Walking into a bridal boutique in Lancashire, Kerry Katona broke down in tears as she admitted she feels she “doesn’t deserve” to be choosing a wedding dress.
Kerry, 40 – who rose to fame as part of girl group Atomic Kitten in the ’90s – had an emotional outburst while taking part in reality show Say Yes To The Dress, amid preparations for her fourth wedding to fiancé Ryan Mahoney, 33, who she gushes is “the most wonderful person I’ve ever met”.
But when Closer catches up with the mum of five a few weeks after filming, she says she has “finally” learned that she does deserve long-lasting happiness.
Kerry tells Closer, “I felt so embarrassed when I first tried on a dress [for the upcoming wedding], I cried. I just didn’t feel like I deserved to enjoy the process of it all.
“It’s not like, when I was young, I thought, ‘When I grow up, I want to be married four times, I want to have five kids with three different men...’ That’s not how I wanted it to be, but now I’m so grateful because I believe all the paths I’ve taken have led me to be here with Ryan.
“Without all those heartaches and bad experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today, so everything happens for a reason. You have to let go of the past and be grateful for it.”
But Kerry admits that her troubled relationship history – with three divorces and allegations of controlling behaviour and even domestic violence at the hands of late third husband George Kay – has made it difficult to embrace what she has with Ryan.
She confesses, “I don’t know if Ryan is The One – I’ve had so many ‘The Ones’ I feel like I can’t say that any more! I hope we grow old together but we’ll take each day as it comes.
“I do prod and poke him sometimes to see if I get a reaction, because it’s the way I’ve been conditioned.
“When our Angela died [Kerry’s beloved aunt, who died from alcoholism earlier this year], I was at my mum’s and I kept saying, ‘Why is Ryan not ringing me or making me come home? Does he not love me any more?’ That’s because when my nan died, I was with George and I was only allowed to be there for a day on my own.
“I was never allowed to go anywhere on my own without George. I thought being controlled was being loved – I thought the way men have controlled me is them showing they loved me.”
Celebrating the fact she no longer feels that way, she adds, “Now, finally, I no longer feel like a failure. I realise I do deserve to be happy and in love. For the first time, my relationship with Ryan is just a normal and natural relationship, but I’ve had to learn a lot about myself to reach this point.”
Kerry’s first marriage to Westlife singer Brian McFadden – dad of her two eldest daughters, Molly, 19, and Lilly-Sue, 17 – was an extravagant star-studded ceremony in a castle in Ireland in 2002. They divorced two years later after Kerry was left heartbroken at discovering he’d cheated on her with a stripper on his stag do.
In what Kerry later admitted was a rebound romance – and in the midst of her well-documented battle with drug and alcohol addiction – she married second husband Mark Croft in 2007. She wed the ex-taxi driver – who she claimed was her mum’s drug dealer – in a low-key ceremony at Gretna Green while pregnant with their son Maxwell, now 13. They also share daughter Heidi, 14.
“I only married him because I thought I was going to get the drugs for free. I was at my lowest,” Kerry later revealed.
Her last marriage to childhood friend George Kay came in 2014, and Kerry told the world she had found “the love of [her] life”. The pair welcomed daughter Dylan-Jorge, now seven, just months before their big white wedding at a hotel in Gloucestershire.
But Kerry claimed their marriage was abusive and controlling, recently revealing he would spit in her face, “give [her] a good beating” and threaten to rape her. George died of a drug overdose in 2019.
Check out: Kerry Katona's husbands and boyfriends - where are they now?
Kerry Katona and Brian McFadden
Kerry shot to fame in 1999, as 1/3 of pop band Atomic Kitten. It wasn't long before Kerry was swept into her first high-profile relationship – thanks to a well-timed tour with Irish crooners Westlife.During the tour, Kerry met Brian McFadden. Three months later he asked her to marry him.Shortly after he popped the question, Brian was quoted as saying: "Everything I plan, everything I do, revolves around Kerry. When I wake up in the morning, she's the first person I call."I've written a song about her called Fragile Heart. I write songs for Kerry every day, I get so much emotion thinking about her."It wasn't long before Kerry and Brian welcomed their first child: in August 2001, daughter Molly was born.
Now, Kerry insists her fourth wedding to personal trainer Ryan – whom she met three years ago on dating app Bumble – will be a low-key affair, with only her children present. While they have yet to set a date, the pair will tie the knot in Las Vegas.
She says, “This isn’t a party – it’s a marriage! I could never imagine Ryan having a first dance in front of people. He’d be mortified as he doesn’t like being the centre of attention… He’s not like me! There will be no bridesmaids and I’ll walk myself down the aisle.”
In recent years, the star has undergone a huge transformation, ditching alcohol binges and yo-yo dieting for healthy eating and exercise.
Kerry – who has dropped from a size 14 to an 8, and last week revealed she’d had a boob reduction and liposuction after putting on weight during lockdown – has also found Christianity and is training to be a life coach.
WATCH: Jordan Hames and Danny Williams on what you CAN'T to take into the villa | Love Island Secrets
She says she’s “recovering well” after having her 36EE boobs reduced, and recently revealed her sexy new image had helped her to earn her first £1m on X-rated website OnlyFans since her 2008 bankruptcy – allowing her to start her own clothing business and send daughter Dylan-Jorge to private school.
Kerry’s racy, members-only profile has received backlash from fans, but she says, “I show a bit of nipple and it’s the end of the world. If you’re an A-lister you can do all of that and more in films, but not me, I’m a Z-lister and a mother!”
And planning for the future, she’s frozen her eggs in case Ryan wants a baby one day – but adds they’re in no rush. She says, “I feel I don’t want to take that away from Ryan. Although he says he’s not fussed right now, he says it would be nice eventually.
“For now, though, I couldn’t think of anything worse than having more children – I’m just finally very happy as I am!”