Brisbane Marriage Registry Photography Overview

INTRODUCTION

I have photographed more than 20 weddings at the Brisbane Marriage Registry since 2017, and have many more booked in 2019 and 2020, so I thought it would be helpful for couples to get my perspective on the venue, with some helpful advice.

The registry is located on the 32nd floor of the cleverly named '180 Brisbane' building in the heart of the Brisbane CBD at 180 Ann Street. This name seems to be a play on the term ‘180 degree views’, in addition to the actual street number.

This is a stunning building, standing at over 150 metres tall and 34 stories. It has a six star energy rating and was built by a Japanese property developer in 2015. Tenants in the building include Commonwealth Bank (the main tenant), Origin Energy (over eight floors), and the Queensland Government (Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages).

REGISTRY COSTS & TIMES

Pricing for the Brisbane registry service are subject to change, but currently (as at September 2019) are:

Financially, this compares very favourably to hiring a private celebrant which will cost anywhere from $400 to $1000 on average just for the celebrant (minus the venue).

Getting There and Parking

Secure Parking Turbot Street (100 metres)

Secure Parking operates a paid car park right next door at 179 Turbot Street (the back entrance) about 100m from the registry.

The trick with Secure Parking is to book online and get a four digit pin code to access the car park, so the cost comes down from $70, to just $35 for two hours parking. They call this pre-paid service ‘Secure-A-Spot’.

There are also some great afternoon parking deals if your wedding is around 2.30PM or later. They offer parking for a 2PM entry and 6PM exit for just $16 which in many cases is ideal for afternoon registry weddings.

You can then enter the registry from Turbot street, about 100m past the Turbot Street Secure Parking building at 179 Turbot Street.

Having said that, this car park is not for the faint hearted… most of the available car parks are located on floors 5, 6 and 7. That means having to negotiate the narrow windy ramps up six floors just to find a park. Once you finally get to the top, you need to pray there are still some parks available. You will also more than likely, have to use one flight of stairs to access the lift on the fifth level.

Update September 2019: They have recently signposted many of the parks on the middle levels as “Fast Parks” which are restricted to three hours or less. This is perfect for visiting the registry.

If you park here, allow at least an extra 15 minutes just to park and get back downstairs! I have parked there many times and have always found a park, but once it was the last one available which was somewhat disconcerting. If you drive a small car, you will find there are more ‘small car’ car parks available.

Tip: Be careful what times you nominate for the entry and exit from the car park. The entry time in particular should be as accurate as possible, but there is a 15 minute grace period for the entry time that is not widely known. So if you have specified 2.00PM as your entry time, you will find the pin code will work from 1.45PM onwards.

Finally, be aware that the entrance to the car park is from the far right hand lane on Turbot Street. Make sure you are in the right hand lane on this one way street or you will miss the entrance. If you drive past the registry you have gone too far and will need to loop back again and try again.

Also be aware that this car park closes at 6PM sharp, and will incur a callout fee if you try to exit after 6PM.

Secure Parking (Paid Car Parking) located at 179 Turbot Street. The most expensive but right next door. Enter from the far right hand lane of Turbot Street before the registry. Photo by Chris Jack.

Secure Parking (Paid Car Parking) located at 179 Turbot Street. The most expensive but right next door. Enter from the far right hand lane of Turbot Street before the registry. Photo by Chris Jack.

King George Square Car Park (250-500 metres)

A somewhat better all round option for registry parking is the King George Square car park run by Brisbane City Council which is cheaper than Secure Parking, around $25 for up to two hours (and conveniently, no booking required online to get this price).

Even better, enter after 4.30PM Monday to Friday and the parking is just $5, and $5 all day Saturday (subject to availability and current offers).

This car park can be confusing to find though, because there are actually two entrances. One is at 87 Roma Street, and the other 115 Adelaide Street.

The parking sign is almost impossible to see when approaching the Roma Street entrance. Wouldn’t it be nice if they put the tiny P sign before the entrance rather than after it?

Even when you drive into the correct entrance you are greeted with a ‘King George Square Cycleway’ sign and absolutely no indication this is the entrance to the car park, at least for another 25 metres or so. Thankfully the Adelaide Street entrance is much easier to find!

The poorly signposted King George Square Car Park entrance from Roma Street. Photo by Chris Jack.

The poorly signposted King George Square Car Park entrance from Roma Street. Photo by Chris Jack.

I would recommend the King George Square Car Park via the Adelaide Street entrance on weekdays. On Saturdays the Ann Street entrance to the registry is closed anyway. Therefore, the King George Square Car Park is not really the best option on weekends (I recommend the Wickham Terrace Car Park instead).

