I was thrilled when my sister asked me to be her bridesmaid on her big day. But then I had a BIG problem to deal with…
By Jess Loder, 23, from Cricklade, Wiltshire
I looked in the mirror and sighed as I pulled on yet another dress. My sister Kirsty, 29, was getting married, and I was thrilled when she had asked me to be her bridesmaid. However now that I was trying on actual bridesmaid dresses, I didn’t feel so excited.
I had tried on several frocks so far, but I wasn’t really keen on any of them. I felt it was pointless – my love of junk food meant that I was hulking size 24. I was convinced that everything I put on made me look like a whale.
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t struggled with my weight. Even as a little girl I was chubby and as I got older, my love of junk food did nothing to help the situation.
It wasn’t unusual for me to order in a massive pizza just for myself and as a result, I eventually tipped the scales at 20st 10lbs.
Clothes shopping was an absolute nightmare, so instead I lived in baggy tops and stretchy leggings. And although I often painted on a smile, my confidence plummeted day by day.
Kirsty’s wedding soon arrived in August 2013. I managed to lose a bit of weight before the big day, but that morning I barely managed to squeeze myself into the purple size 20 dress.
I convinced myself it would be fine as my friends helped me yank up the zip, and then I spent the entire morning holding my breath.
Thankfully, the ceremony and photographs went really well and I started to relax into the day. So far, so good!
Soon enough, it was time for dinner and the speeches, so I grabbed a glass of champagne and settled into my seat.
The best man, Steve, had the guests in the palm of his hand with his hilarious speech and as he made yet another joke, I let out a huge belly laugh.
Suddenly, I felt a huge rip down my back, and I froze in my seat in complete horror. Slowly reaching back, I was mortified when I realised the zip on the back of my dress had burst open – and I couldn’t do it back up!
As I was on the top table, I tried not to let on what had happened and kept smiling for the sake of Kirsty and her new husband Martin. But as soon as the speeches were over I called over to my other sister, Kim, 31.
“We need to go to the bathroom straight away,” I whispered urgently. “I’ve burst out of my dress!”
When we got into the ladies room to assess the damage, Kim gasped in shock.
“I can’t do this back up for you Jess,” she said, tugging on the zip. “I’m going to have to do something extreme.”
Kim was forced to find a needle and thread and she spent ages stitching the dress back together.
It did the job, but it was so tight I shuffled around uncomfortably for the rest of the evening.
As it was sewn so tightly I had to be cut out of it at the end of the night, completely ruining the dress and embarrassing me in the process.
I tried to put the mortifying incident to the back of my mind, until May 2014, when my boyfriend of three years, Adam, 28, proposed during a trip to London.
We went on the London Eye and were thrilled when we managed to get a viewing pod completely to ourselves.
As I admired the view, I turned around to find Adam on one knee, holding out a beautiful sparkly ring.
“Will you marry me Jess?” he asked, and tears started to fill my eyes.
“Of course I will!” I squealed, throwing my arms around him and hugging him tightly.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to marry Adam. We had been together since May 2013 and there was nothing I wanted more than to be his wife.
But I spent the next six months worrying about waddling down the aisle as a wide bride. The incident at Kirsty’s wedding came flooding back – and I couldn’t stop thinking that it could happen again on my own wedding day.
Eventually the image upset me so much I decided enough was enough. In January 2015, I embarked on the Cambridge diet.
My sister Kirsty had lost weight on the plan and she looked great, and it sounded so easy to follow. Kirsty introduced me to my local consultant Lizzie, who was so friendly and encouraging, I felt really motivated to give it a go.
I swapped the pizza takeaways for meal replacement shakes and healthy home-cooked meals and I was over the moon when I lost two stone in just five weeks.
It inspired me to keep going, and every time I felt like giving up I conjured up the image of me in a beautiful white bridal gown – which worked a treat.
Getting married turned out to be the best incentive I’d ever had for losing weight. After a year I’d shed an amazing 7st 3lbs and I shrunk to a slinky size 12.
I was overjoyed and Adam thought I looked amazing. I knew he had always loved me for who I was, but he couldn’t believe the change in my confidence.
After my hideous bridesmaid dress disaster I can’t wait to finally glide down the aisle in a slinky, off-the-peg wedding dress when we marry in May 2016.
I still cringe when I see my sister’s wedding album, but I’m glad I was shamed into action. Being a bulging bridesmaid helped me become a beautiful bride!