This is part 2 of my own perspective of what it is like to photograph weddings at San Francisco city hall. In the first part of this post, I talked about the lifestyle changes and advantages of being a San Francisco city hall wedding photographer. Now let’s explore the actual benefits in terms of the daily routine.
More Time with the Bride and Groom
This certainly is the part we like best! A typical wedding on a weekend can last about 9 hours from Bridal prep until the last dance. So one would think that there are all kinds of opportunities to capture wonderful pictures of the bride and groom Well, when compared to city hall weddings, this could not be further from the truth. When engaged couples book us for San Francisco city hall, they choose a level of coverage. Even our lowest package in terms of price and coverage time gives us more time with the bride and groom then we would get at a big wedding. It is not uncommon for us to be able to spend 45 minutes with the happy newlyweds after their city hall ceremony. We would LOVE to have this amount of time with our couple at a full weekend wedding. Ask any full scale San Francisco wedding photographer and they will tell you the same thing. We are lucky to have 20 minutes with the bride and groom for photos. This 20 minutes is usually sandwiched between the family pictures and dinner service at the reception. It is frequently very rushed and stressful to all involved. A typical full wedding day is loaded with events and yes, they all need to be covered by the wedding photographer. But what I really love about city hall weddings is the amount of time devoted to JUST taking pictures of the bride and groom alone.
Our San Francisco City Hall Couples WANT Photos
If a San Francisco city hall couple books us to photograph their wedding, they are doing it because they really want great photos. You might be asking, doesn’t every couple? The answer to this is, sometimes. Many couples who book us for a big wedding do it because they are either forced to by relatives or feel that it is important to record the event for the future. It is more about documenting all that happened during the day instead of capturing artistic photos of the bride and groom. A couple that books a city hall wedding photographer pretty much knows that are not going to be that many events to document throughout the day. There is no cake cutting and no first dance. There is no bouquet toss and know speeches. The coverage they book us for includes ceremony coverage (5 minutes tops) and then photos around the building. So we know that our City Hall couples want great wedding pictures and we are more than happy to oblige.
Affordable San Francisco Wedding Photography
I honestly love giving my clients bargains. I really feel that San Francisco city hall wedding photography is a great deal compared to large wedding coverage. It makes us feel good as photographers to provide our clients with so much more coverage time for their money. So this benefits both the client and us. We have for a long time explained this to our clients and we want them to understand it and take advantage of it. Our clients have the opportunity to book some of the best San Francisco city hall wedding photographers for under $1,000. Everybody wins!
I thought it would be fun to do an ongoing series on some of our favorite past weddings and couples. We have had so many great experiences in our 400 plus San Francisco city hall weddings that it is really hard to focus on just a few, but some do stand out due to the fun time we had. We will feature 2 weddings with each blog post. To see more wedding please go to our CITY HALL HOME PAGE
San Francisco City Hall Staircase Waving Goodbye
Tracy and James – City Hall 2013
This couple was one among our first 10 San Francisco city hall weddings and was really one of our best to that point. We were just starting to learn some of the secrets to finding the best spots at city hall and what time of the day to shoot at particular locations. Tracey especially was up for anything and wanted to try lots of new poses and ideas. We did extreme dip poses, Window shots and some new Grand Staircase ideas. A bonus for this wedding is that Tracy submitted some of our shots to the J. Crew catolog and got our wedding featured on that publication for a few years. Here are a few shots from this great wedding.
Deep Dance Dip Post at City Hall San Francisco window image Leg Kick on the Mayors Balcony
April and Michael – City Hall 2014
This wedding was one of our first marriages where the couple asked us to provide them with extensive yet affordable wedding photography coverage that also included taking pictures at their Reception. We provided April and Michael with a special package that included full city hall wedding coverage and 3 locations around San Francisco. We finished up in Downtown SF at their reception site. Throughout this extensive wedding photography tour they were always a delight to work with and so much fun.
Ring Exchange at City Hall ceremony Wedding Reception in San Francisco
We worked with a great couple last week and I wanted to talk about it while it was fresh in my mind. Yuan and Tracy chose our Golden Gate package which provided them with 1 additional San Francisco photography location after we finished at City Hall. They choose to go to the Legion of Honor and we drove them there. One of the things I offer couples who choose this location is the chance to take a quick photo of the Golden Gate bridge in addition to the Legion of Honor. This is because it so close by and easy to access with just a short drive. In fact, if it is a nice day, you would actually walk to the second location. We often take couples to the 17th hole at Lincoln Park golf course to get the bridge picture, but this time we went to Lands End. What a great place to get a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge! Also present at Lands End are nice walking trails and beautiful tall trees. The Lands End location is not walking distance away however.
