Get a license appointment & a civil ceremony appointment here.
If you can, pick up your license before the ceremony so you can have less waiting around.
You can book an appointment up to 90 days in advance. They are Monday thru Friday, 10AM to 3:30PM.
Check in to the County Clerk’s Office at room 168, 10 minutes before your ceremony. They will assign you a number and then you wait in the hallway for 30 minutes give or take. When they call your number you will meet the judge who will be marrying you and you sign your license. The judge will instruct where to meet you. You can ask at this time where you would like to be married. The default is the rotunda but for good light I’d advise to request for the fourth floor, north balcony.
A few notes:
Secret sauce: The rules say to bring up to 6 people including your photographer but I have seen many couples bring more people than this.
This is the basics for civil ceremonies. You can also do a private ceremony where you can have up to 100 guests. And you can even rent out City Hall as a venue on the weekend (share the mega palace vibes with your buds!)
Heads up you will go thru security. So be ready to take off jackets, purses, bouquet etc. and put them in a basket/hand them to the security guard as you walk thru the metal detector. They are some of the nicest people who are quite used to seeing people in wedding attire and escorted by someone with a camera and a lot of gear
And expect people. I’d say the beginning of the week is a little more relaxed but heading toward the weekend, there are plenty more crowds, both Civil Ceremonies and tourists in general. It’s a wonderful little dance we do to take turns taking photos in different areas but it mostly turns out quite well!
Do: get a nice dress + a bouquet + a boutonniere (U & I Flowers) is my favorite florist!
Put together a shot list with your photographer by writing out the special people who will be your witnesses that day and create a list such as:
Bride + Groom with Grace (Bride’s Mom) and Harry (Bride’s Dad)
Bride + Groom with Chuck (Groom’s Best Friend)
And continue listing in every combination you need
And also for your couple’s photos you can list out favorite locations such as:
Bride + Groom at 3rd floor windows and railing
Bride + Groom at Mayors Balcony
(Grand staircase sitting and aerial view , 4th Floor balcony, Outside City Hall are other great locations!)
If you want to go to restaurants close by the darling neighborhood of Hayes Valley is just a few blocks away and is easily Lyft-able and walkable. Little Gem and Absynthe have a wonderful vibe to it. 20th Century cafe would also be a wonderful photo op!
9:15 – 9:30 AM Check in at the County Clerk’s Office (room 168), get your number then wait for number to be called
9:30 AM Photography coverage begins; meet outside the County Clerk Office corridor
10:00 AM Ceremony time! We will walk to the to ceremony location determined by the judge; this time is flex, and the actual ceremony will likely happen about 20 minutes after your booked time
10:20 – 10:25 AM Estimated actual ceremony time 🙂
10:30 – 10:40 AM Time for photos! Depending on how busy City Hall is at that point, we’ll find a spot for your group photos with your guests
10:40 – 11:00 AM Group photos
11:10 – 11:40 AM Couples portraits in City Hall (minimum 30 minutes, I usually recommend 45 so we can get some outside as well)
11:45 – 12:15 PM Travel to location #2 for couples portraits
12:15 – 1:15 PM Couples portraits at location #2!
1:15 PM Photography coverage ends