Are you planning to tie the knot in San Francisco? You’re in the right place. The San Francisco Bay area, popularly called the ‘Bay Area,’ is a vibrant metropolitan center long known for its fine wine, beautiful beach fronts, and cultural melting pot.
Renowned festivals and praiseworthy gastronomy are two of many perks to hosting a Bay Area wedding. As home to one of the largest pride parades in the nation, the LGBTQIA community will find the city very welcoming.
Whether you’re envisioning a large wedding event or an adventurous elopement, it’s important to have all the logistics in place regarding venues, accommodation, and travel guidelines. From COVID-19 updates to marriage license requirements, our San Francisco wedding guide has tips and inspiration to help plan your special day.
Read the complete guide or use our jump-to links below:
From wine country (hello Napa!) to luxurious estates, there are plenty of Bay Area wedding venues to suit your style and tastes. With so many stunning and versatile options, it’s hard to choose!
To help, our list of prescreened wedding venues in San Francisco has dozens of locations in which you can filter by price, availability, type, capacity, and setting. Here are some popular venues throughout the city consider:
You can skip the waiting process and get married right away at the San Francisco City Hall! Affectionately known as the People’s Palace, the City Hall is a historic landmark and beloved venue in San Francisco. From its elegant embellishments to ravishing architectural design, this building is the perfect backdrop for weddings and events.
To have a civil marriage ceremony at City Hall, you must book an online appointment and pay the $93 fee in advance. Ceremonies can have up to six guests (including the photographer).
Due to COVID-19 regulations, the San Francisco City Hall is currently closed to the public. Reservations for ceremonies and other events are set to resume after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
COVID-19 Update: San Francisco’s Office County Clerk is currently closed to the public. Marriage services, including the issuance of marriage licenses and conduction of ceremonies, are available through video conferencing.
To obtain a wedding license in California, you and your partner need to do the following:
Since marriage licenses are valid for 90 days after issuance in California, you and your partner will need to get married within that time frame. You can visit the official county clerk website for additional marriage FAQs and forms.
Yes. To get legally married in San Francisco or any other city in the State of California, you must have a California Marriage License.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, marriage license issuance is only available through video conference appointments with the county clerk.
Yes. In the State of California, couples can have their wedding ceremony the same day they obtain their marriage license. Couples can also schedule to have a civil ceremony during the marriage license issuance via video conferencing.
The creative culture of San Francisco is without parallel. The city is home to numerous art institutions, musical productions, and vibrant murals that exude ingenuity for a Bay Area wedding. With this in mind, bold brights and nature-inspired palettes are two of many wedding colors and trends this year to consider.
As a busy metropolitan hub, getting married in the Bay Area can be much more costly than in a rural area. With an average wedding cost of $39,300, San Francisco is about $6,000 more expensive than the national average. Guestlist size, location, season, and style also play a major role in wedding costs. View the chart below for a helpful breakdown of costs:
If a San Francisco wedding is a bit more than you budgeted for, consider an intimate, small ceremony to help cut costs. For additional tips, check out our guide on how to plan a wedding on a budget.
Seasons play an important role in wedding planning, including the venue choice and wedding style. With three surrounding bodies of water, San Francisco has a unique, cooler climate than other cities in California. The weather here is mild year-round with temperatures ranging mid-40s to low 70s. Here are factors to consider for each season.
Spring: April, May
While nice and sunny, temperatures are generally in the mid-60s and 50s. The springtime is beautiful, yet cool and windy. This is the best time to visit San Francisco, since tourism is low during this season and you can find good travel and lodging deals.
Summer: June, July, August The Bay Area is gorgeous this time of year, but the weather is very unpredictable. You may experience a warm, sunning morning with a chilly and foggy afternoon. Temperatures fluctuate a lot, from the mid-50s to the 70s. This is also peak travel season when you can expect large tourist crowds and plenty of festivals.
Fall: September, October
With daily temperatures around 70℉ and mid-50s at night, the fall season is warm and sunny in San Francisco. It’s a great time to enjoy an outdoor wedding and the city’s many walking tours. Be sure to pack a light sweater or jacket for the evening breeze. Early fall is the perfect time to explore the city when hotel rates are low and the kids are back in school.
Winter: November through March This is the rainiest season of San Francisco with chilly, damp weather. Light rain lasts most of the day with temperatures ranging from 50℉ – 60℉. Fortunately, the city doesn’t experience freezing temperatures in the winter. This season has the least tourism, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Currently, San Francisco is slowly reopening to visitors. Many businesses are operating and serving at limited capacity. The Bay Area is abiding by all social distancing guidelines (facial masks, 6-feet physical distance, etc.) and requires visitors to do the same. Regarding wedding venues, it is best to check the capacity limits in advance before booking. For more information, visit the official City and County of San Francisco website.
