Mayi & Jon And The San Francisco City Hall Wedding

This post is for every one of you who said last week you really wanted a city hall wedding, but were afraid you would regret it, or couldn’t get your family to agree to it. Because no. As I was writing this post, big alligator tears kept forming in my eyes… partially because San Francisco’s City Hall is a special place for me, and partially because it’s rare seen a bride look as completely, wonderfully, radiantly happy as Mayi (and that’s exactly how I felt, so light and so free). So take this post, and email it to the people near and dear to you who are worried that a wedding at City Hall won’t be magic. Because Mayi and Jon… they are walking on air. (Oh, and please note the ammmaaaaazzzziiiiinnnnnnggggg El Tonayense taco truck… scrumptious and affordable. We didn’t end up getting them for our wedding picnic, but we’re planning an anniversary party some year, JUST so we can use them.) Take it Mayi:
I meant to write this post a few months ago, when I was still fresh with my thoughts from our Labor Day weekend wedding, but life got a little busy, or should I say queasy – we took home quite the souvenir from our honeymoon in Spain – a baby due in June. We are beyond excited and it’s made looking back on our wedding day even more special. So here goes…

When we first started planning the wedding, there was one detail I knew I wanted: It had to be outdoors. I always wanted a backyard/garden-party type wedding so we found a park/estate place near my work. We started meeting with vendors and after about two months of e-mails and quote after quote, we just got so turned off by the ‘wedding machine.’ Suddenly the idea of getting married went from happy to stressful.

Then one day I somehow stumbled upon an entry on AWP on San Francisco budget wedding ideas and that’s when it hit me: City Hall wedding, followed by a lunch reception at a cafe. From that day on, everything just fell into place. We got married at noon under the beautiful rotunda. Even Jon said that City Hall is such a beautiful building that it would be a shame not to take advantage of the chance to get married there. There’s supposedly a limit of 6 people, but we were close to 40, surrounded by our families and the closest of friends. 
Jon’s aunt made my gorgeous bouquet, and what made it even more special was that she used flowers from his grandma’s garden. 
As a gift to us, my sister filmed the wedding using her Super 8 camera.
After the ceremony, we all headed to one of my favorite brunch spots in the city, Zazie. We knew that even if our wedding was simple, we wanted good food, so Zazie was a no-brainer, and I was surprised how easy it was to put the menu together, especially after dealing with all the different caterers in the beginning. While we were waiting for things to be set up, we had a couple of celebratory tequila shots at the bar next door. The weather was perfect for Zazie’s garden patio.
My best friends painted the ‘Just Married’ signs that hung on the back of my car and on the fence.
We didn’t have a set schedule or music or dancing, but we had a lot of good food, impromptu speeches, and a whole lot of love that day.We ended our weekend with a party on Sunday night for all our other family and friends we couldn’t include on Friday. We rented out a lounge, had some friends DJ, Jon’s aunt once again did all the flower arrangements for the party, and we hired one of the best taco trucks in the city…because is there anything better than having tacos after a night of drinking and dancing?So in the end, it wasn’t a lavish affair and it didn’t have all the bells and whistles of a typical wedding. Sure, there were a few people who would say things like, “So you’re not having a real wedding?”, or would give certain looks when I would discuss the details of our special day. But you know what? I didn’t feel the need to justify the decisions we made because after all, I still got to wear a beautiful dress (I actually had 3 total!), I still had the backyard, garden-party wedding I always wanted, we still celebrated with the people that mattered in our lives, but most importantly, the wedding truly represented us, and it couldn’t get any more real than that.

Special note: All of Friday’s photos were shot by the awesome Emily of Emily Takes Photos*, who I found on this very blog. She rocked our socks off and was amazing to work with. And lastly I just wanted to say that APW kept me totally sane and grounded throughout the whole wedding planning process. You all made me feel ‘normal’ and ok to want the things I wanted for our wedding.

*sponsor of the blog, though this is not a sponsored post

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Anonymous

    You San Franciscans are lucky to have a city hall like that.

    Glad you didn't listen to the naysayers. After all, what on earth was wrong with your wedding?


    I think it was great.

  • Lovely! Question: how did you get the 40 people in? Did you have prior permission or did you just bring them and count on no one kicking them out? I was considering city hall till I realized I could only have 6 people.

    I work as a wedding vendor, and hear that "oh, we wish we could get married at City Hall like you did", all the time, too. I get that normally it means "but for various reasons we have decided that our priority is to have a big wedding and share it with our friends and family"… but, seriously, I always say, "you CAN! do it!!". My husband and I were married that way and have never, ever, ever regretted it for a second. I love shooting City Hall wedding, am doing one for a good friend at the end of the month and cannot WAIT!

  • I just don't get the "real" wedding comments people make. A wedding is a wedding, period. Get over it people! Love every bit of this wedding!! That halter dress is killer… drooling all over it.

  • PERFECT. I feel like you lucked out with getting that many people at city hall. Are they not strict about it AT ALL?

  • Thanks for all the sweet and supportive comments. We had a blast that weekend and I couldn't have imagined doing it any differently. I really identified with wedding grad Angela and what she recently posted about trusting your instincts. We were really blessed to have the support of our amazing families and friends throughout the whole process. And the naysayers…they were casual acquaintances and weren't included that weekend anyway!

