San Francisco City Hall Queer/LGBT Wedding: Olivia and Megan!

Olivia and Megan

When my friend Liz told me that Olivia and Megan were exchanging vows at City Hall about 2 weeks after the re-legalization of gay marriage, I jumped at the chance to shoot it.  

This would be my first queer* wedding since Prop 8!  And whereas in earlier years, there had been some LGBTQ "commitment ceremonies" from time to time performed regardless of legal recognition; after the Prop 8 election happened it seemed like most people didn't want to settle for separate but equal anymore.  

There were a few notable exceptions to this (like Erin and Naaz, whose beautiful 2009 Lake Tahoe wedding still moves me).  But for the most part it seemed like the brief excitement of summer 2008, followed by bitter disappointment that same fall, had taken their toll.

So when June 2013 brought both the yearly pride celebration and the triumphant return of legal gay marriage, I thrilled to see who my first post-8 queer couple would be.  

Would couples flood California like they did in 2008, even though  many other states are available in which they could get gay-married?  Would long-established and new, starry eyed couples alike run down to the courthouse to get hitched in small groups?  Or would they plan large, all day celebrations like the weddings I typically shoot?

Well...Olivia and Megan's wedding was a weekday, courthouse style event (what used to be referred to as "elopements," lol), but that didn't take away any of the intimacy or family focus.  On the contrary, I felt as if I fit in perfectly with the small but diverse group of people who encircled the couple, standing in a pool of light illuminated by the circular skylight three floors up.    

Removed from ordinary wedding pomp and circumstance, there spread a quiet authenticity among everyone standing there, which felt both comfortable and precious.  It wasn't "super wild celebration woo!" like some of my 2008 queer weddings: it was just a pure, simple statement of love.  Olivia and Megan's time had come, and that was the energy with which they stepped into it.  Like a long known, much anticipated fate.

city hall wedding = lots of paperwork and waiting.
 photo h-1_zps45af763b.jpg

the light where they chose to have their ceremony was just perfect.
 photo h-2_zps14c4ffd9.jpg

gotta love a little comedy: Olivia takes her written vows out from their hiding place, tucked in her garter.  Megan's vows were in her cleavage at the top of her dress.
 photo h-3_zps273da816.jpg

the kiss: that split second before the onlookers erupt in celebration
 photo v-2_zps07f4408e.jpg

they threw bird seed instead of rice, which apparently is awesome for the birds and not so awesome for the couple.
 photo h-5_zps1b55d872.jpg

after everything was done we went back into City Hall and up to the fourth floor hallway, which is the best place in the building to shoot single or couple's portraits.  It's gorgeously lit, has lots of different architectural details you can use for framing and background, and is usually empty.
 photo h-6_zps7ef20e5e.jpg

i can totally see these two owning a house in a few years that has a foyer similar to this shot
 photo v-3_zps8e7b354c.jpg

look closer: it's not what you think it is.  Then again, this can also serve as a good message to everyone who would like to see these kinds of weddings disappear.  I really like the combination messages of love(kiss) - commitment(rings), and "just try to stop us" this photo evokes.  
 photo h-7_zpsef01c08d.jpg

a note on terminology:  I use a number of terms here to describe those couples whose marriage rights have just recently been restored to them.  Queer is the term I identify with most personally, and that most people in my sector of the LGBTQIA community identify with as well, and I've used it in this post a lot because it is easy shorthand for a number of different non-heterosexual identifications... in contrast to the media-beloved term "same-sex" which not only conflates gender with sex, but is also problematic for a bunch of other reasons outside the scope of this post.  Anyway, no offense is intended to those LGBTetc people who do not identify as queer, or who have had traumatic experiences with the word used as a slur.   
Whether you hire me or not, I will always do my best to respect the identity and terminology you wish to describe you, your partner, and your relationship at all times. 


Here are a handful of my favorite images from my beautiful gay/lesbian/queer couples:

 I'm queer myself, I'm happy to work with your budget, and I'd love to photograph and share with you your laughter, tears, love, and triumph.