Tag Archives: San Francisco Wedding Photographer
Depending on how you are scheduling your ceremony at San Francisco City Hall and how many hours you book your photographer for, will determine when you should arrive and take couples portraits. This couple hired me for 2 hours. Since we knew they were having a pretty good amount of guests for their ceremony and were planning on spending time with them but didn’t need event coverage after, we decided it was a good idea to start their portraits an hour before the ceremony and spend the remaining hour capturing them interacting with their family, having their ceremony, taking family formals and few images outside of city hall. All of which fills up the last hour really fast.
Once in a while, I will do a 2-hour session with couples who want images at a second location and will not have any guests attending. To time the locations right, you need to take in a few factors. What time is your ceremony? Will city hall be less busy before or after your ceremony and what time is the sun setting? If your ceremony is in the morning I highly suggest getting to city hall right when they open and utilizing the hall for portraits before other couples and tourists show up. If your ceremony is already in the afternoon and we will be doing outdoor images say near the beach we will want to make sure we can wait as long as possible before going to the beach for the best light. In that case, I would say we meet at ceremony time, do city hall images then head over to the beach.
To get those grand staircase shots and utilize city hall without many people in the hall, we need to be there on off hours. That means we meet before city hall opens and start shooting as soon as they open. Or we shoot a few hours after the ceremonies by their judges have ceased. Your next question! “What If I have my ceremony is set for 2:30 pm and we want to do couples portraits at 8 am to have fewer people in the hall? We can! I have incorporated a small fee per hour that I charge while I am idle to make it possible to do just this!
If you are interested reach out and I’d love to chat about it and your San Francisco City Hall Wedding!
This is our 16th Valentine’s together! In 4 short years, we will have been together for 20 years. That makes me sound old! He’s my HS sweetheart so that will take a little off my age. Regardless, I am embracing and taking in every moment and every year I get to spend with this man. Over the last 16 years we have grown so much from who we were when we met. Not just grown as individuals but WITH each other.
I could have posted a perfect photo of us, but I love this photo. It tells more of who we are. We are not perfect. We are mixed with failures, triumphs and humor. We are adventurous and lazy. We are foodies who enjoy fitness. But most of all, we are WE. Together we have built a home, a family and careers.
I never know what tomorrow will bring. In the past, we have had tomorrow’s that brought heartache, stress and worries. We have had tomorrow’s that have brought laughter, excitement and accomplishment. What I do know, is that we get to spend our tomorrows together. From taking unsuccessful selfies to traveling the world. From booking work to worrying about if we will have enough work to pay our bills. Every road, every up and down, we get to spend it together.
Thank you to our family and friends who have supported us and our love the last 16 years. We have grown into better humans because of each other and we have grown into better humans because of you.
A valentines love note from your San Francisco Photographer
Being that is it Valentine’s day, there is no doubt that many many people will be getting engaged today. After the engagement comes the planning and since The SF City Hall is a popular wedding location for people across the world I thought I would write up a post that would make getting married or elopeing there much easier!
San Francisco City Hall is stunning from the outside to every single detail inside. It’s ornate, has charm and gives you the option to have an elopement that is small and casual or a longer wedding where you can rent the mayors balcony or even the entire hall for a few hours on a Saturday. Regardless what you decide to do for your wedding, you can guarantee that your wedding will have personality and you will be surrounded by beautiful architecture and light. Oh the light! From mornings to evenings. Light and airy or a little more dramatic.
Sometimes the steps to get married can be confusing but I’m here to help! How to get married at San Francisco City Hall
First, you will need to get your marriage license. A marriage license is a permit to get married. It is valid for 90 days after applying. Meaning you will need to get another one if you do not have your elopement or wedding within the 90 days of signing. The permit cost $103.00 (cash, money order and/or debit card)
You will need to go to:
San Francisco County Clerk
City Hall, Suite 168
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4678
Phone: (415) 554-4950
You’ll need to call to make your appointment first between the hours of 8am and 4pm Monday -Friday.