But wait you say… what about the Roma Street entrance/exit? You might assume pedestrians can leave the King George Square Car Park via the Roma Street entrance, but pedestrians can only exit the King George Square Car Park via the Ann Street side exit/King George Square exit.

Assuming you are getting married on a weekday, the vehicle entrance to the King George Square Car Park is right before the Brisbane City Hall on Adelaide Street. Ignore the anxiety inducing sign that says ‘Local Traffic Only’ when you are entering the final section of Adelaide Street. You are heading to the car park as local traffic so you have every right to use the road.

Then simply drive down into the underground car park while trying not to knock over pedestrians, and get a ticket first at the boom gate. This is a pay at exit system using a machine, so keep your ticket with you. The ticketing system takes $10+ notes and credit cards.

There is a lift inside the car park which will take you to the ground level of the Town Hall (Brisbane City Hall). This is directly behind the Pig and Whistle bar, and you can then easily walk around to Ann Street and the entrance to the registry during the week (only about 200 metres away).

If you park on Level A (the entrance level) you might be tempted to use these stairs which exit onto Ann Street. I wouldn’t recommend this, because there are about four flights of stairs to the top! The best option is to take the the lift to King George Square and walk around to Ann Street.

Exit To Ann Street if you don’t mind climbing four flights of stairs. Mobile phone photo.

Exit To Ann Street if you don’t mind climbing four flights of stairs. Mobile phone photo.

You can pay for parking at the King George Square car park using the kiosks located on the entry level from Adelaide Street, or just drive up to the exit where you can insert your ticket and pay that way. Suffice to say, it is much easier to just swipe your ATM card/credit card at the boom gates rather than use the ticket machines.

Wickham Terrace Car Park (260m)

The second closest Brisbane City Council car park (but the closest on a Saturday!) is the Wickham Terrace Car Park. This large multi-storey car park is open 24 hours a day and will cost roughly $25 for up to two hours parking which is cheaper than Secure Parking but more expensive than street parking.

You can enter this car park from Turbot Street but finding the entrance is a challenge for your GPS or Google Maps because there is no listed address. Therefore, I recommend you simply enter SOFITEL into Google Maps (The Sofitel Hotel - the only one in Brisbane, is located directly opposite!).

If you are entering this address for into a GPS, then the Sofitel is located at 249 Turbot Street.

This car park can be confusing because the pedestrian exits are located near the lifts. Furthermore, the lifts are not clearly signposted. If at all possible, try to park on either Level 1 and then walk out on Turbot Street or on Level 5 which will allow you to walk straight out onto Edward Street without needing to use the lifts which can be slow at times (albeit up and down two short flights of stairs).

Please be aware however, that this is a very popular car park for city office workers and people driving into the city for meetings. If you are trying to find a park during office hours you will not find one in the first five levels. You will have to keep driving up to level six or higher to find free parks, so allow plenty of time (at least 20 minutes) just to find a park and make it to the registry on time.

Secure Parking 159 Roma Street (400 metres)

Another expensive option for paid parking is located in the Secure Parking facility that used to be called Hotel Jen. Unfortunately, Hotel Jen closed on December 15th 2018. The Secure Parking is however definitely still operating.

Just like the Turbot Street Secure Parking facility, you should pre-book your ticket to save money rather than paying on the day. I would only use this car park to visit the registry as a last resort, it being the furtherest distance away. It currently costs about $33 for up to two hours parking, but only if you book online first (otherwise $68 - ouch!).

This car park is particularly confusing because the entrance is the now closed Hotel Jen itself as shown below. The easiest way to turn into this car park is to be on the same side of the road. Otherwise you either have to do a dodgy right hand turn at the lights below, or set your GPS to do a long loop through the back streets.

The main car park is up a ramp. There are two signs with a large blue P to indicate car parks, however one of the entrances has no ‘Secure-A-Spot’ machine. That is the first entrance as you go up the ramp on the left. The actual entrance to the ‘Secure-A-Spot’ car park (the one you pre-pay) is further up the ramp on another level. Please note the address is 159 Roma Street, not 138 as shown on the map below.

Street Parking Options

There is not much street parking to speak of close to 180 Ann Street on either Ann Street or Turbot Street, so arrive very early if you intend parking on the street.

The exception to this is on a Saturday, where there are actually technically speaking street parks right outside on Turbot Street. They are almost always occupied though, but you might get lucky! There are also street parks located from about where Sofitel is continuing down Turbot Street.

My recommendation for street parking would be Albert Street, which crosses Turbot Street. That is the street that runs between the back of the Brisbane Transit Centre (Roma Street Station) and Wickham Park. This is quite a steep street though, so not recommend for guests with mobility issues.

You can see in the Google Maps Street View below where the parking starts on Albert Street. These are 30 minute parks though (three hours parks are further up the street).