Looking for ceremony ideas? Check out our galleries of real San Francisco weddings, where you can use filters to find inspiration by season, trending styles, and location.
Below are a few of our favorites.
Once you have some ideas for your ceremony, you can create a vision board to help conceptualize your wedding style and make it a reality!
From gorgeous ocean views to exquisite architecture, San Francisco boasts plenty of wedding photo ops. You can read your wedding vows in some of the most charming places throughout the San Francisco Bay area:
Is one of your wedding guests planning to propose to their significant other? Have them take a look at these top places to propose in San Francisco while they’re here!
San Francisco is called the LGBTQ capital of the world. From its annual San Francisco Pride Parade in June to its Castro Street Fair in October, locals often say that Pride is a year-round state of mind. You will find inclusivity in every neighborhood throughout the city. The Castro District, for example, is a thriving LGBTQ+ community in the Bay Area that boasts rainbow banners from the streetlights to honor the history and struggle for equality.
You can check out several organizations and monuments throughout the area, including the Rainbow Honor Walk and Pink Triangle Memorial, to learn about the city’s LGBTQ+ history. Marriage equality in California became legal in 2013, two years before its legalization nationwide.
Find wedding vendors throughout the San Francisco Bay area! Knock some to-dos off your wedding planning list by using our extensive list of pre-screened vendors. Here, you can filter options by price, venue style, wedding theme, and more.
Make sure your out-of-town guests make their travel and accommodation plans in advance! Here are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in and popular attractions to visit while in the Bay Area.
Whether you’re traveling from out-of-state or another side of California, there are plenty of ways to enter the San Francisco Bay area.
Arriving by Plane: You will most likely fly on United Airlines since it is the leading carrier into San Francisco International Airport. The Bay Area has the following four airports:
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)- Distance to downtown SF: 14.2 miles
Oakland International Airport (OAK)- Distance to downtown SF: 20.4 miles
Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC)- Distance to downtown SF: 46.8 miles
Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS)- Distance to downtown SF: 62 miles
Arriving by Train: The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has fast, electric trains that help visitors get from SFO to San Francisco without traffic. A roundtrip fare from the SFO airport to downtown San Francisco will cost $19.30.
Arriving by Bus: The San Mateo County Transit Agency (SamTrans) runs public buses from SFO to downtown San Francisco with the adult fare for $2-$5 one-way.
Arriving by Car: Planning to drive? You can take the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), also known as Highway 1, for a nice scenic route. Once in town, you can take advantage of apps like ParkMobile to find parking.
Although a large and busy city, you’ll discover it’s easy to get around. The Bay Area has several additional transportations available, including its classic cable cars, ride-sharing, taxis, and the PresidioGo Shuttle.
Each neighborhood in San Francisco has its own culture and charm. From shopping centers to art districts, it’s hard to choose just one! Check out a few of these popular neighborhoods in the Bay Area.
Mission District: Home to dozens of boutiques, shops, and restaurants, this neighborhood is a great pedestrian area. You can also see beautiful outdoor murals in the area and relax in Dolores Park, a green space perfect for picnics.
Union Square: Need some retail therapy? This town has plenty of shopping spots, restaurants, and art galleries. You’ll also find a nice strip of fine hotels here, including The Grand Hyatt and Westin St. Francis Hotel.
Haight-Ashbury: Take a walk along this eclectic street to find a colorful row of Victorian houses and boutiques. From tattoo parlors to consignment shops, the energetic vibe of Haight-Ashbury makes shopping all the more fun.
North Beach: While there’s no actual beach here, visitors enjoy the delicious cuisine of the strong Italian-American community here. You can also visit Grant Ave., a strip lined with bars and music clubs.
Financial District: Also known as the Embarcadero, this waterfront town offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. You can visit Pier 15, a beloved destination for families, and the Ferry Building Marketplace, a ‘foodie haven’ full of wine bars, restaurants, and farmers’ markets.
There’s more than meets the eye with this eclectic city. With nearly 26 million visitors every year, the San Francisco Bay area has tons of rich history, cuisine, and natural beauty to explore. Here are 10 fun things to do and see while in San Francisco.
With this complete guide to San Francisco weddings, you can plan your wedding in confidence. From wedding SVG ideas to customized invites, Zola has everything you need to prepare for your special day.