emilie inc. 2009 booking trends


Six seasons in, the shocked look on someone's face who has just learned what I do and the demographics of my clientele never gets old.

This happened most recently last week, while lunching with the other entreverge winners (there are five of us total and no, we didn't all bring our electric guitars), a now monthly appointment. In the typical getting-to-know-you early conversation, my fellow entrepreneurs spoke of their customers who are mostly local (or regional at best). Mine? Tho I love them and feel as tho I know them like neighbors, most are married in Maine but live elsewhere. And get this, I usually don't lay eyes on them until their actual wedding day.

Thankfully my virtual studio, aka my website, includes anything and everything an inquiring bride might want to learn about me including a video that showcases my Portland studio, happy clients and me! Seeing and hearing someone is bounds more effective than just reading the usual narrative text or client quote. Add phone calls, emails and regular Twitter and Facebook interactions, and far away couples all feel comfortable booking me and greet like we're old friends with excited hugs on their wedding day.

And while I've known this to be the case- most clients marrying local who are not local- since moving my business to Maine five (gulp! That went by fast!!) years ago, I've never really known how much most is exactly. I ran some numbers and put together some graphs and pie charts to show you. Because, really, who doesn't love pie (Two Fat Cats, for the record and for those of you out-of-towners seeking Portland's best, has my vote for best blueberry this time of year).

In 2009, emilie inc. booked 50 weddings. One was canceled and one was postponed, so that leaves us with 48. Of those couples:

- 83% live out of state, 17% live in Maine.
- 58% married in Maine, 21% in New Hampshire, 15% at destination locations (Mexico, St. John, Costa Rica, etc), 6% in Massachusetts. For those marrying in Maine who do not live here, most grew up vacationing here, perhaps went to college here or some have never been at all and picked it from browsing online!

June and September are typically our busiest months, but this year it was August by a mile!

Forget Goin' to the Chapel, emilie inc. brides are mostly married at one of the many inns that dot our pretty coastline or lakes.

Likewise, inns are our most popular reception venue as well. With so many guests traveling from out of town, having the reception (and/or ceremony) at the same location, with lodging, makes it easy for everyone.

The majority of our weddings have just 50-100 guests. I love the trend of smaller, more intimate celebrations.

Curious who couples booked? I'm very fortunate to have two solid associate photographers I adore and trust in the event I am already booked or to accommodate a range of budgets (we are each priced differently according to our experience).

- Emilie has 25, Whitney has 15 and J has 8. This is a big (and welcome) change for me, as in past years I have photographed as many as 32-38 weddings myself. I'm elated with Whitney's early popularity as 2009 is her first season working with emilie inc. And J, my sweet husband who also keeps a regular Monday- Friday job, took several solo weddings and accompanied me as my second photographer for nearly all of my weddings who hired two shooters. Whitney was often J's second photographer for his weddings. Confused yet? Bottom line, we are b-u-s-y!
- This year we met 49% of our couples for the first time on their wedding day, 26% before they booked with emilie inc., and 25% booked without meeting us but stopped by the studio to say hello while on a planning trip in town just before their big day.

Aside from one website, I do not pay to advertise. Instead, I believe in maintaining strong relationships with quality vendors, venues and viral marketing (including word of mouth, networking, this blog and social media). Below is the breakdown of how clients found emilie inc:

emilie inc.'s perfect pricing™ follows an à la carte model. Couples book their photographer's creative fee, and customize a package according to what they want. Our most popular additions are:

- 92% are purchasing a disc of digital negatives both for safekeeping and sharing their images.
- 56% are electing to hire a second photographer. I love this! One photographer can certainly cover a wedding solo, but with two there is so much more of the day that is captured. More thorough coverage of the groom's preparations and cocktail hour are the biggest perks, as are the different angles during the ceremony and reception. Seeing as I just added this as an option two years ago, I'm thrilled with its growing popularity and hope it is soon the norm.

Pretty interesting, no? I'll definitely be sure to do this again next year!

Roots student testimonials video


Roots Workshop student testimonials 2009 from emilie sommer on Vimeo.

A huge thanks to Roots Workshop photographer Eric Laurits and emilie inc. multimedia producer Morgan Kirkham for putting together this testimonial video from a few of this year's student interviews.

