The REAL Wedding Diaries: Festival Vibes and a SILENT DISCO?! Kirstie Stanway-Thorne’s Epic Backyard Wedding

Welcome to our series, The Real Wedding Diaries, brought to you by Hera Couture where we profile real Kiwi brides and real weddings!

There used to be a rulebook for weddings – an event venue, three-course-meal, awkward family speeches and an uncle who really shouldn’t have graced the dance floor with his presence. 

And while uncles will always be uncles, more and more couples are throwing out the rulebook and are embracing the ‘my day, my way’ ethos – and that way of thinking also extends to a bride’s choices of gown for her special day.

In partnership with Hera, Capsule will be profiling real Kiwi brides and real weddings, who decided to go their own way for their big days – and of course, how they decided on their dream dress!

This month, we speak to Auckland bride, Sky Sport presenter Kirstie Stanway-Thorne, who was keen to throw the traditional ceremony out the window and instead focus on what really mattered to her and husband Gareth – a backyard bash with a difference!

Kia ora Kirstie! Tell us about your wedding planning – what was the vibe you were after for your big day?

My husband Gareth (GT) and I always knew we didn’t want a ‘traditional’ wedding – there was nothing cookie-cutter about our day. Instead we went for real festival vibes, from the hen’s do a few days before right up to the big day itself.

Our wedding was in GT’s mum’s backyard in Queenstown, with a big tent up and a huge dancefloor so it had kind of carnival vibes, which was SO much fun.

We had a massive seafood table that my family helped put together – kina, crays and pāua and all that – with heaps of other food, food trucks, and a massive bucket of Trumpets instead of a wedding cake.

It was like a bigger version of what you’d do at home if you were having mates over, you know? We had chilly bins of drinks out, some incredible live music, lawn games and places for people to lounge. I was barefoot soon enough – and we even played flip cup!

Why did you want to do things a little different?

We wanted to the day to be a true reflection of who we are. Weddings should be about you and the person you’re marrying, right – and if that means no three-course meal and all the other ‘normal’ things you do, then fine. It was relaxed and fun – that was the goal! We’re very casual people, and we knew we just wanted to people to have fun – so it’s good food, good music and dance the night away!

Did you have any anxiety about doing things differently?

Yeah, a little – the biggest thing was that it was so hard to change our mindset around what a wedding is ‘supposed’ to be like. We knew we were at the other end of the spectrum, so there was a bit of an internal fight around what we thought people were expecting from a wedding, and what we wanted to do. It was really hard at the start – but at the end of the day, it’s YOUR wedding and you just have to do what you want to do. If it’s your perfect day, everyone else will love it.

Do you have any regrets about anything you did, or would you change any details if you were to do it again?

The only thing I would change is not being so stressed in the lead-up to it. I’m usually a very relaxed person but because we did so much of it ourselves, there was a lot going on the lead-up. Even if people would have said to me ‘don’t stress!’ I still would have. I’m a perfectionist, and I picked over the little details. At the end of the day it didn’t matter.

And did you have any ‘wow factor’ moment on your big day?

Oh yes – and it’s still being spoken about to this day! We had a silent disco. We didn’t tell anyone it was happening so it was a massive surprise, and it went OFF. Everyone loved it – and it’s not something you’d normally have at a wedding! But it really encapsulated the day perfectly for us.

Tell us about your dress journey – did you know what you wanted before you started trying on?

Like every other millennial I know, I’d been on Pinterest saving dresses since, God, before I even had a boyfriend I think! Every dress I saved was really simple because I knew I didn’t want anything over-the-top, it’s just me. Then I actually met my amazing husband-to-be and began looking properly. I went to a few shops in Australia and didn’t find anything- none of the dresses I tried on looked as good as they did on the size six models!

So I went to Hera and honestly from the moment I walked into the store, I just felt that they really wrapped you up in magic, and I just had a feeling that I’d find my dress. And I did!

What was the process like?

I knew roughly what I wanted – simple – but when it came to the specifics like material and fit, I wasn’t sure. I tried on a few dresses I thought I wanted, so I was really happy to let the experts guide me.

Do you thinking going in with an open mind is super-important when it comes to trying on dresses?

Oh my God yes, and one of the ones they brought in for me was THE dress. I knew what I wanted… but I also DIDN’T know what I wanted. You really do have to be open-minded when it comes to trying on a wedding dress because what you think will look good on you – and vice versa! – is completely different. Trust the experts – they know what they’re doing!

Tell me about the ‘one’ – why did you pick it?

It was just magic, honestly. It wasn’t a custom dress or anything, and it instantly fit me like a glove. It was just perfect, it hit in all the right places and made me feel incredible. I knew instantly that it was my dress – I remember looking into the mirror and thinking, ‘I can’t wait for GT to see me in this!’.

Notes on Kirstie’s dress from Hera Couture’s Katie Yeung:

The Sand Lily Contemporary is chic and timeless, with a splash of individuality. Clean lines and a simple silhouette make it the perfect answer for those wanting an elegant bridal look.

Created in gorgeous Bonded Georgette, the bodice features spaghetti straps and a low V neckline. The back surprises with a burst of personality where a free falling draped cowl flows from the shoulders, adding drama to this classic gown. It’s boned for bust support and has pearl buttons to secure the waist. A stunning princess line flatters the figure and ensures the perfect fit. The Sand Lily Contemporary is a minimal gown and the ultimate statement in modern style.

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