San Francisco Wedding Venues
Everything You Need to Know
Finding inspiration for your upcoming wedding in San Francisco can feel exciting, but it can also be a challenge—after all, there are so many different options in the Golden City. Whether you are looking for the best wedding venues Bay Area has to offer or looking for the most appealing attractions in the city, we rounded up everything you need to know about a San Francisco wedding.
This guide will provide you with useful tips for planning your big day and finding the best San Francisco wedding venues for your upcoming celebration. You can also find talented San Francisco wedding planners and other vendors that will help embellish every detail of your celebration, from venues to photographers to planners. If you are looking for inspiration, our directory can provide you with the help you need to turn your wedding dreams into reality.
While finding the perfect Bay Area wedding venues for your day can feel overwhelming, fear not: This guide offers insights into the types of wedding venues Bay Area residents most recommend. Whether you are looking for a San Francisco City Hall wedding, or are instead more interested in the most popular wedding venues in San Francisco, you can find the answers you and your partner need here leading up to your big day.
What's the best time of year for a San Francisco wedding?
Most experts agree that autumn in San Francisco is one of the best times to schedule your wedding, but know that your big day will be beautiful no matter what time of year you have it. Whether you’re planning a San Francisco City Hall wedding or booking one of the many elegant and luxurious wedding venues in the Bay Area, there are benefits and considerations alike for when you should hold your celebration.
Because the popular season for San Francisco wedding venues typically encompasses both spring and fall (with a definite increase in demand in June), scheduling the top wedding venues Bay Area offers during the off-season of winter or peak summer can often allow you to enjoy greater availability and fewer tourists for your big event. If you have your heart set on a specific date for your soiree, however, you can always plan an elopement or a San Francisco wedding City Hall style. By inviting a few friends to your City Hall San Francisco wedding, you can usually schedule a wedding on your preferred day with a smaller amount of planning for your ceremony. (It might be easier to submit your San Francisco wedding license too.)
What are the different types of San Francisco wedding venues?
Even if you decide on a San Francisco City Hall wedding, you may also need a venue for your reception. Some of the most popular options for wedding venues in the Bay Area include:
- Marrying at City Hall: In recent years, a San Francisco City Hall wedding has become a popular, modern option for couples who want to enjoy a unique atmosphere in this vibrant city. Planning a City Hall San Francisco wedding is usually relatively easy. Your City Hall San Francisco wedding will usually be performed by a County Clerk Deputy Marriage Commissioner. The ceremony will need to be quite intimate as well, as no more than six guests are allowed for a standard San Francisco City Hall wedding. You can, however, make arrangements or request a specific venue for your City Hall San Francisco wedding by contacting the City Hall Events Department. You will also need to apply for your San Francisco wedding license with your partner before or at the same time you reserve a time with your San Francisco wedding in City Hall — just make sure the timing lines up correctly so that your license is valid come ceremony time.
- Weddings at museums: Museum wedding venues in San Francisco are a great place for your nuptials, and the options include art galleries, historical sites, the San Francisco Mint, and space and science museums. These Bay Area wedding venues can provide you with a jaw-dropping backdrop for exchanging your vows. Some of these spaces also feature outdoor areas and dedicated spaces for receptions and other celebrations, meaning you can make the venue unique to your vision.
- Hotels and resorts: Choosing one of the many San Francisco hotels as the venue for your wedding can allow you to enjoy the greatest convenience when planning your fete. Hotels and resorts already have several facilities and amenities in place, from built-in lodging options for guests to ample space for catering, which can make the planning process much easier for you and your partner.
- Restaurant weddings and receptions: If you’re planning a City Hall San Francisco wedding ceremony, restaurant wedding venues in San Francisco allow you to host an elegant reception after your ceremony. This can provide the essential compromise between a San Francisco wedding City Hall elopement and a full-scale wedding. By inviting a larger group of loved ones to your reception, you can also avoid any hurt feelings for relatives and friends who want to share your special day with you. Restaurant venues can also allow nearby San Francisco wedding photographers to capture even more magical moments on this once-in-a-lifetime day.
- Country clubs and estates: San Francisco wedding venues also include a number of private clubs that can serve as the quintessential venue to say, “I do.” If you are looking for an elegant, classic setting for your ceremony and reception, country clubs are among the most popular wedding venues Bay Area has to offer.
