Wedding Venue in Bay Area?
February 15, 2011 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for a wedding venue in the SF Bay Area (ideally San Francisco or the Peninsula/South Bay. The twist here is that we will have just four guests, so I don't exactly need a ballroom. Rather, a more intimate outdoor or indoor venue will do great (shooting for July, on a Saturday). For example, are there any nice public buildings or spaces open on a weekend? I don't want anything too remotely located, unless there is something else to do in that location, like have lunch afterwards. Thanks for all your suggestions.
posted by Atrahasis to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
SF City Hall is beautiful, and the JOP is thrown in! If you only have 4 guests you don't need to rent a space.

Lots of yummy food nearby, and all over the City.
posted by blandcamp at 12:11 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, and open on a Saturday. Hmm.
posted by blandcamp at 12:12 PM on February 15, 2011

Second vote for City Hall - but be aware that many other people have the same idea, so the longer your wedding ceremony goes on the greater the likelihood of an unromantic line forming behind you! Wherever you have the ceremony, even with only four people, plan something about photos. You'll miss them if you don't have them, and you'll want at least one of all 6 of you together - even if that just involves one friend bringing a tripod. Many locations, both commercial and public, have plenty of experience with weddings and will often give small parties a great discount. Do your budgeting ahead of time even if the wedding is quite minimal, so that you don't have to think twice about it on the day. Simple doesn't always come cheap, especially not when it has to happen fast!

I thought about getting married at City Hall, but eventually my wife and I decided to get married in the Asian Art Museum instead, which is on the other side of the 'block'. We had a larger party, about 30 people. But they have small quite private rooms, and a charming private garden. It will still cost a bit though.

You will probably need to go to City Hall anyway to get your marriage license (if you live in SF rather than Daly City or Pacifica, and it won't be very different there), for which you must make an appointment. Have all your paperwork in order. They can be rather fussy about it, and when I got married I was rather frustrated to have one person tell me something was a problem after someone else had assured me it was OK. Keep track of who you talk to and ask to speak to a more senior person if anything seems ambiguous or contradictory. The front-line staff are overworked, but not always reliable or experienced, especially if there is anything out of the ordinary about your situation. So don't leave things until the last minute - get that stuff squared away as early as possible. If either or both of you are doing a name change, that too can be quite time consuming. Check around with other government agencies/commercial service providers about what kind of documentary stuff they require, since you'll have to go by City Hall a few weeks after the wedding to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate for legal purposes - the one you get 'on the day' is strictly for commemorative purposes.

Also, congratulations!
posted by anigbrowl at 12:43 PM on February 15, 2011

Maybe Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park? It's big enough, and your group is small enough, that if one spot is already occupied you can just walk somewhere else. Free admission, lovely gardens and ponds, some areas fairly small and intimate-ish, open weekends, but can be chilly in the fog.
posted by Quietgal at 12:53 PM on February 15, 2011

Blandcamp and Anigbrowl: SF City Hall was my first choice, but they only do marriage ceremonies Monday-Friday.

Anigbrowl: I appreciate your comment about the photos! That is a really good idea, even if one of us just brings a tripod.
posted by Atrahasis at 3:02 PM on February 15, 2011

China beach?
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:06 PM on February 15, 2011

Does it need to be free? We got married in August a few years ago in the tiny Japanese-style garden inside the then-Radisson Miyako, now the Hotel Kabuki, in SF Japantown. There were four of us. The events manager hadn't heard of anyone doing it before, but she worked with us--they charged us around $250 for blocking it off for a couple of hours and their insurance and so on. We stayed there overnight (I love that hotel). There are lots of good restaurants nearby. You can't BART all the way there, but the parking garage is convenient if there's no festival that weekend.
posted by wintersweet at 7:51 PM on February 15, 2011

Following up: We found a mid-week time that worked for everyone, and are getting married at SF City Hall! Wheee!
posted by Atrahasis at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2011

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