How to Get Married in San Francisco City Hall – Your Ultimate 2019 Guide

San Francisco City Hall Wedding? Why?

San Francisco City Hall simply has it all. It is beautiful, conveniently located in the City center and it won’t break your budget. Most importantly, it offers amazing photo opportunities! You’ll fall in love with the intricacy of its white-washed marble and gilded bronze. And you’ll admire the majestic interiors drenched in natural light. Not to mention that getting married in City Hall is effortless!

From quick and easy daytime ceremonies to glam evening weddings, rest assured that planning will be a breeze. However, planning your big day requires insiders’ knowledge on the venue itself. Having photographed many weddings in this gorgeous building, we can help you figure out how to get married in San Francisco City Hall.

Everyone wants their wedding to go smoothly and without a glitch! You want to pick the right time for the ceremony, find the best vendors, get gorgeous images… the list goes on. Of course, you should make a whole bunch of decisions. And you also need a flawless wedding day timeline. Our best wedding planning secret? Make sure to have answers to all the key questions! We give you 10 most important queries (with detailed answers below):

Getting Married in City Hall – All You Need to Know

  • How do you plan a courthouse wedding?
  • What do you need to get married at the courthouse?
  • Do I need an appointment to get married at the courthouse?
  • Which location inside City Hall to choose?
  • How much does it cost to get married at City Hall?
  • How long does it take to get married at City Hall?
  • How to find an experienced SF City Hall wedding photographer?
  • How many guests can attend a City Hall ceremony?
  • What should I wear to a courthouse wedding?
  • When to hold your City Hall ceremony?

A quick step by step guide

  • Step 1: Book your marriage ceremony

    Book your Ceremony in San Francisco City Hall online by following this link. Make sure you carefully consider your date as City Hall can be very crowded. Office of the County Clerk page.

  • Step 2: Schedule your Marriage license appointment

    You must have a valid California marriage license at the time of your Marriage Ceremony. You can make a reservation online on the Office of the County Clerk portal. Link.

  • You can reserve a private space at a number of locations inside the San Francisco City Hall. This option is recommended if you have a larger group of guests. For additional information, please visit SF City Hall events page.

  • Step 4: Pick a hotel in the nearby area

    Book a suite at a nearby hotel to avoid long travel before the ceremony in the wedding dress. Here some of the recommended hotels within a few minutes ride.

  • Step 5: Find a restaurant that caters to weekday wedding parties

    Reserve a restaurant that can provide a private room for 10-50 guests.

  • Step 6: Book hair and make-up artist, photographer, florist and other vendors

    We recommend reserving all the vendors in advance.

  • Step 7: Site visit (optional)

    If possible, we recommend visiting the City Hall in advance to get familiar with the layout as well with outside parking arrangements. This will save time o the wedding day.

How do You Plan a Courthouse Wedding?

Planning a courthouse wedding is much less complex than planning a more traditional event. The venue itself has a number of ceremony options + rules and regulations. All you need to do is choose a date, time, location and maybe select a pre-made package. The timeline? A simple wedding ceremony is followed by a photo shoot and a reception at a nearby restaurant venue. Sounds easy enough? The trick is to make a schedule that works. Everything should flow. For example, you don’t want guests to wait too long between the ceremony and reception. And you need both locations to be in the same area. You should also check parking, transport and accommodation options for your guests.

What do You Need to Get Married at the Courthouse

Firstly, the bride and groom must be able to speak and understand English. Alternatively, couples might require a ceremony performed in American Sign Language or some other language. If this is the case, you must notify the County Clerk’s Office. You can also contact San Francisco City Hall before making an online appointment.

What documents should you bring

The bride and groom will be asked to present a valid marriage license. To obtain it, click on this link and make an online reservation. A marriage license is valid for 90 days from the issuance date. Hence you need to get one no earlier than 90 days before the wedding. Secondly, both parties need to have valid government-issued photo identifications in English. And finally, you will need at least one witness not provided by the office.

