When you choose to get married at SF City Hall, you have a few different options open to you. One of the private areas that’s available for rent is the Mayor’s Balcony.
The Mayor’s Balcony is an elegant choice for couples that would like a little more privacy, a higher guest count and the chance to exchange personal vows at their City Hall wedding.
This article will give you more details on what to expect from your wedding in this area, some sample photos, plus details on the area itself and how to book it.
Are you ready to envisage your Mayor’s Balcony wedding?
If you’re looking for the other private ceremony area available at SF City Hall, check out my guide linked below:
Table of Contents
Unique features of the Mayor’s Balcony
The Mayor’s Balcony boasts some great features, for one it’s a Beaux-Arts masterpiece. The location can’t be beaten if you want to feel like you’re in the middle of the action, not too set apart.
Though private, you’ll overlook the Grand Staircase and the Rotunda, and indeed many of the other areas of City Hall on the North and South sides.
Aside from the beautiful views, the area has an ornate iconic gold railing, easy accessibility, and seating for up to 40 guests.
I particularly love the small steps between the lanterns to the back of the area. You can use this as a stunning aisle to descend down and make your entrance.
The stairs also work well for positioning guests in a staggered formation for family photos. It makes family formals quicker and better!
Where is the Mayor’s Balcony?
The Mayor’s Balcony is located on the second floor of San Francisco City Hall.
It’s directly below the stunning large clock. The area is extremely easy to locate from the main entrance on Polk Street.
You simply walk in through the main door, walk a few steps to the elevator on your left, go up one floor, exit the elevator, take a left and you’re on the Mayor’s Balcony!
Mayor’s Balcony Floor Plan
How many guests does the Mayor’s Balcony hold?
The Mayor’s Balcony seats up to 40 guests. You can have up to 100 guests in attendance in total, with the remainder standing.
When is the best time to rent the Mayor’s Balcony?
I would recommend booking either one of the earliest slots (9am or 10am), or the last slot (3pm). This is due to the fact that it’s so busy at City Hall during the middle of the day.
The earliest and latest appointments are probably your best bet for avoiding crowds. Light-wise, morning is going to be brighter with cleaner light and less orange tone.
When there are other people using the staircase and getting married in the Rotunda (which this spot overlooks), they would likely be in the background of your photos.
You can book your appointment up to a year out. 6-9 months out is common for popular dates, though somewhat last-minute appointments are sometimes available if you can be flexible as to the time and date.
Do you need to book the Mayor’s Balcony to take photos there?
Nope! City Hall is a public building. Anyone is permitted to enter and take photos wherever they please in the public areas. The only exception to this is when a couple has already made an official booking for the Mayor’s Balcony, in which case the area will be cordoned off to the general public.
Are there any disadvantages to the Mayor’s Balcony?
There are a few less desirable aspects to weigh up when you consider areas for your San Francisco City Hall wedding. These may not be a big deal to everyone, but I figure it’s worth knowing the entire story before making a decision.
- The lighting can be harsh at certain times of day. Sometimes the light falls directly on the spot the couple stands. When this happens, the couple will appear very light in photos and the background will be in sharp contrast – almost black. Worse, One partner may be in the light and the other in the dark, which is every photographer’s nightmare!
- The Mayor’s Balcony is undoubtedly darker than the 4th Floor North Gallery (which is the spot most beloved by San Francisco City Hall photographers). At some times of the day, there is next to no natural light streaming in. However, as long as you are OK with the sample photos, it’s more the photographer’s issue than anything for you to be concerned with.
- Flash will almost certainly need to be used for the group photos, which creates a slightly different look from regular City Hall images where I use natural light for a true-to-life, flattering feel.
- The Mayor’s Balcony can be a little noisy if there’s a lot going on in the building.
- There may be other people visible in the background as they run up and down the stairs and marry in the Rotunda which is right opposite your ceremony spot. The Christmas tree will be visible in the background of your photos during the whole month of December.
How much does it cost to book the Mayor’s Balcony?
The rental cost for the 1-hour ceremonies is $1,000 at the current time.
This doesn’t include chairs, which are an extra cost. If your budget allows, I recommend splurging on the Chiavari chairs which look way classier!
For up-to-date pricing information, check out the links below.
How long is the rental period?
The rental period for all private area rentals taking place during regular opening hours is 1 hour in duration.
How do you book the Mayor’s Balcony?
You’ll need to reach out to the San Francisco City Hall events team. This is separate from the Civil Ceremony information. They have their own office on the 4th floor.
There is a process for holding and booking a date which the team will explain to you. You’ll pay 75% as a deposit by cashier’s check or money order.
Then there are contracts, insurance, vendor forms, various permits and fees. It sounds scary, but it’s really not. The team is there to help and will hold your hand through it all.
Where can you find a photographer for your wedding on the Mayor’s Balcony?
Right here! 🙋🏾♀️
I’m an experienced San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer. My team and I have photographed many weddings on the Mayor’s Balcony and have guided even more couples around the whole building!
When you’re looking around for the right photographer for you, be sure to find someone that is familiar with the space ideally. Not just so they can get the best photos there, but because the right photographer can also be your guide and offer planning assistance and insider tips.
I pride myself on helping couples with all aspects of making their City Hall wedding days run smoothly. With a vast knowledge of all aspects of getting married in San Francisco, I’ll soon prove myself as a valuable addition to your wedding vendor team!
Sample wedding photos from the Mayor’s Balcony
All photography by Zoe Larkin Photography