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  • Writer's pictureMia

Some useful tips for San Diego Courthouse wedding that you couldn't find online

Updated: Sep 1

Hi there,

My name is Mia, I am a professional photographer who has civil wedding /courthouse wedding shoots in San Diego Downtown every week. If you see this blog, congratulations! You just found the best photographer in San Diego who knows everything about the courthouse wedding.

I saw a lot of articles that teach you how to have a San Diego courthouse wedding, but nobody ever told you what you are going to experience, what you have to be aware, and what options do you have for the courthouse wedding.

So here I am to give you some useful tips that you need to know before your courthouse wedding.

Real clients civil wedding video example:

  1. Location:

The courthouse, more formerly known as the San Diego County Administration Building at 1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92101, on the ground of beautiful scenic location in Waterfront Park.

Google map:

2. Parking tips:

Street parking on Pacific Hwy by meters ($1.5/h), or underground waterfront park ($10/day, and free parking for 3hrs for wedding couples).

Here's a video shows you how to park underground the Administration Building.

Since the Administration Building is located in San Diego Downtown, parking is always busy. Please make sure you leave earlier for your appointment , or get an Uber / Lyft

—— I had wedding couples were about 2hrs late for their weddings since they couldn't find parking! I bet they had a lot of stress from it. Fortunately even they were 2hrs late, the county still took them for their wedding . "It's your wedding, and you suppose to be late" I guess lol.

(But please don't try them.)

3. Hours of operation :

Monday - Friday from 8am to 5pm

If you are late to your weddings, usually they are very understanding if you apologize and tell them that you couldn't find a parking spot.

4. Scheduling :

- You can schedule your courthouse ceremony 45 days out from date you desire.

-I recommend reserving your ceremony time between 8AM-9:30AM and 3:30PM-4:30PM, due to lighting, If that's not available, don't worry, there are so many spots around the courthouse that we can always find shade.

- I also recommend choosing the outdoor ceremony location for the scenery and for space.

5. The process:

(1) Check in

After you pass the security at the entrance, you are going to the 2nd floor of the Administration Building where you will get your marriage license. Go to the Room #273, that's where you are going to start.

(It takes 3-5 mins)

if you booked me as your photographer. I would meet your at the entrance, so I will take some arrival photos for you.

If you have already passed the security, then I will meet you at Room #256 at 2nd floor where everyone waits for the process.

You will see a sign says "Start Here", go get checked in and then wait for them to call your number just like you are in a bank.

(2) Sign documents

When it's your turn, take a sit and check the information carefully.

I would expect you guys to show love , be more intimate, always holding hands, kiss each other whenever you want.

Please ignore the photographer and forget there is a camera, and I will catch the most natural moments.

(It takes 10 -15 mins)

(3) Waiting for the officiant

Once you complete the paperwork, you will go to room 256 to wait for the officiant.

Usually the officiant would come to get you in 2-10mins, but sometimes when there are many people in line, the waiting time can be 30mins long.

(4) Walk to the venue

Your wedding officiant will come to room 256 and call your name.

If you have an indoor appointment, there are two rooms inside room 273 are for the indoor wedding ceremony:

If you have an outdoor appointment, the officiant will guide you to your outdoor wedding venue. While walking to there, please hold hands, keep smiling, keep talking, keep looking at each other... Whatever way you show love, I will catch the candid moment.

If you see me running fast, that's just me try to get a great spot for your candid shots. Please keep calm, keep cool, and keep loving each other lol.

There are two locations in front of / and behind the Administration Building. Normally they take couples to the one in Waterfront Park near Harbor Dr. That one has floral bridge and California palm trees as the background.

<1> The original wedding bridge in Waterfront Park:

<2> The mini wedding bridge in front of the Administration Building:

(5) The ceremony

It's a very simple and shore ceremony, taking standard vows , exchange rings, kiss to seal, and sign the document, then you are all set! It's official now! Congrats!

( It takes 5mins )

When you exchange rings, please do it nice and slow so we can capture some nice photos.

