Springtime Philadelphia City Hall Wedding

May 19, 2023

A Philadelphia City Hall wedding is that perfect balance of modern and timeless. For over a hundred years, the grand building has sat at the center of the city and seen countless couples come to apply for marriage licenses. It’s a great place to get married if you want your wedding to feel like Philadelphia. Kerry and Joel’s intimate elopement included rooftop vows and a trip to City Hall. Their photos, like their wedding day, are lighthearted, candid, and romantic.

A bride and groom kiss at the foot of the stairs at their Philadelphia City Hall wedding.

How to Have a Philadelphia City Hall Wedding

There are two ways to have a Philadelphia City Hall wedding. You can opt to have your ceremony there. This requires a lot of patience and planning (like preparing for any wedding). After you apply for your marriage license, call the Marriage License Department. They’ll tell you a date that you can come in person to schedule your ceremony appointment. Be prepared to wait a while and be flexible on ceremony times once it’s finally your turn to pick.

A bride and groom sit in a Philadelphia house putting together a bridal bouquet.
A groom watches a bride getting ready for their Philadelphia elopement.

The other option is to have a self-uniting ceremony, which Kerry and Joel chose to do. A self-uniting ceremony allows you and your partner to officiate your own ceremony. You just need a couple witnesses. The perk here is that you can have your ceremony in a place that feels meaningful to you. You can also decide what’s in your ceremony and what you want to skip. For nontraditional couples, this can feel more affirming.

A bridal bouquet sits on a table at a rooftop wedding in Philadelphia.
A bride and groom exchange vows at a self-uniting ceremony in Philadelphia.
A groom puts a ring on a bride's finger at a Philadelphia wedding.

Regardless of whether you have a Philadelphia City Hall wedding ceremony or a self-uniting ceremony, you’ll need to drop your marriage license in a little box inside. You can mark this moment with portraits and a celebratory dinner. Center City has no shortage of beautiful portrait spots and amazing restaurants. Having this more elopement-style experience gives you a chance to operate largely on your own timeline, and you can go wherever the day takes you.

A couple in wedding attire reads their vows on a Philadelphia rooftop on a sunny day.
A bride laughs beside a groom who reads from a wedding card at their Philadelphia elopement.

Kerry and Joel’s Intimate Elopement

Kerry and Joel’s Philadelphia City Hall wedding is actually one of two celebrations they’ve planned. In 2024, they’ll host friends and family in Charleston. They’re excited to host friends and family for a lovely getaway. Since so many of their big relationship moments happened in Philadelphia, they wanted to celebrate here too. I love when couples incorporate an elopement-style celebration ahead of their bigger weddings. It gives so many opportunities for the in-between moments at the heart of the best photos.

A bride's shadow shows that she holds a camera at a rooftop wedding.
A bride stands behind a groom popping champagne on a rooftop during their Philadelphia City hall wedding.

As I mentioned, Kerry and Joel have had a lot of milestones in Philadelphia. They met at a bar here in town. Kerry’s first impression of Joel was of him carrying two 40s that his friend accidentally ordered. Joel still convinced Kerry to dance to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” The rest is history.

A bride, groom, and two witnesses clink champagne glasses on a Philadelphia rooftop.
Two women walk down a Philadelphia street smiling at a wedding photographer.
Two women greet a bride and groom on a Philadelphia sidewalk.

Before their Philadelphia City Hall wedding, Kerry and Joel exchanged vows and rings on their rooftop. They got engaged on this rooftop, so it seemed like the most meaningful place they could have their ceremony. One of their friends and I served as witnesses. We shared champagne and took time for Kerry and Joel to bask in the joy of the moment. 

A groom holds a bridal bouquet in the back seat of a taxi in Center City.
A couple carries a bridal bouquet down a Philadelphia sidewalk on their way to a City Hall elopement.

I love all of the blue in these photos. The wide open sky, Joel’s suit, Kerry’s delphiniums and even the patio furniture carry the color throughout the images. Even with so little additional decor on the rooftop, all of the blue set a joyful, relaxed tone.

A bride and groom walk through an iron gate leading into Philadelphia City Hall.
A bride and groom pose in a grand hallway after their Philadelphia City Hall wedding.

Wedding Portraits at City Hall

At City Hall, we dropped off their marriage license at a little mailbox. Unfortunately, City Hall no longer allows you to photograph inside the building. We walked around just inside by the sweeping staircases and took portraits there as well as outside around the little gardens. All the daffodils were blooming, and the vibrant color contrasted dramatically with the old stone of City Hall. Of course, we stopped on Broad Street for an iconic photo with City Hall in the background. Afterward, Joel and Kerry headed to an Italian restaurant for cocktails and a cake cutting. 

A Philadelphia bride and groom pose beside a sign for a subway station.
A groom dips a bride for a kiss on a median with Philadelphia City Hall in the background.
Through a restaurant window, a bride and groom sit at a bar celebrating their Philadelphia elopement.

Are you interested in having me photograph your elopement? I’m a Philadelphia wedding photographer specializing in film and Super8. Reach out to me here!

Thank you to the vendors who made this Philadelphia City Hall wedding so amazing:

Photographer: Jason Moody

Makeup & Hair: Vero Leigh

Florals: Woodland Floral Design Co.