SAN FRANCISCO – Sixty-one couples tied the knot amid the towering trees of Stern Grove last year, making it the most popular San Francisco park in which to wed in 2018.
On Valentine’s Day, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department released its wedding-related permit figures for 2018, along with a special Valentines Day edition of its podcast I Left My Park in San Francisco.
“Parks and romance go hand in hand,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “While there is simply no way to capture the countless date nights, marriage proposals, epic sunsets and strolls down garden paths couples have enjoyed in San Francisco’s parks, we can get a snapshot through wedding permit data.”
While Stern Grove and its Trocadero Clubhouse took the top spot for nuptials, the Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda placed second, with 47 weddings. Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park rounded out third with 41 weddings.
Sunnyside Conservatory, with its octagonal building and century-old garden, played host to 28 wedding celebrations, while 14 couples exchanged vows amid the colorful blooms of the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden at the west end of Golden Gate Park.
Ten couples tied the knot at the wooden gazebos of Fay Park, a tiny hidden gem in Russian Hill, while six weddings were held at the Fuchsia Dell in Golden Gate Park. The San Francisco Botanical Garden, also in Golden Gate Park, hosted five celebrations, as did the Gathering Meadow in Lafayette Park, located in Pacific Heights.
Two couples wed at the Outer Richmond’s Chain of Lakes and one couple walked down the aisle amid the marble columns of Portals of the Past at Golden Gate Park’s Lloyd Lake.
Rec and Parks officials tally the number of weddings booked annually at common wedding sites but estimate there are more than 100 additional ceremonies or receptions, mostly intimate gatherings, spread out throughout the city at picnic sites, neighborhood parks, and other beloved locations.
The number of permitted weddings has grown over the decades, as have the number of parks. Today, San Francisco boasts more than 220 city parks. Notable love-related events in San Francisco’s parkland and open space have included a British-themed soiree at Fay Park to mark the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle; an annual Valentine’s Day flash mob pillow fight at Justin Herman Plaza; elaborate proposals involving choreographed dances and treasure hunts; and a lavish dog wedding at Stern Grove.
Like Cupid’s arrow, the latest episode of I Left My Park in San Francisco podcast takes aim at romance in the parks. From initial attraction at Precita to a nervous meeting at Duboce to a wedding surprise at Corona Heights, San Franciscans discuss how park paths led them to love.
“We wanted to explore how San Franciscans experience both parks and love. It turns out there is a lot of common ground—with careful cultivation and regular maintenance, both have the power to stir the soul and inspire awe,” Ginsburg said.
I Left My Park in San Francisco is available on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud.