This was our first San Francisco city hall wedding of 2020 and it was amazing. Little did we know at the time that it was going to be one of our last weddings due to Covid-19 closure of City Hall (and everything else for that matter). Our couple reserved the 4th Floor North Gallery (one of our favorite locations) and had a pretty large crowd of guests. Everyone was so nice and supportive, it was a pleasure to just be a part of it. We actually helped the couple choose the officiant for this wedding and she also did a great job. The ceremony started out with a family friend doing the officiating to give things more of a personal touch. But once it was time for the vows the Professional officiant took over and handled things very well.
The ceremony was about 15 minutes long which I feel is about perfect for SF City Hall reserved weddings. They set up plenty of chairs and everyone was quite comfortable. Some of things that I notice that others may not is that this officiant knew how to keep the bride and groom in the middle of the aisle to keep them from drifting left of right. This may not seem important to the average person, but to a wedding photographer it is very key. When city hall sets up their chairs they frequently dont make a large enough center Aisle. So it can become a problem if the officiant is not aware of keeping the couple centered. It makes it so you can see the entire train of the bride throughout the ceremony. When a bride invests in an expensive and special Wedding Gown, she wants it to be seen in the pictures!
Once the ceremony and family photos were complete, it was time to take the happy newlyweds on our City Hall photo tour. You might be asking, what is the Photo Tour? This is simply the time we take the bride and groom only around the building to some of our favorite photography locations and take creative and romantic photos of them. We generally think that this photo session goes better if we only take the newlywed couple. There are a number of reasons for this including the fact that often times the couple will not be as open and uninhibited if they have relatives and friends watching them. On the rare occasions that we DO allow friends and relatives to join us, they can sometimes be critical of the couple in a joking way. One example is that they may make fun of their smiles or poses. This really adversely affects the quality of the photography and posing. it can also sometimes upset the bride and groom which can compromise the shoot to a certain extent. The other issue that often comes up in this situation is the guests will try to take their own pictures and even attempt to get the attention of the subjects. It is obvious why this doesn't work well! However, if you as the bride would like to bring along a close friend as your helper, by all means do.
This is probably a good opportunity to discuss the relative merits of choosing the Palace of Fine Arts as a San Francisco location for wedding photography. To help our clients agonizing over this decision, I am providing a Pro and Con comparison to help clear things up:
Most of the above "Cons" can be mitigated to a certain extent. We always manage to get some great images here despite the listed challenges. The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco continues to be one of our client's favorite destinations.