Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Shrieking Howl-O-Scream ghost stole groom's heart

LUTZ

Planning a wedding in two months can be an invitation for disaster.

But as with most things for Ryan Geoghagan and Daniella Filippone, everything worked out for the best.

The couple wanted to say their vows in Ireland, a dream location for two people with Irish roots.

Two months before their Leap Day wedding date, Irish officials delivered some bad news.

"They said it wasn't going to be possible," said Daniella, 26, a newly certified teacher from Tampa.

On to a very hasty plan B.

A family friend offered a home in Lutz to host a gathering of 65 family members and friends.

"It was kind of like a ranch, a country house," Daniella said.

From there, the couple wrangled a caterer, DJ, chairs, flowers and guests, all in the nick of time.

"We did a really good job for just two months," said Ryan, 28, a pharmacy technician for an insurance company.

Daniella admitted choosing Feb. 29 helped.

"I always wanted to have something special on that day," she explained. "Since it was a Wednesday it was easy to find [available vendors] because hey, what else were you going to be doing on a Wednesday?"

Thanks to working together and great communication, the ceremony went beautifully, and 24 hours later they were on their way to Ireland for their honeymoon.

Ryan and Daniella are no strangers to working together.

In 2008, Daniella worked at Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay as a performer. In full ghost makeup and costume, she popped from behind a trick door, screaming at the poor souls brave enough to enter her haunted house.

"That was a really heavy door," Ryan said. "It was solid wood and weighed 20 pounds and was always breaking."

When the crew was called to repair the door, Ryan went to help and met the petite shrieking ghost who stole his heart.

"From the minute she said 'Hi, I'm Daniella,' I thought, I want to get to know you," Ryan said with a laugh. "She just has a bubbly personality that draws you in."

After that, he made sure he fixed her door every time.

On their first outing as friends, Daniella left in the middle for a Delta Gamma sorority meeting.

The meeting ran long and she returned after an hour to find Ryan patiently waiting.

"I thought, 'This is what I want. Someone who I can have a good time with,' " Daniella said.

It took a few months for their budding friendship to develop into a relationship because Daniella was seeing someone.

Ryan decided in January 2011 that he could spend the rest of his life with this woman.

After shopping around, he found the perfect ring, but it sold two hours before he came back to purchase it.

The disappointment didn't deter him. His plan B involved designing a ring himself through a broker, based on Daniella's favorite diamond cut.

Ryan asked her father for her hand on May 27, 2011, and then planned a day out in St. Petersburg.

The next day they walked to one of Daniella's favorite places, the banyon trees near Vinoy Park, and accidentally ran into her dad.

"My dad was all nervous and looking at my finger," she said.

Ryan was able to signal that the proposal hadn't happened yet, and her dad left.

Then Ryan knelt.

"Stop joking," she said.

Daniella couldn't see the box, but Ryan kept going. "I love you. Will you marry me?" he asked.

Initial shock gave way to "Oh my God! Yes!"

A spectator ran up to the celebrating couple saying the moment was beautiful and regretting that he didn't take a picture.

"We were both just so nervous. Our hearts were racing," Daniella remembered.

But, of course, everything worked out.

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