How to get married at San Francisco City Hall

I took the most frequently asked questions by my clients over the last 3 years and created this guide for my future couples to make the planning of their big day easier!*

   TIPS   

   1. If your plans allow you to book the first or the last ceremony of the day, I always suggest doing that. City Hall is a beautiful building and a lot of people come here to see its beauty so it gets crowded in the middle of the day. Also, if you want to take pictures outside, the light is better early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The best days are Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  City Hall is a public building and sometimes they might have events that will block half of the building including the rotunda. It happens rarely but it's another thing to keep in mind when choosing the day and time for your wedding. 

   2. If you’re from a different state, you can get marriage licenses at your local County Clerk's Office and get married in San Francisco. Ask your office if they allow that. 

   3. If you two have a busy schedule, you can get your marriage license and get married on the same day. I think it's a good idea for people that don't live in the Bay Area. 

Civil marriage ceremony

 

   - $200 (every half hour between 9 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday). You need to make two appointments:

- Marriage License Appointment:

   Appointments may be made within 90 days in advance. Reservations are available Monday-Friday 8:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Current Fee $110.00. 

You need to have with you: legal photo identification of your country, complete public or confidential marriage application form. California residency and US citizenship are not requirements for marriage in California.

- Civil Ceremony Appointment:

   Appointments may be made up to 90 days in advance. Ceremony reservations are available every half hour starting from 9:00 a.m. ending with the last at 3:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Current Fee $90.00. You need to have with you: legal photo identification of your country, marriage license, 1-2 witnesses. If it's just the two of you, I would be honoured to be your witness! No witness is required if presenting a confidential marriage license.

I suggest booking your appointments as soon as possible so you can pick the time and date that suits you the best. The license appointment must be before the ceremony appointment. 

You may schedule and pay for an appointment through the online reservation system or in-person in Room 168. 

Here is the link where you can do everything online. You have to create an account here :

https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/ped1m7c/

CEREMONY

   All the ceremonies are usually held in the rotunda on the second floor (elevator is available). Each appointment usually takes 15-30 minutes on average (some days though, very rarely you might finish in 5 minutes or wait for more than 40 minutes). For both appointments, you'll have to get in line in Room 168 where they will give you a number like at the DMV.  You have to wait in a hallway for your number to be called on a screen. Once they call your number, you'll have to go back to Room 168 where you, your spouse and your witness(es) will meet an officiant. He/she will give you further instructions and sign some papers with you. Your officiant will tell you where to have your rings during the ceremony. Ceremonies are very short 5-7 minutes so I recommend savouring every second of this moment! Your officiant will ask you to hold each other’s hands and repeat some vows after them. You can find the text that they use on Google. In the end, you will exchange rings and kiss. That's all and now you're a married couple! Super easy! :) You'll get your real marriage certificate in 10 days in the mail or you can pick it up yourself. 

  On very slow days, you might be able to choose the place of your ceremony but on busy days or whenever they have big events, they might move your ceremony to the 4th floor, Mayor's Balcony or a private room. Although, it’s always up to your officiant.

Timeline sample

 I write timelines for every wedding. Depending on the time of the day, the number of guests and your plans, the timeline might look different. There's nothing to take pictures of during the license appointment. For example, your ceremony appointment time is at  9:00 AM : 

  9:00 - 9:30  - ceremony (Ceremony doesn't start on time, you'll have to sign some papers first as I mentioned above. You have to arrive 5 minutes earlier). I"ll meet you next to Room 168 and I'll help you with the process. Your ceremony will start around 9:15-9:25 AM.

   9:30 - 9:45   - friends and family photos on the 4th floor. I help everyone to pose.

   9:45 - 11:00 - photoshoot with the couple inside and outside of City Hall.

   You can add extra time if you want to go somewhere else after your wedding. It could be your reception or any scenic background(s) you wish to add. For example the Palace of Fine Arts or Baker Beach. I'll help you to find the perfect place! If you're booking 1 hour with me, the timeline will look exactly the same but we'll have less time for group photos and couple's portraits. 

1-hour wedding

   $1,000 (only weekdays) : their package includes private use of either the Mayor’s Balcony or a Fourth Floor Gallery for up to one-hour Monday through Friday, with the earliest ceremony beginning at 9:00 am and the latest beginning at 3:00 pm. You'll have to hire your own officiant. The rental cost includes an hour of access for up to 100 guests. Chairs and additional equipment are available. Each individual chair is $3.50. Food and beverage services aren't possible. Acoustic music may be played with advance approval, and musicians must be selected from their qualified list. Same City Hall tips which I mentioned above work for this type of ceremony. 

You can reserve the space and find more information here:

http://sfcityhallevents.org/one-hour-weddings

Hire your own officiant or get your family member deputized for a day 

 

   $120 - $500 - you can find your own officiant and get married anywhere at City Hall. I'll help you to find the perfect spot with no people around. Same City Hall Tips that I mentioned above apply to this option. This is a great option because you can customize your ceremony, read vows to each other and pick almost any place you want for your ceremony. Ask your officiant for more details.

2-hour wedding

   $5,000+ - Saturday morning. You can exchange vows on the Grand Staircase surrounded by family and friends. You'll have to bring your own officiant. This package is offered on Saturdays only with the earliest ceremony beginning at 9:00 am and the latest beginning at 12:00 noon. The package accommodates up to 200 guests, including chairs, insurance, and basic building services. Guest counts above 200 may incur additional charges. They also have the option of renting out the whole building for your wedding and a reception after. For more information about it check with the rental office.

More information here:

http://sfcityhallevents.org/weddings

Parking:  Civic Center Garage 

355 McAllister St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Pets:  You can bring your pet with you if it's an emotional support pet. Although I have also had my clients bringing their dogs inside with no problem even though they weren't emotional support pets. 

Overview of the building and the area

   I know a lot of my couples are coming from other states and countries and they can't see the building before the day of the wedding. City Hall building has 4 floors where we can take photos plus two little parks in front of and behind the building. 

Iconic Front Doors and parks with the view of the building
(Powell Street and Van Ness Street)
First Floor
Second Floor
Third Floor
Fourth Floor

   *All the information was taken from https://sfgov.org/countyclerk/marriage on 03/12/2020 and subject to change by SF City Hall at any given moment.