How To Get Married At San Francisco City Hall
So you’re considering a wedding at San Francisco City Hall? Ok, I’ll try to play it cool…EXCEPT THAT IT’S MY ABSOLUTE FAVE!
Really, you’ve made a good choice of a celebration that’s both low key and absolutely stunning.
The palace vibes of San Francisco City Hall are unlike any other.
And as a photographer, oh the light, the sweet sweet light is simply M A G I C.
And the officiants I’ve experienced are incredible at their jobs not only because they are professional and efficient, or rather, officiant hehe, but also have given my couples sweet well wishes and wisdom after the short ceremony as if they’ve been friends for ages.
I’ve written up some tips to make your experience at San Francisco City Hall a delight.
Get a license appointment & a civil ceremony appointment:
If you can, pick up your license before the ceremony so you can have less waiting around. You can book an appointment up to 90 days in advance. They are Monday – Friday 10AM to 3:30PM.
Check in at the office 10 minutes before your ceremony. They will assign you a number and then you wait in the hallway for 30 minutes give or take. When they call your number you will meet the judge who will be marrying you and you sign your license. The judge will instruct where to meet you. You can ask at this time where you would like to be married. The default is the rotunda but for good light, I’d advise requesting the fourth floor, north balcony.
Secret sauce: The rules say to bring up to 6 people including your photographer but I have seen many couples bring more people than this.
These are the basics for civil ceremonies. You can also do a private ceremony where you can have up to 100 guests. And you can even rent out City Hall as a venue on the weekend http://sfcityhallevents.org/weddings (share the mega palace vibes with your buds!)
Heads up you will go thru security. So be ready to take off jackets, purses, bouquet etc and put them in a basket/hand them to the security guard as you walk thru the metal detector. They are some of the nicest people who are quite used to seeing people in wedding attire and escorted by someone with a camera and a lot of gear
Expect people. I’d say the beginning of the week is a little more relaxed but heading toward the weekend, there are plenty more Civil Ceremonies and tourists in general. It’s a wonderful little dance we do to take turns taking photos in different areas but it mostly turns out quite well!
Do: get a nice dress + a bouquet + a boutonniere.
The team at Ampersand are my favorite florists!
List out the special people who will be your witnesses that day and create a list such as:
Bride + Groom with Grace (Bride’s Mom) and Harry (Bride’s Dad)
Bride + Groom with Chuck (Groom’s Best Friend)
Bride + Groom with whole bride’s side of the family
And continue listing in every combination you need
And also for your couple’s photos you can list out favorite locations such as
3rd-floor windows and railing
Grand staircase sitting and aerial view
4th Floor balcony (p.s. how stunning is Cindy in this San Francisco-made Atelier Des Modistes custom gown!)
Outside City Hall
If you want to go to restaurants close by the darling neighborhood of Hayes Valley is just a few blocks away and is easily Lyft-able and walkable. Little Gem and Absynthe have a wonderful vibe to it. 20th Century cafe would also be a wonderful photo op!
Again friends, if you’re considering getting married at San Francisco City Hall I’m giving you a pat on the back and telling you that you is so so smart. It’s a fantasy location that has a ton of heart. I hope these tips were helpful to you as you prepare. Again, feel free to send me a “hello” if you have any questions or if you’d like me to come along as your storyteller! We’ll take pretty photos together. Pinky promise.