Sandhya + Sean | Indian & black-tie City Hall ceremony

April 20, 2019
formal elegant city hall wedding couple walking in 4th floor gallery

These two are all about low key celebrations, and even held a very informal picnic reception at the Roberts Regional Park in Oakland shortly after their City Hall wedding.

For their wedding ceremony itself however, they wanted to inject a little more formality and pomp to the occasion. It was a very small ceremony with just immediate family & close friends present, numbering around 10. As it was a second marriage for both of them, the intimate & informal nature of their celebrations suited them down to the ground.

Sean wore a very dashing black tux, while Sandhya opted for a GORGEOUS blue imported Indian lengha in honor of her Indo-Fijian heritage. Against the pinkish hues of the San Francisco City Hall’s Tennessee marble, it really popped. I would LOVE to see more brides wearing blue!

I also encourage couples breaking with tradition or following traditions that honor their culture of origin. White dresses sure are pretty but they are nothing if not a little overdone at weddings 😉

Sandhya first reached out because she was drawn to my candid imagery and unobtrusive style. She reached out a full year before her City Hall wedding – she’s uber organized! She emphasized the importance of unposed shots of the interactions between the guests, which I was happy to oblige as it’s my specialty!

With a group as fun as this there were so many opportunities for great interaction shots which can be taken unobtrusively. There was a good mix of ages, from Sandhya’s mom and stepdad, Sean’s mom, and Sandhya’s 15-year old, plus friends who injected a lot of lively fun to proceedings.

Although I don’t show the formal, posed portraits in my blog posts or anywhere else online, they are an integral part of wedding photography and something you and your guests will treasure for years to come. Some things may have changed, but formal posed pics of all your loved ones remain the same!

Rest assured that right after ceremony we will have time put aside to capture all the family/ friend groupings you’d like, and you’ll have shared with me a list of all the names so we can bang out those pictures efficiently and effortlessly so the fun can continue!

I love City Hall weddings so much! Even though the format is essentially the same for every 5-minute civil ceremony, it is quite frankly ASTOUNDING how much personality couples inject into the details of their day, their outfits, their small group of guests & what they bring. There is actually SO much more diversity in every way compared with a more traditional style of wedding.

Couples often dress way more boldly, or in ways that express their personalities way more fully. And the stress level is like, zero, because there is nothing to worry about! You have just a couple of vendors, maybe, and everything else is done for you!

The fast pace of the City Hall wedding is something I really enjoy, too. It’s a challenge I relish! Rather than a standard 30 minute ceremony that is common for regular weddings, I have just 5 minutes (though sometimes I swear it’s even less, so savor it!!) to capture the I Do’s, ring exchange, tears, laughs, first kiss etc.

My favorite, favorite thing though about City Hall weddings is that we can go ANYWHERE in SAN FRANCISCO to capture you and your boo in creative portraits! OK, so not every couple wants to do this or has time (Sandhya and Sean were so chill that after the City Hall session, they were just about done with photos!), but if you fancy venturing out we can go anywhere you like!

I even have a guide specifically about my top SF portrait locations, and can share with you full galleries and give you the inside scoop on where couples love to go, with examples! Get in touch and I’ll share all the good stuff without the annoying hard sell. 😉


couple checking in for wedding in room 168 city hall clerk's office candid san francisco city hall wedding photography on guest interactions happy san francisco city hall wedding couple relaxed ceremony formal san francisco city hall with indian cultural outfit in rotunda san francisco city hall wedding ceremony in rotunda first kiss group portrait after city hall wedding in rotunda 3rd floor windows of san francisco city hall and wedding rings beautiful san francisco city hall wedding photography indian swirl couple mehendi on san francisco city hall bride fun san francisco city hall couple getting tangled up under indian shawl details of city hall wedding couple, shoes etc on 4th floor north light gallery couple celebrating outside doors of city hall after wedding

Want more information?

Comprehensive frequently updated info from SF City Hall

Specific wedding-focused City Hall info from their dedicated event website

How do we get married at City Hall? Your complete guide to the process by Zoe Larkin

10 City Hall Tips You Won’t Hear Anywhere Else by Zoe Larkin

All the City Hall wedding blog posts! by Zoe Larkin

Request Zoe’s info & pricing guide for San Francisco City Hall wedding photography


san francisco city hall wedding photographer

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