San Diego Courthouse Wedding Photographer | Emmanuel and Natalia

I met Emmanuel when he was looking for a San Diego courthouse wedding photographer.  He found my blog on the Top 5 Reasons to Have a Courthouse Wedding and decided to contact me.  At first, Emmanual was not planning on getting professional photos but when he saw how beautiful a courthouse wedding could look, it made him reconsider.  It’s not uncommon for grooms to contact me wanting to book a wedding photographer for their civil marriage ceremony.  Especially when they see how great the photo options are at the County Administration Center Pacific Highway location.  I love that they want the best for their brides regardless of where they’re getting married.

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The Couple

Emmanuel and Natalia were so sweet together.  It was obvious upon the first few minutes of meeting them that they were madly in love. When Emmanuel inquired with me, he told me about how he proposed to Natalia in a quiet corner of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.  So romantic!

couple getting marriage license at san diego county administration center couple posing for wedding photo at san diego county administration center couple applying for marriage license at san diego courthouse bride and groom holding hands at san diego county administration center

black and white wedding portrait at san diego county administration center bride posing next to the window san diego courthouse wedding photographerThe Civil Ceremony Location

The ceremony was outdoors with a scenic view of the San Diego Harbor and the Star of India. It was a typical sunny day.  The couple said their I-Dos in front of the West Arbor which is a beautiful pergola covered with bougainvillea. If you’ve never attended a civil marriage ceremony at the County Administration Center it’s surprising to see what a gorgeous location it is.  In fact, I’ve photographed several civil ceremonies for couples who’ve traveled to San Diego because they love the look and charm of our courthouse and prefer getting married here instead.  I can’t say I blame them!  After all, it’s San Diego.  Need I say more?

One awesome thing about the outdoor location is that you can have as many guests as you want. Good thing because Emmanuel and Natalie had several friends and family attend. A civil ceremony is short and sweet, about 5 – 8 mins to be exact!  So if you want to read vows to each other a good workaround is to do it after the ceremony.  If the arbor is still available, you can stay and read them there.  If it isn’t, not to worry!  There are several other quiet spots nearby that we can move to.  Just something to consider as it makes for some sweet photo moments!

Weather Considerations

Here’s a tip if you’re scheduling your civil ceremony during the rainy season.  Up until about a year ago, rain was pretty rare in San Diego.  But last year we had a pretty wet season.  So who knows what the weather will bring this season?  I would still recommend scheduling the ceremony for the outdoor location because if it rains, they’ll move it indoors anyway.  So you and your guests won’t be stuck outside in the pouring rain.  But you can’t do it the other way around.  For example, if you book it indoors thinking it might rain and it doesn’t end up raining, it will be too late to switch to the outdoor location if it’s already booked.

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After the ceremony, Emmanuel and Natalia took some portraits with all of their guests as well as couple portraits with each other.  That’s another great thing about the San Diego courthouse is that there are plenty of great spots to fit a large group.  We only had a few minutes left for their couple portraits but we made it work and still managed to get some lovely photos.  Here’s another important thing for you to know about courthouse ceremonies.  They can take longer than you think!  It depends on your appointment time and how quickly your paperwork is processed among other things. So be sure to book enough time with your San Diego courthouse wedding guests group portrait san diego county administration center

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Some final thoughts on getting married at the courthouse…

As a San Diego courthouse wedding photographer, I can tell you what to expect depending on the time of day you’re getting married.  I have photographed weddings at the San Diego County Administration Center at all times of the day.  Every situation is different and every courthouse wedding is different!  Some couples get married at the courthouse and have portraits taken at a nearby location in San Diego, like this couple, Jenny and Vincent.  Some couples opt for the full wedding experience!  They wear a wedding gown and tux (although skipping the formal attire is okay too!) and hire me to photograph the “getting ready” process, ceremony, couple portraits and a celebration afterward with family and friends.

That’s the beauty of a courthouse wedding!  You have a ton of flexibility and are not restricted by venue limitations or a timeline.  It can be as intimate or open as you want.  There is no reason why you can’t have it all (if that’s what you want) and beautiful wedding photos too!

Are you seeing the potential here?  This is why I’m a HUGE fan of courthouse weddings, aka civil ceremonies in San Diego!  If you’re looking for a San Diego courthouse wedding photographer I’d be honored to be a part of your special day.  I’d love to hear your plans and give you some tips on how to make the most of your day and get some memorable photos too. Get in touch with me here.

Here’s some helpful resources to get you started on planning your courthouse wedding:

To schedule your San Diego courthouse marriage ceremony go here.

Learn more about “Walk-Up Wednesday” a new option at the San Diego Marriage Hut in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

County Resources:  Civil Marriage Ceremony, Marriage License Info, Online Application, Fees, FAQ, Parking

Check out this informative video on how to get a marriage license in San Diego county.

Printable application to bring with you and save time at your appointment.

Address: 1600 Pacific Highway, Suite 103, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 236-3771 or e-mailar******@sd******.gov


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