These two people are the most incredible and inspirational world travelers. When we met at my place in the Mission over turkey & beef tacos with cabbage & radish, they regaled me with tales from their yearlong trip traveling the WORLD. I was breathless just hearing about it, and it wasn’t just from the extra hot salsa.
Jeff had proposed to Jen before they embarked on their extended travels, and the idea was a simple civil ceremony in their City, San Francisco on returning home. It meant doing the whole wedding thing on a shoestring budget and doing things intentionally and simply, which suited them down to the ground.
As they really didn’t want a lot of coverage so I customized something just for them. They loved my candid approach to wedding photography, incorporating lots of movement and natural smiley smiles!
We started as I normally do outside room 168. The checking in process takes about an hour – you check in 10 minutes before the appointment time, then head out into the corridor with your number that you’re waiting to be called in again with.
When your number pop up on the screen, you go in and meet with the judge who’ll be officiating your wedding! Your witness will accompany you in at this point and you will complete all the paperwork and be presented with your souvenir marriage license (the real one comes in the mail 2 weeks later).
Then you’ll be sent up to the rotunda, but you can’t go too far and the judge will simply spot you and call you up when it’s your turn to get married! So stay super close to the rotunda – they will not wait if you’re not there.
By the time the ceremony begins, it’s about 30 – 40 minutes after your designated appointment time. It’s not possible for it to be any less than 25 minutes due to the way the process works of the judge officiating three ceremonies, then checking in three more couples. It’s one person doing both roles, so takes a little time.
After their sweet wedding ceremony in the rotunda we took some posed pictures of the very small group – it was just Jen, Jeff and Jen’s mom who’d flown in from Wisconsin.
After that, we did some couples pictures in some of my fave City Hall photo spots! My absolute favorite photo spot in San Francisco City Hall is the 4th Floor Gallery – either side is beautiful. It’s so lovely when there are so few folks around that we can do some wide shots taken from across the other 4th Floor Gallery. You stay put and I just scoot over and take a variety of different shots.
We finished up with some photos my favorite outdoor City Hall spot, that I recommend all couples try and fit into their coverage some outdoor pictures, even if we limit it to just 10 minutes. Jen and Jeff did just that!
We were coming to the end of our coverage – and it worked out AMAZINGLY, because it’s the most beautiful light of the day as it fades.
Also, we didn’t want to keep Jen’s mom waiting for too long, especially when she’d traveled such a long way. I tend to keep the creative portraits fairly short so you can enjoy your wedding day without it turning into a photoshoot.
It’s not for everyone to rush around like this, but for those on a budget or with lots packed into the rest of their wedding day and wanting to keep the photography time to a minimum, it’s worth it!
They enlisted the help of their friend, Pilar, who is in the process of starting a floral design business, Two Penny Bloom, to provide a bouquet and boutonniere.
Florals really pop against the neutral, slightly pinkish Tennessee marble tones of City Hall, and I recommend the florally inclined to invest in even the simplest bouquet – there are even firms out there that send the florals to your door and then – for all those who aren’t daunted by some light crafting the day before your wedding – all you have to do is assemble your bouquet!
I would be delighted to provide a customized list of pro floral designers who have a lot of experience with City Hall marriers of all kinds – and fit your budget and floral vibe (e.g loose garden style/ big & bold/ classic & elegant / boho beach / modern & minimalist…)
As an experienced San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer I have an extensive list of vendors that I would be happy to share with you and provide something that’s customized for you. Whether it’s an HMUA, floral designer, dress store or something else. I’ll hook you up!
It was a super fun little ceremony and a very game couple =) Thank you for letting me document your wedding ceremony and congratulations, Jen & Jeff! To many new adventures!
Vendor love //
Hair Population Salon
Floral Design Two Penny Bloom
Dress Gal Meets Glam
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Zoe Larkin is a San Francisco-based wedding photographer & fine art graduate originally from London. She specializes in photographing intimate weddings for joyful, free-thinking couples. Zoe creates raw, personal images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary photography with a stylized edge. Her work has been published on Offbeat Bride, Equally Wed, Catalyst Wed Co, Love Inc Mag among others. She adores simplicity, kindness & Earl Grey. Zoe is an equality-minded vendor that celebrates diversity in all its forms. She has a soft spot for City Hall weddings! Read more about Zoe here.