In one’s life, love is bound to take over at any time and any place. Educator and philanthropist Ariana Austin discovered this in the cutest way when she met legal analyst and Ethiopian prince Joel Makonnen at a D.C. nightclub.
In a piece for The New York Times, the coupled shared their “how they met” story, which was better than any Disney fairy tale. The two met at the Pearl nightclub in 2005. At the time, both were in school working on their degrees.
Makonnen, also known as Prince Yoel, approached Austin with a cheesy pickup line. “I said, ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,’ or whatever the gin was,” he recalled. “Not even five minutes later I said, ‘You’re going to be my girlfriend.’ ”
His dream turned to reality a short while later when two began dating. For some time, Makonnen kept his royal roots a secret. The 35-year-old is the great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. His parents, Prince David Makonnen and Princess Adey Imru Makonnen, gave birth to him in Rome, where they lived in exile. As history tells it, Selassie fought against colonialism while introducing politically progressive practices to the region. He’s also credited for the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and a noted as a messiah among the Rastafari movement.
As the two continued the travel for work purposes, their relationship strained. They eventually found their way back to each other and Makonnen proposed.
“I think I said, ‘Let’s take this journey together,’ ” Makonnen said. “When I proposed she was like, ‘It’s about time.’ ”
Austin, a Harvard graduate, also carries royal roots: Her maternal grandfather was a lord mayor of Georgetown, Guyana.
Their Sept. 9 ceremony was deemed “Old World aristocracy meets New World charm.” A total of 13 priests and clergymen helped officiate the Ethiopian Orthodox wedding. “It’s unbeatable heritage and history,” Austin said of their family backgrounds. “It combines sheer black power and ancient Christian tradition.”
Insert all the heart-eyed emojis.
Read more about the couple’s big day here.