- Waterfront venues: Also known as the city by the bay, San Francisco offers Bay Area wedding venues near the water that allow your San Francisco wedding videographer to capture stunning footage of you and your partner on your big day. By checking out some of these waterfront wedding venues in San Francisco, you can find a spot that offers eye-catching views and, ultimately, a beautiful space to get married.
- Event spaces: Some of the most beautiful Bay Area wedding venues are in dedicated event spaces built for special occasions like weddings. San Francisco wedding photographers or planners can often recommend the most elegant and appealing event spaces for your celebration.
- Ballrooms: Located in hotels, country clubs, or other establishments, ballrooms are a great choice for dinner and dancing at your reception. These San Francisco wedding venues are an excellent option for sharing your special day with your partner and your guests.
- Religious settings: Churches, synagogues, chapels, and other religious organizations are among the most popular wedding venues the Bay Area can provide for couples. These wedding venues in San Francisco can provide a special, meaningful location for exchanging your vows.
You can also choose to get creative when deciding on San Francisco wedding venues. For example, a sports stadium wedding could be an iconic location for superfan couples to tie the knot. Finding the San Francisco wedding venues that appeal to you and your partner can allow you to enjoy the most beautiful, unique celebration in this cosmopolitan city.
What are the different areas of San Francisco?
Taking a quick tour of the various neighborhoods in San Francisco is probably the fastest way to find Bay Area wedding venues in your favorite area of town, but that can be time-consuming or difficult to do—especially if you don’t live in the Golden City. Check out a quick guide to the different areas of the city, each with their own unique San Francisco wedding. Check out a quick guide to the different areas of the city, each with their own unique San Francisco wedding venues:
- Fisherman's Wharf attracts crowds of tourists and offers family fun on the northern waterfront of San Francisco.
- North Beach offers some of the top wedding venues Bay Area has to offer with an Italian-American flair.
- Chinatown is one of the most iconic locations in the Golden City and is a great option for restaurant wedding celebrations and receptions after a City Hall San Francisco wedding.
- The Financial District offers some stunning views of the water and can be a great destination for receptions after a San Francisco City Hall wedding.
- Union Square is primarily known as a shopping district in San Francisco. Some of the hotels in this area, however, are among the most popular San Francisco wedding venues.
- Central Market, as its name suggests, is located in the middle seven blocks of Market Street. The Golden Gate, Orpheum, and the Strand and American Conservatory Theaters are all located in this small area of San Francisco.
- SoMa refers to the South of Market area. Once a manufacturing center, this area offers plenty of attractions and Bay Area wedding venues to make your celebration extra special.
- The Castro District is a great choice for LGBTQ+ and allied couples who want to plan a wedding ceremony or a reception after a City Hall San Francisco wedding. There are tons of beautiful wedding venues the Bay Area has to offer in this beautiful neighborhood.
- The San Francisco Civic Center holds San Francisco City Hall wedding ceremonies and offers plenty to see and do in this relatively small area. Whether you are planning a San Francisco wedding City Hall style or simply looking for elegant, centrally located San Francisco wedding venues, this area is a great place to start your search.
- Haight-Ashbury is perhaps best known for the Painted Ladies houses and offers some upscale Bay Area wedding venues.
- The Fillmore District is filled with important musical history. Today, it offers some of the best wedding venues Bay Area couples seek out for their celebrations.
- Japantown was founded by Japanese immigrants and offers beautiful shops, delicious restaurants, and more nearby Bay Area wedding venues.
- Nob Hill offers luxury wedding venues in San Francisco and is a popular upscale destination for celebrations in this area.
- Pacific Heights features stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay, which has made this neighborhood a destination for the top in-demand Bay Area wedding venues.
- The Presidio is a national park that stands on the site of a former military base. Encompassing 1,500 acres, the Presidio is a popular spot for couples after getting hosting San Francisco wedding City Hall ceremonies.
- Sunset District is located in the southwestern part of San Francisco. This diverse neighborhood offers some of the best Bay Area wedding venues.
- Bayview features the stunning South San Francisco Opera House as one of its key attractions.
- Treasure Island was built during the 1930s as part of preparations for the Golden Gate International Exposition held in 1939. This attraction can be the perfect setting for beautiful shots captured by your San Francisco wedding photographer.
- The Mission District is a popular location for Bay Area wedding venues and a trendy destination for shopping or a night out on the town.
If San Francisco wedding venues aren’t available during the time frame you’re hoping for, you can also consider Sonoma, Napa, Oakland, San Jose, or Berkeley as nearby locations that can allow you to enjoy the beauty of Northern California in a slightly different locale.
