Searching for a wedding venue requires the brain’s creative side to envision the final product, and its practical side to anticipate needs and challenges. Armed with a guest count and perhaps a theme, couples find themselves wading through a sea of options and details until the perfect choice emerges.
The following North Shore wedding sites are standouts in their individual niches. Each is appealing because each is distinctive. Their scenery and amenities attract couples who know exactly what they want—and some who aren’t even sure yet.
Misselwood at Endicott College / Photo by Deborah Zoe
Picture it: a backdrop of sparkling ocean that wows guests on your big day. Thanks to more than four private acres overlooking the Atlantic, Misselwood at Endicott College in Beverly is a magical location for waterfront ceremonies and receptions. The historical house offers the elegant feeling of Downton Abbey, but on a smaller scale. The property’s French Chateaux-style house is ideal for smaller indoor receptions, while the Misselwood Tent is a truly glamorous outdoor setting—you’ll forget you’re actually in a tent. Lined with walls of windows overlooking the sea, it impresses with chandelier lighting, a poured floor embedded with sea glass, and a solid wood dance floor. Its French doors open onto a courtyard and patio surrounded by pristine grounds.
407 Hale Street, Beverly, 978-232-2128, endicott.edu/misselwood
Photo by Derek Halkett
Shabby chic, rustic de?cor, vintage touches: Weddings with down-home charm are in vogue, and there’s no more appropriate setting than a working farm like Smolak in North Andover. Perhaps best known for its apple orchards and fall produce, Smolak Farms operates a farm stand, an ice cream stand, and a Community Supported Agriculture program, when it isn’t hosting weddings, of course. “I think couples are drawn to the farm’s natural beauty but also our sprawling acreage,” says director of events Ashley Piazza. “You can use as much or as little of the property as you’d like.” Receptions are typically held in the three-peaked tent. Nestled in a grove of older pines, it can hold 210 guests or 250 with an extension. “The setting is very private, serene, and peaceful,” describes Piazza. “There’s an adjacent grassy area with a fire pit that is perfect for games.” One of the property’s show-pieces is its antique barn, a favorite cocktail site. With a setup of high-tops and buffet tables and twinkling lights overhead, it epitomizes rustic chic. Piazza can even arrange for farm-appropriate add-ons such as golf cart transportation and hayrides. In light of its most recent additions—permanent bathrooms and a bridal suite—it’s obvious that Smolak prefers to give couples more, not less.
“We’ve wrapped trees in sparkling white lights, we provide lanterns on shepherd’s hooks outside the tent. We even line the pond with tiki torches. We’ve improved our venue every year,” says Piazza, “which means that couples have less to do and more peace of mind.”
315 S. Bradford Street, North Andover, 978-682-6332, smolakfarms.com
Photo by Benoit & McCarthy Photography
Cruiseport Gloucester was conceived for one purpose: to host impeccable waterfront weddings. Completed seven years ago, it is modern in every way yet its aesthetic embraces New England tradition. Its showpiece is a ballroom designed to host up to 320 guests with vaulted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and glossy wood floors. Although elegant, its primary purpose is to defer to the views of historic Gloucester Harbor beyond, proportionately framed at all times by expansive windows. In fair weather, couples and their guests can mingle and lounge on the ballroom-length deck. “We only handle one wedding at a time, so each couple has access to the entire building,” says director of events Bridget Jaramillo. But perhaps the most unique option of all is that couples can forgo the ballroom completely and hit the high seas on the Beauport Princess. This floating event site boasts two dance floors, three bars, and an open-air top deck. It’s a harbor tour and a wedding combined, and definitely an experience that guests won’t soon forget.
6 Rowe Square, Gloucester, 978-282-9700, cruiseportgloucester.com