San Francisco City Hall is an incredibly beautiful place to host your wedding ceremony. It’s convenient, inexpensive, and available year-round. You won’t need to spend as much time planning a City Hall wedding as you would a traditional wedding, but there are still a few things that need to be done ahead of time. I have photographed weddings at City Hall for years and decided it would be helpful to provide engaged couples with an easy-to-follow guide to getting married in this fantastic location. Follow these steps and you won’t go wrong!
1. Make reservations. You will have to make 2 reservations. The first is to reserve a time to obtain your marriage license at City Hall. While you’re there, you can also reserve your wedding date. It is highly recommended that you obtain your license before the day of the actual ceremony. We have photographed some weddings where the happy couple tried to do it all in one day. We almost missed the ceremony in at least 1 of these cases and it always adds an element of stress that is not necessary. You can reserve the date of your ceremony 90 days in advance. The County Clerk’s office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. M. At 3:30 p. M. Monday through Friday and is located on the first floor.
2. Choose your location. There are several excellent places to get married within the City Hall. The Rotunda is located at the top of the grand staircase and is the most common place for couples to celebrate their ceremony. At the time of writing, the rates were $ 73 for this location or a private room. The Fourth Floor Balcony and Mayor’s Balcony are some of our favorite spots, but you have to pay more and reserve them if you want to make sure you secure them. The judges will often drive you to these locations if you ask, but only if they have time. If it’s a crowded day, it probably won’t happen, so you’ll have to pay the additional fee. Currently the Mayor’s Balcony costs $ 1,000 and you can invite additional guests and they will even provide seating. However, I have photographed weddings at these locations dozens of times and the couple did not pay an extra penny. It’s certainly a risk, so if you have a large number of guests, pay the money!
3. Hire a professional wedding photographer. Yes, this is step 3! Why? Well, because if you are going to get married in this beautiful place, you NEED to take some great photos. If you think you’re going to achieve this with Uncle Jim, who is “really cool with a camera,” think again! Any type of wedding photography is difficult, but the city hall can be a challenge with its changing light and difficult angles. It is highly recommended that you hire someone who is experienced in wedding photography at City Hall. There are quite a few good ones, just google or yelp. Try to find a photographer who specializes in weddings and who has performed at least 3 weddings at City Hall.
4. Gather your guest list. This is the hard part. The San Francisco City Council only allows 6 guests for a standard wedding. To have more, you have to pay. Is this enforced? No. But should you show up with 20 people? No! The room is limited and if you bring so many people, it will disturb others who have their ceremony almost at the same time as yours. Keep it under 10 people and you will be safe. Ask your guests to try to stay away from other couples to take photos of each other. It’s the most polite thing to do! If you want to bring a large crowd, please coordinate with the clerk’s office and pay the additional fee. You’ll be happy you did.
5. What to do on your big day. Most importantly … Bring your ID and marriage license! You will also need a witness. If you don’t have anyone, your photographer can be your witness. The state only requires one. Registration for the ceremony is 10 minutes before the actual time. You really should plan to arrive at City Hall at least 30 minutes before this time to have a moment to settle in and find potential ceremony venues. When you register, be sure to ask your judge if you can choose your location. Depending on the crowds that day, you may be allowed to choose your venue. Many times what is available will dictate, but don’t worry, every location is fantastic. If you didn’t pick a Friday or other special date, chances are you can go wherever you want. Just be sure to ask.
6. You are married! Whats Next? If you hired a professional photographer, they will most likely take you on a tour of the building to photograph it in some of the best locations. Have fun with this and enjoy the beauty of San Francisco City Hall.