Happy Fake-iversary! (How to get Married at SF City Hall)

As most of you know, Andrew and I got married in August 2015. You also knew that Andrew and I planned to move to Scotland in the following month, but for me to legally accompany Andrew to Scotland and to complete all the necessary legal paperwork, I needed to be legally married to him. So on June 4th, Andrew and I went to City Hall and got married (at least on paper)!

I never thought I’d be someone that went to City Hall and got married, but it was an extremely positive experience. I highly recommend it! It was simple, easy, and relatively inexpensive. I found a dress from high school in my closet and Andrew borrowed clothes from Nate. Plus, San Francisco City Hall is just one of the most beautiful government offices to be in and to look at. The entire staff there was super friendly, nice, and happy. Everybody looked like they loved their jobs. Furthermore, pictures are guaranteed to look amazing and romantic.


If anybody was wondering what it was like to get married at City Hall, this was our experience. If anybody was wondering how to get married at San Francisco City Hall, this hopefully answers some of your questions.

How much does it cost to get married at San Francisco City Hall?
For us, the marriage license was $103 and the ceremony was $76. The fees have increased slightly since June 2015.

How do I make an appointment?
Go to the Marriage License and Civil/Commitment Ceremony – Online Reservations for the Office of the County Clerk website. Basically, we made two appointments: one to get the marriage license and one for the ceremony. For civil ceremonies, it’s pretty standard that you just get the marriage license the same day as the ceremony. When you make your appointment, you can use your credit card to pay for the license fee and ceremony fee. You can’t get a refund or make any changes for any reason so make sure the day and time work for you.

When should I make an appointment?
If you have a specific day or time, I’d definitely recommend making an appointment as early as possible. Appointments can be made 90 days in advance. We made our appointments 3 weeks before our day and had plenty of availability. We didn’t want it to be too busy, so we chose a Thursday morning. There were people around, but I would assume it would be busier on a Friday afternoon. We booked our license appointment at 10am and our ceremony at 11am. It was plenty of time. If you want to get the license and ceremony done on the same day, make sure that you have at least 30 minutes between reservations. Reservations for licenses are available Monday-Friday from 8:15am through 3:30pm. Reservations for ceremonies are available Monday-Friday from 9:30am through 3:30pm.



How do I get to City Hall?
Andrew and I took BART. It was super convenient. Get off Civic Center and walk across the Civic Center Plaza to City Hall. Our families drove to City Hall and met us later. There is a parking garage on Mcallister, but we invited our grandparents who have handicapped placards so they were able to park anywhere.


What do I need to bring to City Hall?
Obviously, both parties need to be there. We brought our confirmation for our appointments for our license and ceremony and our driver’s licenses. Just make sure that your ID is not expired. You’ll also need to have at least 1 witness (you can have up to two). Our witnesses were our brothers. We also brought our families. On the government website, it says that you can’t bring more than 6 guests total. However, it is a public government building and anybody can just come in. We had 9 guests and it was not a problem. There were definitely other groups with more.


Where do I go once we get to City Hall?
Go to Room 168. This is the County Clerk’s office and it’s on the first floor. We got in line around our appointment time, but there was no line. The friendly staff gave us a form to fill out and told us to get back in the line. Then, we waited for our number to be called. The staff was so nice and friendly. I’ve never been at a government building where everybody was so nice and helpful. They told us what to do and where to go. They looked like they all really enjoyed their jobs and there was never more than 1 other couple in line before us. (Tip: Make sure you know whether or not you are going to be changing your name after marriage so you can write the new name on the marriage license). After filling the form and returning it to the staff, we waited until our ceremony appointment time to be called with our witnesses to meet with the Justice of the Peace.


Where will the ceremony be?
Most civil ceremonies are in the Rotunda, and that’s where we got married too. It’s beautiful.


Who marries you?
There are judges and justices of the peace who volunteer their time performing civil ceremonies. Ours was Mary Ortega. She was very nice and the ceremony took less than 5 minutes.


How do I get our certified marriage certificate?
The office will say that your marriage record will not be available for purchase until 10 business days after the license is received. However, I went to check to see if it was available 6 business after the civil ceremony, and it was there and the friendly staff quickly printed it out for me. All you have to do is go to Room 190, the Assessors Recorders Office and ask for your marriage certificate and show your ID. I paid $15 for each marriage certificate.

Total Cost?:
$103 (license) + $76 (ceremony) +15 (certificate) + $9.20 (2 BART Tickets to Civic Center) = $203.20*
*Fees have increased since June 2015


Would we recommend it? 

Absolutely, yes! It’s so affordable, it’s beautiful, and the people at City Hall were so nice and friendly!





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