Four years ago, Brad Wheeler was over-weight and unhappy with his lot. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that by 2019, he would have lost almost 100kg and be marrying the love of his life.
As the 40-year-old Aucklander stands at the altar watching beautiful bride Maree walk down the aisle, he can't help but shed a few tears thinking about how much he's changed.
"My life is worlds apart now," he tells us after the ceremony. "I never thought I would get married when I was bigger, I never thought I'd find my person. Now here I am."
After a stint in hospital for cellulitis in 2015, the heavy-machine operator was motivated to turn his life around by eating healthily and working out regularly with a trainer.
As his incredible weight-loss journey began, he met Maree through mutual friends.
Smiling at her new husband, the 36-year-old supply-chain manager recalls, "I'd just come out of another relationship and I wasn't looking for anything serious. But it wasn't long before I realised he was different and started to fall for him. I could talk to him about anything. He was the first person I wanted to ring when something happened – I'd never had that in a relationship before."
After getting engaged last May, it appeared the couple were about to get their fairytale ending. But it almost came crumbling down when they had to scrap their wedding plans because their venue was put up for sale.
The stress of planning a ceremony no longer seemed worth it and the dejected couple contemplated having no party at all. But the stars aligned when Maree hit on a contest in Woman's Day to win a wedding organised by Simply Wed.
"I'd been reading about pop-up weddings and loved the idea – it sounded perfect for us," she tells. "But it was just too expensive. So when I saw the competition, I entered without even telling Brad – but I never thought we'd win!"
Within a few short months, their dream wedding had effortlessly come together.
Brad smiles, "It was small, stress-free and everything we wanted for our day."
It's a cause for double celebration for Maree, who has stood by Brad every step of the way as he underwent his dramatic, life-changing transformation.
"He can do so many amazing things now," she says proudly. "We've been parasailing, paddleboarding and gone overseas – all things he wouldn't have done before."
Brad chimes in, "There's a lot more you can do when you're 100 kilos lighter!"
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