Ocean Gateway

Anne & Derek's Wedding at Portland's Ocean Gateway

Anne & Derek's Wedding at Portland's Ocean Gateway

When Anne & Derek reached out to me in early December, the snow covering the ground and April seemed like a distant thought. Before we knew it though, the snow was melting, the grass was starting to look a little less grim, and the days were getting a bit longer. The chill of winter was hanging on by a thread as I arrived at the Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Downtown/Waterfront to meet Anne & Derek on their wedding day. Yet they were troopers as we made our way to Portland's Fort Allen Park for their first look next to the Fore River. The chill in the air made for good cuddling weather as they spent some moments together taking it all in.

Read More

Jordan & Colin's Ocean Gateway Wedding in Portland, Maine

Jordan & Colin's Ocean Gateway Wedding in Portland, Maine

Full disclosure. I delivered Jordan & Colin's full gallery to them weeks ago at this point from their November 12th wedding have not yet posted their full sneak peek. I hope you'll forgive me, but I was focusing on having the images wrapped up well before the holidays. ;-)

I have been emailing back and forth with Jordan since she first contacted me back in August of 2015. So, when we first got together in person in October, it was certainly like meeting up with an old friend to catch up. Easy to get along with would be an understatement!

Read More

Katie & TJ's Ocean Gateway Wedding in Portland, Maine

Katie & TJ's Ocean Gateway Wedding in Portland, Maine

This post has been waiting in the wings ever so patiently since Katie & TJ's perfect summer wedding last weekend. Truthfully, I have been looking forward to it for just about a year since I first met Katie & TJ over a brew at Some Brewing in York. A couple who travels to Maine on a week day to chat about their wedding over a beer... well, it's obvious why I've been so excited!

Read More

Katie & TJ's Engagement Session in the Old Port of Portland, Maine

Where has the past year gone?

That is pretty much my reaction when my couples' wedding days come a year after they first contacted me. For Katie & TJ, that is certainly the case. We spent a few weeks conversing over email before finally meeting face to face last August at SoMe Brewing Co. in York, Maine. Shortly thereafter, they made my day by telling me that Alan and I were their pick for their wedding photographers. Yipee!

Fast forward to this past weekend after several rescheduled engagement session dates thanks to poor weather conditions. And, thankfully, Mother Nature kept the curve ball to herself this time and gave us awesome conditions for wandering around the Old Port in Portland, Maine, together while catching up on all of the awesome things they have planned for their wedding in the city later this month. I'd like to think that I had a hand in the weather working out since I opted to wear my big rain boots just in case of rain and wound up only needing them for my puddle hoping.

I think what stands out to me the most about Katie & TJ is simply their ability to make each other laugh and smile. A lot! Sometimes it was all I could do to keep my camera up while chuckling at their antics. Hearing about their secret plans for their wedding at the end of the month also made me even more excited for their big day (as if that was really possible in the first place).

Katie & TJ, we are so excited to see you both again in just a few short weeks! Enjoy every minute leading up to the big day. We'll see you soon!

Jacqueline's Unique Broach Bridal Bouquet

Last week I got the call the kind of call that I wait for. The sister of one of my past bride's is getting married! I absolutely love photographing weddings for the friends and family of my couples since it is like a family reunion for me. And (hint, hint!) it's an easy way to convince me to cancel my planned weekend off!

When I sat down to check my calendar, I was absolutely shocked to see that it has been almost 3 years since Jacqueline & Josh's wedding at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Ocean Gateway in Portland. Thinking back to that day, there are so many moments that flash through my mind. Jacqueline getting ready with her sisters & friends, the emotions that flooded through everyone at their ceremony, exploring the Old Port with their bridal party, and the love that filled the Ocean Gateway as they celebrated their union.

One details that stands out to me to this day is the fabulous broach bouquet that Jacqueline spent so long creating for her wedding day. Each broach was carefully selected to compliment the purple worn by her bridesmaids along with gold, pearls, yellow, and white accents. It was deceptively heavy and gave her more of an arm workout than you would think. After photographing well over 100 weddings, it remains the most unique bouquets that I have ever photographed and, as such, it is certainly one of my favorites.

Lauren & Jon's 2013 New Year's Eve Wedding in Portland, Maine

After two years of ringing in the New Year with amazing couples tying the knot, Alan and I have a low key evening ahead of us as we mark the close of 2015 and the start of 2016. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't miss the excitement we've had this day the past two years! So, with that in mind, I wanted to take a moment to look back at the past two New Year's Eve weddings that Alan & I were fortunate enough to capture.

The tradition started back on December 31, 2013 with Lauren & Jon as they got hitched at the First Parish Church in Portland, Maine before their rocking party to ring in the New Year at one of our favorite venue, Portland's Ocean Gateway. Looking back through their gallery brought the day back in a rush. From Lauren getting ready with her ladies at the Residence Inn while wearing monogrammed oxford shirts. To the absolutely freezing temperatures that they were hit with when they left the hotel to head to the Church. And Lauren & Jon's beaming smiles when they looked at each other. Oh, and then there was the fire alarm shortly before midnight. Yup. A fire alarm. And that meant bonding time with their friends and family as they all huddled in the cold to stay warm as the building was cleared by Portland's Fire Department.

With the champagne flowing, the clock counting down, and Phish tribute band Pardon Me, Doug rocking it out, Lauren & Jon certainly started off their marriage on one epic high note! Thank you for including us way back at the beginning, Luaren & Jon! We hope your second anniversary is fill with lots of love & laughter. And no fire trucks.

Reflecting, Looking Forward & Changes Coming Soon

Hi, Everyone!

With my 2014 wedding season just over a week away, I wanted to take a moment to reflect a bit, look forward a lot, and to let everyone know about some changes coming on May 1st to Suzanne Simmons Photography.

As I look back on where I have come since my first, faithful couple in August of 2008, I was shocked that anyone would hire me never mind that I'd find more couples to follow their lead. Since then, I've been very fortunate to work with a wide range of couples and capture weddings from as small as five people on a beach to 200 plus people in a ballroom to a double wedding at a tree farm to a same sex wedding on the coast of New Hampshire. Somehow I had 24 couples trust me my very first year in business and I haven't stopped since. I. Am. Lucky. I get to do what I love and capture people on what will be one of the happiest days of their life.

Personally, these past years have meant a lot of changes for me, too. Back when I first started, my husband and I had just celebrated our first anniversary. Wedding planning was still in my veins. We were thinking of adopting a dog, but kids weren't a thought yet. We had the home we built while planning our wedding. Our life, even then, was pretty darn awesome. Fast forward five plus years. Since then we adopted Digby from Arkansas,  I earned my Masters in Education (while starting a business, mind you, is just plain crazy), we went to Switzerland and the Caribbean, and, most notably, we had our daughter. I think the couples who handled me the summer of 2012 earn the silver medal from me (right behind those trusting 24 couples) for enabling me to juggle my life as a new mom and maintain my business. They rocked my world and made life not as crazy as it could have been. So thank you.

This coming season has a lot in store for me as well. The biggest news is that one of my couples will be my 100th wedding that I've ever photographed. Seriously. ONE HUNDRED! I'm pretty darn shocked that my first wedding all those years ago has brought me this far. And I have a lot of really amazing weddings and venues to be looking forward to:

  • Poland Spring Resort is also on the docket, which is where Gene & Sherri got married back in 2009 (yay first season trusting couples!).
  • The Italian Heritage Center in Portland, Maine, where Angela & Ron and Sarah & Peter held their receptions, both in 2010.
  • The absolutely gorgeous Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, is home to the wedding of the sister of my 2011 brides. I'm super excited to finally shoot at the Estate!
  • I have two couples getting married at private residences this year. One with a huge, red barn here in Maine and one at a lakeside family home in New Hampshire. Both brides have sisters who have also been my brides, so I'm looking forward to the family reunion of seeing everyone again!
  • The Ocean Gateway in Portland, Maine, is one of my favorite and most popular venues and I'm looking forward to shooting there again this summer.
  • I will also be photographing a wedding at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, Maine, which is so centrally located to the awesomeness of the Old Port. Better yet, the bride & groom are good friends with one of my 2012 couples. Yipee!
  • To relax a bit and have fun, I'll be capturing a wedding at a campground in Old Orchard with the brother of one of my 2013 bride's as one of the grooms. Another family reunion that I'm super excited for! YAHOO!
  • And I'll finally be shooting at the Irish Heritage Center before a rocking reception at the Portland Club, which was home to Lindsey & Jay and Hilarie & Joe's 2009 receptions and Rebecca & Tom's 2010 reception as well.

Phew! There is just so much awesome to come this year that it is no wonder I'm so excited for it all.

That leads me to my last piece for this lengthy novel of a blog post. As of May 1st, I will be releasing my brand new services & pricing information. I've grown a lot in the past five plus years and so many of you have been faithful to me since the beginning. If you are planning to book a portrait session during one of my few remaining slots for 2014, please contact me as soon as possible so you can lock in! My new services & pricing guide is designed to help Suzanne Simmons Photography thrive even more over the coming years and better meet the ever changing needs of my clients. I am super excited to see what the future holds for me, my family, and my business and I am so thankful for all of your support.

If you or someone you know is looking for portraits in 2014 or are planning to get married in 2015, please contact me as soon as possible. And be on the lookout for my new services & pricing information on May 1st!

xoxo,
Susie

Happy Spring! Bring on the flowers![/caption]

Lauren & Jon :: New Year's Eve Wedding at Ocean Gateway in Portland, Maine

Sometimes, when a couple contacts me about their wedding, I have to dig real deep to not jump up and down screaming "PICK ME!" like a crazy stalker. That's pretty much what happened when Lauren contacted me (on my birthday) back in February about her New Year's Eve wedding with Jon. Seriously. I could barely contain myself. The idea of ringing in the New Year at one of my all time favorite venues, Portland's Ocean Gateway, with such an awesome couple was more than a little exciting to me. By Valentine's Day, they made my wish come true and I was booked for their wedding. THANK YOU! I was so excited. Then we met up in the Old Port in September for their engagement session and I was jazzed up once again simply because Lauren & Jon are two of the most caring, loving, thoughtful people that I have ever met. Add in the fact that they are just so cute together? Yup. They make my "job" easy and so hard to call it that. I was instantly excited just to see them get married not to mention all of the other awesomeness.

December 31st finally came and my husband and I geared up and headed to the Residence Inn in the Old Port for Lauren getting ready with her fab ladies. The temperatures? Yeah...single digits at best. I bought a long down coat from LLBean just so I wouldn't freeze (and to warm Lauren up should she need it). Suffice to say, it was chilly. Lauren and all of her gal pals were just putting on the finishing touches while wearing their super cute monogrammed dress shirts when we arrived at their suite. Then I saw Lauren's gorgeous gown from Andrea's Bridal and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. It was stunning! Add the fur wrap and the muff... oh my goodness. I knew Jon was just going to die when he saw her.

2014-01-02_0005

The ceremony itself was held at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland. I love shooting weddings there because of the amazing wrap balcony, which makes it perfect for a wide variety of shooting angles. My second shooter (otherwise known as my best friend and husband), Alan, covered the balcony during the ceremony. I dare say some of his shots are my favorite ceremony shots from the entire year (and a big reason why I waited to compile my 2013 posts). The ceremony itself was performed by Reverend Ronald Franklyn, who is a family friend of the groom's. I absolutely love it when the ceremony is performed by someone that has known the couple for a while. His sermon was heartfelt and moving and detailed the progression of Jon & Lauren coming to that moment. I had to choke back the tears as we heard of how their families had come together and the positive changes that they had brought to each other. Their love is really the kind of love that you read about. Heartfelt. Pure. Meant to be.

Given the frigged temperatures outside, we decided to make short work of their formal portraits at the church and then head to the Ocean Gateway to get their party started!

2014-01-02_0006

In true "party of the year" style, Lauren & Jon brought in their good friends of Pardon Me, Doug to perform at their rocking party reception. And boy did their friends keep the dance floor rocking all night long! From the props they brought in for the photobooth to the delicious platters that were generously refilled by Bread and Butter Catering all night long to the signature drinks at the bar... it was one heck of a way to end 2013 and ring in 2014 in style. The toasts given by the best man (who happened to be Lauren's brother and the reason the lovebirds met in the first place), Lauren's maid of honor (who knew she HAD to be friends with Lauren when she first saw her on the other side of the cafeteria at college), and the speeches given by the fathers (Lauren's dad actually performed a song with the band for the newlyweds while Jon's dad made everyone cry) were some of the most memorable of all time. It was all too obvious to everyone how special this night was for everyone, not just for Lauren & Jon. They were just so incredibly awesome.

2014-01-02_0007

As midnight approach, the champagne was poured and the 2014 glasses, hats, and masks were brought out in full force. This was what they had been planning for all year. Everyone's' eyes turned to the countdown clock as the seconds ticked by. With his arm around his wife, Jon's excitement was contagious. Lauren was beaming and glowing. Their crowd of family and friends was pulsing behind them in jubilation. 3...2...1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2014-01-02_0008

And what a New Year it was. Cheers erupted everywhere. The entire dance floor was like a giant mistletoe was hanging over it. You could feel the love. See the love. This was what the newlyweds wanted: "a pretty rad New Year's eve wedding". And boy did they deliver. Alan and I both agree that we've never had such an awesome New Year's before. It was such an awesome night!

Congratulations, Lauren & Jon, and thank you so much for inviting both of us to be there for your rad wedding. It was such a complete honor. You are both fantastic people and together you will go so far. Give lots of hugs, kisses, and treats to your furry baby, Sadie, for us.

This is just a sneak peek at the almost 900 photos that will be coming their way shortly. You'll be able to see them all in their event on my website as soon as they are ready. In the meantime, you can see them all over on my Facebook page as well (be sure to tag, share, and hit the "like" button on my page)!

Date: December 31, 2013  |  Getting Ready Location:Residence Inn Downtown Portland in Portland, Maine  |  Ceremony Location:First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, Maine  |  Reception Location:Ocean Gateway in Portland, Maine  |  Bridal Boutique:Andrea's Bridal in Portland, Maine  |  Groom's Attire:Men's Wearhouse  |  Caterer:Bread and Butter Company  |  Cake Artist: Jessica Ennis  |  Ceremony Music: Dan Moore  |  Hair Stylist: Friend of the Bride  |  Band:Pardon Me, Doug  |  Officiant:Reverend Ronald M. Franklyn  |  Stationary:Wharf Industries Printing, Inc.  |  Rentals:A Plus Party Rentals  | Transportation:Custom Coach and Limousine

Jacqueline & Josh :: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Wedding & Ocean Gateway Reception in Portland, Maine

Every year there is a date that is just so incredibly popular that it feels like everyone that contacts me is looking for the same one. This year, it was July 13th. I had seven(!!) couples contact me. I always give the first couple to contact me the opportunity to book me first and, fortunately for Jacqueline & Josh, that meant them! They first got in touch with me just over a year prior as they were planning their wedding from "away". I met Jacqueline and her mom and sister to chat about their shared vision for the day and how I could help them capture it all. Knowing that they had chosen by all time favorite church (The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception) and one of my top wedding venues (the waterfront Ocean Gateway), I was secretively praying that they would like me, I mean REALLY like me, and book me for the big day. My wishes came true in August when they made it official!

Fast forward to last weekend. Normally you think of July. In Maine. And those of us "locals" envision it being so hot that we spend every second we can in a lake or the ocean. But not July 13th. It was the most picturesque wedding day I think I have ever had. There were high, puffy white clouds in the sky to diffuse the sun just enough to not have harsh shadows. There was a cooling ocean breeze in downtown Portland. It was perfect.

