Modern Day Bride

Courtney Keith, Houston’s newest Billboard Bride

And the winner is …

The Bridal Extravaganza Show’s Billboard Bride contest attracted hundreds of wonderful applicants for the opportunity to be featured on billboards, posters and other promotional materials for this season’s Bridal Extravaganza Show. Judges spent weeks examining photos and reading interviews as they narrowed down the field.

Judges met the 10 finalists during a preliminary photo shoot at Ventura’s Bridal. Attitude, look, walk and personality all counted, because the winner would be someone who looks great, represents BES well and revels in her accomplishment.

When Courtney Keith walked in the room, the contest was all but over; she had everything judges were looking for. There was something special about her; everything from her warm personality to her modern look set her apart from the rest. But she sealed the deal reacting to judges’ requests to let her hair down. “She laughed, unclipped her hair and smiled the whole time,” recalls Laurette Veres, owner of BES. “She didn’t balk at the idea; she just ran with it. We also knew she’d be great on TV if that opportunity comes along.”

Keith received the big news that she was the winner as she was driving around town with her mother. They both screamed and laughed like kids on Christmas morning. A couple of weeks later, Keith and her mother, Eilleene Keith, arrived at Ventura’s Bridal to pick out wedding gowns. With help from BES staff, they found several that complimented her stunning looks, charm and kind-hearted spirit — dresses that seem to be made for her.

During the course of the photo shoot Keith never complained or stopped smiling. She was a little jittery until her mother whispered, “She looks like Cinderella.” She did indeed. The long detailed wedding dress hugged her curves and showcased her hourglass figure.

As hundreds of pictures were taken of her, she told how her fiancé proposed. “God bless him,” she said. “He struggled for awhile trying to decide on the most perfect, romantic, unexpected way to propose.” To ensure it was unexpected, he waited until she was in the bathtub on a random Friday night to run out for a bottle of champagne. To ensure that it was perfect and romantic, he proposed when she was in the most comfortable, safe environment — when he returned she was snuggled on her sofa in her pajamas, hair in a ponytail, wearing no makeup. He dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. “It was my dream proposal from my dream man,” she says.

After eight grueling hours, four different wedding dresses and two hair and makeup changes, Keith flashed her bright smile one last time and the photo shoot was over.

Dealing with tragedy
The excitement of winning the Billboard Bride competition and performing in the photo shoot helps mask recent tragedy. Courtney’s fiancé, Colin Matheny, lost his mother and two of her friends in a terrible automobile accident. “[Courtney] and her fiancé have endured so much the last couple of months; I really feel this is just what they needed before Courtney walks down the aisle,” Eilleene says.

Tragedy can impact relationships in different ways. For this couple, it brought them closer and made them stronger. Though it has been hard, they don’t focus on the negative. They know Colin’s mother is with them in spirit and will be with them on their wedding day.

Strong and caring
Keith is the perfect person to represent the Bridal Extravaganza Show because her reasons for wanting to be the Billboard Bride revolve around others. She wants to share her happiness, have future brides feel her joy and make her fiancé proud. “I am a strong woman,” she says. “I hope other women can relate to me because I am personable, proud and confident. This is an experience of a lifetime, one that I will never forget,” she says. She is sharing it with everyone she can reach, even if only through her mile-high smile on Houston billboards.

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