Lauren and Paul eloped at the iconic San Francisco City Hall with a handful of their closest family and friends. If you want a civil ceremony at the courthouse, this is the place to do it.
These two both work behind the scenes in the film industry- Lauren in the art department and Paul in visual effects. When we connected, they emphasized their love for visual storytelling and emotive imagery. They’re a low key couple and wanted their day to reflect that.
Preparation at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco
Lauren and Paul stayed in a suite of the beautiful Palace Hotel, just a few blocks away from San Francisco City Hall. While Lauren got ready, Paul wrote his vows down in the lobby.
The first thing I spotted when I walked in was a beautiful, oversized, jewel-toned bouquet from Walnut and Main. The second thing I noticed was the incredible city view from every window of the suite.
Lauren’s best friend and her mom helped her slip into her Toni Maticevski dress and classic Louis Vuitton heels. For their first look, we found a private side entrance of the hotel with beautiful light. Paul waited down the stairs for Lauren so she could tap him on the shoulder.
San Francisco City Hall Elopement
After their first look, we all grabbed an uber and headed over to San Francisco City Hall. We arrived earlier than the ceremony to file their marriage license first. (A courthouse elopement inevitably always involves a lot of waiting).
Then we spent the next hour exploring the echoing halls and different floors of the building. The architecture is stunning, with cinematic lighting on every floor. You need very little to elevate the beauty of this place.
Intimate Ceremony San Francisco City Hall Rotunda
Before the ceremony, a handful of their closest family and friends met up with us to bear witness. Per city hall rules, only 6 guests are permitted to attend civil ceremonies due to limited space and the number of couples who book at the same time. (There are up to 3 couples scheduled for every 30 minute slot!)
Lauren and Paul’s ceremony took place in the Rotunda. Ceremonies here are typically short and sweet, without much room for personalization. The courthouse also assigns you a judge to officiate. There was some time after Lauren and Paul’s slot, so we stayed longer for them to exchange their personal vows.
Right after the ceremony, Lauren ditched her Louis Vuittons for her favorite Dr Martens. We all went out to brunch for their first celebratory meal of the day, with cocktails back at The Palace Hotel.
Portraits around San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
After a short mid-day siesta to freshen up, I met up with Lauren and Paul for more portraits. Lauren and Paul wanted to be spontaneous and uncover more unconventional portrait locations, not overused in wedding photography.
To kick things off, we headed to the historic, civil war era Forts Point. The inside of the monument is still closed for renovations, but the grounds have an incredible vantage point of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Typical San Francisco, the weather changed dramatically between downtown and the Presidio. Moody overcast skies and a crisp, chilling wind greeted us.
Next we headed a little further west toward Baker Beach, for a new perspective of the bridge. The chill weather meant fewer people on the beach. Great for photos, but we didn’t last long before running back to the car for warmth.
Our last stop was Land’s End and the Sutro Baths. This is obviously a more popular destination for photos, but honestly, for a reason. Over in this microclimate, the clouds shifted and snippets of sunlight broke through.
Intimate Pantry Kitchen Dinner at Octavia
After a long day gallivanting around the city, Lauren and Paul planned a special intimate dinner for their out-of-town friends and family. Twelve of their loved ones gathered in the pantry kitchen of Octavia.
This was an interactive experience, with the ability to observe the staff making your food in front of you. Guests were treated to a multi-course menu and wine pairings curated by Chef Melissa Perello.
It was truly a unique and fun dining experience for everyone- a fantastic ending to their wedding day.
Their Vendor Team
Accommodations/Getting Ready: The Palace Hotel, San Francisco // Ceremony: San Francisco City Hall // Dinner: Octavia // Florist: Walnut and Main // Photography: Paige Nelson Photography // Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Dr Martens // Suit: John Varvatos // Wedding Dress: Toni Maticevski, Cady Gown
If you enjoyed this San Francisco City Hall courthouse elopement, I recommend checking out Nanllel & Mikael’s Wind and Sea Big Sur wedding.