Planning Basics

How to Get Married in San Francisco: A Guide to Bay Area Weddings

By Samantha Iacia, July 16, 2019
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Samantha Iacia
How to Get Married in San Francisco: A Guide to Bay Area Weddings
Joss Li Photo

From amazing Bay Area wedding venues to local marriage requirements, here's exactly how to get married in San Francisco and beyond.

If you're researching how to get married in San Francisco, you probably don't need us to tell you about all the perks that this coastal region can offer. But just in case you had any doubts about hosting a San Francisco wedding, let us remind you that this city has lively neighborhoods, historic charm, gorgeous outdoor spaces (with water views to boot), and a beach-meets-urban vibe that you won't find anywhere else in California.

When getting married in San Francisco (or planning your nuptials in the surrounding areas of Oakland, South Bay, and North Bay), it's safe to say that you have a plethora of options at your fingertips, regardless of your style and budget. This guide will arm you with the basics, including our favorite venues, local tips, and inspiration, to help you plan your San Francisco wedding like a pro.

Wondering how to get married in San Francisco? We've got answers! Start planning your San Francisco wedding right here. 

The basics

According to WeddingWire data, most couples in this area are opting for a slightly longer engagement at 14 months, hiring about 13 vendors, and inviting around 120 wedding guests. The average cost of a wedding in San Francisco is $40,000, ringing in as the second-most expensive place in the country to get hitched (only behind New York City). 

When thinking about how to get married in San Francisco, keep in mind that September and October are the most popular months for Bay Area couples to wed. No matter which date you choose, be sure to check if there are any city-wide events (festivals, parades, sporting events, etc.) happening around the same time as your planned nuptials. Things like hotel availability, downtown traffic, and even the cost of flights into town can all be affected when there's increased demand and crowds, so be sure to plan accordingly. Some of the major San Francisco events that could impact your wedding day include the annual Chinese New Year Parade (February), Bay to Breakers race (May), San Francisco Pride (June), Castro Street Fair (October), and the Ghirardelli Square tree lighting (November). 

Getting there and getting around

This region is sprawling with a capital “S,” so you want to make sure your out-of-town guests have their travel and accommodations figured out in advance. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the area’s main airport, but if you’re planning to host your wedding in Oakland or someplace farther north (hello, wine country wedding!) you might recommend that your guests search flights into Oakland International Airport (OAK) or Sacramento International Airport (SMF). The same goes for hotel accommodations. You’ll want to be sure to book a room block at a hotel that's relatively close to your wedding venue so guests are able to walk or hop in a quick ride-share before and after the festivities. Public transportation in the city is available via Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Muni, the bus system that also operates San Francisco's iconic streetcars. 

Nadya Vysotskaya Photography

Weather

Throughout most of the year, the Bay Area enjoys mild, warm days and cooler nights. On average, September is the warmest month with highs around 70 degrees, while December and January average 60 degrees during the day and 40 degrees at night. Rainfall is heaviest from November to March, with the summer months seeing very little precipitation. And of course it wouldn't be San Francisco without the fog — this natural phenomenon is a regular occurrence during the summer but can happen sporadically throughout the year. The fog often varies drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood, as documented by its very own Instagram account

Wedding venues

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge is the epitome of any San Francisco wedding, but your venue options aren't limited to the heart of the city (unless you want them to be, of course). Travel across the Bay in any direction and you’ll find plenty of stunning wedding locations, from magical woodsy parks ideal for an outdoor wedding to unique historical venues and ridiculously affordable gems.

No need to stress about how to get married in San Francisco if you're on a tight budget — we did the legwork for you and found a number of wallet-friendly venues throughout town. 

See affordable wedding venues in the Bay Area »

Make your wedding day totally memorable by embracing San Francisco's quirky spirit and tying the knot at one of these unexpected locations.

See unique San Francisco wedding venues »

Travel outside city limits to Oakland, where you'll find stunning vineyards, gardens, and other outdoor venues (including a few that offer amazing views of the San Francisco skyline). 

See the best Oakland wedding venues near San Francisco »

Jordan Katz Media

Marriage requirements

Your San Francisco wedding will need to be accompanied by a California marriage license. Luckily, the Golden State makes that pretty easy to obtain. There’s no required wait time once your license is issued, but it will expire after 90 days. While you don’t have to be a resident of California to get married in San Francisco, both parties will need a valid photo ID to apply for a license, and at least one witness will need to sign the certificate on your wedding day.

San Fransisco wedding inspiration

Now that you know exactly how to get married in San Francisco, check out these real weddings to see how other couples pulled it off.

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