Claire & Mike’s San Francisco City Hall wedding

As Claire & Mike’s wedding date drew near, so did a major storm. The kind of storm that led to preemptive school closures, businesses telling employees to stay home, rumors of the end of California’s lengthy drought.

And while the storm did hit on the same day as their marriage, Claire & Mike’s San Francisco City Hall wedding day was a smashing success, made all the more memorable by the weather.

I left San Jose extra early to make the trip up to the city. It’s a long drive on a normal day, but with the storm dumping water on the highway, I wanted a buffer. There were no wrecks and far fewer commuters than normal, so I made great time, despite the downpour. I arrived 45 minutes early to the hotel, to find that the entire neighborhood was without power. As I waited in my car, I hoped that Claire wasn’t in her room with wet hair and no working hair dryer.

She was. But she took it all in stride, saying her hair would dry on its own, then doing her makeup by candlelight (a scene that made me a very happy photographer indeed). Claire and her family are from London, where they deal with bad weather all the time (unlike us spoiled Californians), so they were bewildered by all the fuss over this storm, which had slowed to a gentle shower by mid-morning.

City Hall had plenty of power, and no weather-related issues (though storm clouds left its interior darker than normal). The ceremony was sweet, and Claire and Mike were married in front of a giant Christmas tree, since the wedding was in December. After the ceremony, everyone piled into a motorized trolley for a quick tour of the city on the way to lunch. The bad weather put a bit of a damper on the sightseeing, but certainly didn’t hinder the mood in the trolley, where everyone gathered in the main cabin and enjoyed celebratory champagne.

Lunch was at Delancey Street Restaurant, a great spot on the Embarcadero. There were toasts, gifts, and much laughter. After lunch, Claire, Mike and I headed back to City Hall for some more photos, then on to their hotel, The Inn at the Presidio, for a couple final portraits.

Before the wedding, I wondered if the weather would result in disappointment. Instead, the day felt like an adventure — memorable and special. And it resulted in some great photos. Check out my favorites in the gallery below.

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