How to Officiate Weddings in San Francisco
A guide to officiating and getting married in San Francisco
From Baker Beach’s sweeping vistas with the Golden Gate Bridge rising in the background, to quirky hippie haunts on Haight-Ashbury Street, there’s a reason thousands of couples choose the Bay Area for their weddings every weekend. But it’s important to plan ahead, especially when it comes to filing for your marriage license. The Office of the County Clerk requires that couples must have a California Marriage License issued within 90 days of their Ceremony appointment.
Below, we cover everything you need to know when planning your wedding ceremony in San Francisco, California and provide links to important resources with the local city and county governments.
STEP 1: Get ordained with American Marriage Ministries
California State marriage law states that the following people may solemnize marriage:
- A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older,
- A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant - commissioner of a court of record in this state,
- A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office,
- A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court,
- A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of the United States Congress,
- A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court,
- A United States magistrate or retired magistrate,
- A Member of the Legislature or constitutional officer of this state or a Member of Congress of the United States who represents a district within this state,
- A person that holds or formerly held an elected office of a city, county, or city and county, or a city clerk of a charter city
You see that first designations, “A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination?” That could be you in just a few minutes if you click here and get ordained with AMM. We’ll wait…
In the meantime, when it comes time to perform your duties as the officiant, you should consider purchasing proof of your ordination from our store. These documents can be shown to couple, other wedding professionals, the venue, or even the San Francisco City and County Clerk may ask for proof of your status as an ordained minister.
STEP 2: Prepare for the Ceremony in Washtenaw County
Now that the easy part is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but can feel like a lot of pressure. That’s why we recommend checking out our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly.
You can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License
Now, back to taking care of the marriage license. It is the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the marriage license, but just be sure to double check that they have done so before performing the ceremony.
Once the festivities are over and the marriage license is properly signed, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. In San Francisco, the signed marriage license must be returned to the Assessor-Recorder’s Main Office in-person or by mail within ten (10) days after the ceremony.
File for the marriage license and plan your wedding ceremony:
The first step is to file for your marriage license from the Marion County Clerk's Office
Marriage licenses are available BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Appointments are available Weekdays during normal office business hours, starting at 8:15 a.m. and every half hour between 8:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.
Appointments may be scheduled and paid for through the online appointment system, or you made in person at the San Francisco County Clerk’s Office.
$110.00 - collected at the time of scheduling. Cash, money order, credit card or debit card in person. For online reservations, you must pay with a credit card at the time of booking.
Issuance Office: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl #168, San Francisco, CA 94102
Waiting Period: none
Expiration: 90 days
Return: by the couple
The basics -- San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations for couples looking to the knot for pretty obvious reasons, starting with a vast selection of venues, and an army of wedding professionals that know how to create memories. For pretty much the same reasons, it can get expensive (averaging $40,000) and booking in-demand professionals and venues requires planning well in advance.
Our advice, start very early, like at least a year!
Weather -- When it comes to seasons, September and October are the most popular months. It’s not just weather. San Francisco is a cultural mecca, and there’s a lot going on. Be sure to check if there are any big events happening around the same time as your wedding.
Travel -- It’s easy to get to, but can be hard to get around. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has the most inbound flights, but if you’re planning a wedding outside of the city, Oakland International Airport (OAK) or Sacramento International Airport (SMF) might be better options for your guests.
Once on the ground, congestion can get pretty bad during peak hours, so let folks know that public transportation in the city is available via Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Muni, and that it works well.