I don’t have to tell you that once you say “Yes, I WILL marry you!”, the panic of planning your wedding sets in within roughly twenty four hours. I’ve read a lot of articles on planning a wedding, and all of the experts agree that the most import thing you should consider first is your budget. It’s not the most fun part of the planning to be sure, but there’s no point in buying a dress you can’t afford and having no money left for anything else, right? Right!

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it pretty much takes that same village to create the wedding of your dreams, no matter if it’s a sit down dinner for four hundred, or a sweet elopement at San Francisco City Hall. You’ll still need the same vendors, but how much you spend on those services is entirely up to you.

One of the services that I provide for free to my couples is what I like to call “Wedding Concierge”. While I have clients from all over the country, I also meet couples from outside of the U.S, who are coming here to get married and have a fabulous wine country honeymoon, tour Yosemite, and even drive down to Disneyland to celebrate their recent nuptials. They have absolutely no idea who to trust as vendors and they have no local contacts to ask. Until they hire Rachel Levine Photography, that is! I’ve done my research, seen the work of many local hair and make up and floral vendors and officiants…and the verdict is in! Today i’m going to talk about a few artists that I totally support, because they’re friendly, honest and they do work that makes my brides faces light up, and that’s what I want in their wedding photos!

I’m lucky enough to have my office right across the street from the famous San Francisco Flower Mart. This is the second oldest wholesale flower mart in the country, and I thought it was the perfect place to go and search out a vendor who was experienced, came from a “flower” family, and was in the business of wholesale! How does this translate to you, my budget conscious bride? Thinking that meeting a vendor in person was the best way to give me a true sense of them as a person, I walked over to the Flower Mart, and met Paula from www.bellsnbloomfloristsf.com and asked her if she could work up a special deal just for my SF City Hall weddings, and she said yes! She now has a wonderful “bride and groom” package that’s just $85. You can go in to meet with her and look at all the flowers, or if you don’t live locally, just send her an email with a photo of what you love, and she’ll whip up a magical bouquet. One of her selling points, at least to me, is that she tries to use local and in season flowers. Not only to keep the price down for you, but also to be sustainable in her business practice.

Some brides are pro’s with their own hair and make up, and others want to put themselves in the hands of a trusted professional for this once in a lifetime day. If you are truely on a budget, this might be one of the items that falls to the bottom of your list after rings and a dress, but it doesn’t have to! Mei at www.tripletwist.com is currently running a 40% off special just for San Francisco City hall brides. I mean, who does that?

The first time I met Mei and her salon manager Robert, he was rolling a mysterious suitcase into my brides hotel room on a big cart. This “suitcase” did not contain clothing, it was actually a portable Italian make up table that opened into an entire professional hair and make up station.It’s absolutely gorgeous! The brides’s family and I were in awe! She also has a salon one mile from SF City Hall, so you have the option of dropping by to get glammed up. I particularly love her updo’s featuring braid-work are gorgeous and work for a variety of looks, from classic to boho brides and offbeat brides. If you like your make up fresh and natural, but very polished, than she’s the one for you. I’ve never had to photo shop a brides make up because it was applied way to heavily, or unevenly when she’s been the make up artist. I can’t say the same for others work that I’ve seen. I trust her, and you can trust her too.

Next, we’ll talk about actually getting married at San Francisco Hall. It seems like a very daunting task, but when you break it down, it’s no so bad. A lot of couples wonder who will perform their ceremony, how much does it cost and what are your options?

If you are going through City Hall for everything, the marriage license is $99 and the civil ceremony is $75. You need to book each of these separately, and I recommend making the license appointment one hour before your ceremony. If you stick with their basic ceremony, they come in ten minute slots, three to every half hour, between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm. The nuptials are performed by volunteer marriage commissioners who are trained and have a set ceremony that they all perform. There is no room for your own vows, if you go this route.

You also have the option of renting the Mayors Balcony, or the North and South Halls on the fourth floor. If you want a sit down wedding (yes, with actual chairs!) and you want to have up to a hundred people, than this might be the best route for you to take. It’s $1,002.00 for the hour and you can call the events department at 1-415-554-6086.

There are two situations where you’ll need to hire your own officiant to perform your wedding ceremony. The first situation is if you really want to get married at San Francisco City Hall, but your date is sold out. The other occasion is if you rent the Mayors Balcony or the fourth floor halls. These do NOT come with City Hall marriage commissioners.

Most people don’t realize this, but it is a public building, and on any given day, there are plenty of open spaces in the 500,000 square foot building to set up your own wedding. In this case, I recommend you contact JKonrad Hole at change4now@aol.com, or give him a call at 1-612-251-9866. We’ve worked together on many weddings, and he’s always a joy to work with. The best part is that it’s a little more personalized ceremony, and you can speak your own vows to each other. In speaking with him, you’ll let him know what kind of a vibe you are looking for, and if there are any extra little touches you’d like to add, like a sand ceremony, broom jumping or anything else that’s meaningful to the two of you. He’s also available for weddings outside of City Hall.

So now you’ve met my three go-to pro’s for having the perfect wedding. Reach out to them, and know that you’re in good hands.