San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer
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San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographers

Welcome to our San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographers website. We are one of the leading professional wedding photographers at SF City Hall with over 20 years of experience. Our 800+ marriages photographed at city hall helps us know the best locations to escort our eloping couples for incredible wedding pictures. On this website you will also find useful and comprehensive advice on how to get married at this historic venue. This website provides details on how to book us to be your city hall wedding photographer. Click the link, answer a few quick questions, and receive a contract!

Wedding Photography in San Francisco City Hall

Your fully edited SF city hall wedding pictures will feature just the two of you with no tourists or strangers in the background. Check out our best Wedding Photo Galleries to view recent images of newlyweds posing in front of City Hall's amazing architecture. Check out our wedding photography Prices and Packages to view our economical packages for elopements and SF photo tours. We will also serve as your personal San Francisco city hall marriage planner and will use our experience to help you with wedding planning for your Civil Ceremony.

Trusted Wedding Photographers at SF City Hall

We have earned that trust by providing you with the best San Francisco city hall wedding photography since 2010 when we first started covering Civil Ceremonies here. You will find detailed high ratings and positive reviews about us throughout the internet including our Google Business Page and Yelp. Our award winning marriage photography has enabled us to become approved by the SF City Hall Events Dept. to cover major events.

Wedding Photography at San Francisco City Hall at the Grand Staircase
San Francisco City Hall Bride posing with beautiful back light
Excited San Francisco city hall newlyweds exit the building with arms raised
SF City Hall Wedding Photography on the 2nd floor
Beautiful Wedding Veil for this San Francisco City Hall Bride
Best Wedding Photographer SF City Hall - Dome Kiss
Grand Staircase Photographer at San Francisco City Hall
Wedding Photography in San Francisco - City Hall Wide Angle View
San Francisco city hall wedding photographer - Bride sitting
LGBTQ brides San Francisco City Hall Photography
Groom Twirling Bride at SF City Hall - Wedding Photography
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Window Light
Bridal Profile Image in the San Francisco City Hall 3rd Floor North Window
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer - Evening Window of beautiful bride
Wedding Photographer City Hall  with LGBTQ Couple
Officer and gentleman wedding photography at San Francisco City Hall
LGBTQ City Hall Brides - Romantic Wedding Photography Pose
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer  - Ocean Bride
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer - Window Shot
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer - Ring Exchange
Groom and Bride Photography with Red Dress at SF City Hall
Candid photo of Newlyweds after wedding ceremony at San Francisco city hall
Fun Asian Couple posing for San Francisco city hall wedding photography
Window Light Beautifully Illuminates SF City Hall Bride
Married Couple walks away San Francisco City Hall Wedding
Just Got Married at San Francisco City Hall - Wedding Photography
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Asian Bride  posing while holding a Bouquet
Wedding Photography Dance Twirl at San Francisco City Hall
City Hall Bride Adjusting Dress during Wedding Photos
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer - Golden Kisses
wedding photography at Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco
Bride and Groom enjoying each other at San Francisco's Legion of Honor
San Francisco Window Silhouette - City Hall Wedding Photographer
Best Window Light San Francisco City Hall For Photos
glowing bride on wedding day at SF City Hall - Photographer of Light
Asian Bride - Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall
wedding photo taken from the 3rd floor at SF city hall
Winter at San Francisco City Hall - Photography Patterns
Fun and Candid City Hall Wedding Photography 4th floor
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer - Window Kiss
Groom Lifting Bride on Baker Beach - San Francisco Photography
Mayor's Balcony SF City Hall Wedding Photography
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Asian Couple
Wedding Photography San Francisco City Hall - Dance Moves
4th Floor San Francisco City Hall Wedding - Reserved
Romantic City Hall Wedding Photographer with Fish-eye Lens
Newlywed Bride and Groom kissing at Rotunda in City Hall
Wedding Photographers San Francisco City Hall - Woo Hoo!
San Francisco City Hall lift kiss on the 3rd Floor
Professional Wedding Photography at SF Presidio
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Bride on Bench
Backlit Wedding Photography Image City Hall in San Francisco
black and white wedding photography in San Francisco
Cupcake Bride at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
SF City Hall Sign Cheering Wedding Photography Image
San Francisco Wedding Photography at the Legion of Honor
Wedding Photographer SF City Hall - Bride Window Light
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer - Exterior Image
Creative wedding photography at SF City Hall - Silhouette
Brides kissing at San Francisco City Hall LGBTQ Wedding
Dance Dip at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Baker Beach
Dramatic Hallway Wedding Photography Image at City Hall
Dramatic Lighting Asian Wedding Photography - City Hall
San Francisco City Hall Newlyweds Celebrate in Front of Sign
Dramatic SF City Hall Wedding Photography Image
Fun LGBTQ image with brides dancing at San Francisco City Hall
City Hall North Gallery Dance Dip Wedding Photography
Gay Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Palace of Fine Arts
Golden Gate Bridge jump at Crissy Field in SF - wedding photography
Golden Gate Bridge Splash Wedding Image in San Francisco
Groom Leading Bride in San Francisco at Crissy FIeld - Wedding Photography
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photography - Groom lifting Bride
Jumping Married Couple Happy To have Completed Ceremony
Fun San Francisco City Hall wedding images on the stairs
LGBT fun Wedding Image with a Great Gay Couple
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Military Dance
San Francisco Marriage in Black and White at City Hall
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Saturday Weddings
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Thoughtful Bride
Walking down the 3rd Floor Hallway city hall in SF
 San Francisco City Hall  Photography- Asian Bride and Groom
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Walking Out
Groom Lifts Bride at their Pier 7 Wedding in SF - photography
Affordable Wedding Photography San Francisco  City Hall
wedding rings and bouquet close up photographer at City Hall
Photojournalist Wedding Photos Walking by the  Painted Ladies after city hall
SF City Hall Bride checks wedding gown with Bouquet
Glowing Veil at a San Francisco City Hall Wedding - Photography
Bride and Groom walking down the Grand Staircase in SF
Just Married Bride Carried out of SF City Hall by Groom
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Ballerina Bride
Back of Bridal Gown in San Francisco City Hall Window
Wedding Photographer San Francisco City Hall - Bride Throwing Bouquet
SF City Hall Window with Bride's dress and Floral Bouquet

Top City Hall Marriage Packages for Every Budget

San Francisco City Hall weddings can be extremely economical for any budget. This includes the wedding photography packages we offer, which we have also priced affordably. If you don't discover a package that fits your needs, we would be happy to send you a custom price quote. We will build a wedding photography package around your budget and time constraints.

Our photography packages include ALL the digital images captured at your San Francisco city hall civil ceremony. You also receive full reproduction rights to the photos, which allows you to print them or share on Social Media. Our new Maternity Package provides our clients with 2 photography sessions for the price of 1.

Helpful Links to Our Most Important Pages

To schedule a photography appointment for us to be your SF city hall wedding photographer go to our contact page and complete a simple form. We will respond quickly with our availability and answer all your questions about our city hall wedding photography service.

To see our SF City Hall wedding photo packages and prices, whether you are planning an elopement or a larger marriage, we offer a wide variety of photo packages to cover your nuptials from start to finish.

To learn more about us and receive free wedding photography advice check out our "About the Photographers" page. We provide details about our SF city hall team, some history, helpful hints, and also camera equipment information.

For help and free advice in planning your SF city hall wedding we also provide our couples with great ideas and San Francisco city hall helpful hints regarding the entire marriage process. No cost for this service.

To see our Featured SF City Hall Image Gallery, plus many other SF city hall wedding photography portfolios check out our Gallery pages. We have a large assortment of diverse city hall wedding samples for you to view and enjoy. These portfolio pictures will help you decide if we are the right photographer for you.

Full Service SF City Hall Wedding Photographers

Optional professional custom made wedding albums and prints are also available with affordable pricing. Keepsake prints and wedding album images for your SF City Hall Wedding receive a second round of Photoshop editing. This includes the removal of strangers and other unwanted distracting items in the background. However, the vast majority of your wedding photos will NOT include people you don't know in the background. We either avoid including them in the picture frame or will take them out with Photoshop during post production editing at no additional cost to you.

As part of our full-service approach, we also include advice about how to work with other vendors to make your wedding day perfect. Photo printing and wedding albums can be requested anytime in the future. We store your important wedding photographic image files for at least 7 years and usually longer (offsite back-up is for 5 years). In addition to offering SF City Hall Wedding pictures, we also offer Quinceanera Photography sessions. Click the link to learn more.

San Francisco City Hall - Best Wedding Venue

San Francisco City Hall is our favorite place for photographing weddings because there is so much architectural beauty everywhere. The natural light in City Hall can be incredible, but even when it's foggy outside, we use professional photographic lighting to enhance your images. We have become adept at creatively blending the natural light with our off-camera lighting supplement to obtain amazing results. In addition, our vast knowledge of this spectacular wedding venue allows us to avoid the more crowded areas and ensures ideal lighting no matter what time of day. This assures you that you will receive the best possible wedding pictures no matter what the circumstances.

For recent examples of our wedding photography, view our San Francisco city hall galleries. These image portfolios include detailed descriptions to help you find wedding samples that closely resemble your own marriage theme or plans. Most galleries feature our top 10 images from each individual event. This type of approach gives you a better idea of how your own wedding pictures will look since you are able to view the entire event. We feel that this is better than looking at a compilation gallery of all the best photos from hundreds of weddings. When making a decision about hiring a San Francisco city hall wedding photographer, always insist on seeing full individual wedding portfolios and not just a "greatest hits" compilation from multiple events. Look for creative posing and fun images when searching for the best SF City Hall wedding photographers.

Many SF City Hall Packages to Choose From

We offer a wide assortment of affordable SF city hall wedding photography packages to fit every need. We will work within your budget to provide the most inexpensive prices possible. The highlighted link above will provide you with the details and pricing of each package, but here is a quick summary of what we offer:

Elopement Package - 1 hour of photography coverage

City Hall PLUS Package - 1.5 hours of photography coverage (our premier package!)

Golden Gate Package - 2.5 hours of photograph coverage and 1 additional location

San Francisco Package - 4 hours of photography coverage and 3 additional locations

Storybook Album Package - 4 hours of photography coverage, 3 locations and wedding album

Our goal is to make your wedding experience magical and fun. Each one of the packages above include taking you on a photographic tour of all 4 floors of this amazing building while creating beautiful images that you will cherish for a lifetime. Our Town Hall photography packages cover every size wedding possible, ranging from smaller City Hall Elopements to larger reserved marriages with many guests. We will also create a custom package to fit your needs if our listed packages do not. This entire website is devoted to helping you find the best city hall photographer for you while helping you navigate the entire wedding process.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photo Blog

Check out our SF City Hall wedding photo Blog to see timely announcements and pictures from recent weddings and also learn the latest news or events at San Francisco city hall. We work hard to keep this blog up to date with seasonal photo shoots and other helpful information including advice for engaged couples trying to plan their SF city hall wedding. Our blog was recently ranked 8th out of the top 50 San Francisco wedding photography blogs by Feedspot (as of May, 2024). We spend a considerable amount of time keeping this blog up to date and relevant. We post new articles, updates, and most importantly, new weddings on a weekly basis.

Top Rated SF City Hall Yelp Reviews as of 2024

To discover more about our unique and creative photography approach, please see some of our sample San Francisco city Hall wedding Yelp Reviews. We average a 5 star rating on Yelp! More important than the high ratings are the written review details themselves. We encourage our potential future brides and grooms to read some of the detail of the reviews to see how we treat our couples on their wedding day. In addition, our Yelp Page is a top ranked site on Yelp itself due to our relevant experience and high ratings.

Esther from San Francisco, California - "If you're looking for the best San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer, this is it! Mike has tons of experience with San Francisco City Hall weddings. We had lots of fun exploring and taking photos all over the building! Even though City Hall was busy, Mike did an amazing job and the pictures look like we had the entire building to ourselves! Mike is responsive, professional, and a pleasure to work with. I really appreciate all his help and guidance on our wedding day. I would definitely recommend Mike to anyone who wants gorgeous pictures and a hassle free wedding!" (Yelp review from 2022)

Kevin from Manchester England - "Mike and Toni were magnificent for our San Francisco city hall wedding yesterday... Funny, knowledgeable, calming, generous, hard working and above all else fantastic photographers who know all the premier spots in city hall for photos... You have to book these guys!" (Yelp Review from 2017)

Genevieve from San Diego, California - Mike and Toni were professional, efficient and amazing wedding photographers! They helped us navigate the entire process, from checking in to the actual ceremony. Mike made sure we were on time, and even convinced the judge to let us get married on the Mayor's Balcony - gorgeous!!" (Yelp Review from 2012)

Tracy from Palo Alto, California - "I was really impressed with Mike from the outset - he was responsive and effective in answering my many questions and I had many! Mike also provided us with guidance on what to expect on our special day at City Hall. His expertise/guidance proved to be VERY helpful on our actual wedding day when we were able to be married on the Mayor's Balcony. Awesome!!! ... I am so glad we hired Mike, the photos will serve as beautiful reminders of our special day." (Yelp review from 2018)

San Francisco Wedding Photography Tour

One of our most exciting photo packages is our San Francisco Wedding Photography Tour. Many out-of-town or international wedding couples take advantage of this package, but it's fun and memorable for anyone! After your civil ceremony and San Francisco city hall photo session, we take you on a tour of the town. We let you choose the greatest SF destinations to have pictures taken! At your option, we can provide you with comfortable transportation to these various photo locations in San Francisco. We are a local city hall wedding photographer and so we know our way around with our 20 years of experience! To see a YouTube slideshow of a recent SF tour click: SF Wedding Photographers Tour.

If you are a newcomer to "The City", let us use our expertise to help you select prime San Francisco iconic photographic landmarks that match your personal preferences. We work closely with our engaged couples ahead of time to make sure the tour makes sense logistically and matches their needs. If you would like additional advice on how to book this photography package, feel free to call us or email. You can choose our 2.5 hour tour with 1 San Francisco location or our 4 hour tour with 3 local destinations. We also allow our clients to alter this package if needed on the day of the wedding in case of bad weather or other obstacles that may occur.

Where we Take You for the San Francisco Photo Tour

Some of the top photographic destinations we can journey to include:

  • The Palace of Fine Arts
  • Crissy Field
  • Baker Beach
  • The Presidio
  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • The Legion of Honor
  • The Botanical Gardens
  • Land's End

Other places we go to for wedding pictures less frequently are the "Painted Ladies" and the Japanese Tea Gardens. In addition to some formal photos at the locations above, we can just follow you around while walking through San Francisco downtown areas and take photographs in a documentary style. Want to ride a Cable Car? We will show you the best place to board San Francisco's famous rolling icon and capture a fun shot of both of you riding or just hanging on.

Other top-rated picture spots that we can suggest include Pier 7, Fisherman's Wharf, Fort Point, North Beach, Lover's Lane, Fort Mason, Sutro Baths, Sutro Heights Park, Union Square and Golden Gate Park. Another great idea, if you have some extra time are the Botanical Gardens. Both Sutro locations may also require additional time since they are located at the far north end of San Francisco. Unsure of where to go for your wedding photos? We are happy to advise you on some of our favorite photography spots in San Francisco. We have been doing this for many years and can provide you great ideas on how to choose the best locations.

What Length of Photography Coverage Do I Need?

This is another common question we receive from engaged couples when looking to book wedding photographers for San Francisco city hall. Some couples want full coverage including bridal prep at their home or hotel and then have us come to the party or reception after the wedding. Others are just looking for candid coverage of the ceremony and a few wedding pictures around City Hall. We would be happy to consult with you personally to explore these options and help advise you on the best length of photographic coverage to fit your needs and budget. Here are some of the factors to consider in making this decision:

  • The size of your Guest List attending your City Hall wedding.
  • The proximity of your reception venue to San Francisco city hall.
  • Do you want some outdoor artistic wedding photography after your ceremony?
  • Will there be multiple events happening at your reception or is it just a dinner?
  • Will you be wanting to include a Wedding Album in your package?
  • How much time do you want to devote to having your pictures taken?
  • How much of your wedding budget do you want to use for photography?

These questions make for a great starting point for your wedding planning. We can discuss all of these things before your marriage and together come up with the best city hall wedding photography plan for you. We understand that financial factors also need to be considered in addition to the main points above. We will always work with your budget and help you with this all important decision. Please feel free to contact us directly (mike@cityhallphotos.com) and request quotes for your preferred type of coverage.

What are the Best SF City Hall Photo Locations?

This is the one of the most common questions that engaged couples ask San Francisco city hall wedding photographers. We are happy to advise you on these important questions, especially given the fact that there are so many options to choose from. Our 800+ weddings photographed at city hall makes us qualified to advise you on how to choose the best photo locations. Let's discuss some of these possible locations at San Francisco City Hall and what makes them so highly rated. We have our own preferences, but not all are available unless you are willing to pay an extra $1,000 for a private ceremony on the 4th floor North Gallery or Mayor's Balcony (a bargain price for San Francisco).

Here is a list of the most desirable places to celebrate your nuptials at San Francisco city hall. We can provide you with even more advice on premier SF city hall wedding photography locations if you email us or call. You can also check out this page which describes top photography locations on a floor by floor basis.


Great Rotunda - This is the default location for all standard city hall marriage ceremonies. The Rotunda, which is located at the top of the Grand Staircase by the elevators is the place where thousands of weddings have been performed over the years. The good news is that ceremonies here are rarely significantly disrupted by others. The little bit of privacy afforded by these stern walls is also welcome. Truly an exceptional wedding photography location for all of these reasons.

Grand Staircase - There are a few marriage commissioners who will offer you the opportunity to perform your ceremony either at the top of the Grand Staircase or on the lower landing. Although this is a gorgeous location with unique architecture, it's not the quintessential place to get married. The staircase is frequently laden with International tourists, SF city hall wedding photographers, Quincea├▒era photoshoots, and other married couples.

At this point, it is an unlikely ceremony location, but I list it here because many weddings have been performed on the Staircase, especially on Saturdays! We suggest you save it as a magnificent spot for the photo session AFTER the ceremony. Most of City Hall's top wedding photographers love to bring their couples here. Of course, this is the premiere location for capturing great images after the ceremony.

Mayor's Balcony - There are 2 different ways to have your ceremony on the Mayor's Balcony: 1. Pay the reasonable price of $1,000 so you can have a roped off, private ceremony with complete privacy. Or 2. Pay the standard fee and see if you can coax your Deputy Marriage Commissioner into performing your ceremony there! Some officiants will take you there if there are no events at the time in the area. You may also receive the option to go there if there are disruptions in the Rotunda.

One of our favorite ceremony locations, the Mayor's Balcony is located on the 2nd floor directly across from the city hall Rotunda. We love it because it photographs so well. Statues of former Mayor's George Moscone, Diane Feinstein and Willie Brown overlook your ceremony from this excellent location.

4th Floor Balcony - This is San Francisco City Hall's other private reserved ceremony location. Also referred to as the 4th Floor North Gallery, it's absolutely romantic and beautiful with incredible architecture and natural light. It's not uncommon for a couple to take a deep breath and gasp when they first walk on this floor. Similar to the Mayor's Balcony, you remit the price of $1,000 and the City Hall Events Department will rope off the entire balcony and even sets up chairs for your ceremony. On very rare occasions you might be able to convince an officiant to perform a standard civil ceremony here.

Other Private Ceremony Locations - Through the years we have explored the many corridors, passageways, and rooms in this unsurpassed building. For our customers that provide their own officiant, we are happy to help find a nice private location for your wedding ceremony. A few years back, Willie Brown, the mayor at that time, took great pains to restore all of the hallways and windows of the building. Now there is a multitude of great locations throughout city hall for pictures. Many of our recommended private officiants use the same robes worn by city hall's own marriage commissioners. This can be a benefit because tourists and other wanderers will steer clear of your ceremony because they think it is being performed by a SF City Hall officiant.

Advice on "First Look" Wedding Locations - If you are interested in including a "first look" or "reveal" in your city hall wedding photography coverage, we have some optional locations for you to select from. A First Look can be a great addition to your wedding day elopement or full scale wedding. You can check out our Floor by Floor Guide to learn about superior places to do this fun and romantic introduction. We are happy to give you specific advice regarding some of the best places to this. This includes the 3rd floor on the south or north sides. We will also help set up the reveal (First Look) for your convenience and fun. We will make it go very smoothly and take all of the stress out of it so you can focus on each other.

Other Bay Area County Clerk Marriage Ceremony Locations - In addition to photographing weddings at San Francisco city hall, we also service other Civil Ceremony locations at the following Courthouses throughout the Bay Area.

  • Martinez Courthouse
  • San Rafael City Hall
  • Oakland City Hall
  • The San Mateo Courthouse
  • Santa Clara City Hall
  • San Ramon City Hall
  • The Fairfield County Clerk
  • The Santa Cruz Courthouse
  • Santa Rosa County Clerks Office
These Northern California locations can also process your marriage license and you can still have your wedding at San Francisco city hall. Not all County Clerk's in the Bay Area are properly set up to perform civil ceremonies, so be sure to check before you go. You can usually obtain a marriage license at these locations, but not necessarily have your ceremony performed. Click on this FAQ link in the menu above for more helpful San Francisco city hall wedding photography tips.

Fun SF City Hall Elopement Photography!

After over 20 years in the professional wedding photography business, we have learned that the best way to create lasting memories on your big day is to keep things light-hearted and fun. This is especially true for our Eloping brides and grooms. We will do everything we can to make your special day marvelous whether you are eloping or have many guests. Having your wedding pictures taken should not be a hassle, it should be an amazing experience. We accomplish this by maintaining an easy-going style and not over-posing you.

We will be actively involved in making sure your elopement wedding pictures turn out creative and beautiful, but we do it in an upbeat manner without pushing you into complicated and intricate poses. We strive to provide our couples a combination of documentary style, photojournalism and some traditional portraits. To check out our elopement wedding photography for LGBTQ Couples, click the link.

Tell us About Your Wedding Photography Style!

We want to know your own style and personality so we can make sure these attributes show through in your final digital images. Just recently we were almost done with a shoot, and I asked the couple if there was anything else they wanted us to do. They quickly mentioned that they wanted a photo sitting on the Grand Staircase looking up towards the Rotunda. The fact that they mentioned it guaranteed that we obtained that meaningful image for them. Do you like mostly candid, photojournalist, or traditional photos? Our Brides and Grooms often let us know some of their favorite poses and San Francisco city hall picture locations and we are happy to accommodate them.

We can also provide you with great ideas on how to determine the best wedding photography style to suit you. This website has quite a bit of helpful information on photography style or we can help you personally with this decision.

SF City Hall Approved Wedding Photographers

Our photography studio has been added to San Francisco City Hall's Event Department approved list of photographers. We have a proven track record of over 10 years photographing weddings at city hall, which helped us get approved. In addition, we have submitted the necessary paperwork and meet all of the insurance requirements that permit us to photograph private SF Courthouse weddings and events.

Our many years of successfully photographing weddings at this popular venue has helped us to be included on this list. We are periodically called upon by the City Hall Events department to handle reserved weddings and other special events. We were recently chosen to photograph a wedding that was officiated by former Mayor Willie Brown and current Mayor London Breed. We were also a major contributor to the City Hall Event Department marketing brochure and had been asked by the event director to contribute pictures. We were selected by San Francisco city hall for this honor because of our recognized expertise in photographing weddings here.

What does all of this mean for you? Just the knowledge that you have chosen a well established, top rated SF city hall elopement photographer that you can rely on with tons of experience and credibility. In addition, if you are planning a Saturday wedding, you are only allowed to use approved vendors due to insurance liability issues. The key contacts we have established in both the Event Department and the County Clerk's office helps us receive advance knowledge of potential issues and events. We specialize in photographing weddings at this premium venue, we don't just do it on the side.

My Knowledge of SF Will Provide you with Better Wedding Pictures

As a SF native, I started my business right here in this town over 20 years ago. I was born in San Francisco and graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BS Degree and then finally a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) a few years later at this popular urban school. Yes, that's correct, a real live San Francisco native (and proud of it). As our City Hall wedding photography business has expanded, I find myself spending more and more time exploring this beautiful city. This background helps us find even better San Francisco destinations to photograph your wedding pictures after the ceremony.

Some of the San Francisco locations I would strongly recommend for wedding pictures include the Haight/Ashbury district, Nob Hill, Noe Valley, The Castro, South of Market (SOMA) and the Marina District. North Beach is a favorite of mine and I love wandering through this beautiful area with my newlyweds for great urban wedding photography. Some of our brides and grooms enjoy taking a walking tour of these areas and we photograph the experience Paparazzi style. It is a very natural way of having your wedding photos taken while exploring Fisherman's Wharf or any other part of San Francisco.

If you choose our inexpensive "San Francisco Package", my local city knowledge will lead you to many of these beautiful spots in this town and the ideal times to travel there for traffic and quality of light (regardless of the fog!). See below for details on this popular photography SF tour package. Your final images will combine photojournalism and traditional posing to ensure you receive everything you need from your shoot. Our service is open to all regardless of race, creed, culture or national origin. We are a same-sex, gay/lesbian/LGBTQ friendly wedding photographer. If you are looking for a short cut to all of our important pages - review our City Hall Wedding Site Map.

Helpful Guide - SF City Hall Wedding Procedures

From the emails and phone calls we receive, it became apparent that there exists considerable confusion regarding the entire wedding process from beginning to end at San Francisco City Hall. We thought it would be advantageous to provide a thorough wedding guide and also throw in a few brief recommendations to help you navigate the matrimonial process in this grand building. For more detailed info about the process of getting started, go to our guide for San Francisco city hall weddings. We are experts in City Hall wedding procedures with over 800 weddings under our belt and want to reduce your stress level. The first thing you need to do on your wedding day is arrive at the building on time. Here are directions to San Francisco city hall to help with that first step. Once you have arrived, please follow the step-by-step instructions below:

How to Obtain Your Marriage License - This step may be completed prior to your wedding day or the same day, but before the ceremony. The Appointment for obtaining the Marriage License needs to be made within 3 months of your actual wedding. Your witness does not need to be present and the document is not signed (witnessed) at this time (except by the bride and groom). You will need your ID's and your right hand (to raise). The main goal at this meeting is to make sure you bring the proper documentation which includes a legal form of current identification. Common examples of accepted ID's include a Drivers License or US Passport. At the same time that you obtain your marriage license, you can also reserve your City Hall Civil Ceremony. The County Clerk will not allow you to get married or procure a marriage license with expired ID's.

Update: The County Clerk's office no longer permits any type of wedding photography during the Marriage License meeting or when you meet with the officiant to sign it. In addition, they now limit you to 1 witness. Yes, 1 witness even if you brought 2, which is another Covid-19 precaution. This also means that wedding photographers at San Francisco city hall are not allowed to take pictures during this meeting either.

Ceremony Check in - This occurs approximately 5-10 minutes before your scheduled wedding ceremony appointment. Bring your witness but nobody else, because they won't be allowed to enter the office due to Covid-19 concerns. This includes your professional wedding photographer, we are also no longer allowed to record the signing of the license or take pictures of you checking in. Your SF city hall wedding photographers will be present at this time to help guide you through this process if needed.

Marriage Commissioner Meeting - When the County Clerk calls your number, it's time to go meet your San Francisco city hall wedding officiant. This occurs usually 10 minutes before the actual ceremony. The Deputy Marriage Commissioner will sit down with you and ask questions about your ceremony preferences. One of the things the officiant will ask the couple is by what name would they like to be called. NOW is the time to make sure you bring in your witness! Again, no family and friends (unless they are serving as your witness), this is not the wedding, just a chance to get to know your officiant.

They have recently become much more strict about this and will sternly ask your guests to leave the office if they come in. Many of our brides and grooms chose a person of significance to them in their lives like a grandparent to sign. Occasionally our eloping couples ask us to sign the marriage license and we are honored to do so and happy to oblige. There is no extra charge for this elopement service.

San Francisco City Hall Marriage License - At the officiant meeting (see above) the marriage license is signed by your witness. Again, you do not need to bring your whole family in with you. No videography is allowed during the license signing either. As mentioned, we can serve as your witness if needed. In reality, this part of your wedding day is what takes place at your scheduled ceremony time. The actual ceremony will take place a little later, usually in the Rotunda. The County Clerk now requests that you only have one witness come back in the office to sign.

City Hall Marriage Ceremony - Once the marriage license has been signed, bring your family and friends to the Rotunda or private room so they can watch you get married. We will be there too taking memorable pictures of you reciting your wedding vows. This is a good time to mention the fact that the ceremonies at city hall do not actually take place at the time you reserved. In most cases, the ceremony will actually occur about 20 minutes after your scheduled time. As you can see, the scheduled time is actually when you meet with the officiant.

Wedding Guests and Family - The County Clerk's office seems to be becoming a little more lenient with regard to enforcing the 6 person maximum guest regulation. We have seen Marriage Commissioners allow some pretty large groups to get married in the Rotunda area. The Rotunda is located at the top of the Grand Staircase in the small enclosure between the elevators.

Ceremony Details - City Hall marriage ceremonies generally take less than 5 minutes to perform. You will only be asked to recite standard civil ceremony vows. You can ask your officiant to provide you with a copy of the vows prior to your ceremony if that helps you with reciting them. Feel free to take your own pictures if you are a guest.

Another common question frequently asked of us is if it is necessary to obtain a San Francisco city hall photography permit? The answer is no, you do not need one for the type of pictures we are taking in the building. There are other reasons that you might need a permit, including professional film making and taking pictures in the park square out in front of the building.

The above steps were meant to be a general quick guide, to view the more detailed SF city hall marriage process, go to our page called: How to Get Married at San Francisco City Hall. This provides step-by-step instructions to help make your day easier and stress free. You can also check out our page for free city hall wedding planning. We have loaded this website with as much helpful information as possible to assist engaged couples navigate the entire marriage process at San Francisco city hall. Whether you are planning an elopement or larger wedding, we are here to help.

Why Hire Professional Wedding Photographers at SF City Hall?

Getting married in San Francisco? Have you ever asked yourself: "How do I find the best San Francisco city hall wedding photographer near me?" Do I even need to hire a professional? With the advent of digital cameras many people are opting to have their friend or relative handle the photography at their wedding. Often the reasoning for making this decision is the promise of quality photos from "Uncle Bob" who has a really expensive camera and knows how to use it. Bob may be available for a discount, but do you really want to take that chance?

The main goal for having a friend or relative take your wedding pictures is to save money by not hiring a professional wedding photographer. However, is this really what's important when it comes to choosing who will record your precious memories for posterity? The answer is a very strong no. However, once you made the decision to hire a professional, it is equally important that you choose the right one for you. Don't sell yourself short just because you are planning a City Hall Elopement and think it is a smaller affair. Continue to read below for helpful tips on how to make this all important evaluation. For more information about evaluating city hall wedding pictures, check out this link.

Hidden Costs of not Hiring a Pro Photographer for City Hall Weddings

These days, virtually all modern digital cameras can beautifully capture sharp, properly exposed images, but that isn't enough! Obviously, saving dollars is important, but are you willing to take the risks involved just to obtain bargain pricing on wedding photography? We frequently see couples have their photos done with a guest's cell phone, which can only result in unprofessional images. Most importantly, remember that after the wedding all you have left are the pictures. You spend all of this money on preparation, wedding dress, guests and the venue, but then skip the photographer.

One other thing to note... we have received inquiries from couples who had a friend take their wedding pictures and now want us to redo their photos professionally. Have you really saved money in this situation? I have also been asked on occasion to try to save ruined photos that another family photographer took by editing and repairing them. What if your photographer friend doesn't back up your wedding image files? There are many issues that an amateur photographer may not think about.

Thus, I thought it would helpful to provide this guide below to assist with this challenging choice. So let's examine some of the more important reasons to hire highly rated San Francisco city hall wedding photographers.

  • Posing the newlyweds - The top SF city hall wedding photographers will have romantic ideas on how to pose the bride and groom. In addition, they will know the most advantageous angles and backgrounds to make the couple look amazing. We see many amateur wedding photographers taking pictures at city hall and although they may be obtaining quality images from a technical standpoint, it becomes pretty apparent that the posing and lighting are pretty basic by comparison to a professional. You can't expect the couple to stare at the camera and smile for every pictures and expect great results. It is up to the professional to bring out the best characteristics of the newlyweds during the photo shoot at San Francisco city hall. Fun and creative posing is all part of this. Dynamic posing is also important and might not be possible with most Cell Phones.

  • Professional Off-Camera Lighting - San Francisco City Hall can be very tricky in terms of lighting. Some floors have light coming in from the ceiling which can cause horrendous shadows and "raccoon eyes". An accomplished professional will bring advanced lighting equipment to supplement the available light. The use of off-camera lighting can create dramatic images with great impact. The Mayor's Balcony often has terrible back-light making it almost impossible to create a good photograph without supplemental lighting. We see many people trying and failing to obtain good pictures with cell phones on the Mayor's Balcony. Definitely a challenge because of the back light present almost constantly! Unless you are familiar with the subtle lighting nuances present in the building, you can really make some major mistakes covering a wedding here. Hiring a professional picture taker with experience is your best bet.

  • City Hall Crowd Control - One of the huge benefits of hiring a professional city hall wedding photographer with experience is taking advantage of their mastery of crowd patterns. There are certain times in the day where it is preferable to avoid places like the Grand Staircase. In addition, if it happens to be one of those days where an event is scheduled, your SF city hall photographers will know where to take you to avoid the crowds, but still provide you with breathtaking images. Extensive city hall wedding photography experience cannot be substituted for. We can also help manage the day when the County Clerk's runs way late, allowing us to change the way we handle the procedures and still manage to get the same amount of pictures or even more! Think of it as an inexpensive way to be guided through the building to avoid the more crowded areas.

  • Help with your Big Wedding Day - Certain aspects of the marriage process at SF City Hall can be baffling. The check-in and marriage license procedures often throw couples off. There are signs all over the County Clerks office trying to direct you, but they can be confusing and many of them do not pertain to weddings. Your professional wedding photographer is happy to walk you through the entire process. This will make your special day less stressful allowing you to have fun and not worry about the small details. Let your experienced SF city hall wedding photographer do that for you and take your cares away.

  • Technical Digital Image Safety (back ups) - Ask your amateur photographer friend about their image file back-up system. Chances are they do not have one! If they are using a cell phone, it most certainly is not being backed up in a safe way. I personally have a triple back-up procedure for all of my image files and this includes off-site back-up which will protect you in case of fire or theft. Most professional wedding photographers have a similar process. The last thing you want is for your wedding memories to be lost forever! Hard drives crash and USB drives can easily be lost, Cell Phones get stolen or lost. don't let this happen to you! We recently had a bride and groom tell us that their brother's amateur photographer acquaintance lost their wedding photos simply because he misplaced a Flash Drive! "It's in the house and he hopes to find it some day!" This is a true story. No thank you! This may be one of the most important reasons to hire a professional.

  • Compare Yelp Wedding Reviews - Unlike an amateur photographer friend, a professional will normally have on-line reviews (Yelp, Google and others), which allows you to see how they rate. It is particularly important to actually read the various client reviews. 5 star ratings are great, but it is also vital to understand the style and history of the photographers you select. Yelp provides this type of information and much more. I would also take the time to read the wedding photographer's responses to both good and bad reviews. Their response will often tell you quite a bit about their personality and how they deal with customers. Sometimes a San Francisco city hall wedding photographer can obtain a bad review simply because of a misunderstanding or other uncommon event.

