The Complete Guide on How to Get Married at San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall is an iconic landmark and world-renown wedding venue for weddings of all sizes. If you have dreamed of saying “I Do” in a setting that exudes sophistication and features stunning architecture, San Francisco City Hall is the perfect choice for your wedding.
Hi! My name is Lilia, and I am a San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer with over 17 years of experience. I have put together this guide to take you through the steps to make your City Hall wedding a reality.
TYPES OF CITY HALL CEREMONIES
Before diving into the details, it is essential to understand the process of getting married at San Francisco City Hall. City Hall offers both civil and private ceremonies, each with its own set of requirements and procedures.
Most couples have their ceremony in the Rotunda. This is the area at the top of the grand staircase in the center of City Hall under the dome.
If you are planning to have a large group of guests at your ceremony, you must reserve either the Fourth Floor or the Mayor’s Balcony.
PUBLIC CIVIL CEREMONY
STEP ONE: MARRIAGE LICENSE
You must have a marriage license issued in order to get married in California. You may acquire your marriage license from any county in California. Both partners must be present when applying for the marriage license. The license is valid for 90 days. You must have an appointment for your marriage license at walk-ins are not accepted at the San Francisco County Clerk’s Office.
Make an appointment for your marriage license in San Francisco.
Cost: $120 for public marriage license.
STEP TWO: RESERVE YOUR PUBLIC CIVIL CEREMONY
Reserve your civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.
Hours: Public civil ceremonies are available every half hour between 9:00am and 3:30pm, Monday through Friday. City Hall is closed on Saturday, Sundays, and holidays.
Cost: $103 for public marriage ceremony.
CIVIL CEREMONY LOCATION
Most public civil ceremonies take place in the Rotunda at the top of the Grand Staircase located on the second floor of City Hall. There are rare occasions when the Rotunda is not available and the civil ceremony must take place elsewhere inside City Hall.
You cannot choose the location of your public civil ceremony.
GUESTS & WITNESSES
You are allowed to have 6 guests. This includes your photographer, guests, witnesses, and children. Some City Hall marriage commissioners are more flexible and will allow you to have a few more guests present during your civil ceremony.
For a civil ceremony, you must have at least 1 witness. If you are eloping (just the two of you), Lilia is happy to act as your witness!
If are having a public marriage ceremony in the Rotunda, City Hall will provide a marriage commissioners to perform your ceremony.
If you are having a private ceremony on the Fourth Floor or the Mayor’s Balcony, you must hire your own officiant, or have a friend or family member perform your ceremony.
The public civil ceremony lasts about 5 minutes long. The ceremony is well-worded and meaningful! You will exchange rings, say your vows, and have your first kiss as a married couple!
BEST TIME TO GET MARRIED AT CITY HALL
The best time to get married at City Hall is the what is the most convenient time for you and your partner to get married! City Hall is beautiful at all times of the day. If you prefer a time when there are less people in the building, I would recommend that you schedule your ceremony for 9:00am or 9:00am. City Hall opens at 8:00am on weekdays, so that is the perfect time to arrive for pre-ceremony photos and to beat the crowds.
If you are planning a lunch reception after your time at City Hall, I would recommend scheduling your ceremony time for 10:00am or 10:30am.
If you are not a morning person, or you are planning a reception dinner after your time at City Hall, I would recommend scheduling your ceremony later in the afternoon at 3:00pm or 3:30pm.
CITY HALL HOLIDAYS
City Hall is closed on the following dates…
- New Years Day: January 1, 2024
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: January 15, 2024
- President’s Day: February 19, 2024
- Memorial Day: May 27, 2024
- Independence Day: July 4, 2024
- Labor Day: September 2, 2024
- Indigenous Peoples Day / Italian American Heritage Day: October 14, 2024
- Veterans Day: November 11, 2024
- Thanksgiving Day and the Day After: – November 28, 2024 & November 29, 2024
- Christmas Day: December 25, 2024
PRIVATE CEREMONY: 1 HOUR
Do you have a large number of guests joining you for your wedding? Want a private area for your City Hall ceremony? There are two private ceremony locations inside City Hall — the Fourth Floor (North Gallery) and the Mayor’s Balcony.
Contact the Special Events Office to book your private Fourth Floor or Mayor’s Balcony City Hall wedding.
PRIVATE CEREMONY: 2 HOURS
Do you want to get married at San Francisco City Hall on a Saturday? City Hall offers you the opportunity to get married in the Grand Rotunda. The two-hour package is available on Saturdays. Start times are offered at 9:00am and 12:00pm.
You can have up to 200 guests join you.
Contact the Special Events Office to book your private 2-hour Saturday wedding.
DAY OF YOUR WEDDING
CITY HALL ADDRESS
City Hall is located at 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102.
The County Clerk’s Office (Room 168) is located on the First Floor.
Office Hours: Monday – Friday
Processing Hours: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Information Only: 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Phone Number: 1-415-554-4950
The best way to arrive at City Hall is by using private transportation so you do not need to find parking!
Uber, Lyft, taxis, or private car services such as limos are great options.
An underground parking garage is located across the street below City Hall Plaza. Enter at 355 McAllister Street.
WHEN AND WHERE TO ARRIVE AT CITY HALL
Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your ceremony appointment. Give yourself extra time to get through security at the front door.
Public Civil Ceremony: You will check in for your ceremony appointment at the County Clerk’s Office (Room 168) located on the First Floor.
Private 1-Hour Ceremony: You will arrive at either the Fourth Floor (North Gallery) or the Mayor’s Balcony depending upon which area you have booked.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU TO CITY HALL
You will need the following for your civil ceremony appointment:
- official government-issued marriage license issued in the State of California
- valid, authentic, legal government-issued photo identification for each person getting married
- one witness for a public civil ceremony
- no witness is needed for a confidential civil ceremony
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE LILIA AS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Lilia will guide you on your wedding day. She is an expert San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer with over 17 years of experience. She understands the ins and outs of getting married at City Hall. She will take you to the best locations for photos, and help you look your best and feel at ease in photos. She will document your wedding from start to finish.
Just relax and enjoy your special day!
Author: Lilia | Updated on January 2, 2024