SF City Hall Elopement
A San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer Guide
Before we get to the photos, let me explain where you can have your San Francisco City Hall wedding. And most importantly, how to make the best out of it.
The San Francisco City Hall is a stunning building that reminds me of the ones I used to see everywhere in Paris. In the middle of the city, it is encircled by the Opera and the Public Library. But it’s a location in the city is nothing compared to the beauty inside.
I will go through the pros and cons of each location within City Hall so you will have all the options.
Probably the biggest advantage is that no matter where you choose, the lighting inside City Hall is stunning almost anywhere you go. It is a huge advantage to having gorgeous wedding photos here in California. Enjoy!
Timing matters less for a San Francisco City Hall wedding than in the outdoors!
You don’t need to overthink the timing of your ceremony, except to make sure it matches your plan later in the day for your reception. Fridays are generally busier at the Civic Center.
So I would recommend earlier in the week to avoid the crowds and to get some incredible photos in places like the grand staircase (see below for more examples).
If you opt for this part of the building, I would consider having your marriage ceremony early in the morning or mid-afternoon.
By the time the ceremony is over, many locations clear out and this allows us to enjoy the place more or less to ourselves. It also lets us enjoy the sunset somewhere in the city for additional photos and memories of your big day.
Locations, you said?
Depending on your budget and of course your vision for your wedding day or your San Francisco City Hall elopement plan, you actually have the possibility to tie the knot with your partner in many corners in the building from Monday through Friday.
The easiest option is to have a civil ceremony. It will take place in the Rotunda at the top of the grand staircase. The quality of light is not the best, but the ceremony will go really quick (sometimes less than 5 minutes). It will cost you $110 for the marriage license and $90 for the civil ceremony. You also need to have no more than 6 guests.
If you have your own officiant, pick a place free of people and you are set with your private ceremony.
That being said, we need to work around the crowd. It can get tricky as it is a public building. Still, the freedom is incredible.
You have two location options for the one-hour weddings for $1,000: the Mayor’s Balcony and the Fourth Floor Gallery (north and south)!
These are the most stunning places for your wedding ceremony – other than renting the City Hall for 2 hours or more! And there are plenty of options for more exclusive city hall events outside the hours and days mentioned above.
My longtime favorite is the Fourth Floor. The light is exceptional up there! The background is classic, and you can have up to 60 guests seated – or 40 for the Mayor’s Balcony.
If you want to know more about how to make reservations, I would recommend getting ahold of the wedding service. You can call the Civic Center at +1(415)554-6079 or visiting their website.
What about after the ceremony?
Another fun part of your day starts here! If you are doing a San Francisco Elopement, we have the rest of the day ahead of us. For a San Francisco City Hall wedding, we’ll most likely plan photos before or after the ceremony anyway. It’s up to you where and how you want to best capture the vibe of your day.
I’ve done sessions in classic SF restaurants, the bluffs of Marin Headlands, or even just walking around the city. The awesome thing about a ceremony at the city hall is that you’ll have a ton of freedom to get creative. You will love having fun shots of you and your beloved on your big day.
Back to the City Hall. I love to stay in the building with you after the ceremony. We might have some family or group photos to do as well.
Beyond the practical benefits of getting married at the San Francisco City Hall, planning ahead buys us time to shot in other locations in the Bay Area. All places are at a reasonable distance and complement beautifully the photos taken indoors at the City Hall.
The idea is always to pick a place that feels personal.
Take the time to brainstorm ideas and think also about activities outside the box: having a drink, a picnic, a stroll, biking, hiking, eating…It is part overwhelming, part mind-blowing to have that many options at your fingertips.
A little about my process: My couples and I are in constant communication throughout the entire time from the first email I receive until long after the photos are delivered. I make sure that all expectations are fulfilled to the best of my ability regarding your wedding photography experience.
Check some ideas below and the same goes for your San Francisco Intimate Wedding like this one.