Lauren Cantu

Follow Your Heart

Groom-to-be sends his bride-to-be on Texas scavenger hunt…..

By Laurette Veres

Photography by Ana&Ivan Photography

Lauren loves this gown from Ventura’s Bridal.


Lauren and Oscar celebrated four-years of dating Christmas Day with a blended family Christmas dinner. “It was an amazing anniversary gift to have both of our large families together under one roof,” recalls Lauren. Little did she know, the amazing anniversary events were just beginning.

The next day she discovered red balloon #1 at her front door. There was a clue attached which led her to her favorite park, where she found balloon #2 with a $20 bill and directions to Starbucks. Inside Starbucks was one of her best friends (flown in from Los Angeles, California!) pouring espresso. “These shots represent the darkness we’ve come from. I love the person you’ve become,” said the friend as she handed Lauren balloon #3. This balloon sent her home where balloon #4 waited on her bedroom door. She found a pre-packed bag (thanks Sis!) and a note about spontaneous adventure. Five minutes later Oscar was at the door; balloon #5 was in the back of his truck. They were headed somewhere that started with an S and ended with an O according to the note, to the Emily Morgan hotel. She Googled the hotel name and found they were heading to San Antonio! In the hotel room she found balloon #6, which told her to get dolled up in a hurry; dinner reservations were at 5:00pm.  Dinner included champagne, dessert and clue #7.

At the apex of a romantic little rock bridge on the RiverWalk, burning candles were arranged in a heart. “He got down on one knee and made me the happiest girl in the whole world!!” she recalls. When she looked up, family and friends were cheering and taking pictures. “My breath was absolutely taken away! So many people that I love surprised me to be there for this moment. I have never shed so many tears of joy in my life.”

Her engagement felt like a hazy dream until she attended the Bridal Extravaganza in Houston.  “The show helped a lot,” she says.

“I didn’t know where to start so I started thinking I definitely need a venue because you really can’t do anything without a date. Once you get your date everything else starts to fall in line.” Internet research isn’t enough. “Pictures on Pinterest are not exactly what (a dress, cake, flowers) will look like in person,” she says.

At the show she registered for the Be the Billboard Bride competition, became a finalist and won! She appeared on billboards all over southeast Texas.

“Trying on gowns (at Ventura’s Bridal Fashions) made the engagement feel real,” says Lauren. “As soon as I put them on I just felt like a princess.” Her advice is to try on everything. “Some people say when you know, you know, but I think when you try on a dress, your body will tell you. I didn’t think I would like a fluffy dress but it really looks nice and I like how it feels.”

To other brides, she says don’t get too stressed out, give yourself enough time, and hire a wedding planner if you can afford it. It’s also important to decide what’s really important. For Lauren, she believes the dress, makeup, and pictures are what she will want to remember.

Lauren encourages brides to take advantage of every opportunity Houston has to offer. As for winning Be the Billboard Bride, she says, “You never know. Certain things are meant to be. Winning this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity– it happened to me!”


Get this look:

Ventura’s Bridal Fashions

Al’s Formal Wear

A Splendid Event & Co. 

Simple Beauty Artistry

ana&ivan photography

Edible Designs by Jessie

My Urban Invites