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Top 10 San Francisco Wedding Venues
Frank Sinatra left his heart in San Francisco and it's easy to see why. Perhaps the two most-used adjectives to describe San Francisco are "unique" and "romantic", making it the perfect city for those seeking a unique and romantic wedding location.
But if you're planning your special day here, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of different hotels, museums, natural settings, and museums available for rentals. But there are a handful that really stand out as... especially magical.
Once you've seen these most romantic places in this most romantic city, you won't want to get married anywhere else.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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San Francisco City Hall - Beaux-Arts Grandeur
In many places, City Hall is a bland municipal building with peeling paint and a dour atmosphere – not exactly ideal spots for weddings. But San Francisco City Hall is a Beaux-Arts monument with a breathtaking rotunda that makes a magnificent SF wedding location. Along with marble floors and soaring columns, the centerpiece is the grand staircase, which is a favorite backdrop for wedding ceremonies.
Though you can have an inexpensive wedding at San Francisco's City Hall, in order to... guarantee that your ceremony can take place in the Rotunda without interruptions, you'll need to rent out the space. Ceremony-only rentals take place on Saturdays before 3pm.
But this municipal building is so gorgeous, it's also great for your wedding reception. Evening rentals run from 4pm to midnight, and include use of the equally grand light courts and second floor balconies for receptions. The rental fees can be steep, but you won't find such dramatic and spectacular settings anywhere else in the city.
Capacity: Ceremony in the rotunda: 200 guests; receptions: up to 3000 guests
Contact Info: (415) 554-6079
Address: 1 Polk Street San Francisco, CA 94102Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Bently Reserve - 1920's Opulence
Prohibition-era glamour has a home in San Francisco at the Bently Reserve. Built in 1924 for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, it features a soaring hall, travertine walls and Italian marble floors, and a beaux-arts front colonnade. The 34-foot tall ceilings of the central banking hall are emphasized by rows of Doric columns. It's a perfect setting for a lavish San Francisco wedding to impress your guests.
For a ceremony, the happy couple can make a dramatic entrance down the grand... marble and steel staircase in front of up to 350 seated guests. If you prefer to get married in a house of worship, nearby options include the Catholic Old St. Mary's and Notre Dame des Victoires, the Episcopal Grace Cathedral, the Keneseth Israel orthodox synagogue, and the largest Buddhist church in the United States, Buddha's Universal Church.
For receptions at the Bently Reserve, use the full space and host up to 650 guests. (You can also rent the adjacent Farallon room for even more capacity.) Or limit seating to inside the columns for 250 guests. Provided curtains allow you to create separate spaces beyond the columns for photo booths, catering stations or even the dance floor. A second-floor covered terrace is ideal for cocktail hours set against the energy of downtown San Francisco.
Though the Bently Reserve is on the National Register of Historic Places, a recent renovation married that historic detail to modern technology. In fact, closed-circuit television allows the couple to keep an eye on their guests from the privacy of the bride's lounge. One of the Bay Area's greenest venues, the Bently Reserve is LEED certified.
Capacity: Ceremony: 350 seated. Reception: 650 standing, 400 seated, 250 seated inside columns
Contact Info: 415.294.2226, Vivian Perez, Event and Sales Director
301 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Swedenborgian Church - Craftsman Rustic Charm
The crackle of a roaring fire and the warmth of candles add magic to a charming wedding ceremony setting at the Swedenborgian Church. Built in 1895 by a group of architects, artists, and spiritual seekers, this alluring and rustic Pacific Heights chapel is a National Historic Landmark. (The Swedenborgian Church is the only house of worship in San Francisco to be awarded this honor.) It's one of the earliest examples of the Arts and Crafts Movement on the west coast.
Inside, the coffered... ceiling is accented with natural tree trunk beams and wooden walls, a reflection of the nature-centered philosophy of its founding pastor and architect, Joseph Worcester. Couples getting married walk past the wood-burning fireplace on their way to a simple wooden altar. The beautiful and historic garden is also available for smaller wedding ceremonies (with the peace of mind of the chapel as a rain location).
