By Paul Maryniak, Executive Editor
Timing can be everything in business and for Charles Cotter and his two children, buying Superstition Manor in Mesa was about as good as any can be.
While it caters to a variety of gatherings, its specialty is weddings and Cotter, his son Taylor and daughter Sharley Leavitt, acquired the 10-year-old property on the northwest corner of Signal Butter and Brown roads from the founding Burns family just as the pandemic loosened its grip on couples eager to tie the knot.
“Weddings have not only come back in full force. It is a force to be reckoned with,” Taylor said. “You had a lot of people that rescheduled or postponed their wedding for a year and then you still had the busy season on top of that. And right now, the industry is projected to have more weddings in 2022 than there has ever been in the last several years.
“So, 2022 is supposed to be crazy,” he continued. “We already have over 160 events booked for 2022 and we are projected to break 200.”
They got a taste of that level of business in October, which Taylor called “literally insane” because “it was something like 19 events in eight days….That was our welcome to the new business moment.”
Fortunately, neither Taylor nor his sister are complete strangers to the wedding industry.
And even more fortunate for them, the sprawling Superstition Manor grounds and mammoth reception center came equipped with three halls that can accommodate between 100 and 250 people, two fully equipped commercial kitchens and a half-kitchen and a staff of some 40 to 50 experienced servers, cooks and other personnel.
Beyond that, however, two features have made Superstition Manor a high-demand wedding venue, Taylor said: first, it’s a kind of one-stop-shop for weddings and second, its pristine desert grounds with an unobstructed view of the majestic Superstition Mountains.
Taylor has been in the wedding industry for years as a photographer and videographer and his sister also is a long-time wedding photographer.
For them and their father, buying Superstition Manor was almost a no-brainer, since they were inheriting an experienced staff and a location that most couples likely will find an ideal venue for exchanging vows.
“What’s really unique is where the property is situated,” Taylor said. “Across the street is actually a part of Usery Park Preserve and so from a couple of our ceremony yards where people get married, the backdrop is literally raw desert and Superstition Mountains. That’s one of the really unique things about the property: the view is unmatched. If look out across the street, you don’t see houses. You don’t see development. You don’t see anything except just straight desert and Superstition Mountain.”
“Then there are lots of places on site as well,” he continued. “The previous owner did an amazing job of landscaping. And even without that view, you could stay just on the property and there is a ridiculous amount of places that you can go and couples can go to take gorgeous photos in a very well-maintained, landscaped area.”
While Arizona is between the state’s two biggest wedding seasons of October-November and March-April, this is no time for the Cotter family to relax – and only partly because Superstition manor also caters to charity events, sports banquets for schools and other celebrations.
They are heading into another busy period after more than one man posed the big question with a holiday-wrapped engagement ring in hand.
And that means, Taylor said, the next big busy period will be January and February, when those couples will hunt down venues.
“So all those engagement rings given at Christmas time, people better move fast if they don’t want to lose out,” he said. “We will have more people come and do tours of the venue in January-February in those two months alone than we’ll probably have in any other six to eight-month segment of the year.”
“It is very, very busy. Everyone gets engaged over the holidays and then there’s a big Wedding Expo that happens in the Phoenix Convention every year at the beginning of January. So we’re at that. I mean, there’s literally thousands of couples. We’re already booking for 2023.”
As almost a one-stop shop, the venue offers everything except wedding cakes and flowers and the Cotters have a list of recommended bakers and florists. Video and photography can be added on to the venue’s package.
Those packages include with all-day access to bride and groom suites, a DJ, a pro wedding coordinator a wide variety of décor, chairs, linens, tableware and centerpieces. From Italian to BBQ and beer and wines to top shelf alcohol.
As the Cotters say on their website, “All that’s left for you and your guests to do is party.”