How much does a wedding cost in San Francisco?
The costs of your big day vary greatly from couple to couple and location to location. That said, findings released in 2019 estimated the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. to be almost $34,000. If you and your partner are beginning the process of budgeting for your wedding in the Golden City, you’re probably curious about the cost of San Francisco wedding venues. Again, while it’s different for every celebration, one report found that the average cost of a San Francisco wedding celebration was nearly $40,000 in 2017.
If you’re hoping to save money on your ceremony, you could plan for a beautiful San Francisco City Hall wedding, or cut back on the number of guests invited to your big day. You could also pick up a San Francisco wedding license and plan an alfresco celebration at one of the city’s many beautiful parks.
The costs associated with your big day will depend on where you get hitched, from a City Hall San Francisco wedding to a ceremony at one of the top Bay Area wedding venues. No matter where you choose to celebrate, though, you can work with your wedding planner to find a spot perfect for you and your partner.
How do you find the best San Francisco wedding vendors?
The right venue and vendors can make your celebration extra special. Here are some of the most important elements to consider when planning your soiree:
- The planning: San Francisco wedding planners can take your wedding from start to finish and can help make sure every element of your celebration comes together.
- The venue: With so many beautiful wedding venues in San Francisco, it can be hard to narrow down the right options for you. San Francisco wedding vendors can often be a source of recommendations on the best venues and locations for your wedding. (For instance, your planner can help you find the ideal locale to match the vision you have for your ceremony.)
- The food: You can select from a wide range of San Francisco wedding caterers. Whether you want the elegance of a plated sit-down dinner or the more casual fun of a food truck, you can find the right catering solutions for your big day.
- The photos: Your San Francisco wedding photographer will be responsible for taking the photos you and your partner will cherish for years to come. Selecting the best San Francisco wedding photographers can allow you to create lasting memories of this very special day that you’ll cherish for decades to come.
- The videos: Enlisting the services of professional San Francisco wedding videographers will also allow you to capture every moment of your ceremony and reception. Be sure to sit down with your San Francisco wedding videographer before your celebration to outline your expectations. Like your San Francisco wedding photographer, your team of San Francisco wedding videographers should be able to provide you with a general shot list to ensure that the footage reflects your own unique vision for your fete.
- The cake: Like the city itself, San Francisco wedding cakes tend toward the trendy and avant-garde. Bakeries that specialize in San Francisco wedding cakes can create a confection that will delight you and your guests and add to your reception’s theme. In some cases, San Francisco wedding cakes have been designed to reflect the overall look and feel of the San Francisco wedding dresses chosen by the wedding party, as well as other elements of your celebration’s theme—making sure the color palette and general vibe are consistent throughout all elements of your day.
- The look: San Francisco wedding dresses range from classic floor-length white or ivory gowns to colorful designs that reflect your individual aesthetic. Professional San Francisco wedding planners can often point you in the right direction to find unique San Francisco wedding dresses for your special day.
- The flowers: Florists who cater to weddings work with you and your spouse-to-be to create the ideal atmosphere for your wedding. Florals are key to all aspects of your wedding. For instance, your San Francisco wedding videographers can often use your flowers as a focal point for creating a video record of your celebration, too.
Along with the right San Francisco wedding planners, Carats & Cake can provide inspiration for your San Francisco wedding dresses and other elements that will contribute to the most memorable experience for you and your guests.
What are some things for wedding guests to do in San Francisco?
Providing your guests with a curated list of attractions and landmarks in San Francisco is usually best reserved for your wedding website. You can also provide a physical list in a welcome bag once guests arrive. Some of the most popular activities include:
- Visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Touring Alcatraz
- Viewing the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park
- Riding on a cable car
- Strolling down Lombard Street
- Attending one of the numerous festivals held in San Francisco
In addition to sharing these ideas and popular locales with your guests, you can hire a San Francisco wedding videographer to film memorable footage of you and your partner at some of these top attractions.
How do you get to San Francisco?
Most visitors from out of town use either San Jose International (SJC) or San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to travel to San Francisco. Car rentals are available at both airports to allow your guests to arrive at your venue in style.
If you need a little extra help when planning for your San Francisco wedding, Carats & Cake is here to assist you. To learn more about San Francisco venues and vendors, check out the gallery above to see inspiration from real weddings to better envision (and plan!) your own big day.