You do not need to be a legal resident of California to apply either. So if you are visiting from out of state and want to get married here you are welcome to. Both parties need to be 18 and older and both be present. Don’t forget to have a legal I.D. card with you. Find out more here . To get to the city hall you can get there by BART and get off at Civic Center Bart station. Walk up the staircase to Market street and literately just walk straight, you’ll come to a split in the street, take the slight right on Hayes St. keep walking straight and then make a right on Polk. You won’t miss it. It’s huge. If you are driving There is a parking lot underneath Civic center plaza and you can enter on McAllister Street, between Polk and Larkin. There is a ton of street parking as well.
Once you have your license signed and paid for you will want to reserve your time slot for your wedding. Reservations for your ceremony costs $76 and need to be paid when booked. You can do it online (must have a credit card visa/master card) or in person up to 90 days in advance. If you go in person make sure you are both there and have your I.D.’s as well as a payment form of cash, money order and/or debit. Make sure it’s the date you want because you can’t change it or get a refund. You’ll have to pay again.
Ceremonies are available Monday-Friday at 9:30 a.m through 3:30 p.m. Every half hour. There are three reservation slots available during each time period. A very popular option for a more privet and larger event is renting the North or South 4th floor or the Mayors Balcony for your ceremony. You get a longer allotted time frame and can have up to 100 guests. It cost $1,002.00 and you’ll want to contact the Events Office at City Hall for more info (room 495, 415-554-6086
If you plan to purchase your marriage license on the same day as your ceremony reservation, you must make and pay for a marriage license reservation for the same day at least 30 minutes PRIOR to your ceremony reservation time. For example, if your ceremony reservation is 10:00 a.m., your marriage license reservation should be scheduled no later than 9:30 a.m.
The day of your wedding you will want to go to the information desk at City Hall, Room 168 to check in 10 minutes before your appointment time. (Don’t forget you have to go through the security line. Normally the line moves pretty fast but you should give yourself at least 30 minutes before you need to check in) You can bring up to two witnesses with you. There’s a waiting area outside of the room for your other guests. This where everyone signs the marriage license. =) (You can bring photographers with you as well. I’ve gone in with addition to the two witnesses and haven’t been told to leave yet. =)
Make sure to have your valid marriage license, both of your I.D’s and your witnesses. You need at least one witness. If you would like me (your photographer) to sign as your witness I would be honored to.
During the ceremony, they say the rule is no more than 6 guests and that includes a photographer. Because the hall itself is open to the public, I have seen people have more guests standing around. =) People have never been turned away. Which also means you may have standby-ers and tourists watching as you marry =) unless you have a more privet wedding in the mayor’s balcony. People may peek in but normally they will stay back and you won’t even notice them.
The ceremonies are from 9am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday and held mostly in the Rotunda on the second floor above the large staircase and are about 10 minutes long. Where you will be having your ceremony is really up to the judge that will be marrying you and how many other weddings are happening. If it’s slow and not many people are getting married before or after you, it’s always worth it to ask and see if you can get married on the 4th floor or the mayor’s balcony. You get to meet your judge when you sign your marriage license.
Fridays are the busiest days to get married at the city hall. While Mondays-Wednesdays in the early part of the day is the slowest at the hall. If it’s possible to get married on one of those days I always suggest it. This gives you and me better photo opportunities around the hall. Often times when it is very busy It’s much harder to get photos without people in the background. And tourists don’t think about the weddings that will be going on before they plan to come visit the hall. So they come in the dreaded neon green shirt and stand around oblivious to everything around them. Also, there is more waiting for areas while another photographer is using the space. For more information on ceremonies at city hall, you can read that here
You might want to spend a separate day just walking around the city hall to familiarize yourself with it. Figure out where certain places are in the building and the bathrooms =) The bathrooms are on the first floor on both sides in large room’s. If possible apply for your wedding license before the day you are going to get married. It can get really hot in the city hall. It’s a very old building and not insulated well. Don’t be shy to wear a fun shorter wedding dress other than a long heavy one.
If you plan on doing something after your wedding for your guests, there is an abundance of great food and restaurants around the city! Don’t forget to make your reservations before. You can also rent trolleys to give your guests a tour of the city! It’s very fun! You will get ton’s of love from all of the city natives and if your guests are from out of town they will love all the sightseeing that comes along with it! Don’t forget to have me document whatever celebration you have planned after! You will want the memories!
I hope you have found this article helpful and valuable in your planning. Please let me know if there is anything you have found helpful to add as well! Helping one another in this thing called life is by far one of the most important things we can do for each other!