The Brisbane Marriage Registry on the 32nd floor of the tallest building in the background with the Commonwealth Bank logo on the side.

There are often some metered parks on this street (both three hour and 30 minutes zones) — most of the time. If you have enough time, you may want to try and park here first and enter the registry from Turbot Street, before considering paying for off-street parking.

In my experience, the chances of finding a street park on Albert Street at any time of the day is about 70% certain. Parks are often easier to find as you get further up Albert Street.

Wickham Terrace is also a good option for parks near the back of Wickham Park and Roma Street Parklands. You can then take a pleasant downhill shortcut through King Edward Park to get to Turbot Street.

If all the paid car parks are full (which does happen from time to time) then as a very last resort, I would recommend parking at Roma Street Parklands and simply walking. The walk will take approximately 12 minutes depending on where you park. A park near the main cafe at Roma Street Parklands will be the closest distance, or you can also park in the underground car park.

If you park in the furtherest car park then you are in for an 18-20 minute walk to the registry.

Uber and Limousine Drop off Points

There is a loading zone that can be used for Uber or Limousine drop offs about 50 metres from the Turbot Street entrance, but just ask the driver to be on the right hand side of the one way street on approach or they will miss the drop off point. Please note also that this becomes a clearway at 4PM during weekdays.

Limousines can also probably get away with quickly dropping off guests right outside the registry on Turbot Street on Saturdays if the loading zone is full (building car park exits are rarely used on Saturdays).

Saturday Weddings

If you are planning a Saturday wedding the registry will ask you to enter from Turbot Street. The entrance on my last visit was not through the automatic doors as you might expect, but through an unlocked single glass side door to the left of the revolving doors, about 15m away from the security desk, at the top of the stairs to the left (see the red arrow below).

Update July 2019: On the last Saturday wedding I booked, both doors were actually locked, so be prepared to knock on the door to get the attention of the security at the desk if arriving earlier than your booking time. If the door shown below is not unlocked, try the other door. If that is locked, knock on the door and get the attention of security at the desk.

When booking Saturday weddings, you may not be able to go upstairs until close to the booking time if the registry staff are either not there yet or having a break. You may be told by security to wait in the foyer until about 15 minutes before your actual booking time, and the lifts might be locked down until then.

That depends entirely on the security guards downstairs in the lobby though. Sometimes they let you up early which is great, and on other occasions they only open the lifts exactly 15 minutes before your ceremony.

That is actually a bummer, because they do not normally have the air conditioning on in the ground floor foyer on Saturdays. For this reason, if you are getting married on a Saturday in summer, try not arrive too early, but of course don’t be late either ;)

You may need to be proactive with the security guards and keep an eye on the clock. They may not open the lifts on time without requesting in my experience. If your ceremony is set for 3.00PM, they should open the lifts no later than 2.45PM.

The Turbot Street Entrance to 180 Brisbane (180 Ann Street) on a Saturday. Photo by Chris Jack.

The Turbot Street Entrance to 180 Brisbane (180 Ann Street) on a Saturday. Photo by Chris Jack.

TIP: Ask the registry staff to check that the air conditioning is on in Summer when you arrive so the large ceremony room has time to cool down.

And bear in mind (because this is very important) the Turbot St Secure Parking building next door is closed on a Saturday. Don’t fret, the Wickham Terrace car park 260m down Turbot street is open on weekends (entrance from Turbot Street) and is only $5 on weekends.

Arriving at the Registry

First things first, there is no photography permitted in the foyer (ground level) of the building anytime. This has something to do with it being associated with Commonwealth Bank and their security. That is a shame, because the light in the foyer is very nice. This might be something to mention to guests on their invitation, as the security guards get very anxious about it.

There is a comfortable waiting area in the foyer of 180 Ann Street (which is at the Turbot Street end) and there are several popular cafes in the building and up the street from Ann Street, mostly frequented by suits and office workers during the week. On Saturdays, most of these cafes nearby are closed and the air con is switched off in the main lobby.

Please note that the lift access to the 32nd floor is via the rear lifts, and not the lifts immediately at the front. While you may already know this if you have had a tour of the registry, it would pay to mention this to guests as well.

Also the lifts are operated by a touch screen, you select the 32nd floor on the touch screen panel (there is no simple, conventional lift button). The touch screen then tells you which lift you have been allocated by indicating a letter. If there is no option for the 32nd floor shown on the screen, that means the lifts are locked down! Ask security at the lobby desk if they can open up the lifts if your ceremony start time is within 15 minutes.

I recommend explaining to guests how these lifts work beforehand, or having guests assemble in the ground level foyer and going up in groups of 12-15 people per lift. Allow at least 5-10 minutes for all guests to get from the downstairs foyer to the 32nd floor.

Photo of Lift Access at 180 Ann Street. Mobile phone photo.

