When Valerie Walker married her husband, Michael, 14 years ago, she, like every bride-to-be, had a lot on her mind. But one thing stood out most of all: her weight, which, at one point, crept up to 354 pounds.
"I have struggled with my weight since I was a little girl," says Valerie, who hails from Hewlett, New York. "I would walk down the block — two blocks and my knees would hurt. And it was difficult for me to sit in a movie theater chair."
She goes on, "I was about to get married, and I was frightened because I really wanted to be healthy for my husband and for the family we wanted to start."
That's when she decided to have weight-loss surgery, which helped her lose 185 pounds — which she's managed to keep off all these years!
And there's one thing she wants to do more than anything else to celebrate: find the wedding dress of her dreams — the one she felt she couldn't fit into when she first got married — and renew her vows with her husband.
So we called up our good friend, style guru Gretta Monahan, to help Valerie find THE dress, and she rose to the challenge.
All the way up to everyone's dream wedding boutique, the famed Kleinfeld Bridal in NYC!
"This is so surreal!" Valerie says the moment she walks in. "The idea of redoing my wedding as the person I am now is truly exciting for me. I have an opportunity to start fresh."
And to finally see herself as she should. While trying on a whole slew of dream dresses, Valerie stops on one: "I feel beautiful… I am beautiful."
We know, we're crying, too!
Watch the video above to see her ultimate pick — and her husband's reaction to seeing his gorgeous wife in her dream dress. You'll see them renew their vows courtesy of Weddings By Sarah Ritchie before they jet off on JetBlue Airways for a second honeymoon in Barbados! (Really, grab that hankie!)
P.S. Gretta's secret to finding your dream wedding dress, no matter your size: Consider an A-line silhouette. "They're slimming to the hips, they define the waist, and they whittle the top," she says. Hear you loud and clear, Gretta!