Never heard of the Swedenborgian religion? They are a Christian denomination centered on Jesus Christ, and are generally liberal on social ethics – ie, this is a great place for LGBT ceremonies. They are welcoming to other denominations, and flexible about letting you customize the wedding ceremony.
After the ceremony, the adjacent Craftsman-style Parish House and flower-filled garden are available for receptions.
Capacity: Church ceremony 100-115 guests, garden ceremony 45 seated and 75 standing guests
Reception: 120 guests for a buffet-style reception or 75 for formal sit-down dinner
Contact Info: (415) 346-6466, x14 or (415) 346-6468
2107 Lyon Street at WashingtonContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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The Legion of Honor - Married Amongst Artwork
There are lots of wedding venues in San Francisco that offer impressive views. Many more feature grand and historic architecture, and there are numerous museums with lobbies that are available for rent. But the Legion of Honor has all of this in spades and more.
Where else can you get married amongst priceless Rodin sculptures? What other venue offers a large grassy lawn with views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge? Where else in San Francisco is imposing neoclassical architecture paired with... expansive space and fine art? If I sound like a superfan of the Legion of Honor, it's because I am. I even named it one of my most romantic wedding locations in the world.
Sure the rental fees aren't cheap, but the ceremony locations are surprisingly affordable. And renting out the entire museum is comparable to the cost for much less impressive large spaces around the city.
Wedding ceremonies often take place on the Balustrade Lawn, where you'll exchange vows against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. But if you feel more at home in man's art rather than nature's, you can wed in the palatial Court of Honor in front of Rodin's Thinker and a majestic wraparound colonnade.
The most unique reception location is definitely the Rodin galleries, where more than 70 Rodin sculptures are highlighted in adjacent halls with vaulted marble ceilings. Have your cocktail reception in one gallery, a seated dinner in the second, and dancing in the third, allowing your guests to have intimate experiences with some of the legendary sculptor's most famous pieces.
But if your artistic tastes run a bit older, you can also have your wedding reception downstairs on the terrace level. Your guests will drink cocktails in the Hall of the Antiquities while admiring centuries-old treasures before going to the window-filled Legion Café for dining and dancing. The adjoining brick sculpture garden can be used as additional reception space, or just a space for guests to get a breath of fresh air under the olive trees.
Capacity: Outdoor ceremony: 275, indoor ceremony 300
Reception Seated Indoors: 225, Seated Outdoors: 400, Standing Indoors: 300, Standing Outdoors: 700
Contact Info: 415-750-3698
100 34th Avenue, Lincoln Park San Francisco, CA 94121Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Maritime Museum - Streamline Moderne and Stunning Views
Built in 1939, this classic Streamline Moderne Art Deco style building was designed to mimic the sleek style of an ocean liner. Celebrating the glamour of sailing ships, this architectural gem boasts "boat deck" outdoor patios with sweeping views of the harbor, bridges, the Ghiradelli Square iconic sign, and the city itself. It was originally built as part of the New Deal as a public bathhouse, and is now part of the National Park Surface. While the exterior is smooth and white, the... inside has fanciful murals and mosaics by Sargent Johnson and Hilaire Hiler. The combination of styles means the museum is awesome for Film Noir elegant weddings, contemporary hip parties, or whimsical "under the sea" themes. The building underwent a complete restoration completed in 2011, maintaining the historic details but updating all of the infrastructure.
It's easy to have your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception here in the various spaces, but nearby houses of worship include Saint Mark's Lutheran, the Old First Presbyterian Church, and Keneseth Israel.
Though the Fisherman's Wharf weather is notoriously fickle, the combination of spaces means your guests can be comfortable indoors on colder, foggier days, and enjoy the outdoors when the sun lights up the city.
