It’s a “Cinderella” story where the beautiful Miss USA marries her handsome Hollywood actor prince! The 2 1/2 year romance between 2014 Miss Nevada USA turned Miss USA Nia Sanchez and “Hannah Montana” star Daniel Booko culminates Saturday with their wedding in Southern California.
Nia, 25, won Miss Nevada and Miss USA last year, and she placed first runner-up in the Miss Universe Pageant in June. Daniel, 31, has had roles in 16 movies, including this year’s “Superfast,” and 10 TV series including “The O.C.” and “Desperate Housewives.”
They became engaged last October. He flew to surprise her in New York and decorated a patio of the Suite Royale at the NoMad Hotel. She thought that she was going to an event with friends, but it was just the two of them.
He got down on bended knee and proposed with a gorgeous platinum 2-carat engagement ring with a red, white and blue stone inside the band to commemorate her Miss USA title.
The 5’8” beauty celebrated her bachelorette party in Las Vegas in August with 2009 Miss USA Kristen Dalton, 2015 Miss Nevada USA Brittany McGowan and 2014 and 2015 Miss Universe Pageant contestants.
I reported Nia’s story as the first Nevada contestant to be crowned Miss USA in June 2014. She was a taekwondo coach and worked as a Disney character at Disney World in Hong Kong.
As Nia made her final preparations for Saturday’s ceremony at beautiful Temecula Creek Inn near San Diego, she talked with me about their romance and wedding:
Where did the two of you meet — how did you meet?
We met at church over Easter Weekend, and our first date was hiking. We both really like the outdoors, and we’ve been together for 2 1/2 years.
Why did you wait so long?
The pageants, of course! We started dating before I was competing for Miss Nevada, but we had to wait. We didn’t want to be engaged while I was competing for Miss Nevada. That was a dream come true. Then I went for Miss USA, and he proposed after I won Miss USA — but before Miss Universe.
Was it love at first sight, or did it take time?
It was strong attraction at first sight, and, after the first date, I knew that he was the kind of man I wanted to marry because of all of his qualities and the things we talked about on our first date. You need a little bit of time before knowing if he’s the one.
Is it a “Cinderella” story where the beautiful Miss USA princess ends up marrying the handsome prince actor?
It really is! I’m lucky that I met him before I got Miss Nevada or Miss USA and got first runner-up in Miss Universe. He knew me before I got any of that. He wasn’t trying to date me because I was Miss USA.
Which church did you meet?
At Mosaic in Hollywood, which is the church we attend now that we live out here. Non-denominational Christian. We’re getting married in Temecula. It’s wine country for Southern California.
How and why did you pick that place?
Mostly because it is beautiful. We looked at it when I had two days off from my Miss USA duties. I flew out here, and we found six places we liked between San Diego and Santa Barbara.
We fell in love with it because it was so beautiful, and it was one of the first places we looked. We’re getting married on Daniel’s birthday because that was the only day for the rest of the year that they had available. So I tell him, “Happy Birthday! You get me forever! That’s your birthday present.”
Both of our families will be there. His entire family from Michigan will be there.
You’ve also got best friend Miss Australia Tegan Martin, your Miss Universe roommate, coming?
Yes, Tegan flew in on Saturday to attend the wedding. She came in with one of her friends. She came in for the week to help me with anything I needed and to celebrate the big day.
She wasn’t able to come to my bachelorette party in Las Vegas because she was filming “Celebrity Apprentice Australia,” but now she’s here! She gave up her title three months ago.
How many other pageant girls are coming?
We have just a few, like Kristen Dalton, who was Miss USA 2009, is one of my matrons of honor. My entire bridal party is pageant. There are former Miss Californias, a former Miss Wyoming, a former Miss Arizona, all different years. It’s been really magical planning the wedding.
Is Miss USA Pageant owner Donald Trump flying out for the wedding?
He is not flying out for the wedding. I’m sure he has some important campaigning work to do! Your friend Paula Shugart, who is the president of Miss USA and Miss Universe, can’t make it, either. Her cousin is getting married on the same day as us.
Bummer on the timing. Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross will be there. Evan is Diana Ross’s son, and he’s an actor on a new TV show called “Wicked City.”
Is Daniel working on a show around the wedding?
No. He just filmed two Lifetime movies. One just came out a month ago. He’s working a lot, but it’s not a regular series yet.
Where are you going to honeymoon?
We are going to Costa Rica. We are so excited! An all-inclusive resort for the first six days, then we have four more days where we will hang out with Miss Universe Costa Rica.
Are you giving up your Las Vegas home now?
Home will be in Los Angeles. Daniel’s full-time career is acting, so this is where we’ve gotta be.
My title reigns are all over now, but I am coming back to Nevada for the Miss Nevada USA Pageant from Nov. 20-22 at UNLV. I’ll come back for that pageant, for sure.
And all my stuff is still in Las Vegas. I need to come and pick my stuff up from my roommate’s house and move it out to Cali.
And then you’ll be a Hollywood housewife.
Oh, my goodness, if they have a Hollywood housewives show, I just might be on it. I’ll be the young one.
You’ve had an extraordinary life even once living in a homeless shelter. Are you at a happiest point in your life?
I am happy in my life. I loved being Miss USA, but it was exhausting. It’s nice to be able to create my own schedule, and I finally get to be with the man I fell so in love with — I get to just focus on me, and I’m really happy.
So moving from Las Vegas to Hollywood, does the future hold a modeling or TV career?
More on TV. Focusing on hosting. I have an agent and have met with a manager with some other agents. I have been working steadily traveling around the U.S. doing motivational speaking.
Speaking about not giving up on your dreams and how to make them a reality. Becoming Miss USA took me so long. It took me five years. I’m talking to people about never giving up.
Plans for a family? You must have discussed it?
Not immediately — three to five years. We want to travel first. We have many places we wish to check off our bucket lists.
Do you look at this as a “Cinderella” story?
Absolutely! He is my best friend. He is the best man I have ever met in my entire life, and I feel so lucky to have him. If you would have asked me five years ago, I would have never thought there was a man out there like him. He is my Prince Charming.
What’s the one quality you love most about Daniel?
He is so funny. If you can find a man who can make you laugh, you are good to go!
Humor is the key to everything, right?
It is! Humor keeps you young. Laughing keeps you young. It adds years to your life. And having faith as the basis of our relationship is super important. He is an absolute gentleman. I’ve got everything in one! I’m a lucky lady.
I’m sure you’ve talked to other Miss USA winners about what life is like when you become a housewife and take off the tiara?
A lot of girls got married. Last year’s Miss USA got married just five months after giving up her crown. Everyone says that is it great, and you get to be you and get to have your career and be successful, but you get a partner in crime. It’s the best of both worlds.
So the final question has to be the one everybody will want to know the answer to: What wedding dress will you wear on Saturday?
I filmed “Say Yes to the Dress,” the long-running TV show on TLC. So it’s top secret, but I will say that it is lace, which is something that I have always wanted. I wanted a lace dress because it is not pageantry. You don’t wear lace onstage for pageants.
The show will air in the spring of next year. I went to Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, and TLC filmed the entire process of me picking out my dress. The cameras also are coming to the wedding, and they’ll be filming the ceremony. That will be part of the segment next spring.
We’ll have a permanent professional video of the entire thing. I can’t believe that in four days, I will be saying I do and become Mrs. Booko. I couldn’t be happier!
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.