The month of January is always our slowest time period for city hall weddings. It’s in the middle of the winter and there is no special event or holiday in January. December of course is always busy due to the Beautiful Christmas tree and brides and grooms just like to get married at that time of the season. February features Valentine’s Day and we always have weddings right around this date. Many engaged couples actually choose to have their nuptials on this romantic holiday! Given this slight lull, I thought it would be helpful to take the time to discuss some of our favorite destinations in San Francisco that we take our city hall wedding couples.
Iconic San Francisco Destinations
We take our couples throughout San Francisco after our city hall wedding photography sessions. We call these packages our “Tour” collections. They really are meant to be more like a tour then just a photo session. We really want our couples to enjoy the whole process and not just the pictures they receive after the session. Here are some of the best san francisco wedding photography locations:
Palace of Fine Arts
This is by far the most popular wedding photography destination. Especially chosen frequently by our international brides and grooms. It has a very large area for wedding photography with lots of options. The beautiful building is obviously the centerpiece, but there are large columns everywhere to use as a backdrop. The only negative is the amount of tourists here. Depending upon the time of day, it can be hard to find space without people looming in the background. We always seem to manage however and will do our best to make it seem like you are the only newlyweds there!
Legion of Honor
Another popular wedding photography spot, but fortunately MUCH less traveled by tourists. The Legion of Honor offers beautiful Beaux-Arts style architecture which many of San Francisco’s older buildings possess. We love taking our city hall brides and grooms around the inner open area and pose them between the gray repeating columns. The light is also fantastic here from a wedding photography standpoint. This is because you have indirect light that comes in from the side, but is also reflected by the neutral tones of the building. Perfect for a rainy day as well because it is covered in certain spots to allow shelter. If it is really pouring down rain, we could actually conduct a whole wedding shoot there.
The Golden Gate Bridge
This is an obvious one, but there are many options and decisions to make. We try to help our newly married couples decide by providing them with the best possible information and ideas. Late in the afternoon you can approach the bridge from the ocean by Baker Beach. This provides nice warm light on the bridge and enhances the colors. Earlier in the morning, we often like to take pictures of our brides and grooms from the San Francisco Bay side of the bridge. This will often provide very nice dimensional lighting on the Golden Gate. Listed below are some of the most common angles to approach wedding photography of the bridge. We are happy to discuss these options with the bride and groom and determine the best San Francisco locations based upon weather and the time of the day.
Legion of Honor
17th Hole of Lincoln Park
Battery East Vista
Golden Gate Overlook
Marin County side
Downtown San Francisco – Bay Bridge
Another favorite spot and becoming ever more popular. We seem to end up in this area quite frequently for photos. Part of the reason for this is that there are so many great places to eat along the Embarcadero so many of our clients want us to cover their wedding reception after their city hall ceremony. Once we are in the area, it is natural to take the newlyweds on a photo tour of the nearby sites. Pier 7, the Bay Bridge and Cupid’s Arrow are just a few of the spots available to photograph you. We can also just have your walk around the downtown area and grab candid photos of you both enjoying the city. It’s fun and natural and our clients love it. Pier 7 can be a bit crowded, but we have found that if you wait long enough, you can usually get a good image without too many people. Just takes a little patience.
This completes part one of our San Francisco City Hall wedding photo destination options. We will be adding more locations next week, please stay tuned!
Christmas at San Francisco City Hall is always a wonderful time. The place is always very busy and the giant Christmas tree becomes the center point of this great wedding venue. For the past few years the tree has been decorated with Origami which makes for a very unique look. In addition, when evening comes the light reflects off of the Origami and creates patterns on the walls at city hall. It’s a pretty amazing scene. We photographed 6 weddings this year during the Christmas season and each one had it’s own unique feel. The primary reason for this Blog post is to just display a few photos from one of our larger weddings this Christmas season.
We started our formal shoot on the 3rd floor because city hall was pretty crowded and we were having trouble finding places without people in the background. This particular wedding was on a Friday which is definitely one of the most crowded days of the week. We have learned over the years where and when to take our brides and grooms once things get crowded. The 3rd floor is one of those places!
Once we completed our time on the 3rd floor, we headed back down to the Christmas Tree to get a few nice shots. Again, there were people everywhere and virtually no room to photograph the couple in the traditional place facing the Rotunda. Fortunately, we have alternative angles into the tree that is off to the side. Even though it’s a pretty obvious angle, many photographers without experience at city hall don’t know about it. We were able to get some fairly private images in front of the tree before moving on to our next location.
We spent over 1.5 hours at San Francisco city hall touring around taking photos and having fun. We managed to get all of the shots that most people always ask us about including the Grand Staircase and the 4th floor North Gallery. This despite the fact that City Hall had scheduled 7 reserved weddings that day, which usually brings a large number of people into the building. We were lucky to walk up to the beautiful North Gallery just when one wedding was ending and another was about to be set up.
Once we completed our City Hall photo tour, we drove the couple to Fort Point to get some professional wedding pictures with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. The couple’s family also showed up at Fort Point allowing us to include them in many of the photos. It was a fantastic way to end our day.
Georgie and Keron traveled clear across the world to get married at San Francisco City Hall. They have no friends or relatives in town, nor have they ever been here before. They just noticed online what a beautiful wedding venue city hall is and decided to elope. They rented out the entire Mayor’s Balcony so they would have privacy and not have to worry about tourists wandering through their ceremony. It is rare that couples do this, but we have seen it before and it can be a great idea. Even at $1,000 (the cost to reserve the Mayor’s Balcony for 1 hour) having your wedding at City Hall is a bargain! Where else can you have access to this beautiful old building; choose from some of the best wedding photographers in the San Francisco area; and also have your own intimate wedding ceremony? Pretty tough to find, especially in the Bay Area.
After the ceremony we took Georgie and Keron throughout the city hall building to make sure we made their trip from Australia a memorable one. They booked our Golden Gate Package so we had plenty of time to tour around the building and take some great photos. One of our first stops was the 3rd floor on the north side of the building. The light there at mid day is amazing, it’s like having your own photo studio at city hall. Artists understand that northern light is preferable due to its softness and mild intensity. We took the photo below with minimal lighting, just mostly using window light.
After spending more time in the building, they wanted to go to the Golden Gate Bridge (who doesn’t?). We drove them there in our car and the weather was amazing. We chose Crissy Field on this particular day since the air was relatively clear and the bridge was in plain site with no fog getting in the way. We put them on top of one of the little mounds of grass and got this amazing shot below. Wedding Photography at Crissy Field