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  • Writer's pictureDaniela Monzi

How to Elope in San Francisco

Photo from my elopement in 2021 by Mallory Munson

San Francisco is known for its iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and stunning views. It's no wonder that it's a popular destination for weddings and elopements alike. If you're considering tying the knot in this picturesque city, you're in for a treat. But with so many options and details to consider, it can be overwhelming to plan your perfect elopement. That's why I've put together this guide to eloping in San Francisco. From obtaining your marriage license to choosing the perfect venue and hiring a photographer, I'll walk you through everything you need to know. So sit back, relax, and get ready to say "I do" in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Obtaining Your Marriage License

Before you can exchange vows and seal your commitment to one another, you need to obtain a marriage license. Fortunately, San Francisco makes this process relatively simple. You can obtain your license from the San Francisco County Clerk's Office, located at City Hall. You'll need to make an appointment ahead of time and show up with valid photo identification, such as a passport or driver's license. The cost for a marriage license in San Francisco is $110, payable by cash or credit card.

If you wait too long and appointments are booked up, you can make an appointment at a neighboring county, like my husband and I did. Your marriage license is valid for you to get married anywhere in California.

When booking your appointment, be sure to ask if there are any additional documents or information required. For example, if you or your partner have been previously married, you may need to provide proof of divorce or annulment. It's always best to double-check in advance to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience.

Once you've obtained your license, it will be valid for 90 days. This gives you plenty of time to plan your elopement and say your "I do's". Just be sure to have your license with you on your wedding day, as the officiant will need to sign and return it to the Clerk's Office within 10 days of the ceremony.

With your license in hand, you're one step closer to eloping in San Francisco. Next up, let's talk about choosing the perfect venue for your special day.,

Choosing the Perfect Location

When it comes to eloping in San Francisco, the city offers a wide variety of unique and intimate wedding venues. From stunning coastal vistas to charming city gardens, there is no shortage of picture-perfect backdrops for your special day.

For those seeking a natural setting, consider exchanging vows in Lands End, the San Francisco Botanical Garden or the Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden. All of these locations offer serene and lush scenery, perfect for a romantic elopement.

If you're looking for a more urban vibe, the city's iconic City Hall is a popular choice. The grand and ornate architecture provides a stunning backdrop for your wedding photos. Crissy Field, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, is another popular location for couples seeking a picturesque, yet urban setting.

For a truly unique experience, consider exchanging vows on a San Francisco cable car or ferry. Both offer a fun and memorable way to say your "I do's" while exploring the city.

No matter which venue you choose, be sure to confirm any necessary permits and make arrangements ahead of time. With the right venue, your elopement in San Francisco is sure to be a magical and unforgettable experience.

Of course, capturing those special moments is equally important. In the next section, we'll explore how to find the perfect San Francisco elopement photographer to document your special day.

Hiring a San Francisco Elopement Photographer

Capturing the special moments of your elopement in San Francisco is an essential element to preserve those memories forever. Choosing the right photographer is crucial, as they will capture your emotions and the essence of the day. San Francisco has no shortage of talented photographers, but finding the one that perfectly fits your style and preferences can be overwhelming.

Start by browsing through some local photographers' portfolios to determine their style and whether it aligns with what you have in mind. Most photographers have galleries on their websites, social media platforms, or wedding directories where you can view their work. You can also ask for recommendations from friends or family who have gone through a similar experience before.

Once you have picked your top choices, it's time to schedule consultations with each photographer. A face-to-face meeting or a video call can give you a better sense of their personality, professionalism, and whether you feel comfortable working with them. Discuss your vision for the photoshoot and ask for their suggestions on locations and timing. Also, inquire about their experience in shooting elopements, their packages, pricing, and what is included.

Make sure to read the contract thoroughly, and ensure that it outlines all the details, including the shooting time, locations, number of edited photos, and any additional costs, such as prints or albums. It’s essential to ask any questions you may have before signing on the dotted line.

With the perfect elopement photographer, you can trust that your special day will be expertly captured. In the next section, we'll explore how to plan your day-of timeline, so you can have a smooth and memorable experience.,

Planning Your Day-of Timeline

After securing your dream photographer, it's time to start planning your day-of timeline for your San Francisco elopement. The key to a successful elopement is organization, so it's crucial to have a rough plan in place.

Begin by determining what time of day you want to exchange your vows. You'll want to consider the weather, lighting, and any permits needed for your chosen location. Keep in mind that San Francisco can be foggy and windy, so you may want to plan for a midday ceremony to avoid harsh light and ensure your hair and veil stay in place.

Next, think about your transportation. Will you be renting a car or taking a rideshare service? If so, make sure to account for travel time and potential delays. If you plan on taking public transportation, research the schedules and consider any walking time to and from stops.

Once you have your ceremony and transportation planned, think about any additional activities or locations you want to visit for photos. Research the best photo spots in San Francisco, or ask your photographer, and keep travel time in mind. Be realistic with your timeline to make sure you have enough time to take photos without feeling rushed.

Remember to plan for breaks in between activities, as you'll want some downtime to enjoy your day and take it all in. And don't forget to schedule a time for a celebratory meal, whether it's a fancy dinner or a casual picnic in the park eating In-N-Out.

By having a well-planned day-of timeline, you'll be able to relax and enjoy your San Francisco elopement without worrying about the details.

Photo from my elopement in 2021 by Mallory Munson

In conclusion, eloping in San Francisco can be a breathtaking and intimate way to celebrate your love. By following the steps outlined in this guide, from obtaining your marriage license to planning your day-of timeline, you'll be well on your way to a memorable and stress-free elopement experience. Remember to make the day your own and savor every moment. As Mark Twain famously said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," but we guarantee that your elopement in this city will warm your heart for years to come. So go ahead, reach out, and make your San Francisco elopement dreams a reality.

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