Intimate City hall wedding

An intimate city hall wedding is all about celebrating the union of two people! It can be extremely simple and always so meaningful. There’s something refreshing about wedding stripped down to its most vital elements: vows, ring exchange and yes, the paperwork.

We believe that simple doesn’t have to mean unimaginative. Economical doesn’t have to mean cheap-looking. And practical does not mean boring.

The structure is already in place. It’s what’s required for your ceremony to be legally binding. Much of this kind of stuff will be by City Hall. Everything else including getting ready pictures, the lavish party, the big meal, the cake – is optional. You can pick and choose what you like.

wedding shoes and cufflinks styled

You can still choose thoughtful details for your City Hall wedding such as stunning shoes and personalized cufflinks

A typical timeline

For intimate City Hall weddings with 6 guests or fewer, the timeline is very simple. I would send you your customized timeline once I know what events you’d like to fit in.

6 guests is a common number of guests to consider. It’s the maximum allowed for the rotunda. But recently I’ve been made aware that this number actually includes the photographer, so really it’s just 5 guests!

Usually I would begin a set amount of time before the booked ceremony time. The coverage begins with candid shots while you wait, check in, and interact with your guests.

After the ceremony I would normally start the family posed group formal shots. There are several places I like to use depending on what’s available. I also love to hear your ideas where you’d like to go.

Once that’s done, we say goodbye to the group and I’d take you on a whistlestop tour around a few of my favorite spots.

I would allow a certain amount of time for this (half an hour is typical) to obtain the variety and quantity of shots you see in my previous’ City Hall galleries.

After that, it’s either outside for a few pictures either at the front or the back of the building depending on time of day. After that hopefully we go on to your chosen portrait location.

Couple leaving san francisco city hall joyfully

There may be people everywhere, but you can choose to focus on the two of you

Lower costs involved

Whatever kind of City Hall wedding you’re planning, the cost are almost definitely going to be among the lowest around.

You’re paying a nominal fee for the license and the appointment itself. There’s no venue rental and no catering bill – typically the two largest costs associated with a wedding.

And you’re unlikely to need a wedding planner unless you are combining the event with a larger reception.

Even the photography comes at a fraction of a cost compared with an 8-hour Saturday wedding. To book me for a weekend wedding in the season begins at $3,500 and goes up from there. Here get the same talent for a much lower rate.

Folks are attracted to the simplicity in planning, the much lower cost and the structure around the event.

A common questIntimation

A question I’ve got more and more lately is whether it a wedding will feel intimate with so many people around. After all you’ve got up to 60 couples marrying each day.

Your wedding might be small but there’ll be dozens of people milling around. Some will inevitably be in our pictures.

So just roll with it. The nature of it being City Hall is like that. Even with other people around you the ceremony itself can still feel intimate.

I always tell couples to be as grounded and in the moment as they can during the ceremony. This is basically the same advice I give people who have 200 people watching them at a large, regular wedding or if they are worried about tourists and randoms encroaching on their day.

If you can zone everything and everyone out, and focus truly on your boo (and friends and family present if you have any) + the commitment you’re making, it will be a very sweet and memorable experience. You won’t remember every word of the vows but you will remember how it felt.

bride and groom share a kiss as newlyweds outside city hall

Bride and groom share a kiss outside City Hall

Intimate is a state of mind

I actually used to focus on photographing intimate weddings but I have moved away from that recently. One of the reasons for this is that I have come to learn that an ‘intimate’ atmosphere can be achieved no matter the size of wedding.

It’s more about the connections between people, the emotions, the sense of a unique shared experience, and the ambiance and tone you set as the marrying couple.

I love City Hall weddings of all sizes. I’ve photographed elopements and 160-guests full buyouts of the building. Whatever you have in mind, I can capture your San Francisco City Hall wedding and guide you through the process. Contact me now to receive your info + pricing guide to City Hall wedding photography, previous client galleries, useful tips and much more.

san francisco wedding photographer Zoe Larkin is a San Francisco-based wedding photographer specializing in San Francisco City Hall weddings. Zoe creates images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary photography with a stylized edge. Her work has been published on A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, Rock n’ Roll Bride, Equally Wed and Catalyst Wed Co among others.


Intimate City Hall wedding ceremony photography

city hall tips

January 12, 2018


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