Capacity: Seated 430, standing 750
Capacity: Seated 175, standing 200
Contact Info: 415/561-6662 x12, Director of Special Events
900 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA 94109Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Bluxome Street Winery - Fresh Style
The youngest and freshest venue on our list is without a doubt the Bluxome Street Winery. The first winery to open in downtown San Francisco in 100 years, the venue manages to feel at once rustic and comfortable, yet also hip and modern. Sleek concrete floors, and a wall of warm wooden wine barrels compliment the vast space. Owners Matt Reidy and Chris Nelson converted vintage Italian wine vessels into stunning lighting fixtures that fit the urban vibe.
But the beauty of the space is just one... reason to have your wedding here. San Francisco is both a wine-loving city and one that celebrates the origins of foods. That's why Napa and Sonoma winery weddings are so popular. A Bluxome wedding means you can have the convenience of the city while retaining the cool factor of sipping wines in the very place they were created. Fortunately, the wines here are stunning - the kind that you linger over, and think about again hours later.
Located on a SOMA (South of Marketa neighborhood) industrial side street, the charcoal grey façade with oversized lettering will be the first sign to your guests that they're at a special place. It's no surprise this newish spot has instantly become a hotspot for affordable tasting, monthly farmers markets, and Giants game "tailgating."
Capacity: 150 seated, 300 standing
Contact Info: 415-543-5353, firstname.lastname@example.org
53 Bluxome St., San Francisco CA 94107
Bluxome Street Winery WebsiteContinue to 8 of 11 below.
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California Academy of Sciences - Science, Beauty, and Adventure
Getting married means embarking on a new adventure, so it's pretty cool to take your wedding guests on an adventure too. Fun-loving couples often choose to have their wedding at a planetarium, aquarium, or museum, but the California Academy of Sciences is all three rolled into one.
What other Natural History museum includes the typical dioramas and giant T-Rex skeletons, but also a living rainforest, a planetarium, and an aquarium? Have your ceremony in front of a coral reef with thousands of... tropical fish as your witnesses. Or, choose the expansive piazza where a living wall will serve as the backdrop for your vows. For the reception, have your first dance in front of the appropriately tuxedoed penguins in the African exhibit, or dine with T-rex in the main lobby.
Since you'll have the use of the whole museum, you can pose for pictures on the living roof, whose rolling architecture mimics the seven hills of San Francisco. But your most memorable photos of this truly unique San Francisco wedding venue might just be the ones you take with Frank, the albino alligator!
Capacity: Up to 280 guests
Contact Info: (415) 379-5868, email@example.com
55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118
Website Visiting the California Academy of SciencesContinue to 9 of 11 below.
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Farallon - Undersea Fantasy
Like getting married at City Hall, getting married at an Elks Lodge doesn't immediately seem to be a terribly romantic idea. But the Elks Lodge No. 3 in San Francisco is a gorgeous 1925 Spanish Gothic-style building; one that was given a ten-page spread in the very first issue of Architectural Digest. The gem of this lodge was the soaring double-height swimming pool with arched ceilings and a hand-painted mural of bathing beauties.
Today, the top-portion of that room (including the arches and... mural) has become the celebrated restaurant Farallon. Under the direction of Chef Mark Franz, it serves "costal cuisine," which means a menu focusing on seafood and fresh produce. It's some of the best cuisine in San Francisco; in a food-lover's town, that means a lot.
The restaurant will do a total buy-out so that you can use the full space for 160-250 guests. However, they also rent out some awesome spaces on the fourth floor of the Elks Lodge for more affordable prices. The largest, the Beluga room, seats 120 guests. This former ballroom of the Elks Lodge boasts gilt details and underwater murals where sea creatures dance amongst seaweed and skeletons.
