Ariana Austin’s marriage to Prince Joel Makonnen of Ethiopia is a real life fairytale. From an improbable meeting to a gorgeous wedding, this is their story.
It’s crazy how life works. This couple met in 2005 at the Washington club Pearl where the prince told Austin, 33, that she and her friends looked like some models from “an ad from Bombay Sapphire.”
Makonnen, 35, immediately fell for the beautiful woman. He told the New York Times:
“Not even five minutes later I said, ‘You’re going to be my girlfriend.’”
But he didn’t tell Austin right away about his royal heritage. He is the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s last emperor before the country was wrecked by civil war in 1974.
Born in Rome and raised in Switzerland, his parents Prince David Makonnen and Princess Adey Imru Makonnen were living in exile.
Both of the couple are really ambitious and hard-working and they have had their challenges through their twelve years together: internships in Paris, organization in Ethiopia and then a return to the US where the couple broke it off in 2012.
They never managed to stay away from each other for too long though.
“In many ways, it feels like this day was written,” Sushama Austin-Connor, Ms. Austin’s sister, said during the reception. “Ever since I have seen them together they always have been connected to each other.”
So, in 2014, Makonnen was waiting to make that connection official. He went to her parent’s house to propose with a ring and balloons.
“I think I said, ‘Let’s take this journey together,’” Mr. Makonnen said. “When I proposed she was like, ‘It’s about time.’”
On September 9th, the couple had a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox ceremony with 13 clergymen officiating, Ethiopian food and a black cake from Austin’s ancestral Guyana.
The groomsman, Yaphet Kifle noted: “You can tell they both value the same things: a deep respect for families and their elders, and the value of marriage,” he said at the reception.
Even though Austin is impressed by the heritage of her new family she says: “But the relationship is ultimately based on deep mutual respect and connection that has existed between them since day one. When talking about their earlier relationship, Austin says, “I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny.”
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