You will need an appointment for your Ceremony and marriage license

Although getting married in City Hall is a pretty straightforward process, you do need an appointment. No walk-ins are accepted, even for the short 10-minute ceremonies. Actually, you will have to make two different appointments. The first one is for the marriage license and the second one is for the ceremony itself. Our insider tip? Get your marriage license at least one day before the wedding. Many couples choose to schedule both appointments on the same day. However, this can produce stress and spoil the whole wedding experience. You may end up wondering: “what if something goes wrong”! Getting that burden off your chest before the wedding will help you feel more relaxed and enjoy the day.

San Francisco City Hall locations

Each location at San Francisco City Hall has its perks. And all of them provide outstanding photo opportunities! Some areas of the building can be exclusively yours if you book a private ceremony. But even if you choose a public one, you can still make amazing photos. From the grand entrance and the Rotunda to the impressive spaces on the upper floors, there is a lot to discover!

  • 1st Floor. The busiest part of the venue offering stunning photo opportunities at both entrances. The grand staircase also provides the perfect photo backdrop!
  • The Rotunda. The most iconic part of the building where most civil ceremonies are being held. It looks exceptional around Christmas time!
  • Mayor’s Balcony. Located below the big clock and featuring a signature gold railing, this location is ideal for private weddings. Plus it offers fantastic views of the entire building!
  • 3rd Floor. The most peaceful floor in the building has some of the best photoshoot locations. A photo in front of massive Art Deco windows is a must!
  • 4th Floor. – North and South Galleries. These two venues will instantly wow you with their awe-inspiring features. The two intricately adorned urns are the ideal centerpiece. But the key perks are an abundance of natural light and mind-blowing views!

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married at City Hall?

Getting married in City Hall be cost-effective. It is the perfect option for a couple who wants a wedding on a budget. Nevertheless, it is also possible to host an extravagant event. Your first expense is the marriage license which costs $107. The civil ceremony is the cheapest option and it costs $83. You can also host a private event. A one-hour package costs $1,000, while a two-hour package costs $5,000. Evening weddings can cost even more, depending on the number of guests, rental equipment and other requirements.

How to get married in San Francisco City Hall on a very low budget? The cheapest way is to book a civil ceremony. If you want a truly superb photo album, we recommend booking a private event. This gives you exclusive access to one of the locations for one hour or longer. You can find more information on all of these options at the City Hall Events website. Or contact them directly at 415 554 6086.

How Long Does it Take to Get Married at City Hall?

A public City Hall ceremony lasts for about 5 minutes. There are three timeslots each 30 minutes and you can book one between 9 am and 3:30 pm. You should arrive and check in at least 10 minutes prior to your appointment. However, we recommend getting there at least 30 minutes earlier. Before the actual ceremony, you will be invited to the office. You will have a couple of minutes to meet the judge and let your witness sign the license. After the ceremony, you can go and make wedding photos away from the ceremony venue.

You can also book a private one-hour ceremony at the Mayor’s Balcony. Alternatively, you can wed at the 4th Floor Galleries. If you book a two-hour ceremony, you will be able to get married at the Grand Staircase. Additionally, there is also a possibility to buy a weekend or evening wedding package. In this case, you can host your ceremony and reception at San Francisco City Hall. Locations include North Light Court, South Light Court, Grand Staircase and the Rotunda.

How Many Guests can Attend a City Hall Ceremony?

Keep in mind that to avoid crowds, you are allowed to invite only 6 people. This includes your witness, so why not ask your photographer to sign the license! If you book a one-hour wedding, you can invite up to 100 people. A two-hour package Saturday allows you to invite up to 200 guests. And if you choose a weekend wedding, the number of guests will vary depending on the location you choose. You can also bring your own officiant and have a weekday evening wedding.

What Should I Wear to a Courthouse Wedding?