San Francisco City Hall Weddings
Congratulations, you’re one of the smart ones! City Hall is one of the most beautifully stunning indoor wedding venues in the Bay Area and it’s practically free! Granted, you have to stand in line DMV style at the beginning, but after you get past that, it’s gorgeous. San Francisco City Hall is a building like no other, and getting married there is a privilege.
The original San Francisco City Hall was built in the late 1800’s but was severely damaged in the 1906 earthquake. The new City Hall was designed in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture – which means it’s filled with arched windows, has a flat roof with a grand entrance, and lots and lots of classic details – along with a dome that’s 5th largest in the world! Then, during the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, San Francisco City Hall shook like crazy, but the voters approved bonds to rebuild the hall along with seismic retrofitting. This included something like 530 lead-rubber shock absorbers that created the word’s largest base-isolated building.
And, you’re not only one of the smart ones – you’re joining a long list of others that have tied the knot at this historic site, including Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. It’s also such an easy process! There are a couple options when deciding on using San Francisco City Hall as your wedding venue, so take a look and choose wisely…
1. The small non-descript private ceremony room next to the recorder’s office
If you are planning on a weekday wedding, you’ll get to do the whole standing in line thing and then will likely be directed to this private room. It is a great little spot that offers a bit of privacy and a place to tie the knot – but not suggested unless there is a full riot in the rotunda (see next). But, here’s the thing, the location is determined by the commissioner, so if this space isn’t available…
2. The rotunda at the top of the stairs (if available)
A wonderfully gorgeous spot – but sadly located right next to the supervisor’s room – making weekday weddings potentially challenging. If a hotly contentious issue is being debated, you may feel like your wedding has been sponsored by the local united steelworker’s union. Once again, the commissioner gets to pick where the civil ceremony takes place, and if the rotunda has been reserved, you’ll probably be in the private ceremony room. You can learn more about this by checking out the San Francisco City Hall informational page about civil ceremonies.
3. The Mayor’s Balcony
Another option for a weekday wedding is the Mayor’s Balcony. This is one of the private wedding options – which means it costs money to reserve. They rope off the space for two hours and put up chairs, just like a real indoor wedding spot. But, there is the additional cost and it can be a bit dark. You also have to make plans for the ceremony to take place prior to 4 pm.
4. The fourth floor archway
This is another private wedding option – so you’ll have to pay to reserve. Make sure to pick the North side to avoid the sun glaring in your eyes. Just like the Mayor’s Balcony, the area is roped off, chairs are arranged, and you are good to go for two hours. But, once again, be ready to pay the fee and have the weekday ceremony prior to 4 pm. For more information about reserving a space for a weekday wedding, check out San Francisco City Hall’s page about weekday wedding packages.
5. After hours/weekends
You get to rent the whole shebang. Yup, the whole place can be yours for the right price. Along with paying the high price, you’ll get a handful of San Francisco’s finest to keep the place all secure – along with a couple of metal detectors. This option is back due to high demand and currently available on Saturdays only. Ceremonies have to take place prior to 3 pm and includes two hours in the Rotunda with 200 of your favorite people. Want more details? San Francisco City Hall has an informational page just for weekend wedding packages.
What Happens Next?
Now that you’ve decided on a day, location,and if you’re paying the fees or taking the chance on getting the Rotunda, it’s time to figure out what to do next. The process is simple and I’ll be there to help along the way.
1. Book your time!
You can reserve your time up to 90-days prior to your wedding day, and it’s really recommended. You can even do it online – how easy is that? So, here’ the link to get started. Online Civil Service Reservation
2. Pick up your wedding license – ahead of time
Take the time to pick up your license before your big day. It will totally cut out extra hassle and make your wedding day smoother (highly recommended if you’ve been married before or if you aren’t a US citizen). It’s also a great opportunity to take advantage of a free docent tour of San Francisco City Hall, which will give you tons of great information about your selected wedding venue – and let you scope out your future wedding spot.
3. Your big day!
Everything starts at the Recorder’s Office, which is also where we’ll meet up. This is where you will check-in (and get your license – if you didn’t already), and then meet with the officiant. I’ll follow you to your wedding location snapping candids along the way. The ceremony itself is maybe 3 minutes long, after which we can take your family to the 4th floor for some formals. We then send them all to the cafeteria so that you and I can get some quality time in the many good spots that City Hall offers.