Countdown to 5 years: 26 days

Our big day.

Gosh, I love our wedding!

We knew that we wanted something non-traditional from the start – the big poofy white dress/church/reception really wasn’t for us. We started off dreaming about eloping to Mexico. That was way too expensive. Maybe we could elope to Florida. Still really expensive. California? Nope. None of it felt “right” to us. (Plus: too expensive.)

Alan and I are both Phoenix natives – born, raised, and grown up in the Valley of the Sun. We really liked it there, and decided – what better place to become husband and wife?

I started planning, and knew that while we were doing our ceremony at the Justice of the Peace (with many locations across the Valley), I wanted something that felt “official” and had some weight to it, not just your average municipal courthouse building. I settled on the downtown Phoenix location off Jackson street – a big building that satisfied what I was looking for.

We both knew that we didn’t want to wait and drag out the engagement, particularly since we were planning something super small – but that meant a summer wedding in Phoenix (read: 110+ degrees), so a reception probably wasn’t going to happen until later in the year. This would be a super-small, super-simple affair… but I still wanted a photographer to help us capture those memories.

I got a referral from a dear friend to her photographer, and I’m so thankful to Ivy Studios Photo for working with me to create a custom “package” that suited our needs. A standard wedding photography package wasn’t going to work for our situation, and Shelly was so great at working with us.

Shelly and her assistant came with us to the courthouse, along with my mom/dad/brother and Alan’s two closest friends. Each group was called into the courtroom separately, so we had privacy and quiet for our ceremony.

I am still so thankful for our particular Justice – he was so well-spoken and genuine, and the words and vows we spoke had such emphasis and weight. My brother signed as my witness, and Luie signed as Alan’s.

We have a great picture of Alan’s dubious face during the ceremony:


But he ended up saying “I do” in just the right spot.

After the ceremony, Alan and I went to take some pictures with the photographer, and my family went with Katy and Luie to a restaurant to meet us for dinner. Turns out – no joke! – my parents and the Ugartes were married in the same tiny chapel, just decades apart. What a small world, huh?




That afternoon and evening were so full of love and family and together and celebration – it’s a hazy glow of happiness for me. And just the right way for us to start our lives together as husband and wife.

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