San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photography


No doubt San Francisco City Hall is one of the most beautiful places to get married at. If you are planning a weekday City Hall Wedding and need a photographer for just few hours: we have session tailored just for that.

This simple package includes two hours of coverage, printable high resolution files and costs $1,195. Edited or Raw images will be uploaded into password protected online gallery for your family and friends to view and for you to download.



This package includes coverage by one photographer at the City Hall with additional location of your choice around San Francisco before or after the ceremony. There will be no limit of photos taken during the coverage time and clients may request additional coverage at $500/Hr. Although from our experience, two hours of coverage is enough for 90% of our clients.

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We offer this package so your lifetime memories will be some of the most beautiful anywhere. After all, you can have the most expensive wedding ceremony in the world, but an inexperienced photographer will not capture its beauty. A good photographer will make the simplest setting vibrate with life.

We photograph weddings exclusively in many destinations throughout the country and worldwide (see weddings we have photographed in Italy, Greece, MexicoUruguay, Hawaii and in Canada). However, we want very much to make ourselves available to wedding ceremonies in our local community.

Note: We do not offer a free consultation with this package. We believe our work and reviews speak for themselves. To retain our services We offer convenient and secure online payment tools. Sales tax, parking ($6-$9) and applicable travel fee (beyond 50 miles) will be applied on top of the total price. Final balance is due on the day of the wedding.

P.S. San Francisco City Hall is a very special place for us. Two of our family members recently got married there. Coming back to City Hall brings back those beautiful memories of our own weddings.

Recommendations:

We recommend getting your marriage license on a different day then your actual ceremony day, if possible. Sometimes it might take 20-30 minutes or more before you get a chance to sign it. Especially on Fridays. If photography is on your priority list, please contact us prior to making a reservation with City Hall to make sure we are available.

SF City Hall courthouse does not allow Civil Marriage Ceremony reservations beyond 90 days in advance so those who are planning on popular dates such as, 11/12/13, long weekend dates, etc., We suggest to reserve your ceremony time immediately 90 days prior to your intended date.

If City Hall already booked for the date you prefer to get married, you can always hire an independent wedding officiant who can perform (and even customize) your Ceremony. Among other benefits, you won’t have to check in with the County Clerk office and officiant will file all the paperwork on your behalf. You can also reserve a 4th floor or Mayor’s Balcony through City Hall event department.

If you are planning to get married at San Francisco City Hall from across the world, all you need is valid passports. City Hall commissioner will perform your ceremony while we can act as your witness.

Best time for the Ceremony is early morning or around noon as City Hall is less crowded that time of the day: waiting is shorter and it is easier to get panoramic photos without roaming tourists in the background.

If you are planning a larger number of guests, I’d suggest having your marriage ceremony at the 4th floor. It’s well lit area and usually very quiet. See #4 in picture below. However, City Hall charges extra for that.

We strongly recommend arriving at City Hall for your ceremony at least 20 minutes in advance. This way, you will be the first in the check-in line for the ceremony.

And finally if you’re planning a dinner reception afterwards, 3:30PM will be the best time to start.

See picture below: Numbers represent areas inside where the ceremony takes place. #1 is (Rotunda) the most popular. This photograph was taken from Mayor’s Balcony on a weekend wedding (City Hall was rented out).

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Cinematography:

We offer combined Photo+Cinematography package. Cinematography package (provided by IQ Videography) includes highlights movie (sample below) and Raw Footage on DVD or Hard Drive. Choice of Super8 film or HD. See HD movie below. Wedding officiated by Mark from “A Perfect Wedding Ceremony.”

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will 2 hours of coverage be enough? A: In short: Yes. Read article below.

Q: We have more then six guests, will this be a problem getting a Rotunda Ceremony? A: Even though City Hall website states six guests is a limit for Rotunda Ceremony, we’ve witnessed many ceremonies with over 30 guests attending inside the Rotunda with no restrictions. The only day we recall we weren’t able to get the Rotunda, was 08/08/08. Still don’t take our word for it and make sure to verify that City Hall doesn’t hold assembly meeting on your date as there may be large group of people gathering around the Rotunda. SF Assembly chamber located right behind the Rotunda. More info.

Q: How good City Hall courthouse provided officiants are? A: Well, first of all, they are not being paid for this job. It is all volunteer based. Some judges are fantastic, some shouldn’t do this type of work, but most will read a script with a smile.

