Newly-wed mother drops eight stone to fit into her dream dress

Bride who lived on Chinese takeaways and chocolate bars loses 8st to fit into her dream dress and walks down the aisle to gasps from relatives who hardly recognised her

  • Gemma Dobbings, 32, weighed 17 stone and could not find clothes to fit her size 
  • The mother-of-one, from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, dropped to 9st 3lbs
  • Prior to weight loss she would consume chocolate bars, crisps and takeaways

A bride who lost eight stone in a year to fit into the ‘dress of her dreams’ walked down the aisle to ‘gasps’ from relatives who hardly recognised her.

Gemma Dobbing, 32, from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, was too focused on raising her son Charlie, now three, to pay attention to looking after herself. 

She lived on Chinese takeaways and chocolate bars and at her heaviest weighed 17st.

The council worker couldn’t bear to go on nights out with friends because she struggled to find clothes to fit her size 22 figure.

But after booking her wedding in October 2018 and finding the perfect dress, Gemma set herself the challenge of squeezing into the gown in less than a year.

Gemma Dobbing, 32, from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, weighed 17 stone before her weight loss journey and struggled to find clothes

After setting a wedding day, Gemma set herself the challenge of fitting into her dream size 14 wedding dress

She described how guests at the ceremony gasped as she entered the wedding venue and said her partner Alan (left) had a tear in his eye as she walked down the aisle

Two weeks ago, the beaming bride walked down the aisle to audible gasps from relatives who could hardly recognise her. 

She said: ‘It’s a massive achievement. I was so happy.

‘When I bought my dream dress, it didn’t even fit. It didn’t close fully.

‘I was a size 22 and it was size 14 – but it was the dress of my dreams.

‘My mum said ”you really shouldn’t do this” as I signed a waiver, confirming I was aware that it didn’t fit when I bought it.

‘We’d been storing the dress at my mother-in-law’s house for the last year, but eight weeks ago it went to the dressmaker for alterations.

‘I was convinced it wasn’t going to fit. I panicked.

‘When I put it the dress on it still didn’t fit – but this time it was too big!

‘We had to take four and a half inches off the waist.

Prior to her weight loss journey, Gemma (pictured with Alan) would consume chocolate bars and crisps for lunch and Chinese takeaways or pizza for dinner 

The mother-of-one said that her diet began to spiral out of control as she focused on raising her son Charlie who is now three

Gemma (pictured with Charlie) realised her 17 stone weight was also making her acute asthma worse

‘I hit my target three days before the wedding on September 19. I was a size eight and weighed just 9st 3lbs. I’d finally done it.’

After being with her partner Alan, 40, for seven years, Gemma claimed he never commented on her weight, but instead told her to do what she needed to do to feel good.

However as the big day arrived, Alan was left with a tear in his eye as he turned around to see his beautiful wife walking down the aisle. 

For family members who lived further afield, it was the first time they had seen Gemma since her weight loss journey began and they gasped at her incredible transformation.

Gemma said: ‘A lot of my family live far away and they hadn’t seen me, so when I walked down the aisle you could hear people gasping.

‘It made my day. It was amazing.

The council worker  (with Charlie) was also told by her respiratory nurses that she needed to lose weight

‘Alan had always just said to me to do what I want to do, but when he saw me on our wedding day, he had a tear in his eye and said I looked beautiful and like a princess.’

Prior to her weight loss, Gemma had survived on a diet of chocolate and crisps for breakfast, fish and chips with bread for lunch and takeaways for dinner.

And after a lifetime suffering with acute asthma, she realised her weight was making the condition worse – with medics even telling her to lose weight.

The last straw came when Gemma looked at pictures of her little boy’s birthday party and didn’t recognise herself.

Gemma said: ‘Friends would invite me on nights out and initially I would say yes, but then on the day I would change my mind.

‘I didn’t have any clothes to fit me. I would just wear a baggy t-shirt or leggings. I suddenly didn’t like to go out.

‘I stopped going out and being myself because of my weight.

‘I was already in ill health, including lung disease and acute asthma, and I’d been in critical care in hospital 14 times in a year.

‘I’ve always had bad lungs, but I think they struggled supporting me more when I was overweight.

‘The respiratory nurses said I needed to lose weight, but I would think ‘who are they telling me to lose weight?’

Gemma (pictured before weight loss with Alan and Charlie) decided to set herself a year to make her dramatic weight loss

After getting engaged in 2018, Gemma swapped her takeaways for healthier alternatives 


Gemma, pictured half way through her weight loss, swapped last minute morning sugar for overnight oats with berries during her weight loss journey 

‘I had a party for my son’s second birthday in August last year, at Build a Bear Factory.

‘I saw a photo of myself on Facebook with Charlie on my hip and I thought ”oh my god, is that really me?”

‘By that point, I felt ashamed of myself. I didn’t know how I could have let myself get like that.

Gemma’s diet before 

Breakfast – chocolate bars and crisps

Lunch – fish and chips, bread & butter

Dinner – takeaway Chinese or pizza with kebab

Snacks – sausage rolls, crisps, sandwiches

Gemma’s diet now 

Breakfast – overnight oats and natural yoghurt and fruit

Lunch – WW wrap and pizza topping with measured cheese

Dinner – Diet Coke chicken with rice

Snacks – HiFi bars, fruit

‘Just over a week later I joined Slimming World. I’ve only been a member for just over a year.

‘I’ll never be cured of the asthma or lung disease, but I feel I can breathe more freely now.’

After a month of following the plan religiously, the plus-size mother had already lost half a stone.

She swapped last-minute morning sugar for overnight oats with berries and her chip suppers were swapped for healthy wraps or chicken and rice.

Gemma said when she bought her wedding dress it wouldn’t ‘close fully’ because she was a size 22 and the dress was a size 14

The happy bride said that for seven years Alan had never commented on her weight, but was left teary-eyed when he saw his wife on their big day


On September 19, three days before her wedding ceremony, Gemma had hit her target of 9st 3lbs and was overjoyed at the results 

Gemma added: ‘I went to the first meeting and was like ”oh my god, how do I walk through that door myself?” But everyone was so supportive.

‘By September 19, I’d lost half a stone and the following month we booked our wedding.

‘The next month I went to the bridal shop and bought a wedding dress for the following September.

‘It made me determined to stay on plan. I knew I wanted to fit into that dress.

‘It’s tough to keep going. I got bored of the same meals because I wasn’t mixing up the recipes and by December, I almost quit.

Gemma said that her partner Alan told her she looked beautiful and ‘like a princess’ on their big day

‘My friend Bex joined too to give me motivation and I learnt to cook from fresh.

‘There were points where my weight plateaued. I was trying so hard but for a few weeks I wouldn’t lose anything.

‘Now I plan each meal. I’ll sit down on Thursday and plan Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then on Monday I’ll plan the next three days.

‘It’s amazing to be able to run around with Charlie now and keep up.’

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