Over 500 brides-to-be entered the “Billboard Bride” contest at July’s Bridal Extravaganza Show. The winner will grace billboards, posters and other promotional materials for January’s Bridal Extravaganza Show.
Judges spent weeks sifting through applications to select the final contestants. When Hollie Padron’s crossed their desks, it stood out. Funny and sincere, her entry secured her a firm spot as a finalist.
When the time came for her to stand before the judges at Ventura’s Bridal, the choice became clear. Smitten by her charming nature, the panel was equally impressed with Padron’s unabashed response to their question of how she embodies the modern Houston bride. “I’m real!” she exclaimed. After describing herself as hardworking and passionate, Padron boldly stated she is “not a size 2,” a trait she believes many brides can relate to. When she pointed out her future name, Hollie Salas, sounds like “hot sauce,” the incessant laughter from the judges’ table signified the Billboard Bride had been found.
Padron was ecstatic when they called and told her she won. The 22-year-old accounting assistant gave neighbors an earful of shrills, jumping up and down in her apartment. Donning several gowns hand-picked by Ventura’s, Padron was the epitome of a classic, blushing bride throughout the mid-day photo shoot. Traditional studio portraits and modern poses amidst the chic backdrop of Uptown Park allowed her to relish in the joy of her upcoming nuptials. With each flash of the camera, the future Mrs. Stephen Salas thought of her fiancé.
Most people go to Olive Garden for the endless soup and salad, but Padron found endless love. While working there as a waitress, a co-worker caught her eye. “We were friends for a couple of months, then I asked him out on a date,” she recalls of her forward approach. They were soon more than friends and over the next year and a half, Padron realized an ideal future would be one spent with Salas.
While she was sure she found the man she was going to marry, the engagement came as a complete surprise. After celebrating Christmas with their families, Padron and Salas spent the next day at the Museum of Natural Science and later went for an evening stroll in Hermann Park. When they found themselves alone in front of a fountain, Salas dropped to one knee and presented Padron with the ring — a princess-cut solitaire set in white gold. Floored, Padron managed to let out a tearful “I do.”
They’ll make it official March 7 with a black and white wedding at Centurion Palace in League City. She will wear the princess dress of her childhood dreams, complimenting her groom’s traditional black tuxedo. Until then, billboards across town will serve as a reminder of her special day.