Friday, February 12, 2010

Massachusetts Wedding Venue: The Stevens Estate, N. Andover

This evening’s bridal trade show at the Steven’s Estate in North Andover, MA was easy compared to my first New England bridal show.  I am a pretty shy person, now that I’m experienced and feel like I’m the one in control, I can definitely put on the confident act at the bridal trade show expos.  And what’s more confidence inspiring than looking forward to the day when the man you love commits the rest of his life to you?  So I look those bridal trade show vendors in the eye like, “bring it on.”  So what if I don’t have a  date set?  So what if I’ll only have 25 guests?  I’m the bride and that’s what I want so either make it happen or I’ll find someone who can!”

At least, I say that in my head.  Out loud it’s more like, “I see.  Thank you.”  ;) 

And as it happens, some of them do decide they’re not the one to “make it happen” for me.  I’ll never forget one photographer at a bridal trade show actually said “oh” and literally turned his back on me immediately.  That sort of thing would have been embarrassing and hurtful in the beginning, but now I can laugh about it.  And hey, if a vendor is doing so well that they don’t need my business, it’s all good.

This bridal trade show was different.  Much smaller, very few vendors, and less like a convention as it was in a historical home.  This wedding venue had a lot of what I’m looking for: pretty outdoor space for a ceremony.  Pretty, neutral, VERY traditional (old and expensive looking) inside.  Too expensive looking inside.  It was so rich it felt heavy.  All that wood paneling, the copper ceiling, I could feel the metaphoric weight added onto the knowledge that this place was going to be so far over my budget that I didn’t have to take it seriously.

Figures mom liked it and tried to talk me into it.

Of course, when I show her the differences in price between the place I like and this place it will be no contest for her.  She’s always about going as cheap as possible.  So I’ve learned from her that given the choice between two places I like about equally, I’ll be going for the cheaper one, be it venues, flowers, catering, whatever.  The cost for the Steven's Estate is about $3100 for the day (peak season on a weeknight, and I added in their ceremony fee to the figure) and that does not include catering, just grounds, tent, tables, chairs, and linens.  For that price I could rent a VERY nice vacation home for the week.

Besides price, another thing I didn’t like too much was the coordinator.  She was the stereotypical wedding planner: skinny, high energy, and loud with phony excitement.  She gave me a tour, showed me the bridal suite and said stuff like, “out there where you can’t see, that’s where you’d have your ceremony…”  It was all I could do to laugh that they were taking me on a tour and trying to sell me on the look of something I can’t see.  Maybe for nighttime bridal show expo tours a photograph of the grounds from that window could have helped?  She went on to say, “I will knock on your door and say…what’s your name again?” “Amber.” “'Amber are you ready to get married?' And you’d say, 'Just two more minutes,' and I’d go knock on Adam’s door and say, 'Adam, go ahead down, Amber’s ready for you,' and then I’d come back and say, 'Amber, don’t keep Adam waiting.'”

That seemed SO odd to me.  So she’s trying to sell me on this venue by telling me she will lie to my groom and then pressure me into hurrying up.  Wow.  I understand it’s good to stick to a schedule, but at least pretend to be sensitive to our needs?  That and the fact that she said we’d each have our suites for a couple of hours.  If I go with a vacation home I can have the rooms for a week.  No, this place didn’t feel warm and inviting to me.  Very ornate and picturesque, but not romantic and intimate.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so.  Here's a review from someone who got married there, who echoes my feeling. 

So I enjoyed the bridal show expo as though I was just out at a party with my mom, haha.  The food was fantastic.  I’m putting this caterer on my shortlist.  We had the most tender fillet, nice salad, a little pasta, one sample with a rich cream sauce and the other sample with a bold tasty tomato sauce, perfect non greasy spinach pie, a few other little appetizers, and chocolate mousse with berries.  All very nice.  I now have two caterers that I’ve met at different bridal show expo events who I’d be just as happy with, so I can let price decide.


  1. Thats a pretty accurate representation of the venue. A little too expensive for what you get. It also doesn't seem like they have enough staff.

  2. I love the Stevens Estate. I have held a few local fundraisers there. I think you are way off on the wedding planner. I have worked with her for the last 2 events and she is funny and very knowledgeable.

    Good luck with your wedding. But remember, you get what you pay for.


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