San Francisco Elopement Guide 2022

Your Guide To Planning An Intimate SF Wedding

When it comes to places for getting married, one of the most romantic ideas might be a San Francisco elopement. There’s a reason that Northern California elopement guides usually list San Fransisco first: Between the Golden Gate Bridge, the views of the bay, the many parks, the fog, the Presidio, Pier 49, the crashing Pacific—San Francisco is an incredibly romantic city with so many great options for your wedding venue! So if you need a little help planning your destination wedding on the west coast (the best coast), consider this your dream elopement San Francisco guide 2020! The information here can help you plan your dream elopement.

San Francisco City Hall Elopement

What Do I Need To Get Married In San Francisco?

While exact specifications may vary depending on where you are getting married, you will at the very least need the following for your special day and your San Francisco elopement:

  • Two unmarried adults of at least 18 years of age; if either bride or groom is under 18, you’ll need a court order through the Juvenile Court system.
  • A marriage license: The ceremony must occur within 90 days of the marriage license issuance; the ceremony must be performed by an authorized person (as defined by CA Family Code Section 400); California residency (nor US citizenship) is not a requirement for marriage in California. (Keep in mind, however, that you may need a reservation to apply for a marriage license, as many county clerk offices (such as in San Francisco) are not currently open for walk-ins.) The license fee costs $110, which is due at the time of scheduling an appointment. You’ll also need a full legal ID for both parties.
  • Any name change information if either party wishes to change names should be addressed when applying for a marriage certificate.
  • If previously married or previously in a state registered domestic partnership (SRDP), you’ll need to know the exact date it legally ended; if 90 days or less previously, you’ll need a “certified” copy of divorce, annulment, termination, or death record when applying for your marriage license.

Finally, while a California marriage license is valid anywhere in the state, marriage by proxy is not allowed in California.

San Francisco City Hall Elopement

Best Time To Get Married In San Francisco

Your own individual preferences will likely help dictate the best time of year for planning your elopement San Francisco. September and October are the most popular months for bay area weddings and San Francisco elopements. November to March is the historic rainy season in San Fransisco, so keep that in mind if considering an outdoor wedding venue. If you’re determined to have an outdoor spring wedding, May is most reliably dry—a key consideration for your comfort and for good wedding photography.

Finally, if you really are considering a quiet low-key San Francisco elopement, consider getting married during the week; Monday to Thursday (and specifically mid-day times during the week) are the most likely to be quiet and cost you less at your wedding venue of choice. Similarly, consider times of day when it comes to weather: Wind is less of a consideration in the morning (it generally starts to pick up mid-morning and through the afternoon in the bay area), and fog is less likely in the afternoon (it generally burns off by noon or so).

San Francisco Elopement

San Francisco Elopement Photographer

Professional Advice From San Francisco Elopement Photographer Ryan Horban

The most important thing any couple planning a San Francisco elopement is to get all the information they need before buying those tickets on Southwest Airlines. Common questions many couples have include things such as the best restaurant for elopement dinner San Franciscohornblower San Francisco elopement packages, planning your elopement, and of course San Francisco elopement ideas. Yes, you should do some research but remember that an elopement is not a wedding! Every single detail and every hour of the trip does not need to be meticulously accounted for. The most important thing is you choose a venue that speaks to your collective hearts, book a nice room in the city, and hire a kick-ass San Francisco elopement photographer who can document the journey in an authentic fashion that truly captures your love story. No matter how crazy, romantic, and wild it may be! 

San Francisco Elopement

San Francisco Elopement Package

Maybe you don’t want to start your marriage off $50,000 in debt. Maybe your family members are a little (or lot) overbearing, which is making the entire wedding planning process a nightmare. Or maybe, just maybe, you simply want to have an adventure with your significant other and have a whirlwind destination elopement in one of the most unique cities in the country, near Muir Woods National Monument, Reyes National Seashore, the California redwoods, and all the other amazing locations a northern California wedding can offer.

The reason why you are looking into San Francisco elopement packages does not matter. The only thing that does matter is that you have the most incredible experience in San Francisco as you and your partner begin your journey together as a married couple. So let’s crack open that champagne and get ready to have some f**king fun! Couples looking for San Francisco elopement packages typically invest in anywhere from 1-3 hours of San Francisco elopement photographer services. Here is a breakdown of that cost per hour: 

  1. One hour of San Francisco elopement photography $1200
  2. Two hours of San Francisco elopement photography $1,900
  3. Three hours of San Francisco elopement photography $2,900

As a destination wedding photographer, I am thankful to have seen so many incredible places and San Francisco is easily one of my favorite spots. With a long history, tons of romantic things to do, and amazing vegan food, there are so many reasons why adventurous couples choose to elope in San Francisco. I currently offer a number of different San Francisco elopement photography packages for the madly in love looking to say, “I F**king Do!” on the west coast. So if you want to enjoy every moment of your wedding day instead of dealing with crazy timelines and an endless amount of mason jars, please use the contact form below, and let’s talk about giving you the most authentic, unposed, San Francisco elopement photos guaranteed to make all your single friends jealous. And of course, your married friends who did not have the balls to elope and wish they did!

