San Francisco Elopement – 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, and 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 2023! The information here can help you plan your dream elopement. Let’s get at it!

San Francisco City Hall Elopement

6 Best San Francisco Elopement Locations

All great weddings and elopements have one thing in common: an awesome location. So the first thing you need to do is figure out where you will have your wedding ceremony.  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 elopement destinations I recommend:

SF City Hall

Few locations could be as iconic as a City Hall San Francisco elopement. Nearly two full city blocks long, San Francisco’s City Hall is an architectural marvel, with both indoor and outdoor locations for an intimate ceremony. The building’s marble staircases, ornate details, and historic artwork provide a beautiful backdrop for your wedding photos. The elegant location is ideal for those looking for a sophisticated, classic wedding vibe. You can book an elopement package in San Francisco that includes location consulting, wedding photo, and even indoor reception rental fees. San Francisco City Hall weddings offer stunning backdrops with elegant and historic features that create a unique ambiance. The SF City Hall has become one of the most popular elopement destinations in the Bay Area, offering a unique experience that is both romantic and unforgettable.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is a beloved and iconic spot for elopements due to its lush settings and numerous photo locations. The park features several areas that allow reservations and even alcohol permits if you’re looking at reception possibilities. Between Stow Lake’s Chinese Pavilion, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, and the Carousel, the park offers amazing photo locations and ceremony spots in one of the Bay Area’s most iconic natural settings. It’s perfect for couples looking for an outdoor wedding with a beautiful backdrop of trees, gardens, and lakes. Golden Gate Park is the perfect destination for those who want a romantic and natural setting for their elopement wedding.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower is a must-visit spot for couples who want breathtaking panoramic views of the city. The iconic tower stands atop Pioneer Park in the Telegraph Hill area and offers some of the best views of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. Small ceremonies are allowed on the grassy lawn at the base of the tower, and the tower itself makes for phenomenal photo opportunities. Coit Tower is a unique and iconic spot that provides a dramatic backdrop for your wedding photos, and it’s a perfect location for couples looking for a romantic and unforgettable elopement experience.

Presidio Park

Presidio Park is a former military fort and part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, much like Golden Gate Park. The nearly 1,500-acre park offers numerous venue opportunities, including picnic areas, sculpture gardens, scenic overlooks, two chapels, and more. The park features stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a perfect spot for couples looking for a natural setting with a historic feel. The park is also perfect for couples looking for a wedding with a breathtaking view of the city. Presidio Park is an ideal destination for couples who want to celebrate their elopement in a natural and historic setting.

Fay Park

Fay Park Garden on the slope of Russian Hill offers a quiet and intimate spot for elopement ceremonies. The park features an iconic sundial’s inscription that reads, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,” making it even more romantic. The garden is perfect for couples who want to have a small and intimate elopement ceremony in a peaceful and natural setting. The park is also located in the heart of San Francisco, making it convenient for couples who want to explore the city after their ceremony.


For couples looking for a simple and quick ceremony, the San Francisco beaches offer a quiet and beautiful spot with gorgeous Pacific surf and morning fog. However, make sure to do your research, as different beaches have different restrictions on what is allowed and what permits are required. Beachside elopements are perfect for couples who want a relaxed and casual wedding with a natural and stunning backdrop. San Francisco’s beaches offer a variety of locations that provide stunning photo opportunities and breathtaking views of the ocean.

Some of the most popular San Francisco beaches for elopements include Baker Beach, Ocean Beach, and Crissy Field Beach. Baker Beach is famous for its views of the Golden Gate Bridge, while Ocean Beach offers miles of pristine sand and rolling waves. Crissy Field Beach is a beautiful spot for an elopement ceremony with its panoramic views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Beachside elopements offer a unique and unforgettable experience for couples who want to celebrate their love in a natural and beautiful setting. Just make sure to check the local regulations and obtain the necessary permits to avoid any issues on your special day.

Honorable Mentions

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 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 Elopement

San Francisco Elopement Photographer

Professional Advice From San Francisco Elopement Photographer Ryan Horban

The most important thing for 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 in 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 a 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 for $1200
  2. Two hours of San Francisco elopement photography for $1,900
  3. Three hours of San Francisco elopement photography for $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? *

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    San Francisco Elopement

    How Much Is A San Francisco Elopement Photographer?

    The average hourly rate for a San Francisco elopement photographer is approximately $975, with many experienced wedding photographers quoting between $1500-$2500 for basic elopement packages in SF. The question you need to ask yourself is do you want to hire wedding vendors who are artists, or will any crackhead with a camera on Craigslist be good enough for you? Couples planning adventure elopements in SF should expect to pay between $1000-$3000 for photography wedding packages.

    San Francisco City Hall Elopement

    How Much Does It Cost To Elope In 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

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    When Is The 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).

    What Are Some Nearby Locations To Consider For A San Francisco Elopement?

    There are several nearby locations to consider for a San Francisco elopement, including Napa Valley, North Bay, Muir Beach, Mount Tamalpais, Half Moon Bay, Slide Ranch, Redwood Groves, and Santa Cruz. You can explore an interactive map to find elopement venues in these areas that suit your preferences and budget. Some venues offer elopement packages that start at a reasonable price and include all the necessary services and amenities.

    Do I Need To Pay A Reservation Fee To Elope At Popular San Francisco Locations?

    Yes, some locations require a reservation fee to elope, particularly those that are frequently visited by tourists and locals. However, some parks like Golden Gate Park and Presidio Park offer several areas that allow reservations and even alcohol permits if you’re looking at reception possibilities.

    What Are Some Unique Venues For Eloping In SF?

    San Francisco offers a plethora of unique venues for eloping, ranging from historic landmarks to serene gardens. The Conservatory of Flowers is a popular spot for couples looking for a romantic and lush setting. The Palace of Fine Arts is another iconic location that offers stunning architecture and picturesque scenery. Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park is a hidden gem that offers a romantic and intimate ambiance, perfect for elopements. If you’re looking for a rustic and natural setting, you can consider Estes Park or the redwood forests. Wine country also offers breathtaking vineyards and wineries, perfect for a romantic elopement experience. You can also look for wedding vendors that specialize in unique elopements to help you find the perfect venue.

    Other San Francisco Bay Elopement Resources: