San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer

SF City Hall Elopement Photography

After many years of only photographing large weddings, I finally discovered the huge benefits of covering City Hall Elopements. In the past years of photographing large weddings in the SF Bay Area there were a number of challenges we faced. On most Saturdays during the summer, I could be found at any of the more popular wedding venues covering 8 to 10 hour weddings. This type of wedding photography required its own set of skills to be successful, including the ability to shoot great wedding pictures at a very fast pace. In many cases, a large scale wedding photographer only has about 20 minutes to capture beautiful wedding pictures because of the tight schedules most brides and grooms need to have. If things run late, which they often do, it makes it even more challenging. There are so many events at a typical traditional wedding!

San Francisco City Hall Elopement photography on The Grand Staircase


Discovering San Francisco City Hall Elopements

Then about 12 years ago I discovered San Francisco city hall weddings. Little did I know back then that eloping to this great venue was extremely popular. In fact, I learned that people from all over the country and even the world come to City Hall for their elopements. When compared to large weekend weddings, City Hall elopements require a completely different type of technique and photography skill. I developed most of these skills over a short time and have become a full-time City Hall elopement photographer. We even offer a special wedding photography package just for elopements! I thought it might be interesting to share some of the unique skills and attributes necessary to be a successful San Francisco city hall elopement photographer.

  • Patience - I put this one first because having a great amount of patience is really one of the skills that is definitely unique to San Francisco city hall. While it is true that any elopement photographer needs a great deal of patience, weddings here present challenges that only a public building will present. Because of the frequent crowding at the more popular photo locations, you need to have the patience to wait for the amount of people present to subside, even if your coverage time is running short.

    Often times other San Francisco city hall wedding photographers will also be in the way of your shots. Unlike weekend weddings, the guests are usually intimately involved in the photography portion of the day and they will often get in the way or try to cut in front of you to get their own pictures. With big weddings, the wedding photographer can usually "steal" the couple away to get formal shots somewhere around the venue outdoors. I try to do this at San Francisco city hall as well, but it doesn't always work. If the eloping couple would prefer to have the guests accompany them during their formal wedding pictures, then it is our job to allow that.

  • Versatility - Before arriving at San Francisco city hall, my assistant and I always say that we never know what will be waiting for us. Special events, protests, inaugurations, funerals and the arrival of giant tour buses are all part of the challenges presented to a wedding photographer covering San Francisco city hall elopements. One time we arrived for a wedding and found out that the entire building was going to close in a few minutes due to problems with the plumbing.

    Sometimes even Fire drills happen and everyone has to vacate the building for up to an hour. These things occur without warning and it is our job as a city hall wedding photographer to still deliver exceptional wedding pictures to our clients. You definitely need to know how to "roll with the punches" at San Francisco city hall when capturing elopements.

  • Experience with All Types of Brides and Grooms - Elopement weddings are becoming increasingly popular these days. The cost and time involved in organizing a large wedding can be prohibitive for many brides and grooms. Couples that choose an elopement are probably going to want more interactive and candid types of photos. They have opted to not have a formal wedding so chances are they don't want stiff and rigidly posed wedding pictures. A San Francisco City Hall elopement fits in well with this type of couple. After their civil ceremony is completed, the eloping couple has plenty of time to spend with their City Hall wedding photographer wandering around the building capturing informal and fun pictures.


SF City Hall Eloping Couple dance dip after their wedding

Difference Between Elopements and Traditional Weddings

There is some confusion about how elopements differ from traditional weddings. I thought it would be helpful to briefly go over some of the main differences. Just because a couple decides to have a civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall does not mean they are eloping. In fact, many of our city hall weddings are well planned out events with a large number of guests in attendance.

Elopements are usually planned with a lot less notice and with no guests in attendance. These couples are trying to save money by not having to spend on the usual traditional wedding activities. Examples of these types of expenditures include: Purchasing a wedding cake; hiring a caterer; and paying for a wedding venue. These expenses are the type of things that eloping couples want to avoid.

In many cases, eloping couples would prefer to spend money on the costs associated with traveling to the elopement destination. They feel that their money is better spent on nice hotels at a beautiful and exciting destination. We have also found that couples who elope often spend more of their Budget on wedding photography. The obvious reason for this is that eloping couples are usually alone. So naturally they will want their loved ones to see pictures of the experience. As a city hall elopement photographer we love the opportunity to help our brides and grooms with this. To summarize, here is a list of the key factors that differentiate Elopements from Traditional weddings.

San Francisco city hall elopement pictures on the Grant Staircase

Top 5 Attributes of a Typical San Francisco Elopement

  1. Short Notice "Get Away" wedding that usually takes place at a distant location
  2. The elopement ceremony takes place with no guests, just the couple
  3. None of the traditional wedding events are included like a reception or party
  4. The wedding ceremony is usually short and to the point (Civil Ceremony)
  5. Professional wedding photography is usually required to record the event for family to view later

I have also included below a very well done YouTube video that goes into further detail about the differences between traditional weddings and elopements.


Great Way to Have an Amazing Wedding and Save Money

San Francisco City Hall elopements have become increasingly popular. This is because so many people are trying to keep their wedding budget affordable these days. It's a great way for an engaged couple to get away from it all and be married at the same time. San Francisco offers many fantastic activities for an eloping couple. This includes, gourmet restaurants, beautiful views, and of course, City Hall. To learn more about having your elopement at San Francisco City Hall click the link. We provide you a step-by-step guide on how to get married at this amazing venue. Click here to learn more about what makes city hall weddings such a bargain.



City Hall newlyweds enjoying a moment after their elopement ceremony