Photo of Lift Access at 180 Ann Street. Mobile phone photo.

General Impression

The foyer overlooking Mt Coot-Tha and Roma Street Parklands. Photo by Chris Jack.

My general impression of the Brisbane Marriage Registry facility and the marriage ceremony service they provide is excellent. This is a world class facility that you wouldn't expect from a government department, that has been mostly well designed and decorated.

The large windows that face Roma Street train station and the Roma Street Parklands and Mt Coot-Tha in the background at the end of the foyer are quite spectacular. These are ideal for quick couples portraits both before and after the ceremony, if time permits.

Photographers just need to watch out for flash reflections in these windows, and be aware there is not much ambient light in the waiting area. The light can change very quickly, but there are shades that can be pulled down if required.

There is a convenient place for photographers to place their gear near this window, and there is generally no-one else around. Yes you may be taking photos in a foyer, but it is off limits to the general public who visit the Marriage Registry, so it is often very accessible and private.

Whether or not the area is 100% free for use depends on whether (a) There is another wedding taking place around the same time (b) Whether those guests also have a photographer who is using the space near the window. In my experience, the space by the window is usually available.

You may also be asked to move if other guests (or a bride and groom) are preparing to enter Ceremony Room 1 for their processional.

Ceremony Room 1

Photographers at the registry in Ceremony Room 1 may opt to use the natural light coming from the large floor to ceiling windows, or use flash to balance the interior light with the external light. I personally normally use natural light, even at night time which is possible by shooting at higher ISO levels (camera sensitivity) and wider open apertures (f/2.8 or wider).

Signing Table in Ceremony Room 1. Photo by Chris Jack.

Signing Table in Ceremony Room 1. Photo by Chris Jack.

There is plenty of space to setup light stands or off camera flash if required both inside and outside the ceremony rooms, and this would certainly be allowed in my experience. Having said that, there really won’t be enough time…

Almost every time I have photographed a wedding here it takes place in Ceremony Room 1. There is a second, smaller Ceremony Room 2 though, which I will explain in more detail shortly.

Ceremony Room 1 Guest Entrance. Photo by Chris Jack.

Ceremony Room 1 Guest Entrance. Photo by Chris Jack.

Makeup and Getting Ready Rooms. Photo by Chris Jack.

Makeup and Getting Ready Rooms. Photo by Chris Jack.

Ceremony Room 1. Photo by Chris Jack.

Ceremony Room 1. Photo by Chris Jack.

Views from Level 32 Foyer across Roma Street Station & Parklands. Photo by Chris Jack August 2019.

Views from Level 32 Foyer across Roma Street Station & Parklands. Photo by Chris Jack August 2019.

Ceremony Room 2 - Newly decorated in March 2019. Photo by Chris Jack.

Ceremony Room 2 - Newly decorated in March 2019. Photo by Chris Jack.

Ceremony Room 1 seems to be used for both small and larger weddings (even four people!) and also has fantastic city and cityscape views across Brisbane from the 32nd floor.

The large and expansive windows cast good, but somewhat uneven natural light across the whole room. There is substantially more natural light on the left hand side of the room.

Tip for Photographers: If you are shooting at f/2.8 on a fine day you can expect to shoot natural light at about ISO 1600, depending on the strength and position of the sun, and still maintain 1/250 second shutter. So any modern full frame camera should have no problem shooting with the natural light only (without flash).

Shooting at night time (yes bookings are possible at times like 6PM) is also possible without flash, but I found this was only possible by shooting at ISO 3200 at f/2.8. At times you may need to go with even higher ISO depending on the strength of the internal lights (as they are on a dimmer and change at every visit).

Group shots with more depth of field are a different story, but with a little bounce flash from an on camera flash pointing to the neutral white coloured ceiling, I was able to shoot at f/5.6 at ISO 400 hand held about 1-2 stops under ambient exposure.

If you don’t shoot group shots with a flash and place subjects at the front near the wall, they will be underexposed by at around 2 stops of light. Compensating for this underexposure in camera (exposure compensation) will fix this problem, but the windows will be blown out severely and you risk getting halos around subjects and loss of contrast. For this reason, I strongly recommend using flash for group photos!

There are down lights near the ceremony area where the bride and groom stand which seem to have a straw/yellow tint rather than tungsten (orange).

Unfortunately, these down lights often end up being behind the couple who are standing at the front. The light bounces off the main wall and softens it considerably which is great, but only if you are shooting from the right angle. If you shoot down the aisle onto the shadow side then you find the wall is overexposed and the bride and groom badly underexposed.

This also makes most guest photos or videos on their mobile phones look very ordinary as the bride and groom will be likely be way too dark. A professional photographer should be able to overexpose for the backlight as required, avoiding this problem.

