Ring exchange on the Grand Staircase wedding ceremony
San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer
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City Hall Couple from Germany

Ceremony on the Grand Staircase

When you have your wedding at San Francisco city hall, the officiant usually gives you 2 choices for the ceremony location. These choices normally include the Rotunda or the Private Room. There are a few officiants who will offer other choices or no choices at all. This particular officiant in the photo above likes to do his ceremonies on the Grand Staircase. It's actually a quite difficult location to photograph the ceremony for many reasons. There is no room for the photographer to stand on the platform so inevitably you end up shooting either up or down at the bride and groom during the ceremony. As you can see from the photo, shooting down usually involves including tourists and other people wandering around city hall. The same problem exists if you shoot up at the couple, but it's also a less complimentary angle. Note: This officiant has retired and so weddings are no longer taking place on the Grand Staircase. Here is a list of the most common city hall ceremony locations ranked in order of preference from favorite to least favorite:

  1. 4th Floor North Gallery
  2. Mayor's Balcony
  3. Rotunda (default location)
  4. 4th Floor South Gallery
  5. Top of the Grand Staircase
  6. Middle Section Grand Staircase (the platform)
  7. Various Locations on the 3rd floor
  8. The Private Room