Exactly What We Wanted

A San Francisco wedding with a private city hall ceremony

Ally, Marketing Program Manager & Greg, IP Paralegal

Photographer: Kirsten Julia

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Dogs, donuts, desserts, dudes, babes, bubbly, brunch, and besties!

Soundtrack for reading: “Go Do” by Jónsi

Other Cool Stuff we should know about

We had a private ceremony at city hall the week before the big event with our awesome photographer, Kirsten, as our witness. Since we’re both introverts it really took the pressure off the big event and we were able to have fun and enjoy it—especially the dogs dragging our nephew down the aisle. A good friend officiated and we had laughs during the ceremony instead of tears (used those up on the first look!). We used Spotify playlists for the ceremony and reception after reading up on the details on APW. Our first dance was to Audrey Hepburn singing “Moon River”—the clip straight from the actual film! We saved a lot with DIY projects and items we could repurpose in our home—it’s awesome to see pieces of the wedding scattered around the apartment now. Having a brunch wedding meant getting up a bit earlier but the food was awesome (plus mimosa bar!) and we were able to collapse in our hotel room and watch the sun set over the park where we said our vows.

Favorite Thing about the wedding

Greg: SF! The locations, décor, and weather were all beautiful…also the fact that it meant planning was over. Ally: We created exactly what we wanted (without bankrupting ourselves/our parents) and were able to have our four-legged children with us for the whole day.


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  • Lisa

    SF City Hall, check. Moon River, check:). Love those bouquets.

  • kate

    Looks beautiful!! I’ve always been interested in a brunch wedding (donuts are my one true love)… what was the rest of the food?

    • Ally

      Thank you!! The rest of the food was…candied pecan french toast, arugula salad, mac and cheese, cheese toasts w/tomato fondue, fresh fruit, smoked salmon, scones, mimosa bar, and SO MANY desserts.

      • Lian

        I’m also interested in a brunch wedding! Did you do it as a buffet? Or have table service? I’ve been considering having some stuff to share on the table (like bread, fruit, scones) and then also having plated stuff (like quiche or salmon or something). But I’m not sure if it would work!

        • Ally

          We did “family style”, so big portions on plates/platters served at each table, and each person had a place setting at their seat. I’d thought we’d end up with buffet but had limited space for additional tables, so this way worked perfectly.

          • Lian

            Oh yeah, that’s totally what I was envisioning, thanks! Your wedding looks lovely :)

      • That sounds delicious. Makes me wish for a brunch-as-dinner wedding someday…

  • MisterEHolmes

    Gorgeous! I love the happy flowers! And your groom looks so blissed out in that ceremony shot!

  • Ashley Hairston Doughty

    Love the color and flowers! Very simple, but with pops of yellow against the grey and while. And I’m a sucker for puppies. ;-)

  • Bashfully

    YES! Yes to this 10,000x times. I’m an introvert, my now-husband does improv. We went big spectacle for the engagement (don’t worry, we’d talked about getting married just not the HOW he’d ask (I tried to ask him but then whatever… different topic)) and really small, city hall for the ceremony. It worked super awesome for us.

    We were those gross people with a big, super public engagement. There’s even video (http://youtu.be/pOQbtVJYNhU). Buuuuut then we had a small wedding planned in less than a month at city hall. In a way, it’s the perfect reflection of the balance we have in our relationship.

    • Beth R

      Oh my god, a BTS proposal, that is the best!

    • August

      Loved it. I’ve now tumbled down the hole of Youtube flash mob videos.

  • Sara P

    Congratulations! I love the yellow :) (and this song is perfect!)

  • Love this!! Love love love!

  • swarmofbees

    How beautiful! You really rocked those single bloom bouquets!

    • Ally

      Thanks! I had so much fun DIY-ing the flowers!

  • Molly P

    I love this. I’m really struggling with wedding planning right now (everything seems to be going wrong right now, why why why) and so it’s nice to see a happy no-fuss celebration.

    • Ally

      I feel you!! Although the end result looks (thankfully) easy and relaxed, the planning was anything but at times. Let me tell you, there were more than a few meltdowns – hence Greg’s comment that he was so happy when the planning was over!