Jacqueline got ready at her mother's condo on the north side of Portland with all of her lovely ladies. I had been anxiously waiting to see her dress for the past year since I heard she had made the trip to NYC's Kleinfelds. It did not disappoint! I loved the lace, the corset back, and the fact that it wasn't strapless. (If I had to do my wedding over, I'd seriously reconsider my choice of strapless.) It was gorgeous! And her ladies were dressed in perfect, short purple dresses each chosen to match their own taste and style. Love it! (I'm sorry to my ladies for not doing the same.) To add the cherry on top, Jacqueline made her own broach bouquet, which is definitely my all time favorite at this point. It was incredible and definitely worth all the time I know she put in to it. Once the ladies were all dressed and the details had been finished, it was off to the Cathedral for the formal Catholic Mass wedding ceremony, which was made extra special since Jacqueline's Great Uncle performed it. I love when family is so involved in the big day!

After doing the formal portraits in the Cathedral, we all loaded on to the party bus and cruised around the Old Port while taking more portraits of their newlyweds with their bridal party. Jacqueline & Josh made sure to schedule plenty of time for their portraits and allotted me almost two hours! That certainly was a record in my books and was SO amazing! We got tons of pictures of them with their friends but, more importantly, some of my all time favorite portraits of just the two of them. Seriously, it was awesome! They planned for their reception to start a bit after the ceremony to give their guests time to enjoy the Old Port a bit before partying and it worked out so well. Brides & Grooms, take note! If you want tons of awesome portraits, make sure you give yourself time in your day to make it happen.

Following our trip around Portland, it was time to get the party started at the Ocean Gateway! The toasts by Jacqueline's sister and Josh's brother were funny and heartfelt (with a few tears shed for good measure). The Ohio clan rocked it out early screaming O-H-I-O at the top of their lungs during their theme song (it was hilarious)! Jacqueline & Josh's siblings swarmed the dance floor all night and definitely kept the party going for a long time. Lake Region Caterers made sure everyone had the delicious fuel they needed to keep dancing. They always do such a great job!

Jacqueline & Josh, I hope that you are both enjoying your honeymoon in wine country on the West Coast! Thank you so much for letting me play a roll in your perfect day. It was such an honor. Congratulations!

Here is a sneak peek of Jacqueline & Josh's photos from the day. For more, be sure to head over to my Facebook page (and hit the "like" button while you are there). And, within the next couple days, you'll find their complete gallery of photos from the day posted on my website. There are a TON more photos to come and you definitely will not want to miss them.

Jacqueline & Josh's Wedding: Getting Ready
Jacqueline & Josh's Wedding Ceremony
Jacqueline & Josh's Formal Wedding Portraits in Portland's Old Port and East End Beach
Jacqueline & Josh's Wedding Reception Formalities
Jacqueline & Josh's Ocean Gateway Wedding Reception Party
Jacqueline's DIY broach bouquet, Jacqueline & Josh's rings, and a nighttime view of Portland's Ocean Gateway

Date: July 13, 2013  |  Caterer:Lakes Region Caterers  |  Cake Artist:Two Fat Cats  |  Ceremony Music: Organist from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception  |  DJ Services:MRK Entertainment  |  Officiant: Jacqueline's Great Uncle Alfred Jacques  |  Invitations:Cotton Ink Invites  |  Rentals:A Plus Party Rentals  |  Transportation:Mainelimo  |  Bridal Boutique:Kleinfeld Bridal  |  Ceremony Location:Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine  |  Reception Venue:Ocean Gateway in Portland, Maine

Catherine & Dan :: Wedding Ceremony & Reception at Portland's Ocean Gateway

I first met Catherine & Dan over a head in advance of their June 2013 wedding over a cup of coffee at my beloved Panera Bread. What struck me first was how genuine they both were and how they really seemed to be a matched set. Their demeanor complimented each other perfectly and I left really hoping that they would chose me to capture their wedding. Fortunately for me, it didn't take them long at all to make it official. Yipee!

