As I slowly laced up the bodice on Tracey’s gown, the photographer merrily clicked away.
‘Beautiful…lovely…great,’ he murmured as I sucked in my tummy and tried not to breathe.
Finally, he put down his camera.Thank God. It was bad enough having to pose for the obligatory group wedding shots but my sister Tracey had wanted reportage-style shots of the whole sodding day.
‘OK Tracey, let’s have one of you helping your sister to get ready now,’ he smiled.
I grimaced inwardly. That was the last thing I needed, Tracey winching up the zip on my size 20 dress captured on film forever.
But what could I do? It was Tracey’s Big Day. So I just gritted my teeth and prayed the flash wouldn’t go off.
It did.
‘Look at me!’ I sobbed as my boyfriend Pete drove me to the church.
‘You look lovely.’ He soothed.
‘I look like a blimmin’ plum pudding!’ I roared as my tummy growled.
Just then, Archie started wailing from the back seat. He was hungry too.
‘You need to stop being so hard on yourself,’ he said. ‘Stop being so hard on yourself.’
It was true, but still I couldn’t help feeling like a big, fat lump.
I’d always struggled with my weight. Whereas Tracey had been a steady size-12, I’d gone up and down dress sizes over the years.
I’d been on Weightwatchers for years and although I did lose weight, I’d always end up falling off the wagon.
Andthen, I got pregnant with Archie and slowly, the scales shot up from 12-and-a-half to 16 stone.
And now, a month after having him, I’d only lost a few pounds.
My crimson satin dress had already been made bigger once. But despite an extra panel being added – my 38G boobs still spilled over the top.
Bridesmaids were supposed to look sweet and innocent, dainty and petite. But I felt matronly and unattractive. A real mess.
As we finally arrived at the church, I took a deep breath. ‘Wish me luck,’ I said, heaving myself out the car with tears forming in my eyes.
It wasn’t the emotion of the day it was the thought of everyone seeing how fat I looked.
I hated having to walk down the aisle. I was sure that all eyes were on my massive bum. Pippa Middleton I most definitely was not. At least there were no other bridesmaids for people to compare me with.
For the rest of the day I burned with shame as friends and family cooed and clicked away with their cameras. As I slunk to the back of every shot, head down, I just wanted it all to be over.
As soon as we arrived back at the hotel for the reception I managed to hide away in my room for most of the day.
‘Tell them I’m feeding Archie,’ I begged Pete.
‘You can’t hide in here for ever,’ he said.
I gave it a pretty good go…
And when, later that evening the DJ finally packed up I couldn’t help feeling relieved. I’d got through it. It was over.
Back home, I stuck my dress at the very back of my wardrobe. Not that I ever imagined wearing it again.
And caught up in a whirl of dirty nappies and night feeds, it soon became just a bad memory.
At least it did until Tracey came round with the photo album.
‘Aren’t they great?’ she beamed as I took in page after page of humiliating snaps.
‘You should see them,’ I wailed to Pete that evening. ‘I look terrible!’
Out of all the photos she’d showed me there were just two that were OK – and those were head shots.
‘So I’ve decided,’ I said as I banged down to plates of stir-fried veg. ‘We’re going on a diet.’
Pete had put on a stone-and-a-half in sympathy too.
A woman on a mission, I embarked upon an extreme diet I’d devised myself – cereal for breakfast, fruit and diet coke for lunch and whatever I made for Pete in the evening.
Within a month I’d lost a stone.
But eventually, I started craving chocolate. Being tired didn’t help.
Determined to reach my goal of 12 stone I went to see my doctor. He prescribed All I weight loss tablets and a healthy diet.
‘They can have some nasty side effects if you eat too much fat,’ he warned.
I’d heard. It was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Gradually, I lost another two stone, was starting to feel more like the old me.
But then, in March 2010 I found out I was pregnant.
I was delighted. We’d been trying for a little brother or sister for Archie,
Dieting went to back of my mind. I had my baby to think about now.
Still, I still ate sensible. I didn’t want to pile on the weight again. Despite what celebrities might say I knew that, unfortunately, it didn’t just fall off after the birth!
Then, when I was 12 weeks gone, Pete asked me to marry him.
‘Yes!’ I cried. I was over the moon.
But with the mention of weddings, images of the giant red bridesmaid frock rushed through my mind. I may have been a giant bridesmaid, but there was no way I was being a fat bride!
‘I will marry you,’ I backtracked. ‘But not until I’ve lost my baby weight. I’m not waddling down the aisle!
‘Whatever you want,’ he agreed.
So this time, as my bump grew, we both ate more sensibly. Stir fries, fish, vegetables…
Of course there was the odd treat but no ‘eating for two’.
Thomas arrived that December weighing just over 9lb. As for me –
‘Sixteen stone,’ I announced after I’d had my six-week check-up.
I started dieting straight away.  Porridge or bran flakes for breakfast, fruit for lunch and a healthy meal with Pete in the evening. I’d allow myself a square of dark chocolate or a few marshmallows, too.
And if I felt like I cheating I only had to look at the photo of me in that awful bridesmaid dress that I pinned to the fridge to make me put down the biscuit tin.
By February I’d lost a stone. A month later, I was another stone down.

I started exercising, doing my Davina DVD at home while the boys napped. And after I’d dropped Archie at nursery, I’d take Thomas for a long walk in the buggy.
And if I ever felt like relaxing on the sofa with a cup of tea and biscuit instead I only had to look at that photo of me in that dress to remind me exactly how I didn’t want to look like when I walked down the aisle and before I knew it I’d be putting on my shoes.
I even posted it on Facebook too for extra inspiration along with my daily goals – ‘five mile walk with the buggy today’ so I couldn’t duck out of them.
My friends cheered me on – ‘Wow! You’re doing so well!’
It gave me a little boost every time I turned on my computer.
After nine months I was thrilled to have gone from a size 20 to a size 14 and 12-and-a-half stone. – the weight I was before I got pregnant with Archie.
To celebrate I ordered my wedding dress off ebay. White silk with an embroidered bodice covered with sequins and pearls and tight fishtail skirt, it was gorgeous – and something I’d never have got into a year ago.
‘Order a size smaller,’ Pete said. ‘As a goal.’
But I refused. It was too much pressure.
Only by the time the dress arrived a fortnight later it was already too big.
By now I’d joined the gym, too, was doing strenuous Body Pump classes four nights a week. It had obviously made a difference.
‘I don’t believe it!’ I laughed as I arranged for it to be taken in. It was a massive confidence boost.
And encouraged, I kept on dieting.
‘Don’t lose too much weight,’ Pete said. ‘I don’t want you to disappear!’
But I was being sensible.  Still, a few weeks before the wedding, my dress needed yet more alterations.
And by the time my wedding day rolled around I glided down the aisle a slinky size 10 – half the size I’d been as a bridesmaid – I felt amazing.
This time, I happily posed for pictures. And my smiles were genuine. It really was the happiest day of my life.
Tracey was my bridesmaid now – though not wearing a sating sack!
‘I can’t believe how different you look!’ she said.
Neither could I. But as much as I hated that bridesmaids dress, I knew I had a lot to thank it for. It had been the push I’d needed to lose more than five stone.
Now, two months on, I still have it crammed in the back of my wardrobe. I’ve hung it next to my wedding dress. A size-20 red satin flag warning me of what could happen if I go back to my old ways!