF Assembly chamber located right behind the Rotunda. More info.
Q: How good City Hall courthouse provided judges are? A: Well, first of all, they are not being paid for this job. Few judges are REALLY FANTASTIC, but some are not. Most will read a script with a smile. You should avoid the officiants with poor vocal skills and those who will chew through the script in less then 60 seconds (yes, it happens!). Some officiants (very few though) are also painfully slow to process the paperwork which creates long lines and adds to the stress. Some judges won’t say “Now you may kiss the Bride!” – which may cause confusion. Once we see who you will be working with, we will provide you with instructions that will minimize the problems.
Q: How crowded City Hall can be and when is the best time to get married at city hall? A: On Fridays City Hall is usually more crowded then on other weekdays. If you want to enjoy empty City Hall, schedule your Ceremony for 9:30AM on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. City Hall is fairly empty around lunch break as well (except Friday). There is a little trick to get completely empty City Hall on a weekday but it involves some level of creativity.
Q: Will photos be edited? A: Yes. Basic editing included: color correction, exposure, contrast and white balance. Some photos may be converted to BW if requested in advance. We also offer fine art editing a-la-carte.
Q: Can you be our witness? A: Yes. Just ask! We will be honored.
Q: Can we print the images? A: Yes. As long it is for personal (non commercial ) use.
Q: Where should we go for our second location if we decide so? A: San Francisco is a beautiful city with plenty of places to visit.Palace of Fine Arts, Legion of Honor, Crissy Field, Fort Mason, Golden Gate Bridge Overlook, Golden Gate Park, Baker’s Beach,Japanese Tea Gardens are just few of them.
Q: Should we visit 2nd location or stay at City Hall? While there are many couples who’d rather stay in the building as it is really magnificent (spend the entire time in and around City Hall), others prefer to visit another spot. This can be decided upon we meet.
Q: Can we split the coverage and have you photograph our dinner reception in the evening? A: Yes. You can split the time with minimum of four hours of coverage (otherwise there is a $100 split fee). Ex: Three hours during the day to cover the Ceremony and additional location for portraits and one hour to cover the reception.
Q: How and when do we get the photos? A: Our typical turnaround time is four to six weeks. You will have 30 days to download them from secure online gallery. You will be responsible to back them up. We recommend making multiple copies on a DVDs and hard drives. We will not delete the photos but will not be responsible after you have downloaded them.
Q: Do you provide transportation? A: You can drive with us although our car is packed with equipment so it might not be the most comfortable ride. Additionally, We may not be able to bring you back to your final destination.
Q: What if we stuck in traffic? A: In case of heavy traffic we always try to add some extra time but generally coverage time includes driving.
Q: What cameras will you use for live streaming? A: We use smartphones as it eliminates the need of additional equipment and quality is comparable. Q: What is the price for a-la-carte images? All hourly packages include high resolution images. Standard price for high resolution images is $50.
Q: What is your provided images format? A: By default you will be getting full resolution unmarked color corrected jpeg images. You can opt for unedited files instead at no additional charge. You can upgrade the package and have both versions as well.
Unexpected things happen in almost all weddings. However, we’ve had experience with the unexpected things at San Francisco’s City Hall many times over. We’ve got the rhythm of City Hall in us.
Sometimes judges are running behind in their schedule. We’ve learned how to utilize that time efficiently knowing what time frame you have on your special day.
Thousands of hours of shooting and many thousands of images have given me something like an automatic knowing of how and when to photograph each person from their best angles. It doesn’t take extra time to try out different poses or know when to shoot a candid. It’s shooting from the gut.
We try to keep talking to a minimum. Of course, we’re going to talk and have a pleasant time, but we are going to focus more on shooting. Talking is lost forever, but photographs last forever.
Although there are many places we’ve never seen, venues we know nothing about, we know every nook and cranny of San Francisco’s City Hall. No time is wasted wandering around to check out a venue we’ve never seen. We know this building inside and out. We can draw a map of it in our sleep. We know how to quickly get from one place to another.
There are times of the day when tourists crowd the building. We know when they come, how they behave, and how not to lose time when a tourist wants to have a photo with the bride. We know how to elegantly handle the situation.
For the family posed photos, we’ve learned a lot about how families behave during a wedding. We know how to get them posed in the right location, quickly, and how to arrange everyone for great shots. There’s no reason that shooting the family portraits should take 40 minutes.
For your locations outside of City Hall, we know the best and quickest routes around the city. This can be a real time saver. We love this city and have explored every bit of it just for our pleasure, and our interest in finding interesting photo locations.
All of the possibilities of losing or wasting time, we’ve solved. After years of experience covering super huge Indian weddings with 800 guests, we’ve mastered covering San Francisco City Hall Weddings. It doesn’t mean we are going to rush you on your wedding day. It’s just a quiet knowledge and efficiency that we bring to the day.
Planning 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 You Do First?
You’ll need to make two 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 13/13/13 will be very popular (if existed) and there will be a rush to reserve those dates.
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 $100. The fee for the marriage ceremony in the Rotunda or in a private ceremony room is an additional $77. 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.
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. we 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. 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 Departmentat (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 theOffice 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! We have done this in the past, and welcome the opportunity to do so again. We are 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! 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. 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. 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.
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.