Fast forward to this past weekend and all of their hard work and planning came to fruition at the Ocean Gateway in Portland, Maine, a gorgeous venue right on the ocean with an absolutely amazing view of both city and sea. Catherine started the day by getting ready with her lovely ladies at the nearby Residence Inn. They had a great room with tons of space for them all to hang out together and put on the finishing touches. We used the courtyard at the Inn for photos of Catherine & her family and ladies prior to the ceremony, which certainly made the timeline for the day go a lot smoother.

Once it was go time, we all headed over to the Ocean Gateway for their ceremony in the Moon Tide Garden, an absolutely gorgeous spot to start the next chapter of their lives together. The sun was glistening off the way, everyone was beaming huge smiles, and love was in the air. Even when Dan stumbled with his vows, partially due to nerves and partially due to the emotions of the day, we all could tell that he just deeply loved his almost wife. You could feel it.

After the celebratory champagne toasts alongside the ocean and the family photos had been taken, we scurried off to the Eastern Prom with the bridal party for some fun shots of them all together. The bridesmaids requested a jumping shot and I soon found out why. Those girls got game! They blame it on years of cheering and I say it paid off. Once the bridal party departed, Catherine & Dan and I wandered to the other side of the prom for photos of Back Bay and the city for some more variety. And then it was time to party!

Upon our arrival at the Ocean Gateway, the party started up super fast thanks to a notable toast from the Best Man that featured Dan's "Coke" from a party he attended years ago. It sure got lots of laughs! It counterbalanced the tears from Catherine's sisters' toast quite nicely. After a delicious buffet from Lake Region Caterers, it was time to fill the dance floor with tunes played by Don Corman and dance the night away with the sparkling city skyline as the backdrop to the ending of their perfect day.

I am SO lucky to have been there to capture Catherine & Dan's day for them and am so excited that I'll get to see them again as their friends tie the knot later this year. Thank you for letting me play a role, Catherine & Dan. I hope that you are both enjoying summer and the newlywed glow that you are now basking in.

Here is a sneak peek from what I captured during the big day. You can see even more of their sneak peek over on my Facebook page (make sure you hit "like" while you are there!). AND... you can find all of their images from the day in their gallery on my website already and order prints of your favorite shots. You will need a password from the Bride & Groom to see them all though, so hopefully you are on their "cool kids" list!

Date: June 15, 2103  |  Caterer:Lake Region Caterers  |  Cake Artist:Love Cupcakes  |  Ceremony Music: Michael Ladd  |  Event Coordinator: City of Portland  |  Florist:Sam's Club  |  Hair Stylist:Voila  |  DJ Service:Don Corman  |  Officiant: Family Friend  |  Paper Goods:Wedding Paper Divas  |  Rentals:One Stop Party Shop  |  Transportation:Enterprise Rent-A-Car  |  Bridal Boutique:Andrea's Bridal  |  Ceremony & Reception Venue:Ocean Gateway  |  Bridal Getting Ready Location:Residence Inn Portland Downtown

Nicole & J Wesley: MARRIED!

On April 24, 2010, I was honored to capture the absolutely gorgeous marriage of Nicole & J Wesley who traveled to Nicole's home state of Florida to tie the knot in Portland, Maine. Unlike the weather we had this month a year ago, the day was stunningly perfect and just the right temperature.

The ceremony was conducted by the bride's cousin and was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. The Cathedral was so amazing! Everything about the ceremony definitely reflected Nicole & J Wesley's deep love for each other.


In traditional Navy fashion, the newly hitched Nicole & J Wesley had to pass through the sword arch to make it official.


After the ceremony, we went out to the Eastern Prom on Munjoy Hill to take in the gorgeous view.


The reception was held at the Ocean Gateway, right on the waterfront in the Old Port. The entire day went off without a hitch. Even the fire alarm couldn't stop the newlyweds from enjoying every minute of it. We took advantage of it!


Nicole's rings were absolutely stunning, but it wasn't until I learned of the story of the two previous generations that it had blessed that it took my breath away. J Wesley's grandmother and mother both were married with the same engagement ring!


Congratulations to Nicole & J Wesley and thank you so much for letting me be a part of your incredible day. You are such a fun couple and it was very obvious how much you are meant to be together.

For more sneak peek photos of the day, check out my Facebook page!