Having said that, this is a particularly irksome design feature in Ceremony Room 1, especially as there is never enough time (even 30 seconds) to experiment with adding flash lighting as an alternative.

You might suggest the solution would be turning down the artificial lighting in the room, but unfortunately the main lighting control located near the double doors from the foyer controls both the room light and the backlight on the wall. Therefore, turning this down dramatically reduces the light across the whole room, and does not solve the backlit wall issue.

But the biggest problem with the lighting in Ceremony Room 1 is the green cast from the energy saving window tints during signing. This can be eliminated by putting a flash on the camera and overpowering the ambient light.

Ceremony Room 2

Ceremony Room 2 is the smaller of the two ceremony rooms. I would describe the decor of Room 2 as more casual, with a plastic grass wall where the Bride and Groom stand, and plastic white tiffany chairs instead of the more comfortable padded chairs in Ceremony Room 1.

There are also white plastic flower adornments on the front grass wall and the words “We Do” in the centre.

The advantage (and challenge) of this room is that it normally receives stronger light from the rear of the room, which flows unevenly through the room. This makes the signing photos more challenging to shoot, but also gives the Bride and Groom more even and predictable light at the back of the room. This permits shooting photos down the aisle without the backlit wall problem of Ceremony Room 1, and will also vastly improve photos that guests take using the natural light on their phones.

It does not suffer from the same lighting problems that Ceremony 1 has being the down lights that back light the front wall. This means it is possible to use flash in Ceremony Room 2 without fear of overexposing the front wall (the green grass wall will absorb any stray light). You can also bounce light off the ceiling which is white.

The downside is that when shooting a processional down the aisle the photographer will be shooting directly into the window light, which is not ideal. This means the processional will be underexposed unless the photographer adjusts their camera accordingly, or uses flash lighting. The other option is to shoot the processional directly opposite the entrance doors, so the subjects are side lit. I still recommend in this situation, using some flash to compensate and fill the shadows.

Photos from walking down the aisle in Ceremony Room 2 are also much less epic than those in Ceremony Room 1. That is mainly because the room length is much shorter, but also because there is no natural light falling onto the Bride. If epic processional photos are important to you, try to make sure (if you can) that you conduct your ceremony in Ceremony Room 1.

I personally recommend using flash lighting for the processional in Ceremony Room 2, and because there is no time to take it off and readjust settings, to continue using it for the rest of the ceremony. Flash lighting can then be (and really must be) switched off for the signing photos to prevent over exposure (or the camera ambient light settings adjusted).

This is the complete opposite of the what is required in Ceremony Room 1, where natural light can be used for the processional and ceremony, and where it is helpful to use flash for the signing to alleviate the green window cast issues!

And because your photographer may only have 90 seconds warning which room will be used on the day, it makes shooting wedding ceremonies at the registry extremely challenging.

Before the Ceremony

Allow 5 minutes for paperwork before the ceremony. Photo by Chris Jack.

Allow 5 minutes for paperwork before the ceremony. Photo by Chris Jack.

Before the ceremony starts and guests are ushered into the ceremony room the celebrant will do some paperwork with the bride and discuss final details. This tends to put a halt to any photography during that time, and takes about five minutes, so please be aware of this.

That will leave about 10 minutes to get couples portraits in the foyer, if you arrive at the designated time (but you can always arrive a few minutes earlier).

This means that any well intentioned plans to take photos before the ceremony in the foyer are almost always interrupted, and these are best taken after the ceremony or by arriving earlier if possible.

Celebrants

I have nothing but praise for the celebrants and staff at the Brisbane Marriage Registry. They have with few exceptions all been warm, friendly and smiled at all the right times for the camera both during and after the ceremony. This may seem like a small thing, but with still photography there is nothing better than having the celebrant looking happy as well.

While there isn't really much time allocated for each wedding, there is no sense that things are rushed before or after.

At some weddings the celebrants will try to get out of the way during the first kiss which is very thoughtful, but in most cases there isn’t time to do this. This results in photos of half the celebrant in the shot escaping the frame which isn’t ideal. I would recommend suggesting to the celebrant that they remain in place for the first kiss, or that the Bride and Groom do a second first kiss once the celebrant has moved…

The Ceremony

On all occasions when shooting at the registry the actual ceremony has started very quickly after guests have entered the ceremony rooms. So quickly in fact that several times I barely had time to physically walk over to start taking photography.

I recommend you make your photographer aware if they are shooting there for the first time that they will need to be 100% ready from when they arrive on Floor 32 to start shooting the actual ceremony (the right lens on the camera, and the right exposure settings for the ceremony room sorted etc.).

in my experience on a Canon 5D Mark IV, this will mean having the camera set to f/3.2 in AV mode with enough ISO to maintain a shutter of at least 250 (so somewhere between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200) and the camera is Servo focus mode (either set to Servo or through a back button). Sure you can try and shoot in manual, but that is almost impossible with the variations of light within the room and the very short duration of the ceremony.

I can’t stress this enough, because if the photographer takes just 20 seconds to change their settings they will miss you walking down the aisle. They should be in place and ready to shoot before you start the ceremony by checking with them first. The photographer will need to have enough shutter speed to capture you walking down the aisle, otherwise photos will be blurry.

You can opt for a processional (being led down the aisle) or simply walk to the front and start the ceremony once guests are seated, and this is normally discussed with the celebrant beforehand. They do have different types of standard processional music, but of course this is best arranged with the registry before the day.

I have seen people using their phones to play processional music off Spotify or Google Music as well, but be sure to check with the registry beforehand. Be sure to bring the correct cable to output music from your device into their AV system (especially if using an iPhone with their proprietary cables).

There is ample room for a photographer to hide their equipment or bags behind the wall that is used for the ceremony itself which also very conveniently enables a photographer or videographer to stealthily switch sides during the ceremony.

The ceremonies go very quickly if you use their standard vows. Looking at the camera time stamps at the last Brisbane Registry Wedding revealed that the entire wedding ceremony from walking down the aisle, to the first kiss took exactly 4.5 minutes! That makes it even more challenging for the photographer tasked with capturing everything, and in many cases much more difficult than a longer wedding ceremony.

The average ceremony time is somewhere between 6 minutes to 7 minutes in total (minus the signing).

Immediately after the ceremony the couple is ushered to the table and chairs near the window, and sit down to sign the marriage certificates in front of your two designated witnesses.

Natural light when signing the papers Ceremony Room 1. Photo by Chris Jack.

Natural light when signing the papers Ceremony Room 1. Photo by Chris Jack.

Again, this process is very quick and proceeds without delay so it may pay to slow this down to make sure your photographer has all the photos required and has 20 seconds to change their camera settings!

The lighting here is nice in terms of brightness and diffusion, from the large windows behind (in theory). However, it is actually one of the worst places to take photos as the light filters through the green tints of the windows and then bounces onto the green panels near the signing desk. This causes an obvious green tint on all natural light signing photos which simply cannot be fixed easily through editing. If you don’t like photos take during signing for this reason, ask your photographer to convert them to black and white which will solve the problem.

Another option is to pause briefly after the ceremony and allow your photographer to place a flash on their camera and bounce into the ceiling. If they set their ambient light to about 1-2 stops under, this will eliminate most of the green tint. Note: The green tint issue does not exist after sunset.

Please also note that if you want to be able to see the view outside in signing photos, your photographer will definitely have to use flash to allow the ambient light to be reduced (and the compensated with the flash) and shooting at somewhere around f/5.6 or higher (providing the flash has enough power).

After Signing & Group Photos

If you only have a few guests, it may be possible to receive congratulations and hugs from them and still have time for some group photos inside the ceremony room.

If you have more than 20 guests however, you may be somewhat overwhelmed by this and could run out of time to assemble for family group shots.

Therefore, I recommend limiting group shots at the marriage registry to the essentials and doing these in order of priority, just in case you run out of time. In my experience, you have about 10-12 minutes after the ceremony to take groups shots if you would like these, and if you have less guests you may even want to take some more couples portraits near the windows.

You may even want to consider booking the room for longer than normal, if you have a large wedding party or intend on shooting more than a few group photos.

The group shots in my opinion are best taken in front of the wall where the ceremony takes place, and there is plenty of room for the photographer to stand back and shoot using a longer lens to make these portraits more flattering. There is room for a maximum of about 12 people across in one row.

At night time however, you may not want to place guests very close to the wall as the light there will be much stronger than a metre forward.

There is sometimes not enough time to setup a tripod for the group shots, nor even enough time to setup a light stand to add an umbrella or soft-box. If the photographer has an assistant this might be possible (but unlikely) so otherwise I would suggest relying on the photographer to take any groups shots hand held, and as mentioned before, bounce light off the ceiling which works well.

As with all formal group shots at weddings, it is really useful to have a list of the shots required (who will be in each photo) and someone to usher people (such as the best man or maid of honour). 

If you run out of time, I am sure it would be possible to shoot the remaining family group portraits in the foyer as a backup plan (my recommendation would be having guests face the natural light of the large windows in the foyer). It is not possible to take photos downstairs in the lobby, nor in the alleyway next to the building (security will ask you to stop).

Finally, the registry has told me that they do not allow the chairs to be moved to enable large and wide group photos. Moving the chairs can delay the ceremony following if not put back in place. Therefore, large group photos of more than about 24 people are very difficult to capture reliably. These might best be taken at a reception or somewhere outside afterwards.

Ceremony Room 2 is best for family group photos, as the green grass wall has no obvious verticals. This means that photos always look straight, and there is really no need for a tripod. Family group photos in Ceremony Room 1 are much more difficult to execute due to the vertical lines of the front wall and the strong backlighting on the back wall (and are best taken on a tripod with bounce flash to the ceiling).

Another option is to shoot family group photos up against the dark grey padded walls on the right hand side of the room, however there is probably only enough room for smaller groups (of less than six people) without moving the chairs (which is not allowed).

The Foyer

There is a cheesy sign designed for Instagram that the celebrant may offer afterwards if you are into this sort of thing. This one from 2017 was quite cute, but it has since changed to a rectangular shape.

After the ceremony, photo opportunities in the Brisbane Registry foyer. Photo by Chris Jack.

After the ceremony, photo opportunities in the Brisbane Registry foyer. Photo by Chris Jack.

Bear in mind these photos are taken in the registry foyer, and not the main Births, Deaths and Marriages foyer, and there may be other guests waiting in the general area for another ceremony.

Try to find some time after the ceremony for some additional couples portraits and general candid shots. Everyone will be much more relaxed, happy and less tense after the ceremony!

Brisbane Marriage Registry Foyer. Photo by Chris Jack

Brisbane Marriage Registry Foyer. Photo by Chris Jack

Outdoor Couples Portraits

The next challenge will be finding suitable locations if you are looking for couples portraits immediately after the ceremony.

Taking these in the main lobby downstairs is not permitted and strictly enforced by security guards at the desk, so that leaves the immediate areas around Ann and Turbot street, as both roads are accessible from the building.

However, the areas just outside the registry are not particularly scenic or attractive and may be in harsh light on Turbot Street, or in complete shade on Ann Street.

The most obvious photogenic location is Roma Street Parklands or the Botanic Gardens downtown, but bear in mind the actual main part of Roma Street parklands is actually some distance from the registry.

The walk to the main area of Roma Street Parklands is about 700m and takes about 10 minutes. That sounds like a short walk, but in hot and humid Brisbane weather, with grandparents or kids in tow, and dressed in formal wear, that is easier said than done!

i do not recommend walking to Roma Street Parklands in summer, but it is quite a pleasant walk in winter and early Spring. There are photo opportunities on the way along the boulevard that overlooks Roma Street Station especially when the bushes are flowering with yellow blooms.

In terms of the most suitable, closest couples portrait location, Roma St Parklands would be what I would recommend as the first option. Another close location by car would be New Farm Park. Finally, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and buildings around QUT are also very popular but have their own pros and cons.

As with all day time outdoor natural light photography, the best light is always about 1-2 hours before sunset, so if possible book your wedding ceremony to finish about 90-120 minutes before sunset if you are planning portrait photos somewhere that day.

There is the Wickham Park and King Edward park which are much closer, but as photography locations they are fairly ordinary, although they do provide many shaded areas which provide nice, predictable light. These are best used if you have very young children in tow and it is not feasible to walk to Roma St Parklands.

The most quirky spot for quick couples portraits is directly across the road at the former Queensland University Dental College steps and entranceway. Whether or not there will be other people around may depend on the time of the day, but for sheer convenience you can't beat this location. Many couples love this spot, but many don’t so it just depends on your taste!

The ‘Abandoned’ Queensland Dental University Building at 168 Turbot Street. Photo by Chris Jack.

The ‘Abandoned’ Queensland Dental University Building at 168 Turbot Street. Photo by Chris Jack.

Anzac Square

Anzac Square and Ann Street can also work for portraits during the day time as well due to the shaded areas. It is never ideal to shoot outdoor photography in the middle of the day, but it can still work there in a pinch. The abundance of office workers and pedestrians does make it challenging though.

Grand Central Hotel Ann Street Near Anzac Square. Photo by Chris Jack.

Grand Central Hotel Ann Street Near Anzac Square. Photo by Chris Jack.

King Edward Park

There are two small parks very close to the registry Wickham Park and King Edward Park. Wickham Park has some tree foliage and wide paths, but King Edward Park has better features for photography.

King Edward Park Entrance (200m from 180 Brisbane)

King Edward Park Entrance (200m from 180 Brisbane)

A good spot for quick couples portraits, near the entrance to King Edward Park 150m from the registry.

A good spot for quick couples portraits, near the entrance to King Edward Park 150m from the registry.

The Old Windmill seems like a good location for portraits, but the height of the structure makes it very hard to frame within a shot unless shot very wide from far away. I would not generally recommend it for portrait photos.

If you don't mind a short walk or can get a lift from your photographer, Roma Street Parklands, New Farm Park or Botanic Gardens are much better options for portraits after a Brisbane Marriage Registry ceremony.

Conclusion

Professional photography at the Brisbane Wedding Registry is not only permitted, it is highly recommended due to the modern interior design and breathtaking views.

If you have a choice on the day, then I would recommend Ceremony Room 2 for the better natural light. If guests are taking photos on their phones or cameras, they will look much better in automatic mode in Ceremony Room 2.

Kids love playing around the windows and getting freaked out by the height, which always make for great photos as well. There are good options for quick portrait photos in the foyer and both of the ceremony rooms, in addition to guest arrival photos, candid photos and limited space (and time) for group photos etc.

Anyone taking photos (amateur or professional) should not have any illusions that the registry will be an easy or predictable place to shoot though (whatever time of the day). Don’t underestimate how challenging professional photography can be at the registry, especially under the very restricted time constraints.

One of the biggest challenges is that you often won’t know which room the ceremony will take place in until seconds before guests are ushered in! That means you may not even have much time to consider the prevailing lighting conditions.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this venue for any marriage ceremony, regardless of your budget or guest numbers (maximum 50 guests). The staff are all very friendly and relaxed, while being professional and well presented, making the entire experience very intimate and enjoyable.

Thankfully, you will quickly forget you are in a government department…

Brisbane Marriage Registry Photos

Photos by Chris Jack

Chris Jack Registry Photography

I have photographed over 20 weddings at the Brisbane Registry since 2017 in both ceremony rooms, and during all lighting and weather conditions. I know the registry, most of the celebrants and the ins and outs of shooting there quite well (although I always learn something new every visit!).

I regularly shoot corporate events during the event and full day weddings on Saturdays, but I am often available during the week to shoot registry weddings (even on short notice).

My Essentials coverage is just what it says, essential and timeless photography of your guests arrival at the registry and candid mingling, the ceremony itself, family group photos in the ceremony room and then squeezing in a few couples portraits in the foyer or ceremony room in the last 10 minutes or so.

There is normally time for about 6 family group photos, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on whether a ceremony is scheduled for directly after in the same room, and whether the ceremony started on time (which they normally do if everyone arrives on time).

I charge $400 for this service, including a 15 minute telephone consultation a few days before to provide advice on the photography and answer any questions you have about the registry.

Essentials ($400) Includes

  • Early arrival (20 minutes before the ceremony starts).

  • All the photography we can squeeze into one hour inside the foyer and ceremony room.

  • Flash lighting and high-end professional Canon equipment (including the best Canon L lenses).

  • Complete redundancy for any equipment failure with 2 X Canon 24-70MM II lenses and 2 X Canon 5D Mark IV camera bodies, backup batteries, flashes and memory cards.

  • 10 highlight photos for social media emailed to you the next day!

  • Balance of the photos (approximately 60+) within 14 days. All photos individually edited in my signature style.

  • Any close up portraits receive extra touch-ups such as spot removal, subtle skin softening and teeth whitening if required.

  • A beautiful hosted online gallery of your photos which you can share with family and friends. There are no restrictions on sharing the photos with guests, so no further photo purchases are required.

  • Digital files at maximum archive quality resolution uploaded to Dropbox once any final edits are locked in (normally about four weeks after the wedding).

  • Your choice of up to 10 photos to be edited in black in white in addition to all the colour photos (on request if desired).

Essentials + 1 Hour Location Portraits ($800) Includes

All the Essentials inclusions above plus couples portraits at Roma Street Parklands!

  • Driving the couple to Roma Street Parklands in my car which I park next door at Secure Parking 179 Turbot Street (or we can all walk together - or you can get dropped off by another guest).

  • A one hour couples portrait session at Roma Street Parklands where we take various posed and candid couples wedding portraits across 4-5 scenes including options such as the lake, waterfall, spectacle garden (flower garden) and the best spots for the current season and prevailing weather.

  • If you wish to include the bridal party, other family members or children that is absolutely fine.

  • Advanced editing of the couples portraits (approximately 20) including spot & blemish touch ups, mild skin softening etc.

  • I will also edit any portraits you would like in Black and White as well on request (in addition to the colour versions).

  • A wet weather rain check option… if the weather is not ideal I am more than happy to shoot the couples portraits on another day for no extra cost. Yes that means doing hair and makeup again, but it is nice to not have to worry about the weather.

  • Please note: I do recommend Roma Street Parklands, however I am happy to discuss other nearby locations such as New Farm Park, Brisbane Botanic Gardens etc.

  • Additional hours at a reception somewhere afterwards are $200 per hour including editing of photos, but in most cases I don’t recommend this unless you have hired a private function room or an entire venue. Please discuss with me if required.

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Contact me below to confirm availability for Brisbane registry photography.

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Photos by Chris Jack

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