As I walked through the front door after a long day at work, I stopped in my tracks. The stairs up towards the first-floor lounge were strewn with rose petals. Catching my breath (and trying not to be irritated by the pile of washing Phil hadn’t put away!), I slowly climbed the stairs.

The lounge was filled with candles, more rose petals and a bottle of Champagne, and Phil was holding out a ring. ‘Ashleigh, you’re the love of my life,’ he said. ‘Will you marry me?’ ‘Yes!’ I replied without hesitation. While I was bursting with excitement, there was a second thought at the back of my mind: not until I’ve lost more weight…

Phil and I had met through our part-time university jobs at a fried-chicken restaurant. I gradually got bigger as we settled into our life together and, though I tried to diet, I never really found my motivation to get slim.

By September 2015, I weighed 20st and I’d just gone up from a size 22 to a 24. Then Phil and I went on holiday. I was really looking forward to the break away, but on the plane my seatbelt wouldn’t fasten.

Suddenly, my mindset changed. No more yo-yo dieting, I decided. I’m going to join Slimming World and get the weight off for good.

With the support of my Consultant, Christina, and my group, I felt really motivated to do it properly and give Food Optimising my all.

Apart from the odd night out where I’d not think about Syns, I stayed on plan, eating lots of Free Food and measuring all of my Healthy Extras. So when Phil proposed in December 2015, I’d already lost 3st and was determined to move things up a gear!

My wedding dress was ordered in a size 14 and by the first fitting, it needed to be altered to a 12. I felt a bit sorry for the assistant when I turned up a few weeks later as a size 10!

The vintage car pulled up outside the church and as the driver helped me out, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Practically my entire Slimming World group was standing outside the church!

Walking up the aisle towards Phil in my fit-and-flare dress, the figure-hugging bodice embellished with pearls and glittering beads, I felt amazing.

After the service, Mum, who’s a nurse and has always been worried about my weight, gave me a hug. She knew I’d never have walked down the aisle when I was a size 22-24. ‘I can’t believe this day has ever happened, I’m so proud of you,’ she said. ‘I just wish I’d done it sooner,’ I replied.

I’ve been promoted twice at the bank where I work, too, and I’m sure it’s because now I believe I can do anything I put my mind to. I can reach for the stars!

My slim highlights  

12 months ago, I zipped up a pair of size-12 jeans. What a moment!

I’ve dropped 7 dress sizes in 16 months – and now I love clothes shopping!

I started Body Magic by going to the gym – first walking on the treadmill, then jogging a little, then running. Since then I’ve done Race for Life, a Muddy Maniacs 6K run and abseiled off a cathedral.

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.