This is your complete guide to San Francisco City Hall.
Need to figure out how to get married at one of the most iconic city halls in the world? This is everything you need to know. It is the most up-to-date, concise resource you will find anywhere. Trust us – we’ve photographed hundreds of SF City Hall weddings over the past decade.
Updated January 2023
These numbered areas include the highlights and summaries in this guide. We highly recommend you read through this entire page to understand more about how SF City Hall weddings work.
You can either schedule your marriage license reservation before your wedding day, or schedule it on the same day as the ceremony. We recommend getting the license ahead of time to make the process of checking in for your ceremony much smoother. You do have to schedule your ceremony within 90 days of receiving your license as it does expire!
If you make the reservation on the same day as the ceremony, make sure that it is at least one hour before the ceremony start time.
Currently, the fee is $113 for a marriage license at San Francisco City Hall. This fee increases every year, and you will see the current rate while making your appointment. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8:15 am to 3:30 pm.
When it’s time for your appointment, head to Room 168 on the first floor of City Hall – and don’t forget your IDs!
Cost: $98 How:Make reservation on the County Clerk website Time: Every half hour, Monday through Friday between 9:00 am – 3:30 pm Check-In: Arrive 15 minutes before your ceremony reservation, at the Information Desk in Room 168 Ceremony Location: Rotunda Guests: Six permitted, including witness Bring: Witness, marriage license, valid IDs for both of you
There are two types of ceremonies at San Francisco City Hall: civil ceremonies and private ceremonies. Civil/public ceremonies are by far the most popular. So if you’re eyeing a date more than 90 days beforehand, set a reminder for yourself exactly 90 days before that date so you can snag your ideal time slot.
Public civil ceremonies are on the second floor of the beautiful Rotunda, at the top of the grand staircase. Since public civil ceremonies are only six minutes long, SF City Hall schedules up to three two (decreased to two due to pandemic) couples in every 30 minute slot. It is very likely that you will be with another couple during your reserved time. Honestly, the abundance of love and excitement that surrounds everyone leads to a genuinely fun experience. Plus, officiants are experts at keeping things moving without rushing.
Only six guests are permitted to attend civil ceremonies. This is due to space and the number of couples who book at the same time. It’s common to see excited couples and their guests waiting their turn along the edges of the Rotunda’s second floor, along with tourists roaming through the building.
Currently, the cost for a civil ceremony at SF City Hall is $98. Public civil ceremony appointments are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Reserve your appointment up to 90 days in advance. You must present your wedding license at the time of the ceremony. If you are getting your license the same day as the ceremony, schedule your license appointment at least an hour before your ceremony appointment.
When you arrive the day of your wedding ceremony, you must check in to the Information Desk in Room 168 in San Francisco City Hall. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment. We recommend getting there much earlier. Traffic and parking often cause delays, so give yourselves lots of time. You couldn’t ask for a better location in which to spend extra time!
For $1,000, you get private use of one of three locations: The Mayor’s Balcony, Fourth Floor North Gallery, or Fourth Floor South Gallery. No matter the location you choose, your reservation is for one hour. Both of the Fourth Floor Galleries are similar in appearance to one another but are distinct from the Mayor’s Balcony. All locations are beautiful, so it is personal preference when choosing for your ceremony. The Fourth Floor is a more popular choice as it accommodates more guests, but if you are able to tour SF City Hall beforehand, you can make a more personalized choice.
Since we have photographed one-hour weddings for several years, we have many professional opinions about them! We prefer the North Gallery – read more about why and what else to expect during your wedding – Ultimate Guide to 4th Floor Weddings.
Private one-hour wedding ceremonies are held Monday through Friday with the earliest ceremony beginning at 9 am and the latest beginning at 3 pm. Up to 100 guests are permitted to attend.
If you’d like to use any equipment such as tables and chairs, those are available from City Hall for an extra rental fee. The Mayor’s Balcony seats up to 40 guests and the 4th Floor Galleries seat up to 60. Remaining guests stand for the ceremony.
You must provide an officiant as San Francisco City Hall does not offer one for private ceremonies.
Cost: $5,000 How: Call (415) 554-6079 Location: Rotunda (Grand Staircase) When: Saturdays with start time between 9 am – noon Guests: Up to 200
For $5,000, you get SF City Hall all to yourselves. This package accommodates up to 200 guests and includes insurance and equipment rental. If you have more than 200 guests, there is an additional charge of $7 per guest ($100 minimum, which equates to 15 extra guests) that includes additional equipment and insurance.
Cost: Varies depending on areas used and times
How: Call (415) 554-6079
Location: North Light Court, South Light Court, Grand Staircase and the Rotunda
When: For the North Light Court, set-up begins at 2 pm and break-down must conclude by 2 am; times vary for other locations.
Guests: Depends on location. (Up to 3000 guests permitted if using both Lights Courts and the Rotunda.)
