Essex Conference Center & Retreat

Essex , MA


One Conomo Point Road
Essex, MA US 01929 (map)




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Outdoor Wedding Venue in Cape Ann A Wedding Destination Surrounded by Natural Beauty
Located on a quiet road that winds its way to Essex Bay, the Essex Conference Center & Retreat... Read more
Outdoor Wedding Venue in Cape Ann A Wedding Destination Surrounded by Natural Beauty
Located on a quiet road that winds its way to Essex Bay, the Essex Conference Center & Retreat offers a destination with natural beauty and rustic charm. Exchange vows surrounded by our beautiful gardens and koi pond, then celebrate into the evening under our lighted reception tent, tucked amidst tall pines and oak.

Weddings at the Center are as unique as the couples hosting their special day. We encourage you to define your own style and give you the freedom to create a celebration that is truly your own.

Your Wedding Reception will feature delicious appetizers and a sumptuous meal, all perfectly prepared by our Executive Chef and culinary team. We look forward to welcoming you and your guests to our venue for a day or weekend.
Unique Wedding Packages
Our wedding packages are designed for your convenience and are a wonderful starting point to plan your special day, however we welcome you to create your own unique event. Whether you are planning a traditional wedding reception, nature inspired event, green wedding or casual BBQ complete with volleyball we will work with you to create your personal celebration.
Nature’s Paradise Destination Wedding
Welcome your family and friends to gather for the weekend and create memories that will last a lifetime. Surround yourself with the natural beauty of Cape Ann for a weekend. Exclusive use of the Center from 4:00pm Friday until 11:00am Sunday. Garden Wedding Package
Say "I Do" in the garden and dance into the evening, then awake to a hearty breakfast with your guests. You, your family and friends can call the Center home for the evening. Exclusivity of the Center from 1:00pm until 11:00am the following day. Sunday Wedding Special
When a 4 hour wedding reception just isn't enough, spend a full day celebrating your love at the Center. Enjoy the Center and beautiful gardens with your guests for a full day. Use of the Center from 12:00pm until 11:00pm on Sunday.
Most of our wedding packages include:
Overnight guest rooms for up to 45 guests Use of the Center and our beautiful 18 acres Experienced professional wedding planner Pre-wedding tasting of chosen dinner entrees and salad Friendly, personable fuction staff to cater to your guests needs Helpful parking attendants for the afternoon of your reception Use of the gardens, lawns or trails for your Ceremony 40 x 60, lighted reception tent Tables, white chairs and a linen credit at our selected vendor Cutting of your cake is always a complimentary service Options to host your rehearsal dinner or other on-site events Read less
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We absolutely loved the setting of the ECCR and everyone we met who works there. The ECCR is a very different and nontraditional location to have a wedding, but it was absolutely perfect for us. A small, quiet, intimate location in a wooded area near Gloucester. Not to mention the price was pennies compared to every similar venue we found in the area!

Not only was everything in excellent condition, from the landscaping to the tent and fire pit, but the setup up was very well thought out.
Chef David is phenomenal to work with (super easy going and flexible), and an extremely talented chef. We have been to a lot of weddings where the food all seems the same, or the actual food is nothing like the tasting/sampling, and this was NOT that wedding. The ECCR's kitchen staff impressed us immensely and all of our guests. They accommodated several different types of food and allergy concerns, as well as children of all sizes.
Everyone was such a pleasure to work with. We never felt any pressure, they were completely flexible with every little request and question, and explained everything to us up front so there were no surprises later on. They were very responsive to ALL my emails (which was a lot...!).

I can't say enough great things about the staff at the ECCR. We absolutely loved everything about our wedding, and would do it all over again if we got another beautiful day like we did at the ECCR.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
This place is amazing. I'm so glad we did our wedding here. Its a great value considering that you have the place for you and your guests for an entire weekend. The ceremony spot is picture perfect. Everything is so green and vibrant. I actually felt really calm and peaceful during the ceremony because the scenery was so beautiful and calming. The food is simple but soooo good, everything down to the spinach salad. All of our guests asked how we found the place. Its just such a special unique spot. Everyone we worked with was extremely nice and friendly. They sometimes were a little slow in responding to emails but the event coordinator even gave me her cellphone number so anything I really needed I could have gotten. And the site is filled with sculptures done by the owner which adds to the uniqueness of the site. And the firepit! My only suggestion would be make sure you have friends/family members to decorate the tent for you because with manicures/hair appointments etc. I totally ran out of time. And maybe a fan in the tent would be nice, it got really hot on the dance floor. The photos from the event though are so amazing and colorful and green, I would highly recommend this site.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
This was a fantastic, inspirational site for our outdoor, pagan-themed ceremony.

The many sculptural installations on the property lend an atmosphere of magic, whimsy, and caring. Old-growth trees abound on all sides. The property is conservation land. Environmentally-friendly insect repellants and landscaping techniques are used. A couple that cares about coexistence with the natural world will find a lot to like here.