      • Molly P

        I’m sure it’s going to turn out fine, I’m just letting the small stuff get to me too much I think (dad’s name and return addresses misprinted on the gazillion invitations which were ordered FROM INDIA? Cakes cost a fortune? Suddenly need an officiant with 3 months to go? Cue the meltdown.) I am just sooooo ready for the day to be here already. I’m just trying to remind myself how awesome it will be, and how little the small things really matter. And here I am, the one who wanted to elope. :)

        3 ish months to go… wish me luck.

        • Ally

          You’re in the home stretch! It will all work out and you’ll have the best day – and it will all be worth it! Cakes are insanely expensive but you can definitely search around for a deal, especially if you’re not into something really ornate.

          GOOD LUCK! Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

        • Laura

          See the APW post on grocery store wedding cake. It blew my wedding planning mind and now cake stress = gone.

          • Molly P

            Oh, I’ve considered a sheet cake. I’m working with the baker to see if we can’t adjust servings on the cake design she came up with and then we’ll supplement with sheet cake or just use sheet cakes decorated with fresh flowers if we have to. I’m just overwhelmed with how much everything costs and therefore worrying.

          • Laura

            Oh yes that worry is so familiar to me. Sheesh why does everything COST so much?

      • Laura

        I looked at his comment about being happy the planning was over and thought, “this is exactly what my fiancé will say.”

  • StevenPortland

    First I was going to comment on the great cake — only then I noticed that you included the dogs on it as well. Double great!! Everything looks great. Love the color scheme, the clothes, the flowers, and especially the dogs. Congrats!

    • Laura

      Ah! I didn’t even notice the dogs until I went back to look. How perfect!

  • Laura

    Fist bump for using so many Etsy products. ALSO fist bump for city hall ceremony then big reception after. Loving the yellow too. Congrats!

  • A Sensible Habit

    Looks beautiful and so fun!

    • Ally

      Thanks Brandy! Your beautiful invitations set the tone ;)

  • Absolutely gorgeous! Loved the pretty sunshine colors and the details used for the decor.

  • I love the city hall wedding dress so much (and the community wedding dress is really pretty too). And those yellow bouquets are amazing! And the sparkly shoes! Ah!

  • Oh, I love this, so sweet! I have a couple planning in different private moments for just the two of them (and their photographer) throughout the day. Moments for them to do little sweet things together, like cake cutting, and just enjoying some time together.

  • Jules

    This is SO inspiring to me, A&G. I want something very similar and you help me realize it can be done. Congratulations! (And by the way, beautiful photos.)

  • Anne

    I love this and I really want to do a private city hall first / big celebration later, but I’m worried about how my family and guests will react. Did you tell everyone that you had gotten married a week earlier? Did anyone mind? I would want to share pictures of the stylish/adorable court house ceremony, but I don’t want anyone to feel like they missed the “real” wedding. Or was this just not an issue at all? Thanks!

    • Ally

      We kind of told people…Greg was worried about the same thing. Our immediate family and friends knew and we didn’t keep it a secret but I’m not sure how much the word really got out. I’m sure a few people don’t even know we did city hall first. We did have a few pictures from city hall at the “big” wedding, but they may have seemed like engagement photos if you didn’t know? To this day I haven’t heard anyone mention anything about it at all – and my family is not one to hold back on the negative comments…

      The big public wedding felt much more like the “real” wedding to us (maybe the fault of the WIC) so I assume it was the same for guests. I also think maybe no one minded because they either didn’t realize the big one was just “for show” and not legal, or because we gave them both the ceremony and reception they expected?

      In any case – I say GO FOR IT!

      I also love the fact that we can say we had two weddings – feels very extravagant/celeb status.

      • Anne

        Excellent. I tend to over think things, this helps :) Thank you for the reply and the inspiration!

  • Deb

    I am soooo late on the comments, but then again, I did just get engaged in SF :-) I live in Phoenix but my fiancé lives in SF — he’s been courting me for three years and is on a first name basis w/ flight attendants b/c he flies in practically every weekend. I love City Hall and am also looking at PSC for the reception. Did you do a complete “buy out” of the place or just have the patio? Do you need to use their food or can you bring in? Finally, kudos and love and happiness to you!