As a City Hall wedding photographer, I am sometimes asked about the standard marriage vows that couples will be taking on their wedding day at San Francisco City Hall.

When you get married at a courthouse or city hall, there isn’t an opportunity for personalized vows like at a regular wedding ceremony.

At least for the civil ceremony, the actual wedding ceremony only lasts about 4 minutes. The vows are simple, straightforward and sweet!

For the full lowdown on everything you need to know about getting married at San Francisco City Hall, check out my detailed guide here:

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If the standard ceremony isn’t for you, you can choose a more personalized ceremony with an area rental. With this option you’d provide your own officiant of your choosing. You would also create your own vows, like at a regular wedding.

San Francisco City hall wedding vows - judge marries couples at courthouse

Deputy Marriage Commissioners are volunteers that perform civil ceremonies at San Francisco City Hall | Photography by Zoe Larkin Photography

Who will perform the marriage ceremony?

At your SF City Hall civil ceremony, you’ll be joined in matrimony by an officiant they will provide. Known as a ‘Deputy Marriage Commissioner’ in City Hall lingo, these retired city judges are really nice people.

They perform these beautiful ceremonies as a way to give back and keep busy! A lot of people don’t realize that the judges work on a voluntary basis.

Each Deputy Marriage Commissioner has his or her own style of performing wedding ceremonies and interacting with couples.

Some will spend a few minutes getting to know you and even offering a few words of celebration and congratulation. Others are more to-the-point.

Did you know that on Fridays, by far the busiest day at San Francisco City Hall, judges marry as many as 60 couples? Depending on the flow of the day they may have more or less time to devote to each couple.

So let’s dive into the wedding vows!

The San Francisco City Hall wedding vows

We are gathered here in the presence of witnesses for the purpose of uniting in matrimony ____________ and ____________.

The contract of marriage is most solemn and is not to be entered into lightly, but thoughtfully and seriously with a deep realization of its obligations and responsibilities.

____________ and ____________, no other words of mine or any other person truly marry each of you to the other. That is done when you exchange your promises and commit yourselves to this marriage and each other.

By entering into this marriage, you are pledging yourselves to a lifetime in which each will enrich the life of the other. You will be partners standing together to cushion the difficulties of life. Rejoice in your partner’s graces. Nurture your marriage carefully and watch it grow gracefully.

Please face each other and join hands.

Do you _______ , take ________, to be your lawful wedded (wife/spouse)? To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as you both shall live?

Do you _______ , take ________, to be your lawful wedded (husband/spouse)? To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as you both shall live?

Ring Ceremony (optional)

_______, the ring please. Place the ring on (her/his) left finger and repeat after me, “I give you this ring, in token and pledge of my constant faith and abiding love. With this ring, I thee wed.”

_______, the ring please. Place the ring on (her/his) left finger and repeat after me, “I give you this ring, in token and pledge of my constant faith and abiding love. With this ring, I thee wed.”

You have joined yourselves in solemn matrimony. May you strive all your lives to meet this commitment with the same love and devotion that you now feel. For love is truly the greatest gift we are given to share: love’s compassion is the glory of life. Delight in each other’s company and never take the other for granted, for you are destined to enjoy the blending of your two lives.

And now, in as much as you, _______ and_________ have given and pledged your love and faithfulness, each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of California as Deputy Marriage Commissioner, I now pronounce you (husband and wife/spouses for life).

judge entering the marriage ceremony room at SF City Hall to conduct a wedding ceremony

There are two areas where civil ceremonies take place – the private room or the rotunda | Photography by Zoe Larkin Photography

A few more helpful tips

You’ll see there’s a section in the vows below that pertains to the ring exchange. The judge will ask you beforehand when you check in whether you’ll be exchanging rings. Not all couples exchange rings.

This section will be skipped if you’re not exchanging rings – so expect the ceremony to be even shorter.

Your Deputy Marriage Commissioner will also ask you during check-in for your preferred names. If you have a nickname or go by a name different from what’s on your ID, they’ll happily use that instead!

It can feel a touch rushed, but just know that it’s to be expected on certain days and times. You may choose to exchange more personal vows privately later on if you still want that experience!

Tip: Don’t want to constrained by the simple vows, but don’t want to fork out for the private area rental? Check out my article linked below.

READ MORE  How to have a private ceremony at SF City Hall without renting a space

The judges sometimes change up the wording a little bit, such as saying “I marry you” instead of “I thee wed”. But generally, this is the script you’ll hear all Deputy Marriage Commissioners use for the short civil ceremonies.

A bonus tip: if you’re going down the civil ceremony route and getting married in the rotunda, have your family gather around close! The acoustics make it hard to hear the judge, plus there are often private ceremonies taking place with music and cheering!

Pssst, want to know the best way for the judge to face during your civil ceremony in the rotunda? It’s all in my on-the-day tips post, linked below.

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Deputy Marriage commissioner at SF city hall - marriage vows

A Deputy Marriage Commissioner congratulates a couple that he just married! | Photography by Zoe Larkin Photography

And that’s it!

And there you have it! The San Francisco City Hall wedding vows are short and sweet, but incredibly meaningful.

If you’re considering getting married at San Francisco City Hall, consider a photographer that can help you through your planning so you can have a stress-free day. In fact, if you’re looking for info about how exactly to go about planning your timeline, I’ve got you covered there, too!

READ MORE  How to create the perfect timeline for San Francisco City Hall wedding

I have a host of helpful information that will guide you through the day and inspire you to get the very most from your wedding experience in this spectacular building. Meet me, and check out my work at the link below!

Everything about my San Francisco City Hall wedding photography services.

Pin this graphic to your wedding planning Pinterest board.

Curious to know the San Francisco City Hall marriage vows? When you have a civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, the courthouse only permits the Deputy Marriage Commissioners to recite a wedding vow script, rather than personalized vows. If you want to know what vows you will say at your SF City Hall wedding ceremony, this post has the standard City Hall vows in full so you can prepare for your wedding and know what to expect! #sanfranciscocityhall #cityhallwedding | Zoe Larkin Photography

The full San Francisco City Hall wedding vows

 

San-Francisco-City-hall-marriage-vows

San Francisco City Hall wedding vows

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Lover of ice cream, killer of houseplants, Zoe is a San Francisco-dwelling love documentarian. Contact | Insta

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MOMENT CATCHER, LIGHT CHASER, DETAIL LOVER 

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