It'll be a short engagement, too — the wedding is on Monday
Danielle Staub is walking down the aisle again!
The pair got engaged early Thursday morning while on a tropical getaway to the Cheval Blanc maison in St. Barth. They’re planning on flying back to the states to pick up her ring at Van Cleef, and saying their “I dos” on Monday at a ceremony at the Justice of the Peace in New York City, surrounded by friends including Staub’s pal and RHONJ costar Teresa Giudice.
“I’m madly in love,” Staub tells PEOPLE. “I’m feeling elated and excited for the next stage of my life. I’m going to marry the man of my possible dreams and hopefully I’ll spend the rest of my life in bliss.”
Maier, who is German and French, works as the managing director of Speyside Equity, a private equity firm based out of New York City.
But he tells PEOPLE he’s also the Duke of Provence, something Staub says she didn’t know about until recently. Maier says his family owns 15 vineyards in the South of France as well as two castles. Their marriage would mean that Staub would become a duchess.
News of Staub and Maier’s relationship broke Monday, when she shared a photo of them kissing on Nikki Beach in front of a rainbow.
The two had met in October through a mutual friend whom Maier was dating at the time, though didn’t start their romance until this month after sharing a passionate smooch at the Baccarat hotel.
It was far from love at first sight for Staub. “I quite frankly couldn’t stand him when I first met him,” Staub jokes, explaining that she took some time to get used to the blunt characteristics of Maier’s personality. “He’s so strong-willed, and at first, I read that as rude, and arrogant and entitled. It wasn’t until I got to know him that I saw the other side.”
She says she wasn’t looking for love, either, after her tumultuous, 10-month-long marriage to Caffrey. “I wasn’t open to it,” she confesses. “I was ready to just go out with my girlfriends in Manhattan. I didn’t want this.”
That wasn’t the case for Maier, though. He was determined and pursued Staub, attending dinners with her and her friends until he swept her off to St. Barths, where their romance blossomed.
“People don’t like to take a risk, but I took a risk,” he stresses. “Danielle’s one of the smartest people I’ve met. People have preconceived notions about her from reality TV, but she’s a smart women. And I was instantly attracted to that.”
Though he pursued Staub for weeks, she remained coy. Her friends encouraged her to go for it, she says. Eventually, Maier went in for the kiss.
“In that moment I said, ‘Wow,’ ” Staub recalls. “I still tried to push it off, but as the weeks went on, he did not let off the throttle, and he pursued me adamantly. And he got what he wanted. We fell madly in love.”
As for his ex, Maier takes the blame for how their relationship ended. “I didn’t intend for it to happen that way, it’s my mistake. If you have to blame it on someone, blame it on me, not Danielle,” he says. “I care about Danielle. She’s phenomenal, comes from a good family and is beautiful beyond belief. I’m happy we’re together.”
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This will be Maier’s second marriage. He and his ex-wife share a 12½-year-old child.
It’s Staub’s fourth marriage and 21st engagement (“Here we go again,” she jokes to PEOPLE). She and Caffrey split in August, four months after their wedding. Staub and her third husband, businessman Thomas N. Staub, split after 14 years together before RHONJ began filming. They have two daughters together: Christine, 25, and Jillian, 20.
Blending their families will come in time. Now, Staub and Maier are just looking forward to starting their lives together. The two plan on living in New York City, though Staub wants to purchase her home in New Jersey for her daughters. “Most likely we’ll be spending a lot of time in France,” she gushes. “We’ll be going to castles and all that, and living in Paris for a certain amount of months out of the year.”
“It’s going to be far different than Jersey, that’s for sure,” she says.