Q: Can we combine city hall package with engagement package? A: Yes, we can create a custom package for the single or multiple days.

Q: How crowded City Hall can be and when is the best time to get married at city hall? A: On Fridays starting at 11AM City Hall is usually more crowded then on other weekdays. If you want to enjoy empty City Hall, schedule your Ceremony for 9:30AM on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. City Hall is fairly empty around lunch break as well (except Friday). There is a little trick to get completely empty City Hall on a weekday but it involves some level of creativity.

Q: What if it rains? A: If there is a heavy rain, we can either stay and finish the entire two hours at the City Hall or complete the session on another weekday. If its light rain, you be surprised how beautiful photos may turn out.

Q: Will photos be edited? A: Yes. Basic editing included. Color correction, exposure, contrast and white balance. Some photos may be converted to BW if requested in advance. We also offer fine art editing a-la-carte.

Q: Can you be our witness? A: Yes. Just ask. We will be honored.

Q: Can we print the images? A: Yes. As long it is for personal (non commercial use).

Q: Where should we go for our second location? A: San Francisco is a beautiful city with plenty of places to visit. Palace of Fine Arts, Legion of Honor, Crissy Field, Fort Mason, Golden Gate Park, Baker’s Beach, Japanese Tea Gardens are just few of them. Even City Hall by itself is so magnificent, two hours can be easily spent there.

Q: Will there be enough time to visit second location? A: Yes, in most situations we are able to visit 2nd location. The only times we were unable to visit second location within 2 hours of coverage was due to larger weddings with long family group shot lists. In fact, roughly half of our clients prefer to spend the entire time in and around City Hall.

Q: Can we split the coverage and have you photograph our dinner reception in the evening? A: Yes. You can split the time with minimum of four hours of coverage (otherwise there is a $100 split fee). Ex: Three hours during the day to cover the Ceremony and additional location for portraits and one hour to cover the reception.

Q: How and when do we get the photos? A: Our typical turnaround time is three to five weeks. You will have 30 days to download them from secure online gallery. You will be responsible to back them up. We recommend making multiple copies on a DVDs and hard drives. We will not delete the photos but can not be responsible for the them after you have downloaded them. We also offer rush processing if photos needed sooner.

Q: Can Same Sex couples get married in San Francisco City Hall? A: Yes, Same Sex couples can now get married in California.

Q: Do you provide transportation? A: You can drive with us although our car is packed with equipment so it might not be the most comfortable ride. Additionally, We may not be able to bring you back to City Hall.

Q: What if we stuck in traffic? A: In case of bad traffic we always try to add some extra time but generally two hours time includes driving.

Q: What is your provided images format? A: By default you will be getting full resolution unmarked color corrected jpeg images. You can opt for unedited files instead at no additional charge.

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4th Floor North Side.

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View from the Rotunda.

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4th Floor. South Side.

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Mayors Balcony.



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EDITING

As mentioned above, our clients receive color corrected full size digital images as a part of this package.  Images will be ready for printing and will retain natural light and tonal range.  We will color correct the images and adjust many of the parameters to achieve a uniform look for the entire gallery. Editing decisions will be based on many factors such as weather, lighting, skin tones, age, etc.,.  Some images may be presented in B&W. Clients may also request a “special” editing of the entire wedding. Styles can be reviewed below. Fee for the entire wedding presented in vintage, hdr or shifted color is $125. Clients will receive two versions of each image separated into two galleries.

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INSTRUCTIONS

Planning a wedding at City Hall is much simpler than planning a big wedding but there are still a few details that will make it a happy day run smoothly.

What Do You Do First?

You’ll need to make a reservations. One to obtain your marriage license and the second reservation is for your ceremony. You can make reservations up to 90 day in advance of your ceremony date. For popular days like holiday weekends, it’s a good idea to reserve as soon as your 90-day window opens. Days like Valentine’s Day and days with interesting numbers like 13/13/13 will be very popular (if existed) and there will be a rush to reserve those dates.

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To Reserve in Person

You can make reservations in person Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. City Hall makes reservations for three weddings at a time, each marriage ceremony time slot is for thirty minutes.

You will pay for your reservation at the time that you reserve it. The reservation can’t be changed after you reserve and pay for it. The date and the time are yours and can’t be changed. Your marriage license is valid for 90 days from the date it is issued.

To get our marriage license, go to Room 168, on the first floor. Information Desk to check-in 10 minutes before your appointment time.

If you plan to obtain your license and be married on the same day, it’s recommended that you make the two appointments an hour apart, for example, license at 10:00 am and ceremony at 11:00 am. Obtaining your license usually takes about 15-30 minutes.

What are the Fees?

The fee for the marriage license is $100.

The fee for the marriage ceremony in the Rotunda or in a private ceremony room is an additional $77. See this page for updated fees.

The fee to hold the ceremony on the Mayor’s Balcony or the Fourth Floor is $1,002 and will give you one hour time slot. See this page for info about reserving Mayors Balcony or 4th Floor.

To Make Reservations Online

If you choose to make your ceremony reservations online, go to Online Civil Ceremony Reservations. Reservations online may only be booked with a Visa or MasterCard. A $5 convenience fee is added.

How Many Guests May We Invite?

For ceremonies in the Rotunda or a private ceremony room, the limit is six guests. we  have seen more than six guests in the Rotunda. Remember that at busy times of the day, another wedding party may be waiting close to your chosen spot. Unfortunately, City Hall can’t guarantee that you will have access to the Rotunda or any other area within City Hall.

Both the Mayor’s Balcony and the Fourth Floor can hold up to 100 guests. You may want to provide chairs and a table for beverages, so you’ll need to coordinate that with the Office of Special Events.

To reserve for the Mayor’s Balcony or the Fourth Floor contact the City Hall Events Department at (415) 554-6068 or visit them online. Their office hours are 9:00 am-5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

Is There a Best Place in City Hall?

Every bit of City Hall is charming and beautiful, offering its own special sense of place.

The Rotunda is beautiful and, best of all, it’s free. ? Unfortunately it can’t be guaranteed. Since this is a popular spot, other couples waiting to get married may be nearby so there isn’t as much privacy as you may want. There’s a limit of 10 minutes for the ceremony and photos. The ceremony takes about five of the ten minutes.

The 4th Floor and the Mayor’s Balcony are both more private, can accommodate up to 100 guests, and the space is yours for one hour. Remember that the Mayor’s Balcony and the Fourth Floor both require advance reservations through the Office of Special Events, as well as an additional rental fee of approximately $1,002.

Can We Get Married in City Hall on the Weekend?

Yes! For information on holding events in the evening or on a weekend, please contact the Office of Special Events, Room 495, at (415) 554-6079 or online at: www.sfgov.org/cityhallevents.

Where is San Francisco City Hall located? Where can I park?

The front entrance of City Hall is on 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, California 94102, between Grove and McAllister. There is underground parking across the street at Civic Center Plaza, entrance on McAllister St.

Civic Center is the closest BART station, three blocks from City Hall. City Hall is also accessible on Muni lines 42, 71, and the F Line to Market and Van Ness, Civic Center. City Hall is wheelchair accessible.

Do We Need a Witness?

Yes, if you are obtaining a public marriage license, then you need one witness. Please note that City Hall cannot act as your witness. If you are obtaining a private marriage license, you do not need a witness. [See below for the legal stuff.]

Can My Photographer Act as My Witness?

Yes! We have done this in the past, and welcome the opportunity to do so again. We are honored to do it.

What Do We Need to Bring With Us on the Big Day?

You’ll need to bring legal photo identification, cash or check to pay all fees, a valid marriage license, 1 witness, and no more than 6 guests. And remember to bring your rings too!

We’re Married. Now What?

The 2 Hours Package we have designed allows plenty of time to take photographs in other parts of City Hall, catching whatever light is best at the time. After that we can go anywhere around the City for more photos. We can suggest several places where we’ll be able to get fantastic shots.

If you like, we can spend the entire two hours of coverage in City Hall without duplicating any shots.

The Legal Stuff: Public Marriage and Private Marriage

Public Marriage License: You must be at least 18 years old. Persons under 18 with written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND permission from a California Superior Court Judge may marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process. Contact the County Clerk’s Office in your county for further information regarding these requirements. The marriage license may be obtained from any county in California. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased. You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony. (Your photographer can act as this witness). The license contains a place for two witnesses if you prefer. You may NOT have more than two witnesses sign the official marriage license. Licenses received with more than two witnesses signatures will be returned to the officiant and a duplicate marriage license will need to be purchased. There is no age requirement in California for witnesses, however, they must be old enough to know that they are witnessing a marriage ceremony, AND be able to sign their name on the official marriage license. The marriage license is registered at the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the license was purchased, and is a public record. Anyone may request copies of the marriage license by submitting the required fee to the County Recorder. Only one officiant may sign the marriage certificate as solemnized.

