American woman, 33, marries Ethiopian prince, 35, in a lavish wedding 12 years after they met in a Washington, DC nightclub

October 16, 2017
               News
  • Ariana Austin, 33, married 35-year-old Joel Makonnen, a great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia, on September 9 in Maryland 
  • The couple married 12 years after they met on the dance floor of Washington, DC nightclub Pearl 
  • Makonnen picked Austin up by saying she looked like a model in a Bombay Sapphire advertisement 
  • Makonnen, now a lawyer for Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, is related to Emperor Haile Selassie I through his second son, Prince Makonnen  
  • He was born in Rome, where his family lived in exile after a 1974 military coup
  • The Ethiopian royal family claims descent to the Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba  

By Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com

An American woman became an African princess last month when she married into the royal family of Ethiopia - after meeting her future husband at a modern day 'ball'. 

Ariana Austin, 33, married 35-year-old lawyer Joel Makonnen, a great-grandson of Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia, on September 9 in Maryland. 

The couple married 12 years after they first met on the dance floor of Washington, DC nightclub Pearl. 

Makonnen told the New York Times that he hit on his future bride and her friend using a cheesy pick-up line. 

Ariana Austin, 33 (right), married 35-year-old Joel Makonnen, a great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia, on September 9

+17Ariana Austin, 33 (right), married 35-year-old Joel Makonnen, a great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia, on September 9

The couple got married 12 years after meeting at a Washington, DC nightclub called Pearl

+17The couple got married 12 years after meeting at a Washington, DC nightclub called Pearl

Last month, a group of 13 priests married the two in an Orthodox Ethiopian Christian ceremony

+17Last month, a group of 13 priests married the two in an Orthodox Ethiopian Christian ceremony

The bride and groom wore crowns and capes, making them look like the true royals they are

+17The bride and groom wore crowns and capes, making them look like the true royals they are

Makonnen's great grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie I, ruled the African nation from 1930 until 1974, when he was overthrown in a coup

+17Makonnen's great grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie I, ruled the African nation from 1930 until 1974, when he was overthrown in a coup

Makonnen was born in Italy, where his family was living in exile, and grew up in Switzerland 

+17Makonnen was born in Italy, where his family was living in exile, and grew up in Switzerland 

When the couple met, Makonnen was studying at American University. He went on to get his law degree from Howard. Austin got a master's from Harvard in arts education 

+17When the couple met, Makonnen was studying at American University. He went on to get his law degree from Howard. Austin got a master's from Harvard in arts education 

'I said, 'You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,' or whatever the gin was,' Mr. Makonnen recalled.  

Pictured above in Makonnen's great-grandfather, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I

+17Pictured above in Makonnen's great-grandfather, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I

Makonnen says he immediately knew he wanted to date Austin. 

'Not even five minutes later I said, 'You're going to be my girlfriend,'' he said. 

While Makonnen didn't immediately tell Austin about his family, the truth about his heritage came out as they started to seriously date and it's something that fascinates Austin. 

She appears excited to be a part of a family that traces their roots back to the Biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. 

'It's unbeatable heritage and history,' Austin said. 'It combines sheer black power and ancient Christian tradition.'

The two married last month in an elaborate Ethiopian Orthodox Christian wedding involving 13 priests in Temple Hills, Maryland. 

The bride and groom both wore crowns and capes in the ceremony, making them look like the true royals they are. 

While Austin may not have royal blood in her background, she does come from an African American/Guyanese family with rich histories abroad. Her maternal grandfather was lord mayor of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. 

Austin wore a dress from Lazaro and broke with Ethiopian tradition in having her father walk her down the aisle 

+17Austin wore a dress from Lazaro and broke with Ethiopian tradition in having her father walk her down the aisle 

Austin's bridesmaids wore pink gowns. The bridal party pictured above holding up Austin's dress 

+17Austin's bridesmaids wore pink gowns. The bridal party pictured above holding up Austin's dress 

Austin and Makonnen hosted 307 guests at a formal reception in Virginia 

+17Austin and Makonnen hosted 307 guests at a formal reception in Virginia 

Makonnen took these series of fun shots of his bride celebrating with a bottle of champagne 

+17Makonnen took these series of fun shots of his bride celebrating with a bottle of champagne 

The bridal party pictured with Makonnen in this bathroom shot 

+17The bridal party pictured with Makonnen in this bathroom shot 

Hours before the ceremony, they hosted a formal reception at Foxchase Manor in Manassas, Virginia where their 307 guests dined on platters of Ethiopian food and pre-boxed slices of Guyanese black cake.

Makonnen, or Prince Yoel as he is officially known, is related to the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, through his second son, Prince Makonnen. 

Haile Salassie ruled Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, when he was overthrown by a Marxist Derg military coup. 

SOURCE : DAILY MAIL

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