The staff was professional and dedicated. The minimum guest count and projected costs were laid out clearly up front. We felt well-informed and cared-for throughout the process. The one point of occasional difficulty was email and phone communication with the event coordinators -- several times it took a few "did you receive this?" messages before we got a reply. However those mini-breakdowns were overcome and the event unfolded without a hitch.

Chef David is a master of his craft and loves working with couples to create yummy meals and themed food displays. The best way to make use of his skills is to give him a few key concepts and let him run with it. Be sure to take advantage of the tasting!

The waitstaff were stealthy and graceful. Everything flowed smoothly and nothing was interrupted.

The site's offerings enabled us to offer guests the ability to spend the night and have breakfast with us the next morning. The overnighters got to hang out at a campfire installation onsite (demarked by beautiful stacked-wood wall) and enjoy a large hot tub and sauna.

We are immensely grateful to ECCR for the sacred site they've created and their dedication to celebrations of love.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
We had the most amazing wedding at ECCR. We found it to be the perfect wedding venue for what we wanted. The outdoor ceremony was gorgeous surrounded by trees, flowers & a pond with a small water fall. The tented reception was perfect and allowed for guests to be both inside and out. To us, the most wonderful part was being able to have 45 of our guests stay onsite for the weekend which meant the fun & memories lasted from Friday at 4p until Sunday at 11a. The accommodations are very "lodge-like" (definitely not a 5-star hotel) but we prepared out friends ahead of time and everyone enjoyed staying there very much. The food (both the reception food and the breakfast each morning) was delicious, we got a lot of compliments on that. The staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating to anything we wanted to do. My only compliant was that during the planning process it almost always took a follow up call or email to get a response to a question I had. That being said, the day of the wedding they were incredibly responsive and made sure everything went off with out a hitch!
Services Used: Wedding Venue
This is a gorgeous outdoor location about an hour north of Boston. They allow for an entire weekend with on site lodging for a reasonable cost.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
We wanted a venue that would allow us to gather all our friends together for a whole weekend rather than just have a few hours to try to see everyone we loved. The ECCR fit the bill! The accommodations are certainly rustic but as long as you know that going into it I doubt you'll find anything to complain about. Just make sure you prepare your guests for shared bathrooms, twin beds, etc.

The staff at ECCR are friendly, laid back and helpful. We had a few issues with disorganization (they mixed up some of the bills for the rehearsal dinner with the wedding and stood my mother-in-law up for an appointment) but didn't have any communication issues like some of the other reviews mentioned. They were very graceful about having multiple cooks in the kitchen (bride, MOB, SMOB, MOG, wedding planner, oh my!) and never appeared to be overwhelmed or frustrated at the multiple email chains that seemed to always be going on. (Although I'm certain it WAS frustrating!)

We felt the price was very fair for what we got.

In general I would recommend ECCR to any couple who wants a low key yet lovely venue and doesn't mind roughing it a little!
Services Used: Wedding Venue
The Essex Conference Center and Retreat (ECCR) is an absolutely gorgeous wedding venue. At first we thought we wanted an oceanside venue, and I was sure we wouldn’t like ECCR, but once we visited, saw the grounds (even though we originally saw them in winter!), and met the staff, we fell in love. Our ceremony took place on a peninsula next to a beautiful small pond. The reception was in a great tent with a carpeted floor. We also made use of the amazing fire pit for s’mores and stayed in the beautiful honeymoon suite (and were able to relax in the hot tub on the morning of the wedding). Susan McHenry and Chef David were delights to work with, and very accommodating to our needs, even near the last minute. The food was delicious, and we were able to save money by bringing in our own alcohol. We only have a few complaints: the wedding coordinator was difficult to contact and somewhat of a flake when it came to following through on our requests; most of our cake was not cut and served to the guests, which was disappointing since we had two flavors of cake and not everyone got their choice; and they tried to get our DJ to lower the music before the times we had discussed when we booked the venue, which was an unexpected difficulty during the reception. Other than those minor complaints, we enjoyed working with the ECCR staff and received many compliments on the beautiful, woodsy, outdoor setting.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
2+ years ago
So much love for Essex. We couldn't have asked for a better venue. Being out of state they were definitely hard to get a hold of to iron out details, and I had to make requests multiple times. However the day of was flawless with their attentiveness and level of service. They take great pride in hosting warm and wonderful events. The staff are like family and it shows. If you want a gorgeous location for an entire weekend to enjoy with your loved ones that is truly magical, then you've come to the right place. It's an amazing value for what you get - worlds beyond your standard wedding venues. They were also really responsive and flexible when we had to change the date of the wedding - we felt so lucky! Love love love.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
The grounds are beautiful and the food is delicious. It is a rustic location so iuf you are thinking of and upscale formal wedding this location is not for you. We rented the entire location from Friday through Sunday for our casual wedding. While everyone is super nice and things worked out great the whole weekend I did end up frustrated at several points throughout the planning process.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
Essex Conference Center & Retreat responded with the following comments:

The Center is set on 16 wooded acres and the focus is on nature, the beauty of our surroundings and of course, our excellent food and service. Couples choose the Center for their wedding because it provides a comfortable and relaxed place to bring together your family and friends. We encourage all prospective couples to visit for a tour to ensure it is the best fit for their wedding celebration. We appreciate your input regarding the planning of your wedding details. We continue to enhance the planning process to insure the upmost satisfaction. Thank you for your input.
The actual venue, food, and weekend wedding package are an excellent value for the price. During my wedding weekend the staff was responsive, considerate and everything went very smoothly. Day of was wonderful.

My biggest complaint were the many weeks leading up to the wedding and the difficulty in getting in touch with not only the wedding event coordinator, but ANYONE. These people are only working some days, some hours and I found it extremely difficult to get time sensitive responses. I would call and literally choose, one by one, every single available extension just to find a warm body, but without any luck. I would also double check EVERYTHING. There were a couple room booking issues, and their flexibility was not always great. However, for the price and sheer beauty of the location - it was worth it in the end. Just be sure to go into it knowing that communication may be a hurdle (even my wedding planner would get frustrated) - and allow plenty of time for getting the info you need.
Services Used: Catering, Wedding Venue
i really have mixed feelings about this place. probably the best person to talk to about this place and to work with was Chef David he did everything i asked and was very flexible when it came to what i wanted cook and was very easy to get in touch with. but when it came to the bill they weren't very understanding when i said literally hundreds of dollars worth of guests weren't coming. i had a whole table not come but it didn't come off my bill. there was also some service cost that wasn't clearly stated until the pill and was a lot of extra money i wasn't planning on paying for. for the cost they did all the tables and everything. chef David was very flexible when it came to not having a bartender and just having bottles of wine on the table. it was very complicated to have to get a permit for a bartender. i don't know if this was chef david's fault or who's it was but my seating chart wasn't opened until a few hours before they were going to serve the food so therefore they had to go around and ask what people wanted which wasn't very professional and didn't look very good on my part.
Services Used: Wedding Venue
Essex Conference Center & Retreat responded with the following comments:

Thank you for your feedback regarding the excellent service provided by our chef. Chef David is a true asset to our Center. As for your concerns regarding our billing, ECCR requires (as most venues do) a guarantee of the number of guests in advance for a Wedding Reception. Last minute cancellations of guests are charged only once after the guaranteed number is given by the couple. We always project the final cost in advance to avoid confusion.

The bartending service is hired to satisfy the Liquor Liability Insurance as well as to ensure excellent service for your guests. Coordination of seating and entrees is always given the utmost attention and is paramount to the success of the reception. We appreciate your honest feedback and understand that you had some concerns which our Wedding Coordinator satisfied during your event.
The venue: AMAZING. The staff: Super Friendly! Their communication: Great initially, but when it came time to start ironing out the details, what a headache. Chef David's artistic flare and food knowledge/prep made up for the contract mix-ups and issues with the event planning.

The sales manager, Susan, sat down and went over all the details initially with us - and when it came time to talk with the wedding planner - it got very confusing - I'm not sure what happens when Susan passes on the torch to the event planners - but it was not professional and not easy to deal with. When you're ready to sit down and talk with Chef David about your wedding day, be sure to get a face-to-face meeting with your designated event planner (the staff person that will be there on the day of your event).
That might help avoid mis-quotes and blunders like:
* Changing the time that noise has to stop
* Getting specific info about what you are and are not allowed to do with alcohol - like having bottles of wine passed during dinner
* If you don't book the place for the whole weekend - Getting in writing what time you can show up on the grounds the day of and have exclusive use of the guest house (When we didn't have too many people book to stay overnight on Sunday, I was told on the phone that random other people were going to be allowed to stay overnight on Sunday to fill up the rooms - despite us having 'exclusive use' of the grounds until 11 pm. I thought that was obnoxious, because we weren't allowed to book ANY rooms on Saturday because of another event, but they were going to let other people book rooms on the night of our event)
* Lack of response, and difficulty reaching the event planner.

Making signs for where the restroom is in the main house would be helpful, as to avoid having guests mucking up the bridal suit (which has a more convenient restroom).

The only issue that directly effected some of our guests, was an entire table not getting served dinner for about 20 minutes after everyone else had their food. Also, they lost one of the gluten free meals I personally saw delivered and brought back to the kitchen earlier that day.

Despite the negative things above, getting through the communication blunder with the center was worth the effort - as the location was so awesome
Services Used: Wedding Venue


One Conomo Point Road, Essex, MA 01929 See On Map
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