Tips for a successful City Hall Wedding

I absolutely LOVE when I receive a call from clients wishing to elope or tie the knot at City Hall.   As a San Francisco Wedding Photographer, I am pretty darn lucky! Have you seen this place?

I would love to share some quick tips to help you plan as well as some nearby vendors, should you require any assistance on your day! ENJOY! (Some of the photos shared herein were taken by me formerly known as YStudio Photography), hope that didn’t confuse ya! 😉



Whether you are already in the city or if you are traveling on the freeways or public transportation, it pays to arrive early.

Many things in the city can be unexpected. I recall one wedding I photographed at City Hall was bombarded by a city event with an expectation of 10,000 guests. The entire building as well as each balcony including the rotunda and all stairs were off limits. My clients had no idea or they’d choose a different date, so be sure to ask the County Clerk if any “special events” are planned on the date you wish to reserve.   We were limited to photograph only on the 4th floor and a handful of spots.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photos


I know you’ll need a witness to sign your marriage license, as this is expected. However, don’t forget your “willing photographer” can also act as a witness if you have none other. (Great option for those traveling here to elope)

If you do invite guests, keep in mind, City Hall will only allow you to have a total of six guests. In order to maximize your time with me and so I may capture your wedding day portraits, I urge you recommend they arrive 30 minutes or less prior to the ceremony.

We will be done with your portraiture by then and we can then join you with your guests for a welcoming and pre-ceremony guest photos.

san francisco city hall black and white weddingSan Francisco City Hall Groom Portraits

In order to maximize your time with me, I strongly suggest that we meet prior to your guests’ arrival and ceremony so we can begin your portraiture. There are amazing pockets of interesting light, strong and gorgeous architectural design as well as lovely staircases, railings and more that we can play with. Unfortunately, guests will distract you and will affect the outcome of my photography as you will not be able to focus or relax and relish the romantic and special time with your loved one. Kindly ask your guests to arrive 15-30 minutes prior to your ceremony and warn them it starts right on time and is over in about 2-5 minutes, yes it is “THAT FAST!”

San Francisco City Hall Weddings

Unplug the ceremony!

Another suggestion I might add, and only because the ceremony is so brief, is to please ask your guests to put their cell phones and cameras away. This is why you have commissioned me and we want your guests to be present in your nuptial moment, and this also assists me as your photographer to have a total 360 degree access of you during your ceremony. It goes so fast I will be working quietly but very fast (documentary style).

You have entrusted and commissioned me to capture this event and I thank you for placing this in my hands, I will work tirelessly and happily to create heirlooms you will treasure for many years and generations to come!


Preferred Vendors (in the immediate area)

Rose Bowl Florist (one block away)

The Cakemaker

Triple Twist Hair and Makeup