I’m so excited to introduce this gorgeous LGBTQ+ City Hall wedding couple today on the blog! I know I say that every time but from the moment that Jake first reached out I knew this was going to be very special.
Call me crazy but sometimes I just get a feeling about these things. The couple lives in Phoenix, AZ and when I received Jake’s email I actually happened to be in Arizona myself (Grand Canyon actually!) and about to visit Phoenix for the first time. Meant to be!
There was so much to connect about. We jumped on a phone call in early April ahead of their June wedding and chatted through their plans.
Introducing the couple
Jake teaches government in high school and Omar, who’s originally from Grenada, works as a city planner.
Jake and Omar met on OK Cupid and decided to have coffee 3 years ago. 9 months later they moved in together! There was no official proposal for the two of them. It was logistically – not to mention romantically – sound to tie the knot.
They didn’t tend to refer to each other as ‘fiance’ or really make too much of being engaged. But they were of course super excited about getting married.
The pair loves to travel and do so every chance they get. Omar is into gadgets and photography. Jake enjoys reading at new coffee shops and local politics. They describe themselves as ‘both very type A’. Jake even more so!
Every couple’s story is so unique – only they know the triumphs and hardships they’ve gone through together. Jake is a two-time cancer survivor. There have been times when marriage was the furthest from his mind.
Their values as a couple are: honesty, communication, support, forgiveness, and obviously love!
Home from home
They live in downtown Phoenix, and previously lived on Roosevelt Row, home to all the beautiful street art. They describe themselves as ‘urban fellows’. So San Francisco seemed like a great choice for a variety of reasons.
First off if you’re a city person, this is about as urban as it gets. Jake had already fallen in love with San Francisco City Hall after visiting as part of a tour. They both loved the sense of history and culture and stayed in the Nob Hill area during their stay.
Carrying on the urban theme, Jake and Omar were very excited about heading to the Castro District for their portrait session after the City Hall ceremony. Rainbows galore!
The Castro District is the historic bed of the LGBTQ+ rights movement in San Francisco.
Here they are at the Human Rights Campaign, the site of the former home of Harvey Milk’s Castro Camera. This was where Milk worked, lived and organized political campaigns that led to him becoming elected.
San Francisco was also a pretty convenient jumping-off place for their honeymoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a place with which they have deep ties for the amazing culture and beach lifestyle.
The City Hall ceremony
Joining Jake and Omar were special friends Kelly and Antonette and their friend Kimmy who also officiated. They came from far and wide (NJ, TX and AZ) to be part of the intimate celebration.
The couple decided not to have parents attend this celebration but instead they have a larger reception in Phoenix planned for fall. It also meant they could stick safely within the 6-person guest limit. The total number of parents would have been 6, due to remarriage.
I do see more and more couples that are choosing to have friend-only ceremonies, especially when the wedding is a multi-part celebration.
For some folks the ceremony is just one part of getting married. Couples may even choose to do a more personal ceremony at a later date. City Hall doesn’t allow personal vows. It then makes total sense to recite vows at a later, bigger celebration.
Type of ceremony
The type of ceremony Jake and Omar had was a new one on me. They chose to have their friend marry them and were able to select their own spot for the nuptials. They selected the 4th Floor but hadn’t technically made the reservation for it.
The friend, Kimmy, had to deputized before the wedding and within certain restricted hours. This deputization could only take place after the couple had their license.
Another major plus is that they didn’t have to check in beforehand which cut down a lot of waiting time.
This route is not known to many couples (and photographers who act as guides / planners) so I have written a blog post about it here. Jake kindly provided some information which I am delighted to share!
There was so much about this wedding that just worked out perfectly. I know, I know, perfection is not what we’re going for necessarily, but it all dovetailed so beautifully.
First there was the coincidence that Jake and Omar’s favorite band, St Lucia happened to be playing in San Francisco the evening of the wedding. The couple even bonded over a shared love of the band back when they were just online chatting.
Another fantastic coincidence was their date. It happened to fall during Pride Month – a big deal in San Francisco! They had chosen then date based around Jake’s time off work and Omar’s work travel commitments.
Jake later told me that the band actually shouted out Jake and Omar at the concert! How amazing!
Not only was it Pride but the last weekday of the month-long celebration! City Hall was adorned with a flag, there was a fun photo booth and the North Light Court was transformed into a wedding factory!
This was so much fun for an LGBTQ+ City Hall wedding ceremony.
June 28, 2019 is also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which started the tradition of celebrating pride the following year (in 1970). Jake and Omar literally got married on the 50th anniversary of the riot that began the modern LGBTQ+ movement!
A chequered history
It is also a hugely significant place in the history of LGBTQ+ marriage. Did you know same-sex marriage became legal in CA on June 16, 2008, when the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples?
Very sadly it was overturned later that same year and until 2013.
Back in 2004 thousands of LGBTQ+ City Hall weddings were performed in San Francisco City Hall under Gavin Newsom. This was possible because of San Francisco’s jurisdiction as both a city and a county.
Later the legality of the 2004 marriages was questions and subsequently voided. Read more about the history of same sex marriage in San Francisco here.
Needless to say there is a history here to be honored and to walk in the footsteps of those that have suffered injustice.
As we all know, this story has a happy ending.
From Jake’s review of Zoe Larkin Photography:
My husband and I traveled to San Francisco to marry. We found Zoe on Instagram because we were looking for a photographer who had experience with city hall weddings; we also prioritized photographers who worked with ALL kinds of couples, couples who look like us. Her portfolio revealed itself to be both classic yet modern, artsy and professional. Zoe was our first choice and she did not disappoint. She makes you feel welcome and valued throughout the whole process, was very easy and warm to work with and also delivered earlier than expected, with more photos than promised, with high quality. I’m so happy we found Zoe to capture our special day. Thank you!
Jake further added, when approached about writing this article:
Being at City Hall where Harvey Milk and so many other LGBTQ people have paved the way for us, on the anniversary of Stonewall, was so incredibly significant to us. City Hall is such a gorgeous building. Our friends, our photographer, our lunch, our concert. Everything just went smoothly and better than we could have ever imagined.
Vendor love //
Venue San Francisco City Hall & The Castro District
Looking for an experienced San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer that adores photographing LGBTQ+ City Hall wedding couples? Congrats, you’ve found her! Head to my services page to find out more.
Be sure to check out my ultimate guide to getting married at San Francisco City Hall! Always up to date, my guide takes you through it step by step and is the planning resource you’ve been looking for.