Photography by Ivan Garcia studio

Maya’s story is one that everybody can relate to. Navigating through this crazy world isn’t easy; especially in recent years. After having her life shuffled around during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maya understood it was best to slow down, take things one at a time, and not pressure herself into chasing perfection.

Maya and her fiancé, Mike, planned a trip to Monterey, California, after Maya expressed a desire to see whales in the wild. After meticulously planning their vacation, their plans had a wrench thrown in them in the form of the pandemic.

With everything spinning out of control, Maya had to learn to not sweat the little things. “I had to tell myself that it was okay if I did not get married in the spring, and it was okay if I didn’t get to have my dream venue in the hill country of Austin…I told myself that I needed to take the time to be a bride that isn’t perfect.”

By December 2020, Maya and Mike managed to book their vacation to California and found a piece of paradise near the Pacific Ocean. Making their way to the beach at the break of dawn, the couple stood at Lover’s Point as waves crashed behind them. As the sun rose on the coldest day of the year, Mike surprised Maya by proposing to her. To top it off, that same day they both got to see whales.

Maya attended the Bridal Extravaganza and applied to appear on the billboards. As the winner, she attended a photoshoot and will appear at the next live event.

The first time she ever tried on a wedding gown was at the fitting for the Billboard Bride shoot. At Ventura’s Bridal Fashions, she found a wedding wonderland. Eventually, two gowns were selected. The sultry, long sleeve, fit n’ flare gown by Demetrios has a dramatic flared tulle skirt coupled with exquisite, beaded lace. The Sweetheart, off the shoulder neckline flows into a magnificent sheer back with lace details and button closure.  The second gown is an off the shoulder ball gown by Allure Bridals. The sheen of this gown’s Mikado fabric is topped with contrasting elegantly beaded lace appliques and off the shoulder straps.

“NO ONE BELIEVED ME!” says Maya about telling her friends and family she was the new face of the Bridal Extravaganza. I don’t think they’re really going to believe me until they see my head on the magazine. I don’t think I can believe it until I see my face on the magazine!”

Lead and organized by the event planners at Blue Poppy Events, Maya’s photoshoot was held at Willowynn Barn, a beautifully secluded barn owned by Amanda and Steve Slivinski. The venue features a vast, grand hall for hosting receptions and offers several unique outdoor areas as well. An added bonus comes in the form of Willie the Shot Donkey. This adorable little burro comes fit with saddlebags which can hold shots for your guests or be adorned with flowers.  As the location of the venue is deep in Santa Fe, Texas, the surrounding area is tranquil and quiet. This hidden gem is a perfect getaway spot located right outside of Houston.

The reception area was brought to life with florals and décor provided by Rexberry Luxury Weddings & Events. Their selections are full of rich, luscious tones and colors, and regal elements.

Returning from last year’s Billboard Bride shoot to do makeup was Mayra Malik from Simple Beauty Artistry. She chose a soft natural look which did not overpower but served to enhance Maya’s natural looks. As Maya put it, “She made me feel like a prettier, more beautiful, confident version of myself, which I loved.”

Another return from last year’s Billboard Bride shoot is Ivan Garcia Studios. Ivan’s newest shots of Maya are an exhibition in elegance and grace. According to Ivan, Maya is a natural, was very relaxed and takes direction very well. This is the key to a great photoshoot.

On site to capture more visuals were the videographers of Weddings Unlimited. Their video entitled “Walking on the Clouds,” showcased the hard work of all the wedding pros involved while showcasing their videography expertise to brides. The shoot for this video implemented a fog machine and showed how a couple can literally “dance on clouds” at their reception. The cake was created by the team at Wedding Cakes by Tammy Allen. Invitations and paper goods were provided by Jo’s Paper Kitchen.

Coming into the contest, Maya had no idea she would make it this far, let alone win the whole thing. However, she has thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the experience and has done a lot of personal growth throughout the planning of her wedding. “I told myself that I needed to take that time to be a bride that isn’t perfect, because perfection is very, very, very subjective. It is not a one size fits all. I’ve been having a really fun time enjoying the wedding process now that I know it isn’t supposed to necessarily be a certain type of way, it’s going to be what it needs to be.”

To apply to appear as the next Billboard Bride, stop by the Billboard Bride booth at the Houston Bridal Extravaganza Show.

Get this look:


Planner: Blue PoppyEvents

Venue: Willowynn Barn

Photographer: IvanGarcia Studio  

Videographer: Weddings-Unlimited

Fashion: Venturas BridalFashions

Cake: Wedding Cakes byTammy Allen

Floral & Décor: RexberryLuxury Weddings & Events

Hair & Makeup: SimpleBeauty Artistry

Paper goods: Jo’s PaperKitchen

Sponsor: Bridal Extravaganza