Let's not pretend that this is a budget wedding option. However, it is more affordable than many gorgeous wedding venues in San Francisco that have multi-thousand-dollar space rental fees, and require you to use an exclusive caterer with high prices. At Farallon, you don't pay a space rental fee – just a per person cost for the food, which starts at $45 per person for a three-course lunch menu, and $80 for a three-course dinner menu. All beverages are charged by consumption – great if your guests don't drink a lot, not as great if they do. *
As a bonus, the other tenant of the Elks' Lodge is the Kensington Park Hotel, a boutique-style hotel whose charm and Union Square location make it a tourist favorite. Neither you nor your out-of-town guests will have to drive at the end of the night, giving you the convenience of a hotel wedding without the cookie-cutter look of one. Many wedding couples book the Royal Suite, which includes a giant living/dining space, whirlpool bath, and two fireplaces. Zebra-print carpet adds a wild touch to the traditional furnishings.
*Information current as of publication time – check with restaurant for current prices and other fees.
Capacity: 250 with buyout, 180 in private dining room
Contact Info: (415) 956-6998
450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Presidio Log Cabin - Rustic in the City
Barn wedding venues and rustic themes are very chic right now, but for city dwellers, they mean asking your friends to rent cars and trek to a far-away location. Yet San Franciscans can have the best of both worlds with the Presidio Log Cabin, part of the Presidio National Park. This rustic room boasts log walls, beamed ceilings, wagon wheel chandeliers, and a large dance floor. Outside, the large flat lawn is frequently used for wedding ceremonies. (The Presidio Interfaith Chapel is another... nearby charming spot for ceremonies. )
It's easy to play up the country-western vibe by adding cowboy décor, but it can also just as easily become an elegant and magical space. A stone fireplace is wonderful for those chilly San Francisco evenings, while the covered patio and picnic area is ideal for the cocktail hour on warmer days.
Note that though the pictures on their website feature a large "Log Cabin" sign on the outside, it is no longer there. Apparently it was damaging the structure so the parks department took it down.
Many couples have had incredible weddings here – for a few examples, see:
Capacity: 150 seated dinner with dance floor
Contact Info: Presidio Trust Special Events (415) 561-5444, firstname.lastname@example.org
1299 Storey Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Foreign Cinema - Whimsical Industrial Chic
There's extra pressure for the tenth spot on any top 10 list. The Top 10 most romantic and unique San Francisco wedding venues list is no different. I strongly considered the Fairmont and Westin St. Francis ballrooms, the stunning views of the Cliff House, and the grandeur of the Flood Mansion. But in the end, it was the quirky charm of Foreign Cinema that won my heart. It combines incredible food with industrial chic, and touches of whimsy.
The restaurant is known for its outdoor courtyard... where you can enjoy both dinner and a movie. I know, it sounds like a gimmick, but Foreign Cinema has thrived for over a decade because it has an incredible ambiance and fantastic food. And though many restaurants will rent you their entire space as a buy-out, this space really flows well as a wedding venue.
Start by having your ceremony in the canopied courtyard. The two-story space has an urban simplicity and is long enough for a dramatic bridal entrance. Above, the clear canopy is draped with twinkling strands of lights adding a fairytale vibe. Heat lamps help with San Francisco's unpredictable weather. (This is the spot where the restaurant regularly shows the foreign films that give it its name.)
Have your reception in the main dining room, whose double height ceiling and grand fireplace have dramatic style. Guests who linger over their dinners can look out through banks of windows to the courtyard dance floor as more eager guests get down, buoyed by the refreshing air. You'll have your first dance as a married couple under the stars – not just the astronomical stars, but also the Hollywood stars from your favorite romantic old movies projected onto the walls above you.
When a restaurant is your wedding venue, the food better be great. And fortunately, at Foreign Cinema it is. The restaurant has won numerous accolades, including being listed in the San Francisco Chronicle's Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants every year since they've opened. Their Mediterranean-inspired cuisine focuses on fresh seasonal and sustainable ingredients, including a massive selection of oysters.
But the icing on the cake is this wedding venue's location in the hip neighborhood of the Mission. You'll love showing your guests a more real side of San Francisco than Fisherman's Wharf. Make sure you slip off to take some photos in front of the murals of Clarion Alley – just four blocks away.
Capacity: 400 standing, 175 seated
Contact Info: (415) 648-7600 ext. 24.
2534 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110