Email me to find out more details and booking options for your day!
To First look or not to first look? ( the couples portrait session held before the ceremony)
There is no right or wrong way to see each other on your wedding day. I think doing both a first look or not doing a first look has it’s upsides for different reasons. One upside of doing a first look means you can get your bridal party and family formals out of the way. Or maybe you are getting married in a season where the Sun sets sooner and your ceremony happens to be later.
An upside to not seeing each other prior to the ceremony is having the anticipation of seeing each other for much longer. Being able to lock eyes with one another while your about to meet at the alter. As a photographer I have noticed that the couples who choose not to do a first look do happen to look around less while standing and approaching the alter. You also get to get some pretty emotional shots at the alter rather then elsewhere. (That does not mean a first look will not be emotional, it just means it will be at the alter)
As far as my personal preference, I want you to decide and be happy with what you want to do on your wedding day.
For me on my wedding day, I chose to see Adam before the ceremony. I was full of nerves and just wanted to be with him. The moment I saw him I burst into tears. I was just SO relived to have him with me during our day of anticipation, nerves and excitement. He is my absolute best friend in this entire world and I REALLY needed to have him with me during that time. If I were to do it again, I would still see him before the ceremony. I would do even more than that. We would have gotten ready together. Just the two of us and our photographers. Of course our moms would come in after we dressed but I think I would appreciate the quietness and peace of just him and I getting ready to make the biggest promises of our lives together. Again he his my best friend, we do EVERYTHING together and I feel, that for US, getting ready to get married shouldn’t have been different. But I was younger, new to weddings and was just doing what I thought I was suppose to do based on “traditions”. It’s a little unconventional but that’s OK! Weddings shouldn’t be only one certain way. They should be unique to you.
NOW, for my professional opinion based on photography and aesthetic: I HIGHLY suggest that all of my couples take their longer couples portraits of just the two of you 1 hour before sunset or near sunset, granted there will be one, EVEN if you do a first look. Especially if you are getting married in the months of May, June, July and August. While making your timeline for your wedding, look up online what time the sun will set that day and leave a 20 minute period open to sneak off for that time to take photos. (Keep in mind that if you will be surrounded by tall trees or building the sun will “set” sooner) If you have hired a coordinator ( or your Caterer or DJ is writing the time line) please give them this information before hand. Yes, it might be during salads or possibly even during dinner time but dinner is only one night while your photos will be lasting a lifetime. I have also never been to a wedding where the events of the wedding are not flexible during the day and I promise you wont miss out on anything. Maybe a salad. But photos are more important than the salad. Don’t tell your caterer I said that =)
First looks are beneficial if you would like to get as many formals with bridal party and family done prior to the ceremony so you can enjoy more of your cocktail hour with your guests. Even in this case I will only do a short portrait session of the two of you seeing each other, while short it will it still be very intimate, and then move on to family and bridal party while waiting to do a longer couples portraits session during sun set. (Side Note, Some venues don’t really have sunsets like the Berkeley city club, So if you decide on a first look it’s probably a good idea to just get all of your couples photos done at that time. That goes for any venue that also will not have sunsets because of location or the way the building is built)
If you don’t want a first look and the sun will be setting an hour AFTER your cocktail, It’s totally fine to schedule your portrait session during cocktail, should you wish!
You are able to do your portraits when ever YOU want to do them. It’s your day. I’m just giving my professional advice on what I think would look best based on lighting. I only suggest, it is up to you to decide.
If you will be getting married in Fall or early Spring, it is most likely that your ceremony will be very close to sunset. So doing the your couples portraits during cocktail will be the best bet.
Summer weddings tend have a lot more sun in the sky and waiting for a while is much more important during that season. It’s too bright before the ceremony (unless we can find a fully shaded area to shoot in, then its all good) And right after the ceremony, if it’s a hot day you may be hot, sweaty and overwhelmed. Waiting just a little bit and sneaking off to do the portraits can be a great idea.
If Adam and I have concerns about the light on your day we will let you know and suggest when to do them, even if it’s …. “the light is fading we need to go NOW” … lol. ( It’s happened)
Winter weddings: If you will be having a late ceremony, having your portraits before the ceremony may be the way to go.
Presidio Wedding Photography