Best SF City Hall Ceremony Locations
There are many beautiful locations to get married at in San Francisco City Hall! We have compiled the list below of some of the best available weekday ceremony options to help you choose your favorites. If you are planning on having a private ceremony and hiring your own officiant, all of these locations are possible. Obviously, subject to availability and possible reserved weddings in the way. We have compiled a good sized list of experienced San Francisco city hall wedding officiants to help you with your ceremony. Most of them are part of the regular rotation for civil ceremonies and so they will even wear the robes!
If you are having a public ceremony through San Francisco city hall, some of these locations require a reserved ceremony fee. For Civil Ceremonies, the city hall officiants will only allow you to get married in the Rotunda in most cases.
Ceremony Location Listing
The list below is also a great resource to use in choosing the best San Francisco city hall wedding photographers locations available as well. All of these locations serve as amazing photo tour spots to take our brides and groom for pictures after the civil ceremony is complete. We have tried to include information regarding both types of uses (photography and ceremonies) for each location.
Rotunda Weddings - This is the most common place wedding ceremonies occur at San Francisco city hall. You will meet with your officiant shortly before your civil ceremony and will often be provided a choice of getting married in the Rotunda or the private room. The Rotunda is at the top of the Grand Staircase, but the privacy is limited. People walk by and will occasionally take photos of the ceremony. But it is the default location for the vast majority of city hall weddings and is a beautiful spot. There is some privacy afforded by the walls surrounding this top-notch area. We also like the Rotunda area because of the neutral-colored walls surrounding it. This background allows us to bounce our flashes for softer light and a natural look. When we take pictures of you in the Rotunda, you will not even be able to tell we used a flash because the light appears so natural. This is also true for your wedding photo tour after the ceremony. It is all in how we do the lighting!
Grand Staircase Ceremony (mostly on Saturdays) - The Grand Staircase offers beautiful architecture but is the least private area in the building. The staircase is one of the more popular destinations for tourists and other professional San Francisco city hall wedding photographers so there is lots of activity. This activity will not curtail during your city hall ceremony, and it could end up being a distraction for the bride, groom and guests. There is no guarantee that San Francisco tourists won't walk by and listen to you performing your marriage vows. The grand staircase is also available for reserved weekend weddings and works quite well for these much more private ceremonies. Since San Francisco city hall is closed to the public on the weekend, there is no concern about the above-mentioned distractions. UPDATE: The Marriage Commissioners who were using the staircase for week-day ceremonies appear to have retired and so this location remains a beautiful spot for your wedding photos. Definitely a premium location for City Hall wedding photography.
Mayors Balcony Reserved Ceremony - This option is available to you for an additional $1000. The Mayor's Balcony is roped off for one hour to provide privacy to you and your guests. The SF city hall events department also will set up chairs for your guests at your request. They can seat up to 40 people comfortably in my opinion, but we have seen more on occasion. I think the maximum is 60 but we rarely see that. This is one of my favorite places to photograph because of the beautiful Rotunda in the background. Reservations need to be placed through the City Hall Events Office to have your wedding on the Mayor's Balcony and you can do this up to 1 full year in advance. Reserved ceremonies are on the rise recently because so many San Francisco venues are still closed due to Covid-19. Be sure to reserve early to obtain your reservation. One thing to be aware of is that the Rotunda is a great background, but there WILL be people in the background of your ceremony pictures. Note: You do not need to check-in with the County Clerk on the day of your wedding if you have chosen this location for your marriage. This is also true for Fourth Floor Gallery weddings.
Fourth Floor Gallery - Reserving the 4th Floor Gallery is another option to have a private ceremony for you and your guests. One hour here for your ceremony will cost you $1000. The 4th floor offers the best view of the inside of city hall and is a popular reservation choice. Make sure to book early through the City Hall Events Office if you choose the 4th floor for your ceremony site. We have a strong preference for the North Gallery because there is usually no direct sunlight streaming through the large bay windows. If you are on the South side in the summer, the sun can be quite hot and difficult to deal with. It can also make wedding photography difficult due to the harsh light present. Here again, there will frequently be people in the background of your ceremony pictures from across the building. It is hard to avoid, but not too bad of an issue. You can book this option up to 1 year in advance. This is also a wonderful place for wedding pictures after your ceremony and even the family shots work well here. Most San Francisco city hall wedding photographers love the 4th floor for pictures so if you reserve it with a ceremony, it is all yours for 1 hour! Important: Both the Fourth Floor and Mayor's Balcony reserved weddings will require you to hire your own Officiant to perform your nuptials. This can cost anywhere between $200 and $300.