Newlyweds-to-be Tim Mazzanti and Ashley Starkweather

First wedding reception at UTSA set for this month

By Omar Hernandez
Public Affairs Specialist

(June 15, 2009)--Ashley Starkweather '09 was two weeks into her first semester at UTSA in fall 2005 when she met Tim Mazzanti '05; he was in his last semester. They met in a class that Mazzanti had put off taking for four years. They had no idea their chance meeting would culminate with the celebration of their marriage on the campus where they met and fell in love. It also would be the first wedding celebration at UTSA.

That semester, the couple spent much of their time at basketball games in the Convocation Center. Both students where highly involved on campus. Starkweather was a member of UTSA's dance team, and Mazzanti is a founding member of the popular Blue Crew, the group that paints themselves blue and shows their UTSA spirit at games. Not long after, the couple got engaged. Starkweather said her family would joke that the couple should get married in the Convocation Center.

"We told our family we were going to have our reception at UTSA, but in the ballroom," said Starkweather with a smile. She quickly explained, "It's brand new and it's really awesome."

The idea of having their reception at UTSA began when Starkweather was studying in the new section of the University Center across from the ballroom. She remembers the area being very comfortable and quiet. She got up from the couches and peeked into ballroom and was impressed.

"Wow!" said Starkweather, "I thought this would be really nice to have my reception. It's brand new and really big."

The couple was planning a reception for approximately 250 people. Starkweather knew the area could easily accommodate the party, but she was not sure if a wedding reception could happen on campus. She began asking around until she ended up in the events management and conference services office. Starkweather discussed her plans and a staff member assured her they could handle the event, although they were caught by surprise.

"We were approved for weddings on campus a month before Ashley walked into our office," said Nikki Lee, UTSA associate director of events management and conference services. "We thought, here we go! But, we knew this was the right couple to start off with."

There are plans for a variety of private events to be in the University Center ballroom. Lee said planning the first wedding reception on campus will be a challenge, but she is determined to kick off the new use of the area without incident. The attitudes of the couple gave her inspiration. Both were proud of UTSA, and their enthusiasm for the university is obvious.

Even after Mazzanti graduated in fall 2005, he stayed connected to UTSA. He would see Starkweather perform during home games and continued to stay involved with the Blue Crew.

"UTSA is a place that we hold in high regard -- the campus has grown right before my eyes," said Mazzanti. "When I started in 2001, we had 17,000 students and now we're pushing 30,000. Buildings are popping up everywhere. It's just amazing the maturity of the school, and I want to be part of that maturity."

Starkweather, who graduated in May, is looking forward to starting her life with her new husband. Her relationship with UTSA goes beyond a degree -- beyond the countless hours she spent studying, the exams and parties. For her, UTSA is where her life began.

"We have such a connection to this school -- it's where we met," said Starkweather. "I had such a positive experience here. So, to have this be part of the biggest day of our lives is really neat."

Starkweather and Mazzanti will be married June 27, 2009.

For more information on special events at the UTSA ballroom, contact Adam Bennett at (210) 458-4155.

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