As the saying goes, when you know, you know.
For Yonatan, when he first laid eyes on Makki in 2008, he knew she was something special. It was evident in the fact that he could barely muster up the words to speak to her when they met at a friend’s baby shower.
“I honestly never believed in being with only one person let alone ‘the one,'” he tells ESSENCE. “That never crossed my mind. But the moment I saw Makki at my best friend’s girlfriend’s house, it changed my life.”
“The first moment I laid eyes on her, I was stuck,” he adds. “She said ‘hello’ and I stared at her uncomfortable for a few seconds thinking of something witty to say but could only utter the word ‘hey.’ I was never a shy or timid guy, but the moment was very clear — this encounter felt different.”
For Makki though, it would take a while before she knew she’d found her person. At the time that she met Yonatan, she wasn’t as smitten. Part of that had to do with the fact that she was already in a relationship with someone else.
“I thought he was attractive but didn’t think anything of it since he wasn’t ‘my type,'” she recalls. “Yonatan on the other hand was smitten and held a candle for me.”
Despite his many attempts at courtship with her, things didn’t initially go as planned for Yonatan. The two would lose touch, and her phone number would change, but he didn’t completely give up hope.
“I remember praying one night that if I ever found an opportunity with her, I would never let her go. A couple of years went by, and I woke up to a text message from an unknown number that said, ‘Hey there, how’s it going?’ I knew it was Makki from the moment I read it. That’s when I knew she was the one,” he says.
The two would go on their first date to Starbucks for coffee, and before they knew it, the date became an all-day outing filled with good conversation, dinner, drinks and good vibes. It took a few years, but Makki finally “knew.”
“I just had this feeling, ‘Yep, this guy is a lot different than what I imagined him to be after our initial meeting.’ I had a weird calm certainty with Yonatan, almost immediately. I had never had that feeling to that degree,” she says. “Is it true that when you know you know? In our case, it absolutely did happen that way. This relationship felt different, and it felt like we had known each other forever.”
A year after their first date, Yonatan got down on one knee while he and Makki went for a walk in the park, asking for her hand in marriage. “I realized he had a box in his hand and that’s when I found out he was about to ask me to be his wife. After taking in the moment, Yonatan opened the small box that had a red velvet cupcake (I love red velvet) accompanied with a diamond ring atop. I was in such disbelief that I didn’t hear him the first time he asked me to marry him. Yonatan asked again and I was so happy that I cried for about five minutes. Rightfully, Yonatan assumed that meant ‘yes.'”
The couple, based in Virginia (and originally from Ethiopia), decided to plan their wedding in Santorini, Greece. Yonatan was taken by the “sandy beaches and white-washed towns,” finding them to be a perfect backdrop to celebrate their love. Things came together “perfect” for the couple, as they said “I do” on Sept. 9, 2022 on the island. The nuptials were the perfect mix of their Ethiopian culture and the couple’s personal style. The end result, based on the gorgeous images taken by star photographer Stanley Babb, was an unforgettable day. Check out photos from their one-of-a-kind wedding and learn more about their love in this week’s Bridal Bliss.
Makki stunned in a gown from Valdrin Sahiti.
The groom chose a lush green tuxedo jacket for the big day.
With help from a planner in the States and one in Greece, “we can honestly say every detail came out perfect.”
“My favorite moment from the wedding was when I watched Makki atop the villa steps as she began walking down towards me at the altar in her gorgeous wedding gown, looking like a queen,” Yonatan says. “That moment made me emotional.”
“God showed up and his light of presence was felt throughout the day and night,” Makki says.
Post-ceremony, the couple greet guests wearing traditional robes that symbolize royalty and luxury in Ethiopian culture.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen kept it simple and chic in flowing white gowns and black suits.
The couple made sure to have a photo shoot before the ceremony where they posed in traditional Ethiopian garb, honoring their culture even while abroad.
What are Makki and Yonatan looking forward to most about married life? “I’m most looking forward to knowing that there will be no one else I will be sharing the rest of my life with,” Yonatan says. “Living intentionally and leading Makki and our 4 children in the ways of the lord. I will always have a partner, confidant, and lover for life on this journey.” As for Makki, she says, “To spend our whole life loving each other, giving together, worshiping and growing spiritually, living intentionally for the Lord, serving together, and praying together because we strongly believe prayers are like the spiritual glue to marriage.”
Wedding Design: @blushbymakki