    My Name Is Ryan. What's Yours? *

    Your Email Address So I Can Respond Back Lickety Split!*

    Event Date *

    Event Location *

    Tell me about YOUR WEDDING!


    Ryan Horban Photography Featured

    How Much Is A San Francisco Elopement Photographer?

    The average hourly rate for a San Francisco elopement photographer is approximately $800, with many photographers charging between $1500-$2500 for basic elopement packages in SF. 

    San Francisco Elopement Locations

    There is obviously no shortage of amazing elopement San Francisco locations, so if you are looking for unique venues in San Francisco for an intimate elopement here are some of the 

    Top 5 San Francisco Elopement Locations:

    1. Golden Gate Park. Between Stow Lake’s Chinese Pavilion, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, the Carousel—amazing photo locations and ceremony spots about in one of the Bay Area’s most iconic natural settings. Lush settings abound, including several areas that allow reservations and even alcohol permits if you’re looking at reception possibilities, too.
    2. Coit Tower. The iconic tower stands atop Pioneer Park in the Telegraph Hill area and offers some of the best panoramic views in the city—of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. Small ceremonies are allowed in the grassy lawn at the base of the tower, and the tower makes for phenomenal photo opportunities.
    3. Presidio Park. The nearly 1,500-acre park is a former military fort and part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and—much like Golden Gate Park—numerous venue opportunities abound, including picnic areas, sculpture gardens, scenic overlooks, two chapels, and more.
    4. Fay Park. For quiet, intimate ceremonies, the Fay Park Garden on the slope of Russian Hill offers a perfect elopement location, especially given the iconic sundial’s inscription: “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”
    5. Beachside. There’s always the simple option of a quiet and quick ceremony on one of the many San Francisco beaches, as well, with the gorgeous Pacific surf and morning fog. Just be sure to do your research, as different beaches have different restrictions on what is allowed and what permits are required.

    Other great wedding venue options for your special day include Baker Beach, Old Mill Park, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Palace of The Fine Arts, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Mt Tamalpais State Park (and other Marin headlands locations), or even one of a number of East Bay options for your ceremony location. Beautiful Bay area elopements are easier than you might think, so let’s start planning today!

    Bonus pro tip: Make sure to visit Land’s End Lookout and Sutro Baths during golden hour if you want your San Francisco elopement photographer to capture some truly stunning photos that epitomize the SF coastal vibe!  

    San Francisco Elopement

    San Francisco City Hall Elopement

    Of course, few locations could be as iconic as a City Hall San Francisco elopement. Two full city blocks long, San Francisco’s City Hall is an architectural marvel, with both indoor and outdoor locations for an intimate ceremony. Options vary, from places that can be rented (like the Mayor’s Balcony) to locations that are available for free (such as in the rotunda) provided certain requirements are met. And a City Hall wedding can make for a great story with intimate weddings the norm, too.

    For more detailed information about San Francisco City Hall elopement packages please CLICK HERE!

    San Francisco City Hall Elopement

    How Much Does It Cost To Elope San Francisco?

    Of course, one of the best parts about a San Francisco elopement is how relatively affordable it can be! Let’s look at some of the most likely costs:

    1. A marriage license for your San Francisco elopement will cost you $110.
    2. A nice romantic dinner at one of San Francisco’s best nightspots might be had for less than $100 (at Son & Garden, for instance) or may run up to a few hundred (if you go fancy, such as at Acquerello, for instance).
    3. A round-trip flight to and from San Francisco. Depending on where you are coming from, your flight could be anywhere from less than $100 (from San Diego, for instance) or a few hundred from most other major U.S. airports.
    4. Hotel accommodations or a nice Airbnb. The Fairmont Heritage in Ghirardelli Square, for instance, offers 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom options (replete with a restaurant helmed by a James Beard-winning chef and 24-hour butler service) starting at roughly $500/night and there are plenty of deals for nearly as posh a room elsewhere in the city.
    5. A rental car might cost you a few hundred, or less, depending on the agency and your package.

    All told, you might well be able to plan your perfect San Francisco elopement for a grand or two—compare that to the cost of a traditional wedding—which now averages $40,000 in San Francisco—and what are you waiting for?!? Wedding elopement or micro weddings are a perfect way to tie the knot without spending a fortune, so let’s start planning your perfect San Francisco elopement today!

    Engagement Photos Sutro Baths San Francisco

    Other Elopement Resources: