How to Officiate Weddings in San Francisco

A guide to officiating and getting married in San Francisco


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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.




How To Perform Marriage in San Francisco

Steps for the Wedding Officiant

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.  
 

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How To Get Married in San Francisco

Steps for the Couple

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. 

 

San Francisco County Marriage License Info

 

Issuance Office: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl #168, San Francisco, CA 94102
Fee: $110
Waiting Period: none
Expiration: 90 days
Return: by the couple
 



Wedding Venue and Planning Tips



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.


 

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Weddings in San Francisco FAQ

  • Who can perform weddings in San Francisco, California?

    American Marriage Ministry ministers are legally allowed to perform weddings in San Francisco California. Marriage ceremonies in the State of California must be performed by an authorized person defined in CA Family Code Section 400. Ministers ordained by American Marriage Ministries are legally allowed to perform weddings in California under the designation of “an authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older.”
     
  • How do I apply for a marriage license in San Francisco, California?

    Marriage licenses are issued by the City and County of San Francisco - Office of the County Clerk. Appointments must be scheduled in advance – no walk-ins are accepted. Click here link to schedule your appointment.
     
  • How much does a marriage license in San Francisco cost?
     
    Wedding licenses issued by the City and County of San Francisco - Office of the County Clerk cost $107.00 (*price subject to change) – collected at the time of scheduling. You can pay with cash, money order, credit card or debit card in person.
     
  • How do I fill out a marriage license in San Francisco?

    As the Wedding Officiant in San Francisco, your responsibility is to:

    A.     Ask the couple to present their Marriage License: The couple should have the marriage license with them, as it is their responsibility to apply for and obtain the document from the City and County of San Francisco - Office of the County Clerk

    B.     Confirm that the Marriage License is valid: All states have different laws governing the window of time during which the marriage license is valid and can be signed. In the City and County of San Francisco, marriage licenses must be issued within 90 days of your ceremony.

    C.     Complete and Sign the Marriage License: Once you are satisfied that the marriage license is valid and all the information is presented correctly, complete the fields relevant to you and sign the license along with any required witnesses.

    D.     Return the Marriage License to its Issuance Office: This is the couple's responsibility and the marriage license can be returned either in person, or by mail. The specific instructions regarding how to fill it out and return it will be included when the couple files for the marriage license so read the instructions carefully.
     
  • When should I apply for a marriage license in San Francisco, California?

    It is important to carefully consider the date and time of your reservation before scheduling, as California Marriage Licenses must be issued within 90 days of your Ceremony appointment. That means the ceremony must take place in California within 90 days of when the marriage license is issued.
     
  • What is the status of same-sex marriages in San Francisco, California?
     
    Since June 28, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dissolved the stay of the order enjoining the enforcement of Proposition 8, which restricted the rights of LGBTQ couples to marry. Currently, every county in the State of California is required to recognize the rights of same sex couples to legally marry. American Marriage Ministries is a LGBTQ embracing non-denominational church, and our ministers are empowered to unite all consenting adults in the institution of marriage.
     
  • How can I prepare to perform a wedding in San Francisco, California?

    The Wedding Training section of our site provides you with all the information and training required to officiate your first wedding in San Francisco. Additionally, AMM Ministers that register their weddings gain access to exclusive personalized ceremony scripts and other tools that help them prepare for, and perform marriages.

    We have also taken the hard work out of preparing for and performing weddings with our Minister Ordination Package, which contains everything you need to perform marriage ceremonies in San Francisco. In addition to everything that might be required for San Francisco government minister licensing, this package contains our guide to officiating weddings, full accreditation and proof of your new title, and is presented in an elegant holder.
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