Our first wedding on 2019 was Kristine and John tying the knot in beautiful San Francisco City Hall. It was pretty quiet after the holiday rush. Kristine and John brought their 7 months old son Al and it was just the 4 of us wandering around the City Hall. The wedding session turned more into a family session and I wanted to make sure I leave them with a great collection of photos with the 3 of them. The more i do this, the more I realized it’s not the fancy, artistic shots that matter to a lot of couples. It’s these true moments where the family is captured our this special day. I feel we accomplished it quiet well.
Close family and friends attended this ceremony at the City Hall. This being late in the day allowed us to spend more time around the City Hall and get wider shots, more architectural shots and of course more intimate and private images.
As photographers we have the an opportunity to meet new people every single day. You get to hear stories of how couples met, how they like spending time together, how they feel about each other. Spending an hour or two with them isn’t a lot but we are lucky to share some of their most memorable experiences.
Last week we had 2 couples that met online and after several years took it to the next step - tying the knot in San Francisco City Hall
Karen & Jeff had a small ceremony inviting their 3 kids to join. The “kids” were all in their 20s, happily smiling, joking around and at some point singing along to “I won’t give up" by Jason Mraz - a song which has a special meaning to the couple. Once we found that out, we got our iphone out and made them dance to a 6/8 tune.
They each read their vows after the ceremony and talked about how much they mean to each other. The kids posed and fooled around while we took a few photos of the couple. And once done we did a few photos of the kids too.
SF City Hall Wedding Walkthrough
SF City Hall Photo began in 2015 as an affordable and high-quality photography service for couples getting married inside the iconic downtown building. After spending so much time in and around the structure, we thought we should share some tips and suggestions for making your San Francisco City Hall wedding even more enjoyable, and perhaps alleviate any confusion you may have about how the entire process works.
Civil ceremonies take place Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 3:30pm. You must first make a reservation online to schedule an appointment for your marriage license and your marriage ceremony. Payment for both services is due upon making the reservation, and is $107, and $86 respectively.
Whenever possible, we recommend getting your marriage license on a day other than your ceremony date. However, if your license and ceremony appointments are on the same day, make sure to schedule them at least one hour apart.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio got married at SF City Hall in 1954!
The County Clerks Office in room 168 is where you will check in and handle your paperwork. You'll receive a ticket before being asked to wait in the hallway until your number is called. Getting through the office is generally a breeze, however, it's always wise to arrive early in case their are delays.
Once your number is called we go back inside the clerk's office and meet the person who will be marrying you that day. Interestingly enough there are more than a dozen volunteer officiants who rotate during the week. We have had the pleasure of working with almost all of them and, very similar to us, they love what they do.
After greeting and handling paperwork, you will be asked if you are exchanging rings and given the choice of where you would like the ceremony to take place: private room or the Rotunda. The idea of a private room may sound appealing but in reality is a rather drab, windowless box which doesn't allow for stunning images. The Rotunda is the place to be.
You too can be a deputy marriage officiant for a day!
Another thing to keep in mind is the length of the ceremony itself. If you elected to use a city-appointed officiant the ceremony itself lasts no more than 5 minutes. You will also not be allowed to exchange your own vows. A private officiant is something to consider if you would like to share your own written vows with your partner. We enthusiastically recommend the services of San Francisco-based officiant Mark Hespeth.
After choosing your location you both will be asked to show your identification and sign the marriage license. One witness (Two Max) needs to be present to sign the license as well as the decorative certificate City Hall provides for newlyweds. If your wedding is a low-key affair with just the two of you we can happily act as an official witness and sign the corresponding documents, just let us know.
Finally, the paperwork is settled and you are asked to head upstairs to the Rotunda to wait for the beginning of your ceremony. Typically there are at least 2-3 other couples getting married by the same officiant, so while you may be the first or last, it is best to go straight to the Rotunda forthwith to avoid any delays and potentially lose your place. We can help usher the rest of your party upstairs so everyone can watch this magical moment.
People meet in different places, under different circumstances. They come from different countries, cities, cultures. And then one day a few months later, few or even 10 years later they feel that getting married is the next logical or emotional step. And if one lives in San Francisco why look for another place to get married. People come from all over the world to tie the knot in beautiful San Francisco City Hall.
