Hello, and welcome to the LM Blog! I'm Lyka Mak, and my husband Ken and I are a photography boutique based in Oakland, California. We hope you grab some coffee (or a boba, in my case) and enjoy viewing our latest work, and getting a little peek into our life.
So you want to get elope eh? Yay, congratulations!
You know why? Because this path is the most intimate one. It can be just you and your boo or your closest friends. You do you and there’s no rule in eloping. Be you! I want the two of you to be yourself. We will have fun taking photos because that is what it’s all supposed to be about!
In this “How to get married at San Francisco City Hall” guide, I will give you all the knowledge that I know. From scheduling your ceremony to parking your car. I hope this guide will help you in planning your elopement in the city.
First things first…
1. Book your wedding ceremony first
Do this first before getting the marriage license because scheduling the license is quite easy.
You can pick up your license anywhere in California within 90 days before your ceremony. If you are coming from another part of the state or even just a different city in the SF Bay Area, it could be more convenient and cheaper to pick up your license near to home.
Appointments are available every half hour between 10 am – 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
2. Get Marriage License
Schedule the license at least 90 minutes before your ceremony to give enough time. I highly recommend to do it weeks before so that you will be stress free!
TIP: 15 minutes before your ceremony – Check in at the office!
Go Private or Go Public?
CIVIL CEREMONY (PUBLIC)
Time: Every half hour, Monday through Friday between 9:00 am – 3:30 pm Check-In: Information Desk in Room 168 ten minutes before your ceremony reservation Ceremony Location: Rotunda
Guests: Six permitted, including witness
Bring: Witness, marriage license, valid IDs for both of you
CIVIL CEREMONY (PRIVATE)
How: Call (415) 554-6079
Location: Three choices: Mayor’s Balcony, 4th Floor North Gallery, 4th Floor South Gallery
Office schedule: Monday – Friday 9am – 3pm
Guests: Up to 100
At a private ceremony, you would be able to reserve the Mayor’s Balcony or one of the 4th Floor Galleries – North or South. The light in the North Gallery is much better and that is what I recommend as a photographer.
Cost for wedding license = $104 Cost for civil ceremony (public) = $83
What to Expect
The judge marries 3 couples at a time in a 30 minute block. Technically you are only allowed to have 6 people attend your ceremony, though I have definitely seen people bring more and I have never seen anyone turned away.
Get ready to kiss your husband!
At the end of the short ceremony, the judge usually will not tell you to kiss, so please be ready to take it upon yourselves or you can wait for my signal!
~ Friday afternoons are the most sought after spot during the week. As a general rule, mornings are quieter than after- noons, and the earlier it is in the week the quieter it will be too. So it’s safe to say Monday and Tuesday morning are the most quiet time for ceremonies. Fridays afternoons are the busiest.
~ Be aware of SF Giants game. Check out their schedule here: https://www.mlb.com/giants/schedule.
The brother in law works for the Giants, and I’m telling you… when there’s a game, there’s a fight for parking lot! So if you’re planning to bring a car, Uber or asking for your witness / friend to drive you are the best options.
Hope this help! Please feel free to message me if you have any questions.
Exciting times ahead!
Lyka Mak is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco, California but often exploring around the world. She combines a fine art, with a photojournalistic approach to beautifully capture the moments of a wedding day. Follow her daily adventures on instagram and view more of her work at photosbylyka.com.