Sepia Tone Image from City Hall (below)
So you are getting married at San Francisco city hall and want to make the most of it. You and your future spouse have agreed that to save money you should have a civil ceremony without all the fuss and expense of a large San Francisco wedding. But this is your wedding and you still want it to be memorable and fun. What do you do?
Choose the Reserved Ceremony Option
Yes, I know that SF city hall reserved weddings costs $1,000 instead of around $100, but this is your wedding. What’s another $900? This will allow you to invite lots of guests (up to 80 people) and have some privacy. But most of all, it will provide you with your own area in San Francisco city hall to call your own. You still get great pricing, but now you can invite your family and friends.
For 1 hour you can spend time with your guests and not have to worry about tourists walking through and being disruptive. You don’t have to be concerned with the County Clerk telling you when your nuptials will be performed. You don’t have to take a number and wait for it to be called before you can meet with your officiant. As long as the San Francisco city hall ceremony occurs within your 1 hour time window, you have complete freedom. For those who don’t want the 4 minute standard ceremony, this is the way to go. You can create your own vows and add religious references to your ceremony if that is important to you and your spouse. San Francisco city hall standard civil ceremonies cannot include privately recited vows, but reserved weddings can! There just isn’t enough time during a Civil Ceremony since they are trying to do 2 weddings at every half hour. On rare occasions we have seen the City Hall Marriage Commissioner grant the request to recite private vows, but if you pay for the reserved option, it is all up to you. You really cannot rely on the fact that an officiant will allow you to recite your own vows if you just do a standard civil ceremony.
When shelling out the additional funds, just try to remember that if you had chosen a traditional San Francisco wedding, you would be looking at 10’s of thousands of dollars. As of this writing in May of 2023, the average wedding in San Francisco costs somewhere around $40,000. Compare this to $1,000 and you can see why we strongly recommend the Reserved ceremony option. No matter what, you are saving big bucks. One other expense associated with reserved ceremony is the cost of an officiant. San Francisco city hall does not supply Marriage Commissioners for the private ceremonies in the building. The cost to you for an officiant will range between $150 and $300. We would be happy to refer some experienced wedding officiants to you if needed. We know quite a few who have tons of experience and San Francisco city hall and will even wear the judges robes! An optional expense is music for your reserved ceremony, but that is up to the bride and groom. The City Hall Events Department can provide you with ample choices for musicians.
Take a Mini Tour of San Francisco City Hall
A tour on your wedding day? Allow me to explain. San Francisco city hall DOES in fact have its own self guided tour or you can actually take part in one of their Docent tours. You want to make sure everyone is on time to your wedding? Let your wedding guests know that there is going to be a tour before the ceremony and give them the time to be there. This accomplished 2 things: 1. It gets your guests parked and through security early and ready to attend your wedding; 2. It is a very interesting tour and you and your guests will learn some interesting facts. We have been recommending this for a while and a surprising number of our clients have tried it and loved it. It’s not so odd to do something like this on your wedding day. Many weddings that now take place in wineries and special restaurants or other famous places will include tastings or tours. It’s all in fun! Not to mention, the tour is really interesting. It will make your appreciation of the history of the building even stronger and you will feel even better about your decision to get married at San Francisco City Hall. The tours are usually under 30 minutes in length.
Hire an Experienced Professional City Hall Wedding Photographer
This is a no-brainer. I realize that it sounds bit self-serving, but it’s pretty obvious that you should have professional wedding photography on one of the biggest days of your lives. You need to have your special memories recorded for all time, but you also owe it to yourself to take a wedding photography tour of San Francisco city hall with somebody who knows all the best spots to take photos in this historic building. In addition, if it’s a busy day or a private corporate event is going on, a professional wedding photographer will know how to handle the adversity. More importantly, the experienced professional will know where to take you to avoid the crowds. There are always angles available, even when the building is full of tourists or guests. Maybe a bit more expensive, but we know that you will regret not hiring a professional wedding photographer, especially when you look back years from now. There are many great San Francisco city hall wedding photographers available to shoot your wedding. Most of them have years of experience like we do.
The photo above is an example of our best possible Staircase pictures if people are around. As you can see, its pretty hard to take a photo with nobody in the vicinity. No worries, however, because a photo like this can be cropped and will look great. In some cases, we can remove people using Photoshop. In this particular photo, we would just crop it to the edges of the staircase and you won’t even know that the other people are there. There are many creative ways to not show strangers in your San Francisco city hall wedding pictures. In the photo below, we put a light behind the couple to create this nice silhouette of the bride and groom. I love the repeating lines in this photo. We suggest hiring a professional wedding photographer for these reasons and many others. Don’t leave your wedding photos to chance, invest in a professional! These are just some of the types of photos we take at San Francisco city hall. To see more check out our City Hall Galleries. We have provided you with a diverse set of portfolio photos to help you see many different styles and couples.