Not slowing down! Katie Thurston and John Hersey are not pumping the brakes on their new relationship, despite criticism from some fans about the speed at which she moved on from ex-fiancé Blake Moynes.
The former Bachelorette, 30, and the bartender, 27, made their red carpet debut as a couple at their mutual friend Stephen Lovegrove’s First Noelle Ball on Thursday, December 2. Us Weekly broke the news in November that they would attend the event together.
The duo first shared Instagram Stories of each other getting ready together for the event before heading out and posing together on the carpet.
Other guests included Bachelor Nation’s Katie Morton, Tammy Ly and Cassie Randolph, who attended with boyfriend Brighton Reinhardt.
“I am unbelievably grateful to Krista and the entire team at Maverick’s for helping me bring my vision to life,” Lovegrove told Us about the event. “This was the holiday party of my dreams. They helped me create it from the ground up, and I expect this to be a new annual tradition that only gets bigger and better every year! Thank you to everybody that came and celebrated with me. It was a magical night that I know we will never forget.”
Thurston confirmed on November 23 that she is dating Hersey when she ended her “12 Days of Messy” challenge by dedicating Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again” to the contestant she sent home during week two of season 17 and remained friends with after filming. The news came less than one month after she announced her split from Moynes, 31, whom she got engaged to during the August Bachelorette finale.
The wildlife manager reacted to his ex’s new romance one day later. “I really don’t think there was any physical cheating there, but there [was] clearly emotional [cheating] for it to transition as quickly as it did. I feel stupid and foolish for allowing it to happen, to some degree,” he said during the November 24 episode of the “Talking It Out With Bachelor Nation” podcast.
Moynes noted that he was blindsided when Thurston revealed her status with Hersey. “Everyone is asking questions like I have the answers. I don’t. I had no idea,” the former season 16 Bachelorette star shared. “When everyone heard this, I heard the exact same thing. There was speculation, I think, obviously, but I really thought there was no way just based on the timeline.”
“You guys — she was engaged. It is apparent that many of you misjudge how both her and I view that commitment,” he wrote in a letter posted via Reddit on Friday, November 26. “Neither Katie nor I would ever cheat, push someone to cheat or be involved in cheating. It is not in our nature. It is not acceptable. It is not OK. On second thought, maybe this message deserves its own paragraph: There was no wrongdoing prior to the end of their engagement.”
Hersey acknowledged that the timeline seemed “fast and messy” to fans, but he defended his and Thurston’s choice to take things to the next level anyway.
He concluded: “Once Katie and I realized there was a romantic connection that we were interested in exploring, we were not starting from scratch; we were building off of the foundation of a close friendship through which we had already gotten to know each other so well. … Our decision to come out publicly was a decision to pursue happiness in the way we wanted.”
Scroll down to see photos from their first red carpet: