Ellen and Daniel Phegley pose for all-important wedding photographs at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes. Anna Marisol Photography

Finding the perfect venue is often the biggest decision for couples planning a wedding and reception. For some, the easiest choice is their home church, but there are other options for those who want to keep their nuptials in Maricopa.

Ellen and Daniel Phegley decided to forego larger cities nearby for Maricopa when they married. They traveled all the way from Indiana because Ellen’s parents live in Province.

“We love coming out there, so this was a good excuse,” Daniel Phegley said. “And for an April wedding it was the place we felt guaranteed to have perfect weather. We love Maricopa.”

Talia Davis and Andrew Morrison and guests celebrate their wedding at the Dunes. Photo by Merry Grace
Talia Davis and Andrew Morrison and guests celebrate their wedding at the Dunes. Photo by Merry Grace

Between them, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes and The Duke at Rancho El Dorado host up to 30 weddings a year. The golf courses offer both space for many guests and scenic backgrounds for those all-important wedding photos.

The newest venue in Maricopa is Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle, which has unique offerings to help the big day run smoothly.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes hosts 10 to 15 weddings annually, the majority of those are local couples looking to keep things close to home. Hemapda Ki (Ak-Chin for The Gathering Place) is the indoor venue, which can hold about 110 for plated meal service.

The Arroyo Patio, which overlooks the golf course and Estrella Mountains, provides a beautiful backdrop for the ceremony and can also be set up for a reception that can seat 160. When the weather is nice, the sliding doors of the Arroyo Grille open up to the patio to provide space for a DJ, dance floor, buffet and cake table.

Southern Dunes recently built an event lawn for a larger, outdoor tent reception, or lawn ceremony. This also overlooks the golf course.

“It ended up being pretty easy. We were able to get everything we needed.” — Daniel Phegley

The special events team works with brides and grooms to make their experiences unique and within budget. The innovative chef designs plated meals or buffet menus to suit any palate. Appetizer and bar packages are customized to each bride and groom.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes partners with Harrah’s Ak-Chin and offers special pricing on hotel packages for the wedding party and guests. It also offers Groom’s Golf Packages and discounted rates for the groom’s party.

“It ended up being pretty easy,” Phegley said. “We were able to get everything we needed, even though some things weren’t local like the DJ and bartender, they were all willing to come to Maricopa.”

The Duke at Rancho El Dorado typically hosts 12 and 15 weddings each year. The space in the Silver Spur restaurant and surrounding patio can hold up to 300 people and provides plenty of space to socialize and dance.

“We offer good food and a great location,” Food and Beverage Director Susan Miller says. “We are also affordable. We can work with any budget.”

The restaurant and patio is bordered by stone walls and surrounded by grassy common areas. The venue also overlooks the water by the 18th hole, providing wedding parties with a lake and waterfall for the background of the ceremony and pictures.

The Duke also lets wedding parties use both indoor and outdoor fireplaces and the chance to “dance under the stars” on the patio for receptions.

Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle is set up for weddings and receptions, including a bridal room for brides to prepare. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle is set up for weddings and receptions, including a bridal room for brides to prepare. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The newest venue in the city, Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle can accommodate up 300 guests. Its 11,000 square feet includes an outdoor garden reception area and a fire-pit patio. The Earth Room is a bridal suite with bathroom and shower to help the bride prepare for the event.

Next door is a large lawn that can be set up for any wedding demands. Elements is adjacent to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, which offers distractions for the kids while the adults party at the reception.

UltraStar COO Adam Saks said the company is also creating packages that place weddings in one of the movie theaters with an exotic background – everything from Maui to the moon – with plenty of excellent seating for guests.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
GolfSouthernDunes.com/wedding-package

The Duke
TheDukeGolf.com/weddings-banquets

Elements Event Center
ElementsAkChin.com

Adam Wolfe contributed to this story.

This story was published in the Fall Edition of InMaricopa The Magazine.

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