Are you looking for a San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer?
My team and I are here to make sure your wedding day goes smoothly, and we will be your personal guides to the most romantic day of your lives. We will give you an exact point to meet us, and we will walk you through the process of getting your license and showing up to your check-in time, which is five minutes before your ceremony. We would never let you be late to your own wedding. We know how nervous and excited you are and we’ll keep things light and fun…yes, FUN!
Did you need some information about how to get married at San Francisco City Hall? Getting a Separate Wedding License and Wedding Ceremony Appointment.
To tie the knot at SF City Hall, it is crucial to make two appointments. Both of these appointments will take place in room 168 on the first floor. These nice folks will give you all of your paperwork, check you in and check your I.D. You MUST have a valid, current driver’s license or passport with you, or you can’t get married. If you need a witness and are eloping without guests, my team members and I would be honored to sign as your witness. I always tell my couples that I feel like I’m putting my stamp of approval on love!
Why two appointments? The first one is for you to get your marriage license while the other one is for the ceremony. You can walk into SF City Hall up to 90 days before your ceremony to get your marriage license. This is advisable, especially if you’re planning a private ceremony. In case you plan to get your license at the same date as your civil wedding ceremony, then make it a priority to set the appointment one hour before to your scheduled ceremony. You can make the reservations exactly ninety days in advance, but not sooner. This means that if you plan on choosing a popular time or date, such as on a Friday afternoon, you have to book it as soon as possible. City Hall does sell out of dates.
You can book your wedding photography with us farther ahead than that. Let’s go over how to make sure you get the wedding date and time you desire. Couples are often concerned that if they book their wedding photography before they are allowed to book their ceremony, they might not get the date they reserved their wedding photography session for. Here’s how you solve that: go online 90 days ahead of your desired wedding date to book your appointment with San Francisco City Hall. I’ve never seen anyone fail, using this method. Since there are three weddings booked for every thirty-minute time slot from 10 am until 3:30 Pm, you have many openings to choose from. There is no extra fee if you ask us to change the date or time that you originally booked us for.
Where to Hold the Ceremony?
Most wedding ceremonies take place in the Rotunda at the top of the grand staircase. San Francisco City Hall’s website states that you can be accompanied by up to six guests. I’ve known them to be flexible on this point if your guests are quiet so that other ceremonies are not disturbed. Because the building is 500,000 square feet of marble and sandstone, cheering and clapping do echo. Many couples worry that they won’t be allowed to have their wedding in this location, but normally that’s where they are held. When would you not be able to get married in the Rotunda?
- In the very rare event that there is a private event booked there.
- Tuesday afternoons when the Board of Supervisors meets. They request quiet for their meetings and some weddings have apparently been very…happy!
- The Mayor’s inauguration every four years or if there is a large political event that requires security. I’ve only seen that once in all the years I’ve been there.
- Just after Thanksgiving, they spend several days setting up the incredibly beautiful Hope Project Christmas tree. In this case, your wedding will be held nearby, usually on the Mayors Balcony or the lovely fourth floor under the half dome windows. These are both fantastic alternatives, and both spots can be rented by the hour if you want a larger or more private wedding.
If you’ve fallen in love with SF City Hall, but also want a fairytale wedding where you can walk down a real aisle, then you’ll want to look into renting the Mayors Balcony on the second floor. This space can comfortably seat up to one hundred loved ones. The standouts of this space are the giant Roman numeral clock that sits above the Mayors Balcony and overlooks the grand staircase and photo worthy gilded railings that will run right behind your ceremony. Not to mention a stunning view of the iconic domed ceiling and entire atrium. Talk about the “wow” factor! Chair rental is separate; speak with the City Hall Events Department. We are on their preferred vendor’s list and are allowed to be on premise to photograph these events.
This list of the best private places to get married at City Hall would not be complete without mentioning the two fourth floor locations. The North and South Hall’s are located on opposite sides of the fourth floor. This is the top floor of the building, so the dome and gargantuan half dome windows will loom large both in front of you and behind you. Most people gasp at the incredible light up there upon first seeing it. A lot of the most dramatic wedding photography that you’ll see online, showcases these two locations, and their ornate carving and urns.
You can rent these spaces for one hour between 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. During the time you have rented any of these three spaces, your area will be cordoned off and the name of your party will be posted on flyers for guests to identify your wedding space.
Very important: If you rent the fourth floor or Mayors Balcony spaces, you need to hire your own wedding officiate. City Hall does not provide them with this option. I do have people I recommend.
How do I get to San Francisco City Hall and where do we park?
For most couples who are staying overnight before their wedding, it’s easiest to take a cab or hired car to the wedding. You just hop out and head through the famous gold lettered doors on Polk Street (Now this section right in front of City Hall has been renamed 1 Dr.Carlton B Goodlett Place, so tell your driver if he is confused, but it’s still part of Polk Street) If you and your guests are driving your own cars, just set your GPS to 355 McAllister St. There’s a small P for parking sign, but not much else to see, there’s just a ramp that goes down to the convenient underground parking lot. Elevators take you back to street level and let you out directly across the street from the building. There is some street metered parking, and you can keep your vehicle there for four-hour blocks of time. If you have a large group to move around and want to do it in style, there are always limo services, but as a nod to our city, you can now hire motorized retired cable cars and drivers to shuttle your guests around town and on tours of the city. This is a good way to entertain guests while you finish your wedding photo shoot or to bring guests to dinner.
How do I find quality vendors for hair and makeup, flowers and hire the officiate for my private ceremony?
I have a well- qualified team of independent vendors that I refer my couples to. Whatever you are in need of, please ask and I’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction. I know a lot of you don’t live anywhere near San Francisco, and hiring everyone for your event can be a big task. I have a list of great places for you and your guests to have lunch, dinner, or a formal reception. Just ask, and also check my blog for related articles.
Why choose San Francisco City Hall as your wedding venue?
This majestic building is now in the National Register of Historic Places and takes up two full city blocks. At five hundred thousand square feet of Beaux Arts architecture, there is no shortage of jaw-dropping locations for wedding photography both inside and outside of the building. Made of tons of marble and sandstone, the majority of this stone came from various states around the U.S., Pennsylvania, Vermont, Alabama and Colorado. Celebrities have been coming here to get married for decades. Most people have heard that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio got married here in 1954, and that’s true, but most people don’t know that famous artist Frieda Khalo (The subject of the 2002 movie starring Selma Hayek) and muralist Diego Rivera, were married to each other for the *second* time here in 1940, and TV’s Rosie O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter rented the whole building and had their nuptials here is 2004. There’s also a huge list of movies that have been shot here, including Raiders of the Lost Ark and A View to a Kill, in the James Bond franchise.
What’s interesting is that this building really resonates with so many different people. It serves as a fantastic venue for many wedding styles from a classic 1920’s Great Gatsby wedding to modern off beat bride events complete with brightly hued converse high tops to go with your wedding dress or suite. This is a space that allows you to make it your own. As large as it is, it still conveys intimacy. All ages, ethnicity, and walks of life are enthusiastically welcomed here. I could write a whole article on the buildings LGBT history, but suffice it to say, same-sex weddings have always been, and will always be a piece of this puzzle.
Can we take more wedding pictures around town?
Yes, please! We have worked out some fantastic locations for you to extend your wedding day photography. It’s good to have somebody to guide you to all the prime locations at the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, The Palace of Fine Arts and to teach you how to catch those magical but elusive Cable Cars. Whatever it is that you’re looking to do, let’s talk it out and find the best places for the two of you. It is our greatest hope that family members in years to come will say your wedding pictures are their most cherished family heirloom, as they show their friends and family the great love story of the two of you.