Badhia and Zack like many of us get shy in front of the camera and were not sure how the whole experience will go. But 15 minutes into our session they felt at ease and even started chatting about life while I was posing them. We spent some time in the City Hall and then headed to Crissy Fields and Palace of Fine arts to complete our photo collection. At the end we got a great fun, serious, silly series of images that they felt represent them.
Andrea and Kevin are getting married in Aruba in 2019, but wanted to do a session at the City Hall as they were getting their license. They came in on Friday afternoon and although City Hall got filled up with occasional tour groups, it was relatively quiet as the last ceremonies were finished at 3.30. That allowed us room to maneuver around the City Hall and actually achieve a "clean", crowd-less shot of the Grand Stairwell. I have to admit it's quite a rare occasion and even then i had to polite ask a few people to move for just a split second.
It was a gorgeous day and i wanted to take advantage of the outdoors and the sun creating glares and fun shadows. The end result is quite a good collection of photos done within a very short period of time.
Surrounded by friends Shiqi and Ollie tied the knot. We had fun few hours covering all 4 floors of the City Hall.
Ailsinn and Philip came all the way from Chicago to get married in the City Hall. No guests, no large parties... just the 2 of them. I served as their witness, photographer and guide around the City Hall for about an hour. Aislinn mentioned to me earlier that her parents got married in the City Hall, so it was a special location for her. She even showed me a photo of her parents on the steps of the City Hall and asked if we could do a similar photo. We did, minus the pigeons that seemed to have made their habitat on the steps years back. Nowdays you don't get to see that. All though it would make for some good photos.
Anh and Paul married in June 2017 and one of the first weddings i did when i took over SF City Hall Photo. The was lots of natural chemistry and they were a fun and easy couple to work with for a few hours we had together. I approached them a few weeks ago and offered to go for a walk in San Antonio Rancho around the sunset and take some photos. They agreed and let me tell them what to do once again. As a result we got a nice collection of photos ourdoors.
Parents from both sides, bride's grand parents and bride and groom came together on a Friday afternoon. Kayla and Chris have been together for a few years but this is the 1st time their parents meet. One side is coming from Boston while another from San Diego for a wedding that brings the family together. The grand parents served as witness.
I always admired one photographer who happened to be a good friend of mine. Before taking up photography seriously most of my free time was dedicated to recording, producing and playing music. I needed to do some photos done for my album and of course asked my friend Joseph to do that. At that time i didn't realize i'll be learning the skill of photography from him. Few years later I tagged along to most wedding he was shooting trying to learn as much as i could first hand from someone who's done it for 15 years professionally, someone who's very creative and enjoys what he does. He inspired me and still does. He pushed me to be better and to improve every single time i shoot.
I started doing my own sessions- friends, friends of friends, relatives and eventually weddings. Then SF City Hall Photo happened and the rest is history. I get to spend time with beautiful happy couples and share some of their most memorable moments. Not just share but capture them.
And all that thanks to Joseph. Check out his San Francisco City Hall Wedding photography https://www.iqphoto.com/cityhall
Over the years we have shots hundreds of weddings from small number of guests fitting all comfortably under the Rotunda to large weddings where the whole City Hall had to be booked. They all have their uniqueness, lots of interesting moments and shots to capture. One of our favorite though is when it's just the photographer and the couple. First of all the couple is more relaxed - there's no pressure as it's just them. They are there for themselves only... and for the photographer who hungrily takes the advantage of this opportunity.
Zoe and Daniel were such a couple. It was just the 2 of them. After being together for 5 years, they felt it time to tie the knot with a quiet ceremony. They were at first shy in front of the camera stating they don't like too many pictures. But as the time together went on they became very comfortable with the camera in front of them to the point that they completely forgot about it at times. As a result we got some very real photos even when they were posed.
Couples come from all over the world to get married in San Francisco City Hall. Over the years I've met people who flew from different states and different countries to tie the knot in beautiful City Hall.
In this case the groom is local Californian, while his bride came all the way from Brazil. Only Brian's family attended, but we made sure to capture the ceremony and plenty of family and portrait photos for the family in Brazil. As a side bonus we recorded a video of the ceremony just because we could. They were a real pleasure to work with. These are the moments i wish we had the whole day to photograph the couple. But oh well.. after about an hour we had to let them go to enjoy the rest of their lovely day.