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Essex Conference Center & Retreat

Essex , MA

LOCATION

Essex, MA 01929 US

WEBSITE

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REVIEWS

4.3
out of 5.0
4.7/5.0
3.3/5.0
3.9/5.0
4.7/5.0
4.8/5.0
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Sara
Wedding:
10/10/2015
4.9/5.0
We absolutely loved having our wedding at ECCR. I think our favorite aspect of having our wedding at ECCR is having a venue for the WHOLE weekend. There's no pressure of having a wedding venue that you have for only 5-6 hours, and you're really crunched on time. This place you have the option of renting the venue from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, where you and 40 close friends and family can stay with you for the whole weekend! I can' t tell you how nice it was to spend the whole night with your wedding party and close friends and family for the whole night before the big day. We even had Woodman's cater our dress rehearsal dinner the night before- so we didn't have to worry about transportation for the whole weekend!

The wedding weekend was completely stress-free. Cecilia, the wedding coordinator, was easy to work with up to the wedding and on the wedding weekend. They accommodated to all of needs, responded to all of my (many) emails, and the food was simply delicious- I don't even know how many people gave me positive remarks about the food, but I do remember my uncle saying, "It was the best steak I've ever had."

ECCR is a hidden gem. The venue isn't for every couple but for those it does attract, I full-heartedly recommend it! Great location, amazing food, and fantastic service. I couldn't of imagined my wedding weekend anywhere else!
We absolutely loved having our wedding at ECCR. I think our favorite aspect of having our wedding at ECCR is having a Read more...
We absolutely loved having our wedding at ECCR. I think our favorite aspect of having our wedding at ECCR is having a venue for the WHOLE weekend. There's no pressure of having a wedding venue that you have for only 5-6 hours, and you're really crunched on time. This place you have the option of renting the venue from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, where you and 40 close friends and family can stay with you for the whole weekend! I can' t tell you how nice it was to spend the whole night with your wedding party and close friends and family for the whole night before the big day. We even had Woodman's cater our dress rehearsal dinner the night before- so we didn't have to worry about transportation for the whole weekend!

The wedding weekend was completely stress-free. Cecilia, the wedding coordinator, was easy to work with up to the wedding and on the wedding weekend. They accommodated to all of needs, responded to all of my (many) emails, and the food was simply delicious- I don't even know how many people gave me positive remarks about the food, but I do remember my uncle saying, "It was the best steak I've ever had."

ECCR is a hidden gem. The venue isn't for every couple but for those it does attract, I full-heartedly recommend it! Great location, amazing food, and fantastic service. I couldn't of imagined my wedding weekend anywhere else! Read less
Services Used: Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding Venue
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Rebecca
Wedding:
9/21/2013
4.6/5.0
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!
We had the most amazing wedding at ECCR. We found it to be the perfect wedding venue for what we wanted. The outdoor Read more...
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! Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Julia
Wedding:
8/31/2013
4.3/5.0
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!
We wanted a venue that would allow us to gather all our friends together for a whole weekend rather than just have a few Read more...
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! Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Anonymous
Wedding:
9/15/2012
3.8/5.0
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.
The actual venue, food, and weekend wedding package are an excellent value for the price. During my wedding weekend the Read more...
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. Read less
Services Used: Catering, Wedding Venue
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Amanda
Wedding:
9/8/2012
4.8/5.0
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.
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 Read more...
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. Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Anonymous
Wedding:
2+ years ago
4.2/5.0
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.
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 Read more...
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. Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Tara
Wedding:
9/10/2011
5.0/5.0
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.
We absolutely loved the setting of the ECCR and everyone we met who works there. The ECCR is a very different and Read more...
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. Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Yoshi
Wedding:
5/22/2011
3.2/5.0
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
The venue: AMAZING. The staff: Super Friendly! Their communication: Great initially, but when it came time to start Read more...
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 Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Monica
Wedding:
9/12/2010
4.3/5.0
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.
The Essex Conference Center and Retreat (ECCR) is an absolutely gorgeous wedding venue. At first we thought we wanted an Read more...
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. Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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Matthew
Wedding:
9/5/2010
4.8/5.0
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.
This was a fantastic, inspirational site for our outdoor, pagan-themed ceremony.

The many sculptural Read more...
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. Read less
Services Used: Wedding Venue
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