Resource for Brides Getting Ready for their Wedding Day at San Francisco City Hall
This article is intended to assist future brides in how to prepare for their San Francisco city hall wedding. With my 15 years of experience photographing weddings at City Hall I have become very aware of the type of information needed to help a bride-to-be prepare for a Civil Ceremony. We know that planning a wedding can be an overwhelming task for engaged couples and often times the majority of the work falls on the bride. Grooms are almost always willing to help, but the brides tend to take a lead role most of the time. For that reason, we are focusing this helpful guide more towards Brides, but it can also apply to future grooms as well. I thought it would be helpful to share my 25 years in the wedding industry as a leading city hall wedding photographer and also a wedding planner.
Start With your Wedding Budget
Weddings can be very expensive, particularly in San Francisco and so it is important to come to a decision on how much money you want to spend. Deciding to have your wedding at San Francisco city hall is a great start because the ceremony is going to cost you very little. However, here are so many things to consider with all the other important things needed for a successful wedding. Most of these items apply to both large weekend weddings and City Hall civil ceremonies. Here is a list of some of the more important things that future brides need to include in their wedding budget.
- Wedding Dress and Tux Purchase or rental
- Hotel costs to stay in San Francisco
- Wedding Vendors – Photographer, Florists, Music, Video, etc
- Transportation Costs – Limo, Flights, etc
- Reception costs
- Guest related costs
Once you have identified all of the costs for your wedding you should then talk with your Fiancé to come up with a starting dollar amount that both of you are comfortable with. This may involve some financial help from parents or grandparents. Factor these contributions into your overall budget and then start planning the costs. The most difficult part is determining how much money to allocate to each of the above wedding costs. Start with the costs that are set in stone. For example, if you have decided to have a Reserved ceremony at San Francisco city hall, the base cost is $1,000. An officiant will run you about $250 and music will cost closer to $300. The costs that are more variable, like hiring a city hall wedding photographer should be left for last. Once you understand your budget and the fixed costs that are definitely required for your wedding, you can determine how much you want to spend on the other costs. Going back to our wedding photographer example we find that the costs associated with hiring a professional can range from $450 to $2,000. You have to decide how much of your budget is going to go to the photographer and then hire one that falls into that price range. Variable costs such as photographers and reception venues can altered to fit your budget.
Keep Your City Hall Wedding Planning Organized
Once you have determined your budget it is time to start planning! The best place to start is with a large binder that can be used for all of your notes, contacts and brochures. Make sure to purchase a binder that has folded areas to keep documents. Purchase some sort of calendar to include in your binder to keep track of your appointments and phone follow ups. Be sure to take good notes when you start meeting with potential wedding vendors. If ANY costs are discussed, write them down in your binder and insist that the vendor sends you a quote by email or regular mail. Nothing is worse then misunderstandings regarding vendor costs. I also instruct any couple that I am helping with wedding planning to ask their vendor if there are any hidden costs. This will put the pressure on them to be honest and transparent during their sales pitch. Carefully write down the promises that they make and send them an email confirming these details. My brides and groom frequently tell me that they were promised something by a wedding vendor and it was never delivered. Avoid this by making sure the vendor understands your perception of what was promised. Repeat their words back to them to further cement the promises made. I advise my City Hall wedding couples to always confirm everything in writing when it comes to wedding related services. This eliminates last second surprises on the day of the wedding.
The Big Day is Only a Week Away – Now What?
The answer to this question easy, confirm with ALL of your San Francisco city hall wedding vendors that they will be there and tell them again what you expect. One consistent thing I hear from almost of my brides before the wedding are questions about MY expectations. The kinds of questions I get asked by the bride include the following:
- What should we bring to the wedding for photography?
- Is there anything we need to tell you about our wedding beforehand?
- What time will you (the photographer) be showing up?
- Does my Make-up need to be done in a different way for photography?
These are all great questions and ones that any bride should ask prior to a wedding. Obviously, you will need different questions for other vendors, but the important thing is to start the conversation going. This is another way to help avoid misunderstandings with your wedding vendors. I would suggest creating a master checklist to make sure all of these things are covered. Include all of your San Francisco city hall wedding vendor names and details on your checklist.
Take Some Time off with your Fiancé and Try Not to Discuss the Wedding Too Much
With all of the stress and build up before a San Francisco city hall wedding (or any wedding for that matter), its important to get away from it for a while. I think some of those final days leading up to the wedding should be spent alone with your significant other doing the types of things you both love. I sometimes see brides and grooms arriving at San Francisco city hall so keyed up that become very nervous and it becomes harder to enjoy their day. This leads me up to my final point for city hall wedding preplanning…
It’s Your Wedding Day, Let it Go and Enjoy!
With over 1,800 weddings under my belt, this is the one thing I tell every couple. Enjoy the day and have fun! The reason to painstakingly plan every aspect of your wedding in advance is to make your special day go smoothly. But if for some reason a few things go wrong, do not worry about it! There is no such thing as the perfect wedding. Rely on your well trained and carefully chosen wedding vendors to do the the job they said they would do. You have done everything you can to plan out a great wedding, it’s time to stop planning and managing and have fun!