Ripped off bride gets free wedding
Couple says travel agent took $30k meant for wedding in Cancun
SAN ANTONIO - Dana Shaw wasn't smiling earlier this month when the travel agent she hired to book her dream wedding on a yacht in Cancun failed to deliver.
Days before the wedding date, Shaw was forced to cancel it when she and her guests learned independent travel agent Victoria Garza Velasquez hadn't booked anything. Shaw and the 22 guests were out roughly $30,000 and it was too late to plan a new wedding.
To get their minds off the mess, Dana and her husband Randy took off for Louisiana to gamble at the Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder and ended up hitting the jackpot with a free wedding.
"It's not the perfect wedding we planned but it's definitely a story that nobody would ever imagine," Shaw said. "I have a smile now. I had a wedding I will never forget."
Shaw had given up on her dreams for a wedding this year and was just looking forward to blowing off some steam with Randy and some family members at the casino.
While playing blackjack, a family member told their story to a dealer, who then shared the story with his bosses. The next day, a team of employees came up to the couple on the casino floor.
"We told them the whole story of what had happened and how we had been ripped off by the travel agent," Shaw said. "They all got together and they came back and they were like, 'We have decided we are going to throw you your dream wedding.'"
The Shaw’s were stunned and didn't know what to expect. They thought the casino would throw together a small ceremony at the casino. They couldn't imagine the hidden ace the casino staff had up their sleeves.
"When we saw the report that aired on your station online and we heard their story, we just felt like this was something we had to do just to give them part of their dream back," said Phil Ziegler, Director of Marketing at Coushatta.
Ziegler and his staff pulled together a full blown wedding in less than 24 hours and it was all on the house.
"It just all came together very quickly," Ziegler said. "This was something unique. Most weddings take weeks or months to prepare for and plan."
On June 13, a stretch limo picked up Dana and Randy and their handful of wedding guests and transported them to the casino's golf resort. From the decorations to the cake that matched Dana's dress, no detail was left out.
"We were speechless when we walked in," Shaw said. "It was above and beyond anything I could ever imagine."
With such short notice, only a few family members made it to the wedding on time. Those that made the trip from San Antonio brought Dana's dress and the bridesmaid dresses.
Shaw said about 12 family members attended the ceremony. The rest of the guests were casino employees and some resort guests who heard about the story.
A casino supervisor officiated the ceremony, something Dana's dad originally planned to do in Mexico but he couldn't be there.
"When the minister asked, 'Who gives this bride away?' I really didn't know what to say and I turned around and I looked at the group and everyone of them turned around and raised their hand and said we all do," Shaw said. "I was in tears."
While the surprise wedding helped take the sting out of what happened, everyone's not living happily ever after quite yet. Shaw said only about half of the original guests that planned to make the trip to Mexico have had their money returned by their credit card companies. The rest are still waiting.
Velasquez was jailed on some outstanding theft and hot check warrants but she's since made bail. She has not responded to requests to share her side of the story.
The Shaw’s are still waiting for Bexar County investigators to go after Velasquez for the $30,000 they say she ripped off.
But the Shaw’s said they have made life-long friends with the casino employees that made their wedding a reality and they now plan to spend all of their anniversaries at the casino.
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