Private license requires one witness to sign, if you don't have your own witness, I would be happy to sign it for you :)

6. Photography background options :

After the ceremony, if we still have time, I will take you guys walk around this area to take your beautiful wedding photographs. We will have a lot of fun!!!

(1) Pink and green——Flowers and leaves :

(2) Blue & Black——"Star of India" and the embarcadero (cross the street):

(3) Green—— California palm trees:

(4) Colorful——The mural:

(5) FUN——Baby playground:

(6)FUN——water fighting:

(7) The USS Midway & big Kissing statue:

(8) San Diego Downtown:

(9) Balboa Park

7. Next Steps After Your Ceremony

"All done! Then what?"

Thank you San Diego Recorder Clerk for the information. If you guys are going to post your beautiful wedding photos, please don't forget to @sdrecorderclerk and @pka_photo on Instagram.



Shawn & Diana

Courthouse Wedding on 11/28/2022

”Very good experience for taking our elopement photos! Mia is a very professional photographer. She is very patient and accommodating to help with our questions and needs. She is that kind of photographer who will guide you to show the best of yourself and capture the best timing (instead of just taking those "3-2-1-cheese" pictures), so don't worry if you are a person who gets nervous facing a camera. We felt very relaxed working with Mia during the shots and the results turned out better than we expected.

Mia works really hard to quickly deliver our photos (I found she wakes up very early but sleeps quite late. She also works during the weekends). Not surprised that she got so many 5-stars reviews.

We booked her package with a good discount and it is totally worth it. I would definitely book her other packages in the future and recommend her to my friends.“

Pamela & Jonathan

Courthouse Wedding on 11/07/2022

”I can’t say enough great things about Mia. From the moment we had our initial consultation with her, she was very helpful, professional, and kind! We did a simple courthouse wedding and she had a whole page on her website that gave us the step-by-step process, from the locations of the rooms to do our paperwork to where we could take our photos in/around the courthouse. No matter how big or small a wedding is, it always ends up stressful for the bride/groom, so it was very helpful having an expert around.

Then, when we met her on our wedding day, we got some awesome photos in some beautiful spots. She has a great eye for beauty. On top of that, her personality is made for what she does. She is so down-to-earth and funny and made us loosen up and feel comfortable as we took photos for two hours. Expectedly, the photos turned out absolutely beautiful. We look forward to working with her for future life milestone events! Please do yourself a favor and hire her."

Dianna & Jed

Courthouse Wedding on 09/14/2022

”Working with Mia for our wedding was amazing! She helped prep us well before the event, and even sent us notes after we reviewed multiple possibilities together. She was very energetic, yet professional and we loved our photos. There is a reason she is so in demand! Couldn’t recommend more.“

Charrod & Quiana Courthouse Wedding on 09/13/2022

”Mia is incredible. Not only was she able to get photos of the entire ceremony and stuff, she took us outside of the courthouse and got more than 100 photos of us on our special day. GO WITH PKA! I’m so glad we did.“

Andrew & Anthony Courthouse Wedding on 09/06/2022

"Mia is an excellent photographer! She knew so many important details and made our wedding day extra special. She was prompt with the delivery of our photos and her editing is superb! We couldn’t be happier! Definitely book her!"

Hayete & Samuel Courthouse Wedding on 08/12/2022

"Mia of PKA Photography is the best photographer we could have hoped for! She is so professional, communicates and prepares with you everything you need prior to the photoshoot. Mia’s energy and joyful spirit are contagious! Her work are a perfect balance of elegance, creativity and provides sophisticated yet genuine lifelong memories. We will definitely contact Mia for our future family photos needs and absolutely recommend her services to anyone! Thank you Mia for perfectly capturing our beautiful moments!"

Dani & Lauren Courthouse Wedding on 07/13/2022

"Mia is absolutely incredible! She did the photoshoot for our wedding and we could not have been happier with it. Not only did our photos come out amazing but we had the best time taking them. Mia was both professional and personal. We loved working with her, she made us feel comfortable, confident and kept us laughing the whole time. She had great energy and a creative eye, knowing the BEST spots to take beautiful photos. We will definitely be looking her up for future photo shoots. we would rate her 100 stars if we could. 100% would recommend!"

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