City Hall Photography Tour
Before we embarked upon our journey to the Legion of Honor we of course needed to complete our wedding photography tour at San Francisco City Hall. It was very important to Yuan and Tracy to get a shot of their entire wedding party in front of City Hall’s famed Grand Staircase. Fortunately, they booked a later ceremony (3:00 pm) and thus city hall was starting to clear out shortly after we were ready to start their professional wedding photography. After completing some smaller family combinations, we took everyone down to the bottom of the Staircase including the Bride and Groom. We managed to have some moments where the staircase became relatively clear of tourists and other weddings allowing us to get a clear shot! See below to check out their image
Once we got this all important photo, we took the couple around the building to take more formal wedding photography. The shot below was done in the 2nd floor hallway. We always like to do some fun shots with our brides and grooms to get them warmed up. We also wanted to figure out if they were interested in doing some more fun photos or preferred to keep it more simple. We always allow our clients to let us know the style of wedding photography they want.
The package that Yuan and Tracy choose provided them with 2.5 hours of coverage with that extra location already discussed above. This is the least expensive of our Tour Packages. Once we completed their wedding photography we took them to the San Francisco location of the reception, Jardiniere.
Many of our San Francisco City Hall wedding couples like us to photograph a formal engagement session prior to their marriage. We can make a package for any couple that includes a San Francisco engagement session at any of the popular city locations. Our most popular location continues to be The Palace of Fine Arts, but there are many others. We take our couples to Russian Hill, North Beach and the Legion of Honor to name just few. Believe it or not, we even sometimes do our sessions at San Francisco City Hall!
Engagement Session in Marin County
Our most recent engagement shoot occurred in Marin County at Cavallo Point close to Sausalito. This was a fantastic location for the session especially with it’s unique angles to the Golden Gate bridge and the view of San Francisco. In the image below, we placed our future bride and groom on the Break Water with the bridge in the background. It was about 1 hour before sunset when we set this up.
Golden Gate Bridge from Cavallo Point
From this angle we found a great looking cliff that was right up against the San Francisco Bay. We placed our couple up on the cliff and took a series of images of them with a few different suggested poses.
We finished up our shoot in the bar at the Cavallo Point Lodge. A very cute bar and one of our couple’s favorites. It turned out that this bar was one of their favorite stopping points over the past few years. So what a great place to finish up the session. We look forward to photographing their San Francisco City Hall wedding in May of 2018. To see more images of city hall weddings and engagement sessions click on our City Hall Gallery Link
San Francisco City Hall Weddings are a great value! Where else can you have access to an amazingly beautiful Wedding Venue for under $100? Yes, it is true! It only costs $83 to have your wedding in the Rotunda area in city hall and the County Clerk even provides a free Wedding Officiant to perform your ceremony. They call these officiants Deputy Marriage Commissioners and they dress up in robes and look like judges. The fact that they are all volunteers is unknown to many, but it is part of the reason that you can get married in this building for such a great price. Many of the other venues available throughout San Francisco can cost thousands of dollars and still do not match the beauty of City Hall. The obvious downside of City Hall weddings is that you have to share the building with the general public, but even this is not such a terrible thing. In this wedding photographer’s opinion, it can be part of the fun. The only problem comes when City Hall schedules a special event on your wedding day. This is rare and the building is so large, you can go to other places and still have a nice wedding ceremony even if a large event is set for your day.
Convenient Wedding Receptions
A big part of the expense of any San Francisco wedding is the reception. When you book a wedding you generally need a venue that can supply you with both a place to get married and also somewhere to eat. The exception to this is if you get married in a church. Obviously, if you are planning on a church wedding, this article doesn’t apply. What many of our City Hall clients like to do is schedule their city hall nuptials in the Rotunda and then book us for wedding photography after. Meanwhile, their guests gather at one of the many nearby restaurants that specialize in city hall wedding receptions. There are many fantastic places to celebrate and all our walking distance away from San Francisco city hall. We have mentioned these eateries in other blog posts, please refer to Places to Eat Near City Hall for more details.
Inexpensive City Hall Wedding Photography
This is one of the key features of city hall wedding affordability. One of the major expenses of any wedding is the professional wedding photographer. The best photographers in San Francisco can run anywhere from $2,000 up to $6,000 for full wedding coverage. These same wedding photographers offer their services to City Hall brides and groom for a fraction of this cost. Many San Francisco City Hall photographers have discount pricing that starts at $500. Yes, you are only getting them for an hour or 2, but that is really all you need. The most experienced professionals will take you on a tour of the building and follow that up with the chance to be driven around San Francisco for more photos. A fantastic opportunity to work with some of the most accomplished wedding photographers in the Bay Area at this very picturesque venue!
Here are a few samples of the types of photos you can get at this amazing venue.