San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photography
Our team of San Francisco wedding photographers have years of experience shooting SF City Hall weddings year-round!
San Francisco City Hall Weddings
Have you visited San Francisco City Hall yet? If so, then you’ve experienced the magnificence that greets you before you even step foot through the classic entrance. We love to pose every couple in front after their ceremony is over and our indoor shots are complete. Then we go to our next photo op or call it a day as the joyous couple heads off to celebrate as husband and wife.
But let’s back up a bit. Step through the main entrance and you are face to face with an incredible grand staircase and massive hall. The architecture in every detail of the entire structure makes for a masterpiece that you will never and can never forget. We’ve been there hundreds of times and are still able to bask in its beauty. Every time. Without question.
Beyond the staircase lie the Mayor’s Balcony and Fourth Floor (yes, fourth floor!) Balconies. They’re the perfect spots for breathtaking city hall photos. After civil ceremonies, we often take couples to these locations for photos that they’ll treasure for a lifetime. These two spots are also among your choices when scheduling a private city hall ceremony, which we really love to be part of!
If you haven’t visited San Francisco City Hall to scope it out for your wedding, then you’re in for a treat. We’re jealous, honestly. The first time we walked in we were blown away. It’s as simple as that. Blown. Away.
Get away from the “standard” wedding venues and get married at San Francisco City Hall. In just a couple hours (including checking in and taking all your photos), you’ll get a gorgeous wedding among amazing architecture while making it feel like a wedding that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Ditch the “normal” and get married at San Francisco City Hall. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s memorable.
A Complete and Thorough Walk-through of San Francisco City Hall Weddings
This is your guide to getting married at SF City Hall!
Step 1 – Marriage License & Ceremony Appointments
Your first step is to make two separate appointments. First you need to figure out when you want to get married. City Hall is beautiful year-round since it’s all indoors; you will see couples getting married literally every weekday they’re open throughout the year. Once you’ve figured out a date, go to the County Clerk’s website to make a Civil/Commitment Ceremony Reservation. Appointments are available up to 90 days in advance. Look at the calendar and make sure the date and time are available.
Then figure out when to get your marriage license. We strongly recommend getting this first! Make your marriage license appointment long before the day of your ceremony. Besides, doing that means you get to visit SF City Hall twice! Nothing wrong with that. The license does expire after 90 days, so keep that in mind.
The website’s booking window makes it really easy to look at dates and times for both the license and ceremony, but have to be scheduled and paid for separately. The current cost for a marriage license is $104 and ceremony reservations are $83. Marriage license appointments are available Monday through starting at 8:15am and every half hour between 8:30am through 3:30pm. Ceremony reservations are available Monday through Friday every half hour from 9am to 3:30pm.
For your marriage license appointment, do not forget photo identification!
Book your appointment here. (Direct link to the San Francisco Office of the County Clerk)
If you would prefer a private ceremony rather than a public/civil ceremony, scroll down to the next section for more information. Step 2 is for those doing a civil ceremony!
Step 2 – Wedding Day!
We’re skipping your actual appointment for the license, as that’s pretty straightforward. You’ve paid the $104 license fee online, you both went to your appointment in Room 168 with photo IDs in hand, and walked out with the proper paperwork. Easy peasy.
On your ceremony day, you both must arrive at least ten minutes before your appointment time. We recommend getting there even earlier to allow for traffic and any other unexpected delays. Go straight to Room 168, which you should be familiar with from your marriage license appointment, and you’ll likely see other couples doing the same thing! San Francisco City Hall does six weddings an hour, or three weddings every half hour. You’ll meet with the Deputy Commissioner who will officiate your wedding. These commissioners are volunteer judges and want to make this day as special and exciting for you as possible!
After check-in, everyone heads up to the Rotunda (top of the Grand Staircase) for the ceremony itself. It’s possible that your ceremony will be elsewhere if the Rotunda is reserved for something else, but the location will most likely be the Rotunda. The commissioner, your guests (you’re only allowed up to six guests including your photographer, but we see this rule broken all the time), other excited couples and their guests, photographers, everyone will go to this location together! The Deputy Commissioner directs the proceedings, keeping everything on schedule, and performs the ceremony itself.
The ceremony itself is only a few minutes long. Your ten minute time slot is reserved for a minute of organization, the ceremony itself, and a brief window for photos. Then it’s the next couple’s turn! During your ceremony, you’ll stand in the middle of the Rotunda facing the commissioner surrounded by your guests while the other groups wait along the perimeter.
And that’s it! It’s very fast but it’s so beautiful.
Step 3 – After the Ceremony
Once the ceremony is over and you’ve quickly taken photos with the commissioner, it’s time for more photos! This is where we come in. This is our area of expertise.
You really don’t need to worry about anything at this point. We will guide you and your guests to the best spots for photos in San Francisco City Hall. If the Grand Staircase is available, we’ll definitely take photos there. On busier days or if an event is scheduled, the staircase may not be available which is absolutely fine; there are so many locations throughout the building that we know about. Just trust us, we have years of experience and hundreds of weddings that have guided us to the best of the best spots with the best architecture and the best lighting.
You could also opt for photos before the ceremony. You could even do a first look, which is a moment when the two of you first see each other before heading to Room 168.
But most couples choose to take photos after the ceremony. That way we have a predetermined time to get all the photos you want, and we know exactly how to get all those gorgeous photos during that time. We even know a ton of spots in San Francisco for some breathtaking, historic, or simply fun photos. Whatever you’re looking for in your photos, we can provide that for you. Or if you’re not sure exactly what kind of photos you want, that’s not a problem, we will take gorgeous photos of the two of you throughout your wedding and afterward and you will not be disappointed!
Our 160+ 5-star reviews speak for themselves. Check us out: Red Eye Collection Photography on Yelp.
Most couples celebrate after the ceremony, and of course the celebration could be anything and anywhere! Some couples choose to join up with a large amount of additional guests for a traditional wedding reception, while others head to their favorite restaurant for something more quiet. Whatever you choose, remember that this is all about the two of you. And whatever you choose will be absolutely perfect.
While most couples getting married at San Francisco City Hall choose a civil ceremony, there are quite a few who go the more traditional route and reserve a space for a private ceremony. This allows for more guests (up to 100), your own officiant, and of course more time. The first option that City Hall offers is a One-Hour Wedding that can be scheduled Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. These one-hour wedding ceremonies can be at either Fourth Floor Gallery (as shown in the photo above) or the Mayor’s Balcony.
Looking for something more exclusive and private? Look into the SF City Hall’s Two-Hour Wedding which are only on Saturdays. They’re truly amazing! You get the entire area, the grandest area in all of city hall, all to yourselves. You’re allowed full use of the incredible Grand Staircase and will exchange vows on the staircase itself. Like the One-Hour Wedding, you do have to provide your own officiant.
Cost: Call Events Office
This is something new from San Francisco City Hall. Just like the Saturday two-hour wedding, you exchange vows on the Grand Staircase. But unlike all the other weddings, you can extend the party into a full party, and it can be any day of the week! Yes, you can have your wedding reception at San Francisco City Hall!
For more information or to make a reservation for any of the above weddings, call the SF City Hall Events Office at (415) 554-6079.
Recommended by City Hall
We are honored to be personally recommended by the SF City Hall Events Office. We take great pride in our attention to detail every step of the way, and love to share our expertise with every couple we partner with at San Francisco City Hall.
We’d love to get to know more about you and your dreams for your wedding!