Scientist Karen Hanrahan chose the sunny Vila Vita Park Resort in Portugal to say ‘I do’ to Restaurateur Jules Mak.
Photography: Branquinho Photographers
The couple met at a party in the summer of 2010. Karen’ friend was newly seeing one of Jules’ friends and invited her to join as moral support. Karen really didn’t want to go out that night, but looking back she says she is so glad that she did! Jules offered her his seat so she wasn’t left standing and the couple got chatting and immediately warmed to each other. She was struck by how safe she felt around him – it was like they had met in a previous life.
“The best decision I ever made was to go out that night and meet Jules.”
The couple got engaged at New Years in 2016, and funnily enough sooner than he had planned! Knowing Karen would want to choose her own engagement ring, Jules popped into Loulerie on Chatham Street in Dublin, which their friend Louise Stokes owns, to borrow one of her beautiful engagement rings for the proposal. He had originally planned to organise a weekend away over the next couple months, but with the sudden fear of losing this expensive diamond ring, panic struck that evening and he rushed home and asked her if she wanted to bring their dog Bert for a walk. They went to a nearby lake and spotted two swans and their baby gliding through the water and playfully joked ‘Look, they’re a family, just like you, me and Bert!’ She turned around and he was down on one knee. The dog even knew what was happening, as he went hysterical! It was a really special moment.
Although only three weeks engaged, Karen and her Mom got a bit ahead of themselves and on a whim booked an appointment with Myrtle Ivory in Dublin. Although they made it very clear they weren’t buying that day, and that it was purely for inspirational purposes when they came out with this beautiful Anna Kara gown, Karen and her mom immediately knew it was the one. Her mom’s tears said it all and Karen said yes to the dress there and then! Karen and her mom later visited again to purchase the veil and handpicked one with delicate French lace edging to match the lace of her Anna Kara gown. "I will really cherish those trips I made to Myrtle Ivory with my mother – they were magical, effortless and so fun!"
The couple knew the moment they got engaged that they wanted to get married abroad. It was by pure chance that they stumbled across the beautiful Senhora da Rocha in the Algarve and immediately knew this was where they wanted to say ‘I do’. Being a Chef, Jules’ main focus for the wedding was the food for the guests, so it was like the stars aligned when they realised that this beautiful cliff top location was less than five minutes’ drive from the two-star Michelin, Vila Vita Parc Resort and Spa. The couples Wedding Planner Carla took them on a tour around the grounds of Vila Vita Parc that day, for the couple to discover that the wedding reception would be held overlooking a lake with a family of swans. Poor Jules didn’t even have a chance – there were tears, more tears and before he could even ask ‘how much?’ it was a big YES from Karen!
As both the ceremony and Day Two BBQ were by the beach, the couple wanted the entertainment for both to be relaxed, with a chilled, beachy vibe. They had two beautiful singers and a pianist for the ceremony at Senhora da Rocha and a fantastic beach-style band for the Day Two beach BBQ. On the night of their wedding, Karen and Jules danced the night away to a DJ at Vila Vita Parc’s resident Moroccan-themed nightclub, with Jules’ best friend Dec (music producer and DJ, Krystal Klear) hopping on the decks for a phenomenal set later that night.
Lyndsey Cavanagh of One Dame Lane Beauty in Dublin was in charge of bridal beauty. Aside from being incredibly experienced in bridal make-up, facials and skincare, she brings calming energy into every room she enters. Karen knew Lyndsey would not only make her beautiful on the day but would lower her blood pressure in the process - a much-needed bonus for any bride on the morning of their wedding!
For Karen one of the highlights of her wedding was the morning in the Bridal Suite; her Maid of Honour and cousin Elaine and her bridesmaid Vita had just flown in from New York and bridesmaid Lauren had just travelled the whole way from Australia! It’s a rare occurrence to have all of the girls in the same room, let alone on holidays together – so it was really special having everyone reunited together in Portugal! She also had her oldest friends Kate and Bryony by her side; they’ve been best friends since they were four years old and have shared each and every one of life’s milestones together over the years. As a really special gift, Karen’s incredibly talented bridesmaid Kelly designed the table plan, menus and place settings for the wedding reception. She knew exactly the kind of vision the couple had for the wedding and together with Vila Vita’s phenomenal Wedding Planner Rita, was instrumental in helping them create the perfect dinner ambience for their guests.
“The best decision we ever made was to stay true to ourselves as a couple about what we wanted for our wedding day. Wedding planning can be stressful and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the details or succumb to the pressure of having it a certain way. We always kept it simple and with that, every moment of our day felt relaxed, fun and was filled with laughter!”
“The worst decision was not going on honeymoon immediately after the wedding. We had discussed it together and genuinely felt that after two weeks in the sun we simply wouldn’t appreciate a honeymoon straight after Portugal. Aside from that, Jules was just about to open up his second Mak restaurant in Zozimus on Anne’s Lane, so was keen to get back to work. I never thought post-wedding blues was a thing until it hit me exactly one week after getting married when I was back sitting at my desk in work!”