Are you in the middle of planning your San Francisco City Hall wedding? Congratulations! City Hall weddings are our specialty; we’ve photographed hundreds of weddings at City Hall since 2010. Every wedding needs an officiant, and that part of the planning process can be a little confusing. Whether you’re planning a civil ceremony or a private ceremony, here we answer all your questions about a San Francisco City Hall wedding officiant.
Civil Ceremony Officiant
Civil ceremonies, also known as public ceremonies or courthouse weddings, are held Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm every half hour. Up to two weddings are scheduled within each half hour slot, so that’s four weddings every hour! (This number has fluctuated due to COVID restrictions.) We’ve written an extensive guide to getting married at San Francisco City Hall which includes everything you need to know about the entire process.
When you arrive at City Hall at your scheduled time (tip: get there early as you cannot be late), you first check in to Room 168 on the first floor. Bring your marriage license (another tip: get this on a prior day). At this time, you will check in with the county clerk. They will make sure that your marriage license and IDs are in order and will briefly review the ceremony process with you.
You will receive a number and patiently wait to be directed to the Rotunda. There, you will meet your San Francisco City Hall wedding officiant. Technically, this is a Deputy Marriage Commissioner. If you’ve been doing some Googling and were getting confused by the term, we promise that this is your officiant.
The Deputy Marriage Commissioner is a volunteer judge. Yes, a judge who is willingly volunteering their time to perform marriage ceremonies! These judges love what they do, which is palpable when you first meet them. Since they usually have two weddings every half hour, they ensure that everything moves along swiftly.
After you and the other couples have checked in, the Deputy Marriage Commissioner will perform each ceremony in turn on the Rotunda.
Private Ceremony Officiant
There are two different types of private San Francisco City Hall weddings. All private ceremonies permit you and your guests exclusive use of a defined area inside City Hall.
The most popular private ceremony option is the one-hour wedding, held during the same hours as public civil ceremonies: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Weddings take place on either the Mayor’s Balcony or one of the Fourth Floor Galleries.
City Hall offers evening and two-hour weddings, which aren’t as popular as one-hour weddings. They are a wonderful option for couples who want something closer to a big traditional wedding. Evening weddings can be any evening except Sundays, while two-hour weddings are only on Saturdays.
No matter what private wedding package you choose, City Hall does not provide officiants. As with most weddings at other venues, you are required to provide an officiant.
If you’d like a close friend or family member to perform the ceremony, they can apply to be a Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a day. Detailed instructions are on the Office of the County Clerk’s website.
If you’d like an experienced officiant to perform your ceremony, there are plenty to choose from in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our current recommendations are on our preferred vendors page.
We know that wedding planning can be an exciting yet stressful time, but getting an officiant should be a painless process! We love that a San Francisco City Hall wedding officiant is provided to make civil ceremonies even simpler.