    In regards to having close to 40 people at City Hall, I don't know if it was because it wasn't that busy that day, or we lucked out with a really nice judge. I, too, was worried about the number of people we had, but my best friend pointed out that technically City Hall is a public building so anyone can really be there and I didn't see anyone patrolling the area and counting the number of people that were there. Honestly, I'd say go for it!

  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I swear, it looks like they are about to float away with happiness, I love it!! Pictures like this make my day.

    TACO TRUCKS?!? Jealous.
    WHY does everything taste better when it comes from a truck?

  • Ah! I love it. Perfect!!

    It makes me rather sad that this is my city hall:

  • oh man. so perfect.

    i needed to read that.

    what IS IT with official wedding vendors???? blegh.

    they ARE completely radiant. :)

    and that wedding was a "real" wedding. :)

  • agirl

    Beautiful, beautiful, perfect, wonderful, amazing, sane. More like this please!

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    Really? People think a wedding won't be magic if it's in a certain place?

    Weddings are magic because weddings are magic, it's quite simple!

  • Love the dress changes, gorgeous people, and now a baby! Yay!

  • This is the perfect wedding. Low key, low stress, budget friendly, local. Close friends, good food. That's what makes a good party, and that's what "real" weddings should be aspiring to, not the other way around.

    *ours was a sniped park wedding. We didn't ask anyone, we just showed up, signed some stuff, and got out before 9am. It was awesome.

  • April

    :envious sigh: You had me at taco cart. Seriously. I want to marry this wedding it's so freakin AWESOME!

    Oh, and gorgeous bride & groom, too. Congrats on the baby bundle soon to arrive as well!

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful. I used to pass this building on the way to the Exploratorium every other weekend for workshops. It's so impressive that it's not hard to rear-end someone looking at it.

    Could you clarify one thing about your wedding? Was your ceremony on a Friday morning and your party on a Sunday night? Because that sounds like a perfect opportunity to take in the fact that you are married all day Saturday. You mention Friday once at the bottom of the post.

  • We got married at noon that Friday and had our lunch reception from 2-5. And because it was Labor Day weekend and most people had Monday off, we decided to have our party on Sunday night. It was actually nice to have Saturday free to absorb what took place Friday and to take care of any last-minute details for the Sun. night party.

    • M

      I’m planning a wedding in SF for next year and I want to have a taco truck cater the reception. What lounge did you rent for your party? I’m having a hard time finding a space that will work with the taco truck! Thanks.

  • redfrizzz

    i love this. i share some of the same anxieties about a small, simple wedding- will i regret it- stuff. clearly, mayi & jon pulled off a BEAUTIFUL, LOVING, not to mention stylish (to boot!) wedding that had a lot of meaning for them. I can only hope our wedding day is as full of love, support and beauty as theirs!!

  • what a stunning city hall! it was my first choice but we ended up getting married in a park in l.a – but still just the two of us. i wouldn't have had it any other way.

  • I have been following this blog for quite come time. We'll be getting married there, too, on April 14th, 2010. I am thrilled to see someone else here who has done the same thing! Fiance and I fell in love with the idea of eloping at San Fran City Hall when I came across an amazing wedding photography site. My two best friends will be there, and maybe others, we'll see. We are not the type who could deal with a larger audience watching us do our vows. We'll probably have a potluck reception at some point afterward. Stress-free all the way! I am so happy and wouldn't do it any other way!

  • Moz

    Bloody fantastic! You guys looked so happy and I am sure you still are. Congrats on the marriage!

  • Pingback: Wedding Plan Panic « My San Francisco Budget Wedding()

  • TM

    So crazy! Without seeing this first, I made an appointment to get married at City Hall, go to lunch after (I am seriously thinking Zazie), and we are having a reception at my mom’s a couple days later with a taco truck! I guess great minds think alike. Your wedding looked perfect and now I am even more excited for mine! Congratulations!

  • Alexandra

    Awesome, congrats!

  • This wedding not only makes me so happy but makes me feel calm and good about choices we are making for our wedding. I need to keep reminding myself that doing things different doesn’t me it’s not a “real” wedding! Lovely, lovely, lovely.

  • Mickey

    I know Im really late, but I have to tell you that I am thrilled to pieces that I found this particular blog. My fiance and I are also getting married at City Hall in June of next year and looking to have our dinner reception at Zazie. What an encouragement to see two well grounded people make their wedding such a simple and fun event. This is EXACTLY the vibe we are going for. Thank you so much for sharing and congrats on your baby!

  • I’ve mentioned this before… You can’t find a better place in San Francisco for an intimate wedding then San Francisco City Hall. Beautiful architecture and convenience of indoor wedding. All you need is a good photographer and some creativity.

  • Pingback: how to create a marketing plan (situational analysis)? | Optin Email Marketing()

  • Heather

    I am wondering how you worded your invitations? I am getting married at SF city hall in april 2013, but the location IN city hall isn’t selected until day of…how do i let people know where it may or may not be? I am expecting…more than 6:) but less than 40..any advice would be very appreciated!! You and your husband are an inspiration:)