This Couple Nearly Missed Their Courthouse Wedding in the Florida Keys on New Year’s Eve

By Shayna Seid

Daniela Dello Joio, who works in PR at Dior, and private banker Henry Rauch met in the Ditch Plains parking lot, after Daniela and her brother were deep in argument over a surfboard. “I regained composure—let my brother have my surfboard—and introduced myself,” she remembers.

After three years together, they casually agreed to get married around the beginning of summer 2020, but she had no idea that he would propose in the traditional sense. Over July 4th weekend, he got down on one knee, while they were visiting Henry’s family in Charleston.

As they got engaged when the pandemic was still in full swing, the two tentatively planned for a New Year’s Eve wedding at her family’s farm in Wellington, Florida. “The rehearsal dinner was set to be on an old yacht, cruising up and down the Palm Beach Inlet with everyone dressed in their best Slim Aarons-inspired garb, and the ceremony/reception was a black-tie Argentine Asado vibe,” Daniela explains.

Unfortunately, they made the tough decision to postpone to New Year’s Eve 2021. “Most of the guests, aside from Henry’s family and close friends, are part of the equestrian community, and the horse show itself is following strict safety precautions to ensure the show can remain open to competition, so we were very apprehensive to be the cause of anything that would compromise those precautions put into place,” Daniela says. “My grandparents—arguably the most important guests for me—are also 90, so they would not have been able to attend. That fact alone made the decision to postpone pretty easy.”

Rather spontaneously, right after Christmastime, they decided to head to the courthouse in the Florida Keys on their original date and have an intimate dinner afterward with family. Planning was “completely simple,” Daniela says. “Our biggest concern was getting my family and Henry’s family tested.”

“I was certain I wanted to wear a white slip dress to the courthouse and keep it on throughout the evening,” Daniela states. She found the perfect sexy, simple slip at Michelle Farmer in Palm Beach. “Shoes were irrelevant because I knew we’d be on the beach, and they’d come off or be ruined.”

Daniela’s one major pang of longing for a “real” wedding hit when thinking about her beauty look—her makeup artist was going to be Daniel Martin, who did Meghan Markle’s bridal makeup. Instead, the bride made a hair appointment with a local Keys salon and wanted to keep her makeup natural.

However, on the day-of, the couple’s families went out for a boat ride and swim, and after “copious amounts of rosé,” Daniela realized she had missed her hair appointment, and they were about to miss their courthouse time too. Once home, the bride ran into her closet, where clothes have remained the same since high school, and grabbed the most sentimental dress she could spot—a Bahama Handprint dress with a lime green seahorse print, which she purchased when she was around 15-years-old. Daniela adds, “This short-lived clothing line by Amanda Lindroth was all the rage among those lucky enough to vacation in Harbour Island fifteen years ago, and that’s what my tipsy self chose to wear to my wedding.”

Since the Monroe County Courthouse is adjacent to the jail, Daniela remembers that it was not the most charming venue. “I did not expect the courthouse clerk, who had us fill out paperwork, to perform an actual ceremony!” she exclaims. “When she said the words ‘Do you take Henry,’ I did not stop crying for about an hour afterwards.”

Once officially married, the two walked out of the government building to their families throwing rose petals and rice with tears in their eyes. Then, everyone drove back to Daniela’s family’s home, where the bride got to change into her white silk slip. The newlyweds and their family enjoyed a paella dinner by Don Paella Catering with Freshly Set linens and place settings on the beach to celebrate the new Mr. and Mrs. and the new year!