For more information on the workshop, please bookmark www.rootsworkshop.net, our new dedicated blog! If you take a spin over, you'll notice some important dates...

And so, without further ado, please mark your calendars for September 15th at 9a, and pass the word that Roots '10 registration will be open to accept students for next summer! That's right, Roots returns to the Cape July 18-23rd for our third year!! Visit the newly redesigned workshop website for more information and please email me with any questions! Can't wait!

* Emily and Zak


photographers: J and Whitney
ceremony: private residence overlooking Bar Harbor and Frenchman's Bay: Hancock Point, Maine
reception: Crocker House Country Inn Hancock Point, Maine
caterer: Crocker House Country Inn
florist: Newland Florist Ellsworth, Maine
band: Jeff Davison Big Chief Band
gown: Ultimate Bride Chicago
transportation: Ford Model A

Emily's family has been vacationing in Maine from Virginia since 1990. Now living in Chicago, Emily and Zak chose to exchange their I Do's in Hancock Point, the sweet village where her family has a summer camp. Combing elements of their Catholic and Jewish backgrounds, Emily and Zak wrote their own ceremony and exclaimed their giddy love in front of nearly 200 guests.

How they met, in Emily's words:
Zak and I met at a New Year's Eve party in Chicago. I had just moved and only new one person- Mia Clark (from sailing school in Maine)- who happened to go to Kenyon College with Zak in Ohio. She invited me to the party at Zak's house. We were friends for 6 months and then started getting romantic!

On to the photos...
What a sweet scene. The family's Model A, which every woman in the family has used on their wedding day.

Emily and her girls got ready on the front porch of her family's cottage.

Meanwhile, Zak was across town doing the same.

Emily is the oldest of five sisters!


The dance floor was packed all night long!

Preview their fantastic 10x10 flush album design below:

Happy marriage, Emily and Zak! I loved coordinating the logistics of your wedding day for you, and have been hearing the smiles in J and Whitney's voice all week long as they rave about your amazing celebration! Congratulations!!

* Saltwater Farm wedding


photographer: Emilie
accommodations: Saltwater Farm Martinsville, Maine
ceremony: St. George's Chapel Long Cove, Maine
dinner: private residence Tenants Harbor, Maine
caterer: Karen Ruth Trillium Caterers
tent: Sperry Tents
dancing: Ocean View Grange Tenants Harbor, Maine
florist: mom & sisters
band: not a formal band, just a group of guys who like to play together
cake: Trillium Caterersgown: Alice Temperley
make-up: Rheal Day Spa Rockland, Maine
invitations: Starshaped Press

(The description of this wedding has been removed per request of the couple).

Together with their families, they spent the week at Saltwater Farm, appropriately situated on Mosquito Head Road.

How precious is their event map?

This was an all-hands on deck wedding, with everyone pitching in from flowers to hair.

An emotional hello before the ceremony. I cried, too.

The ceremony was held at the smallest, most adorable chapel I've seen in Maine. Their service was taken from a prayer book from the 1700s. Her mom sewed the ring pillow.


Congratulations from their moms.

And another: I was initially attracted to emilie inc from one gorgeous photo in particular: the picture of the bride in a field at Laudholm Farm with her lace veil blowing behind her. That's how I want to feel on my wedding day.

Dinner was under a tent in the field of a friend's house on the water (which, unfortunately, we never saw because of the fog).

Sweet toast emotion. Again, I cried.

After dinner, guests mozied across the street to an old Grange Hall for bluegrass and dancing. It felt as tho we walked back in time and I loved every minute of it.

* Faith and Carl


photographers: Emilie and J
venue: Bar Harbor Inn Bar Harbor, Maine
caterer: Bar Harbor Inn
florist: Queen Anne's Flower Shop Bar Harbor, Maine
cake: Bar Harbor Inn
hair: Bar Harbor Inn Spa
make-up: friend Tracy Kelleher
gown: Chryssie's Bridal Canton, MA
favor: schooner Margaret Todd

Carl found me on Facebook. Sorta. Our mutual friend Pete is a friend of mine from college and a former work colleague of Carl's. Pete befriended me, saw my work, and recommended me to his buddy when he was having trouble securing a photographer. Sweet. Social networking does have its rewards.

How they met, in their own words:
We met primarily through mutual friends, moving in and out of each other's lives for a couple of years before we actually started dating. Oddly enough, the beginnings of a serious relationship started when Carl was living in California and we started instant messaging at work. When he moved back east, our mutual love of music brought us together teaching a drum and bugle corps, Faith teaching dance, Carl teaching drill. The pull was inevitable, and soon enough we faced our first real test as a couple: backpacking across Europe for two and a half months. We'd only been dating about three months when we started our trip, and we knew that it would either make us or break us. Luckily it didn't break us, and the things we experienced and the challenges we faced together ultimately formed the backbone of our relationship. It also initiated a love of travel for both of us, and our passion for other cultures and new places continues to drive us today.

This wedding had more than a few "wedding firsts" for me as a photographer.
- 27 people in the bridal party!
- groomsmen in white tuxes
- all the guests names printed in the ceremony program
- choreographed processional
- sword cake cutting
- surprise wedding favor for guests: sunset schooner cruise

So how did this Massachusetts couple come to host a Friday morning wedding in Maine?

Faith is from Western Mass, in the Berkshire Hills, and mountains have always held a special significance for her. Carl grew up in the Boston area, summering every year on Cape Cod, and the ocean has always inspired him. Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island is a natural combination of these elements; a perfect balance where the mountains meet the sea. So although there is no specific historical or traditional significance here for us (yet), the stunning natural beauty drew us here and this special juxtaposition is what's bringing us back.

On to the photos...

Faith and Carl had the most elaborate schedule ever. This was page 1, a pretty color-coded graph of where folks needed to be. It was absolutely necessary for such a large bridal party to be organized and on time.

Faith and her maids readied in the two-story bridal suite.

A friend set up near the balcony to apply Faith's make-up. The inn is perched on the water's edge but unfortunately the beautiful vista was blanked in fog this day. Thankfully, there was no rain!

As I mentioned, Carl and his men wore white tuxes.

Speaking of his men, here they *all* are, bow ties slack and with a glass of scotch (or apple juice!) pre-ceremony.

Waiting for this highly anticipated processional to start, I was momentarily paralyzed by the absence of Faith's mom, who has passed, and the simple arrangement of blossoms on the chair where she should have been seated (on the other chairs, rocks hold down programs for the rest of Faith's family). :(

Ok. So when I said choreographed procession, I should have said production. Carl, who choreographs college marching bands, impressed their guests with moving music and timed steps for the bridal party. And Carl's entrance? He ran!

Faith and the flower girls, her nieces, await their entrance.

So the diagram on the right details where the bridal party is positioned for the ceremony on the left. The bridesmaids wore green, blue or yellow dresses, which is also noted.

I think I assumed a similar position when I was a flower girl for the first time. :)


I love how attentive grooms are to their bride's dress, as if she's toting around an extra, very fragile, appendage.

Another first. Gawking guests heckled Faith and Carl to take photos on historic stationary canons. They obliged.

Even tho this was a morning wedding, and a daytime "dinner," Faith and Carl included most of the typical wedding day traditions. They had a first dance...

A father daughter dance...

And a sword cake cutting?! A gift from the four best men, Carl and Faith decided to put their new token to use. Their cake flavor was carrot, with Maine blueberries and cream cheese frosting. Yum!!

And they surprised their guests with an experience in lieu of favors. They continued the celebrating on board the Margaret Todd, a stunning 4-masted schooner, for a "sunset" cruise. Tho there was no sun and instead a lot of fog and mist, guests were thrilled with the opportunity. Some changed into more comfortable clothing and then all hopped aboard.

Deckhands used guests to help raise the sails.

With more than 200 weddings under my belt, I still adore watching grooms play with their new hardware.

Take a peek at their 10x10 flush album design below:

Carl and Faith, it was wonderful to work with you and an extra-special treat to reconnect with our friend Pete after not having seen him in almost 10 years! Thank you for welcoming us so warmly at your fun wedding! And thank you, thank you for the surprise gift certificate to one of our favorite eateries, Fore Street!
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