There are a lot of options if you want a large private wedding with exclusive use of areas of City Hall. You can either reserve a space during public hours (Monday through Friday, 8 am – 8 pm), book the North Light Court for the evening, or reserve both the South and North Light Courts along with the Rotunda for an entire Saturday afternoon and evening. The cost for an evening or weekend wedding varies depending on where the wedding is hosted, the number of guests, and the requested time period.
There is more flexibility with a private weekend or evening wedding, as outside vendors are permitted. You even have the option of lighting up the outside of City Hall itself for an extra fee.
Remember that San Francisco City Hall is a bustling tourist destination. So it can get more crowded during high tourism seasons, such as during the holidays and in the summer. Fridays tend to be the busiest day of the week, with Mondays the slowest. But don’t rely on this, as events often pop up any day of the week. Having a skilled photographer to guide you is essential in easing any wedding day stress. This is our key specialty with SF City Hall weddings. If you’d like to talk through the best day and time for your particular situation, please get in touch.
HOW MANY WITNESSES DO I NEED?
Per California state law, one witness needs to be present during the ceremony. You may bring a second witness if you wish. Your witness(es) must accompany you when you check in to Room 168 before your ceremony time. (Remember to arrive at least 15 minutes early, though we suggest giving yourselves more time.) If it’s just going to be the two of you, your photographer would be honored to act as your witness. We do this all the time!
DOES CITY HALL PROVIDE AN OFFICIANT?
Yes, San Francisco City Hall assigns an officiant to perform your civil ceremony. You will meet them when it’s time for your ceremony to begin. They are judges who serve on a volunteer basis for City Hall weddings. For private ceremonies, you will need to provide your own officiant. If you’d prefer to have a friend or family member officiate for you, they can apply to be a Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a Day.
HOW MANY GUESTS CAN I BRING?
Civil ceremonies permit up to six guests. One-hour (private) weddings permit up to 100 guests.
Two-hour (private) weddings permit up to 200 guests with an extra fee for each guest.
Evening and Weekend wedding guest count are dependent upon the area used at City Hall.
HOW MUCH DOES A CITY HALL WEDDING COST?
Summary of costs for SF City Hall weddings:
Cost for wedding license = $116
Cost for civil ceremony (public) = $98
Cost for one-hour wedding package (private) = $1,000
Cost for two-hour wedding package (private) = $5,000
Cost for evening or weekend weddings (private) = varies
Parking on the streets around San Francisco City Hall can be challenging, even in the middle of the week. It’s a popular place! It is much easier to park in the Civic Center Parking Garage across the street, but be aware that it can be hard to spot.
The parking garage is underground and has a single entrance on McAllister St, adjacent to Civic Center Plaza, near the corner of McAllister and Polk. It’s easy to miss – just look for the single Parking sign above the entrance.
Lyft or Uber are popular choices. However, if you’re looking for mass transit, take BART into San Francisco. You can get on any line that goes toward SF – they all will get you to the correct station. Get off at the Civic Center station. From there it’s a short walk just three blocks west to City Hall.
Fifteen minutes before your scheduled ceremony start time, check in to Room 168 inside San Francisco City Hall. Civil Ceremonies (the popular public ceremonies during weekdays) are performed on the second floor of the Rotunda at the top of the grand central staircase.
Private ceremonies have more flexibility than public civil ceremonies. For weekday private ceremonies, you can have your wedding on the Mayor’s Balcony, Fourth Floor North Gallery, or the Fourth Floor South Gallery.
WHERE WILL WE TAKE PHOTOS?
Leave that to us. We know all the best spots in and around SF City Hall.
The Fourth Floor North Gallery is a popular place for photos since the light is always perfect. And of course, there’s the iconic City Hall entrance. We have quite a few other areas we love to go to and customize our session according to what’s going on that day, what the couple prefers, etc.
We also love taking couples outside SF City Hall entirely. We know some amazing locations!
WHERE DO YOU RECOMMENDED FOR A RECEPTION?
City Hall itself does not offer wedding reception services (unless you opt for an evening or weekend package). We recommend that you and your guests celebrate in your own way. Many groups make reservations at a local restaurant or reserve a private dining room. With a private dining room, you and your guests will have more privacy and more time to celebrate this exciting day.
When looking for a restaurant, there are a few things to keep in mind. Be sure to read our article about SF City Hall receptions. It includes our top five restaurant choices and their private dining options.
Even though we were as thorough as possible with this guide, we know that there are always more questions. We would love to answer them for you. Get in touch with us; we love to guide couples through the process of getting married at San Francisco City Hall.
WE LOVE CITY HALL WEDDINGS
"My (now) husband was very skeptical about the need for professional photos - and not only noted Oscar as being integral to knowing what the hell we were doing at City Hall to also providing the best gift on our wedding day - amazingly captured memories. Could not recommend more."