San Francisco City Hall Crowd Control

City Hall Crowd Rules

The city hall website specifically states that the maximum number of guests allowed at standard civil ceremonies is 6.  The rules go on to explain that if you DO bring more than 6, city hall reserves the right to have them removed from the building.  The rules also talk about your guests being a nuisance and disrupting city hall business.  UPDATE:  City Hall now enforces this rule and anyone bringing more than 6 guests will most likely be forced to have their ceremony in the Private room.  The Rotunda is absolutely restricted now to 6 guests due to past disruptions by large groups making loud noise.

So the question is, should you as an engaged couple violate the rules and and still try to invite anyone you want and as many people as you want?  My opinion is that couples getting married at San Francisco city hall should, at the very least, respect  the spirit behind the rule.  So if you are going to go over the 6 guests, don’t go way over. Realize that your extra guests may not be allowed to witness the ceremony close by.  In general, city hall finds it difficult to restrict the number of guests that come in to the building to watch your wedding, but they ARE able to prevent the large group from being present at the actual ceremony.  Please keep in mind that if every couple brought 25 guests the place would be a mad house.  The rules are there for a reason, to try to keep the environment safe and quiet.

Catching the Bouquet in front of San Francisco City Hall

Reserved Ceremony Option

So what do you do if you have a large crowd but still want to get married at SF City Hall?  Contact the Events Department and talk to them about reserving a space to have your city hall ceremony.  It only costs around $1,000 and you are able to have a nice section of city hall all to yourself.  They even give you 2 choices for this reserved ceremony.  You can have your nuptials on the Mayors Balcony or The 4th Floor North Gallery.  Both locations are exceptionally beautiful and provide plenty of room for the couple and their guests.  You can seat up to 60 people on the 4th floor and up to 40 at the Mayors Balcony.  If you bring more guests than those numbers, the remaining guests can stand. They also rope of the area to keep others out which provides your wedding a certain amount of privacy.

Music is Allowed for Reserved Weddings

Another very nice feature of reserved weddings is that city hall allows you to bring in music to be played at your ceremony.  Book harpist, string quartet or guitar player.  It is your choice so long as you choose one of the SF Event Departments approved vendors. You can use the music to announce the bride coming in during the processional or when the happy couple leave.  Many couples also just  want to have background music for the time leading up to the actual ceremony.  Even after the ceremony, you can book the musicians to stay and keep playing.

Keep in mind all of  these many options before you decide to bring your whole family and friends to a small civil ceremony.   It will make your special day more enjoyable for you and your guests!  They can even listen to music!

SF City Hall to Enforce 6 Guest Rule

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the San Francisco city hall County Clerk’s office has decided to begin enforcing the maximum 6 guest rule. I personally spoke with officials at the County Clerk’s office and they understand that this rule may cause some hardship for brides and grooms, but their hand was forced. For years, SF City Hall has looked the other way as couples seeking a civil ceremony have violated the rule of 6 maximum. Many couples took the rules seriously or only invited a few people over the maximum. Well behaved groups of 10 or 12 people did not cause much concern or problems and so the Marriage Commissioners were able to allow the overage. However, in recent years couples were increasingly attempting to take advantage of the 6 person rule, because it was reportedly “not enforced”. We began to see groups of 20, 30 and even 36 for our city hall weddings. As these groups became more and more disruptive, there were rumblings of a possible crack down on the rule.

The Final Straw at City Hall’s Rotunda

The moment of truth occurred a couple of weeks ago, when an extremely large crowd of guests attended what was supposed to be a small civil ceremony. In addition to the noise and disruption caused by this group, they also had small children running around. Ultimately, the County Clerk’s received complaints from both the Mayor Office and the Board of Supervisors. Excess noise and the sheer volume of people affected important meetings and other city hall activities. So now the County Clerk’s office has no choice but to act. My own speculation is that weddings could be suspended or reduced in the future if this problem cannot be controlled. As a temporary solution, City Hall will be accommodating previously booked weddings on the 4th floor if they are larger than the 6 maximum. Meanwhile all newly booked weddings will see the rule enforced along with changes to the San Francisco city hall website with additional warnings.

Alternatives to a San Francisco Civil Ceremony

Fortunately, SF City Hill does offer alternatives for couples seeking a wedding with more guests. You can reserve the Mayors Balcony or 4th floor North Gallery for 1 hour at the very low price of $1,000. They set up chairs for your guests and allow up to 60 guests depending upon location. We have performed many such “reserved weddings” and they work out great. Despite the fact that this option costs considerably more than a simple civil ceremony, it is still a relative bargain when compared to other San Francisco venues. You have the added advantage of one of best destinations in the Western states for wedding photography. The one hour reservation time also provides you with time for doing your group and family photography in an enclosed environment without tourist roaming through your shots.

“Wedding Photography by Michael” is one of the leading San Francisco city hall wedding photographers. To learn more check out our home page for city hall weddings.