Civil Ceremony on Grand Staircase at San Francisco City Hall

Grand Staircase Ceremonies - City Hall

I wanted to display this particular photo because of the location of the ceremony. It is very rare for an officiant to perform your ceremony in the middle of the grand staircase at San Francisco City Hall. The commissioner pictured in this image is no longer performing ceremonies as far as I know. He was a super nice guy and his brides and grooms seem to really like him. However I would not recommend having your City Hall nuptials performed on the landing of the staircase. Let me explain why. Despite the fact that everyone, without exception loves the grand staircase at SF City Hall, it is not an ideal place for your ceremony. There are a couple reasons for this and I will summarize them below in a second. From a wedding photography standpoint it is quite difficult to obtain professional quality images when the ceremony is right on the staircase. You cannot stand above the couple without getting all of the people milling about including tourists and other brides and grooms. If you stand below the couple on the staircase, then you are looking up their noses basically as your take the photos. Again, there are going to be people in the background because people because they love to wander around the staircase. It is also a difficult place for lighting, especially if it happens to be a dark day at City Hall. There is no place to bounce your flash off of and you really can't set up an external light without it getting in everybody's way. Over the years, I have experimented with different ways to handle staircase ceremonies at City Hall. I think I have been able to obtain excellent photos overall but I still prefer ceremony performed in the rotunda. I would strongly encourage anyone ask their Marriage Commissioner not to have their ceremony right on the grand staircase if given the option. However, if this is your preference, please go for it, we still provide you with exceptional wedding images.

  • Crowded on the Grand Staircase with tourists and others
  • Difficult to obtain proper camera angles for your professional wedding photographer
  • No suitable place for your guests to watch without being on a step (could be dangerous)
  • Dark lighting under certain conditions
  • The Rotunda is prettier and more convenient