Confidential Marriage License: The participating parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for a confidential marriage license. Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license. The participating parties must be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license, and must sign an affidavit on the license attesting to those facts. The couple MUST be married in the county where the license is issued. No witnesses are required to be at the ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license. The marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the County Clerk’s Office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification together with the required fee to the County Clerk in order to do so. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order to the County Clerk in the county where the license is registered. Copies of confidential marriages are not available from the state office. Is the Process the Same for Non-Citizens? Both citizens and non-citizens follow the same process.

You don’t need to be a California resident, or a US citizen, to get married in SF City Hall

You book your marriage license appointment online, a maximum of 90 days in advance of the date you plan to get married. You can book with as little notice as 24 hours, providing there are open slots.

If you are from out of San Francisco, it is recommended to book the license and ceremony on the same date, and one hour apart, for example, license at 2:00 pm, ceremony at 3:00 pm.

In order to check in and be processed, and therefore be married, you will need to present valid authentic legal photo identification card containing photograph, full legal name, date of birth, date of issue, and date of expiration. Examples are: passport, driver’s license, naturalization certificate, resident alien card, military I.D. If the legal picture I.D. card does NOT contain your full legal name, that is, it only has a middle initial rather than your full middle name, you must ALSO present a certified copy of birth certificate or social security card, showing your full legal name.

You will also need a witness, which the photographer can serve as if you will not have any guests with you.

In order to receive a CERTIFIED copy of your marriage license a 2-4 week wait is normal. This means, if you will not be in San Francisco for 2 to 4 weeks after the ceremony, you will need to make arrangements to receive your copy in some other way. Many other countries require a Certified Marriage License in order to recognize unions that happen outside of the country.

 

We often asked if two hours is enough time to cover a marriage at San Francisco City Hall.

The short answer is yes. The majority of our couples fit within two hours. Some exceptions would be if you want to be photographed in multiple locations, if you want coverage of the bride’s preparation, or having your reception photographed.

How do we know this? Quite simply: from our experience.

Here are some of the situations that we’ve come across and have expertise in handling them.

Unexpected things happen in almost all weddings. However, we’ve had experience with the unexpected things at San Francisco’s City Hall many times over. We’ve got the rhythm of City Hall in us.

Sometimes judges are running behind in their schedule. We’ve learned how to utilize that time efficiently knowing what time frame you have on your special day.

Thousands of hours of shooting and many thousands of images have given me something like an automatic knowing of how and when to photograph each person from their best angles. It doesn’t take extra time to try out different poses or know when to shoot a candid. It’s shooting from the gut.

We try to keep talking to a minimum. Of course, we’re going to talk and have a pleasant time, but we are going to focus more on shooting. Talking is lost forever, but photographs last forever.

Although there are many places we’ve never seen, venues we know nothing about, we know every nook and cranny of San Francisco’s City Hall. No time is wasted wandering around to check out a venue we’ve never seen. We know this building inside and out. We can draw a map of it in our sleep. We know how to quickly get from one place to another.

There are times of the day when tourists crowd the building. We know when they come, how they behave, and how not to lose time when a tourist wants to have a photo with the bride. We know how to elegantly handle the situation.

For the family posed photos, we’ve learned a lot about how families behave during a wedding. We know how to get them posed in the right location, quickly, and how to arrange everyone for great shots. There’s no reason that shooting the family portraits should take 40 minutes.

For your locations outside of City Hall, we know the best and quickest routes around the city. This can be a real time saver. We love this city and have explored every bit of it just for our pleasure, and our interest in finding interesting photo locations.

All of the possibilities of losing or wasting time, we’ve solved. After years of experience covering super huge Indian weddings with 800 guests, we’ve mastered covering San Francisco City Hall Weddings. It doesn’t mean we are going to rush you on your wedding day. It’s just a quiet knowledge and efficiency that we bring to the day.

In two hours we can shoot the ceremony and group shots. We’ll also get the most astonishing portraits and some super emotional candid photos. We’ll get close-ups, wide angles, images with slow shutter speed to preserve motion. We ’ll get images that incorporate the amazing architectural elements of City Hall and images that show action and reaction.

We ’ll shoot it all spectacularly and all within two hours. And we’ll have fun too.

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