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Few love stories resemble a fairy tale as much as the courtship and marriage of Ariana Austin and Joel Makonnen. Of course, it helped that the groom is an actual prince and the bride has a prominent lineage of her own. Makonnen, known as Prince Yoelis the year-old great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. And Ms. Austin, 33, is of African-American and Guyanese descent; her maternal grandfather was a lord mayor of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.

In an incense-filled sanctuary, guests in stockinged feet watched as at least 13 priests and clergymen helped officiate the Ethiopian Orthodox ceremony between Mr. Makonnen and Ms. Austin, who just days before had converted to the religion.

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Hours after the ceremony, the pair celebrated with a formal reception at Foxchase Manor in Manassas, Va. Their marriage had been more than a decade in the making. In the nearly 12 years since they first met on a dance floor at the Washington nightclub Pearl, in DecemberMr.

Austin have pursued degrees, jobs and, at times, each other. Austin said.

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When the two met, Mr. Austin about his royal background, and Ms. Makonnen, himself in bachelor mode, approached Ms. Austin and her friend Jami Ramberan, and told the two women that they looked like models for a brand of alcohol. Makonnen recalled of the pickup line, one now infamous with Ms.

At the wedding, even Ms. Makonnen quickly focused on Ms. Austin remembered being impressed with Mr. He grew up in Switzerland; his father died in Things that sound heavy for someone who was That year, a civil war in Ethiopia broke out after Haile Selassiethe th emperor of Ethiopia, was deposed by a Marxist Derg military coup. By the time of his death under mysterious circumstances init was clear that Mr. Selassie had presided over a country divided by his legacy.

He was deposed after months of political unrest directed at his administration, which was accused of being spendthrift and out of touch. The civil war lasted until a coalition of rebel groups overthrew the government in The emperor, though, had been a powerful proponent of African anticolonialism, a leader adept at securing foreign aid for his country and pushing education initiatives.

Austin said she has marveled at the lore surrounding her new family, one whose lineage was said to reach back to the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

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For ambitious couples, meeting and falling in love at a young age can quickly present the kind of timing problems that can doom a relationship. And Mr. Austin found themselves circling the globe without each other, though they remained in touch. After graduating from American University inMr. Makonnen took a six-month internship in France. Then Ms. Austin went to Paris for a year. InMr. Makonnen returned to France and went on to Ethiopia, where he ed his uncle in starting Alchemy World, an organization meant to provide young Ethiopians with business and educational opportunities.

By the time Ms. They took some time off from each other that year. Makonnen, who was finishing up his law degree at Howard University, bought a princess-cut diamond ring and showed up at the home of Ms. Perhaps a bit nervous, he knocked too loudly, leading Ms. Austin to think the house was being burglarized.

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She called her parents, who were returning home from a dinner party. He came back, and then I opened the door. Finally, nearly a decade after they had met, both were in the same region. Makonnen said. They said they owed it to each other to try and set down roots, and both have settled into life in the Washington area.

Makonnen works in the legal department of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, and Ms. Both have tried to use their skills to help each other. When Ms. Makonnen gave her ideas for the project.

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And she wants to help him create a documentary about his great-grandfather. Despite all of the globe-trotting, those close to the couple say there were never doubts that the two would end up together. They have a deep-rooted friendship beyond anything else.

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Yaphet Kifle, a groomsman, said the two families had come together seamlessly. The couple say that the merging of their families came with only minor growing pains. Austin and her family had negotiated to bring her wishes into the tradition of an Ethiopian Orthodox ceremony. She had pushed for her father to walk her down the aisle, an unusual custom in this church. She was successful.

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Of the reception, Mr. But he relaxed as he jokingly chided his three daughters for dancing and thanked several high-profile guests for attending. Other guests included several of Mr. Traylor, a scholar of African-American literature; and J.

Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, could not attend but sent along her best wishes.

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Todd said from his seat near the reception dance floor. When Bobby and Joy ask you to show up, you show up.

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After the dancing died down, Mr. Austin, true to form, were planning to turn to the next thing on their to-do list: moving in together in Washington. On their wedding day, Ms. Austin still lived with a roommate in Washington, and Mr. Makonnen was in Alexandria, Va. His premonition proved correct.

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