"When a man gets down on one knee, many women will have booked the venue, chosen their dress and organised the guest list within days of the proposal.
Not me. When my boyfriend Lindsay, now 38, popped the question, I was 22st and size 24 – the last thing I wanted to think about was waddling down the aisle. In fact, it took an incredible seven years and seven dress sizes for me to agree to finally tie the knot.
That's not to say I wasn't over the moon when he proposed on Valentine's Day 2006 after we'd been together for three years. I was beyond happy, tears stinging my eyes as I agreed to become his wife. Immediately, I started my search for wedding dresses online and it didn't take long before I came across the perfect one. Strapless, with a cinched-in waist, it was everything I'd imagined wearing on my big day. I knew it was the one for me.
But looking down at my bulky body, I also knew I couldn't wear my dream dress. I'd look ridiculous.
I'd struggled with my weight since I was 16 and started working as a waitress in a hotel in my hometown of Callander in Stirling. I worked shifts and found myself filling up on quick convenience foods. I'd grab a burger or fish and chips from the hotel for lunch and on my home I'd pick up a late-night curry from the local takeaway.
Unsurprisingly, I gained weight. And quickly. So by the time I was 19 and Lindsay asked me to marry him, I hated the way I looked. I refused to go shopping with my slim size 10 friends and when they all joined a local dance class, I stayed at home. Even if I could attempt the moves, I couldn't wear the outfits. It was mortifying.
Although I put on a brave front, I was really unhappy. And no matter how much I loved Lindsay, I knew I couldn't get married looking the way I did.
When I broke the news to him that, although I wanted to marry him, I didn't want to tie the knot until I'd lost some weight, he was incredibly supportive. Lindsay loved every inch of me and told me he would have married me whether I was a size 4 or 44.
But I couldn't see myself the way he did. I was determined to lose weight and slim down to be a beautiful bride. I tried the Atkins diet, followed a healthy eating plan set up by my GP and went to the gym. But despite my efforts, nothing worked. Yes, I lost a little bit of weight, but as soon as I hit a plateau, I'd go straight back to my old ways, indulging in chocolate and takeaways.
Each year that passed, on the anniversary of his proposal, Lindsay would send me a Valentine's card, which read: "Dear Kirsty, I love you. Are we getting married this year?" And each year, I'd have to turn him down. I felt terrible but I knew I'd feel worse as a buxom bride.
It wasn't until April 2012 that a friend told me about Scottish Slimmers. She was a member and was losing weight steadily. Feeling a fresh sense of determination, I signed up. At my first meeting, I was 16st 9lb. It was a lot lighter than I had been but I couldn't help feeling disappointed that I hadn't lost more in the six years I'd been engaged. "But that'll change now," I vowed.
At home, I started having fruit and yogurt for breakfast, homemade vegetable soup for lunch and chicken, rice and salad for dinner – a far cry from my fast-food diet. In my first week, I lost five pounds and it was less than a month before I lost a stone. I'd never had results like this and by the time September arrived, I was confident enough to tell Lindsay we could set a date.
"Give me another year and I'll marry you then," I promised. So we booked Doune Castle, Perthshire, for 7 September 2013. I knew I couldn't slip up now. So I kept going and I didn't even splurge at Christmas.
In the New Year I went back online and searched for my dream wedding dress. Luckily, it was still in stock and by now, I didn't have to worry about my weight. I entered my measurements and pressed "order".
When it arrived in April, I held my breath but it fitted perfectly. But it didn't stay that way – two weeks before my wedding, I got to my target weight of 11st 9lb and my dress was far too big. Now a size 10, I needed to have it taken in by four inches. I was delighted – especially when I got dressed on the morning of my big day. My bridesmaids told me I'd never looked prettier and, for once, I agreed – I'd never felt prettier either.
It may have taken seven years and seven dress sizes but my wedding day was picture perfect. I'll never regret waiting."
by Hannah Sweetman and Sarah Whiteley