  • SF City Hall Wedding Photography Experience - Yes, I realize that this is sort of an obvious reason, but I wanted to explain some of the specifics. What I am really referring to here is San Francisco City Hall wedding photography experience. Namely, the ability to roll with the punches and barriers that often come our way. For example, we recently had a wedding interrupted by a fire alarm that caused the evacuation of the entire building. Despite some nervousness from the couple, we were able to keep calm and make sure that we got back in line to get married with minimal delay. Our unsurpassed knowledge of the entire marriage process helped us navigate this potentially difficult situation. In addition, our ability to handle the adjustments needed when city hall has a major event scheduled can be very beneficial to a couple who is unfamiliar with the building. We are aware of alternative photography locations within city hall and will escort you there when needed.
  • What are the Best Days to Avoid Crowds at SF City Hall?

    The truth is, we feel like we can provide you with amazing wedding photography images no matter what day you decide to have your San Francisco city hall marriage. However, without a doubt the most common question we are asked is: "What is the best day of the week to get married at city hall to avoid crowds and get great photos?" Couples want to make sure their city hall wedding pictures do not show lots of strangers and tourists. Fridays are the busiest days for SF city hall wedding photography, with the largest amount of reserved ceremonies on the Mayor's Balcony and the 4th Floor North Gallery. This is because city hall reserved ceremonies do not have the 6 person restriction that the standard civil ceremonies have. For this reason, you will see a very large number of wedding photographers and newlywed couples on Fridays.

    In addition, it is not uncommon to see dozens of people milling about throughout the building on Fridays. Many of them are wedding guests, but some are tourists or visitors. This is why we City Hall wedding photographers call it "Crazy Friday." Thursday's are definitely better, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the slowest days at city hall followed closely by Monday. Monday normally brings more business related visits to city hall and so there is a bit more foot traffic around the building. We don't let crowds get in our way of obtaining great SF city hall wedding photos for you and we know how to make the most of the space available! As mentioned frequently throughout this website, you will not receive images with strangers in the background from us!

    What is the Best Time to get Married at SF City Hall for Photos?

    The time of the day you get married and have your city hall wedding pictures taken is equally important! Peak crowd times on most days are between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. If you can book the final ceremonies of the day, which occur at 3:00 and 3:30 pm, City Hall will start to clear out shortly after your ceremony is complete. Since there are no other couples getting married and having their wedding photos taken after this time, there are less people in the building. Once your late afternoon ceremony is complete, you should have more private access for wedding pictures to some of the most beautiful areas at SF City Hall. This includes iconic places like the Grand Staircase and the North Gallery on the 4th floor. These are amazing wedding photography locations!

    Early morning times at 9:00 am also work well to to start our wedding photography coverage. With no civil ceremonies in the morning before 9:00 am, there tends to be a lot less people in the building just before and after that time. Just understand that none of these techniques are fool proof. They do give you better odds of quieter, less crowded San Francisco city hall. Again, be aware that later ceremonies can sometimes coincide with city hall events. When there is a special event in the building, they often start to close off the Grand Staircase around 4:00 pm. This being said, we can obtain amazing photos for you at this historic venue any time of the day. We never give up on obtaining pictures on the Staircase!

    SF City Hall Wedding Tips From Michael - May, 2024

    The month of May is here and it appears like the rainy weather is finally behind us. We know that more and more of our clients will want to go out into San Francisco for outdoor photography. This happens every year in the spring and we find ourselves visiting some of the more beautiful places in SF like the Palace of Fine Arts and Legion of Honor. With spring in full force, we no longer have to worry about it getting dark early. The days start to get much longer with Daylight saving time here. Also starting in May is San Francisco's famous fog. As the weather heats up inland, it pulls the fog in over SF. This could impact our Golden Gate Bridge destination photoshoots, but we can always adjust if needed. Most other San Francisco outdoor destinations are not adversely affected by the fog.

    SF City Hall Wedding Photography Lighting Explained

    People often ask us about the optimum time for premium light to create great wedding images of the bride and groom. It really depends on the circumstances. Because of the fog, the natural light in the building is unpredictable. We have found that no matter what the weather conditions, there are plenty of exceptional wedding photo options at city hall. I think most San Francisco city hall wedding photographers agree that there is always a great place to go in the building to obtain great photos. In addition, we always bring professional strobe lighting to refine and improve the quality of light when needed. The key factor in our lighting is the use of Off-Camera flash. This provide softer light with more dimension if balanced properly.

    When the sun is shining brightly outside, the 3rd and 4th floor offer some amazing natural light photographic opportunities. As mentioned above, we also bring off-camera flash that helps create soft directional light and adds drama to your city hall photos. If you compare our lighting techniques to photos taking with on-camera flash, the difference is incredible. In addition, this type of lighting helps in some of the darker areas like the Mayor's Balcony. Even the Famous Grand Staircase benefits from professional lighting. Depending upon the time of day, the light in this location can come from directly overhead, which can create distracting shadows and "Racoon Eyes."

    Top 5 Reasons to Marry in San Francisco in 2024

    Why do people from all over the world come to "Everybody's Favorite City" to get married and have their wedding pictures taken? There are so many reasons to visit this beautiful town, but is it really a good destination wedding locale? With it's fantastic weather, incredible views, historic sites, art work, and so much more, San Francisco really does have it all. If you need useful tips to help in planning your wedding at SF City Hall, we offer a free email based service, click the link to find out more. With our 20 years of San Francisco wedding photography experience, we can be a great asset to assist you with planning. We are happy to provide this advice as a community service at no charge to the customer. San Francisco really is one of the highest rated wedding destinations so let's explore some of the main factors engaged couples consider when making the all important decision of where to get married or elope.

    1. Wide Variety of Reception/Photo Locations - San Francisco, with it's many restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and attractions offers a multitude of unique places for a marriage reception/celebration. If you love gourmet food, SF ranks as one of the foremost areas in the country to indulge in culinary delights. A fine local restaurant offering your favorite food is the perfect place to invite guests to celebrate your big day. Many possess large private areas to entertain all of your guests together. There are even a few great reception locations that are walking distance from city hall. We are happy to help guide you with reception recommendations for these local spots. Absinthe is one example of a wonderful restaurant close to SF City Hall and has facilities to accommodate your large guest count. Located in Hayes Valley, this place pretty much specializes in city hall wedding receptions. The walk there can also be a fun experience for the newlyweds.

    Many of the City's clubs and large pubs also offer fantastic wedding reception facilities and are located in our historic districts. Yes, some of the hotels can be comparatively expensive, but many offer antique charm or modern amenities at a reasonable cost. Most recently the SOMA and NOPA districts have become well known for great food and atmosphere and also much safer then before. North Beach is also a favorite spot of mine for wedding receptions, the Italian food and authentic Pizza are fantastic! It's also a safe neighborhood to wander about at night. Check out Tony's Pizza and Original Joe's for down home Italian food! They both have small private dining areas for your small wedding reception or party. Sotto Mare is another favorite for local Seafood. Any of these locations would be a good option for your Wedding Reception. Many newlyweds couples who are new to San Francisco love to take the boat to Alcatraz as one of their honeymoon activities. In addition, there are so many wonderful places to have your wedding pictures taken in San Francisco. We have spoken about this throughout this website, but it bears repeating. San Francisco is tough to beat for great wedding picture destinations.


    2. Amazing Ceremony Spots - Let's start with S.F. City Hall, this old historic building may well be one of the most popular locations to get married at in San Francisco. Certainly the most famous. It's economical, beautiful, and has amazing architecture to appreciate while you recite your nuptials. With the right SF City Hall wedding photographer, you will be able to capture these moments and historic backgrounds. On average, 25 couples are married there every day. In addition to this famous landmark, you can also have your ceremony at The Palace of Fine Arts, Sea Cliff, Twin Peaks, The Legion of Honor, The Presidio, Golden Gate Park or San Francisco's Cliff House to name just a few.

    If you are looking for a religious ceremony, you also have many beautiful options. The city offers everything from 100+ year old churches to modern Cathedrals. Churches such as: Saint Mary's, Saint Dominic's, St. Ignatius, Grace Cathedral, Old Saint Mary's, and Saints Peter and Paul Church are just a few of the choices available. It is no surprise that "Baghdad by the Bay" is one of the foremost elopement destinations for couples from all over the world. Many couples also would rather have their engagement photos done in San Francisco and even at city hall! Land's End or The Golden Gate Bridge are also phenomenal backdrops for your marriage ceremony or an engagement portrait photo session.


    3. So many things to do in San Francisco! - SF is one of the top ranked vacation destinations in all the world. It offers all of the things a big city normally does, plus it has it's own unique small town charm. For entertainment, San Francisco has many full sized theaters offering major plays and Broadway shows. Check out the Curran, Orpheum or Golden Gate Theaters for some of the preeminent live entertainment available. These locations also provide great photo opportunities before or after your SF City Hall wedding celebration.

    For history buffs, SF has many iconic landmarks including San Francisco City Hall (of course), The Bank of California Building, Foreign Cinema, Mission Dolores, Saint Patrick's Church, and the Palace Hotel. Eloping couples visiting from other countries love to explore attractions like China Town, North Beach and Japan Center to see some of their own culture in a different setting. Take a walk around Telegraph Hill and explore Coit Tower or take a ride on a Cable Car. San Francisco is also known for its historic districts, so be sure to wander through places like the Haight Ashbury and North Beach districts. If you are interested in City Government, check out the civic center area. To learn more about the History of San Francisco City Hall including famous San Francisco weddings that have occurred here, check our FAQ's link.

    If you like sports, we have the San Francisco Giants, the 49ers and the Golden State Warriors. There is something here for everyone! One way to explore some of these spots is to book our "Golden Gate" or "San Francisco" wedding photography tour packages. These packages allow the couple to explore locations throughout the City after their townhall wedding. Now with the new Chase Center operating, SF now becomes a top location for major concerts and events that need a large indoor arena. It is also now the home of the Golden State Warriors basketball team after they moved here from Oakland!


    4. Central Location - One of the uncommon things about the SF Bay Area is it's proximity to so many recreational and vacation locations. If you love the ocean, you are just minutes away from some stunning beaches including Baker Beach, Lands End, Stinson Beach, and Pacifica. Baker Beach in particular overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and is also one of our favorite wedding picture spots! We have take our brides and grooms here for wedding photography dozens of times per year. A 3.5 hour drive puts you in Lake Tahoe where you can snow ski, gamble, fish, swim, water ski, or just enjoy the beauty of one of the world's largest lakes (ranked 28th by volume).

    One of the world's greatest wine countries, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys are less than an hour's drive and are home to some amazing places to eat and wine taste. If you love the Redwoods, two of the world's most famous groves are within driving distance from "The City by the Bay". It is hard to beat Northern California for the diversity of leisure activities it offers. Am I leaving anything out? Definitely! It's all here within short driving distance from San Francisco City Hall. If you love photography, there are many great picture opportunities at these destinations as well.

    5. Greatest California Climate - Yes, it is considered good luck to have it rain on your wedding day, but the truth is most people would prefer sunny and warmish weather. Especially during your wedding photography session! San Francisco is famous for it's fog, but in general the rain is predictable and infrequent. It rarely rains in Northern California from June through October, offering you many options for your ceremony location and reception. The mild climate provides you with a perfect opportunity to receive beautiful wedding photos both inside and outdoors. Yes, the Golden Gate bridge might be partially obscured by fog, but that is how it often looks in reality. The best thing is that since you are getting married at San Francisco city hall, the fog barely matters!

    Additional Links to Relevant Articles and Features


    Why Have Your Wedding At San Francisco City Hall

    Suggestions for Wedding Photography Locations at San Francisco City Hall

    Important Attributes of San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographers

    Reciting your own Vows for San Francisco City Hall Wedding Ceremonies

    Rain On Your Wedding Day - What to you Do and What About the Photos?

    A Recent LGBTQ Wedding Photography Session with 2 amazing brides

    5 Ideas - How to book a SF city hall wedding photographer

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    SF City Hall Wedding Photography by Michael

    201 Spear Street, Suite 1100

    San Francisco, CA 94105

    415-307-5309

    mike@cityhallphotos.com

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