samantha walsh on her wedding day

The Outfit I Will Never Wear Again

The dress was pure, unadulterated glamour: little silk flowers intricately hand-sewn onto an hourglass corseted bodice, embellished with hundreds of twinkling Swarovski crystals. My mega-watt smile as I turned slowly this way and that in the mirror to admire it was almost as dazzling; I was awash with joy and excitement.
Perhaps the shock liquidation of the bridal shop a few months before my wedding was an ominous omen – my perfect dress disappearing in a puff of smoke a metaphor for the tough times ahead – but in a surge of serotonin-fuelled vigour I simply found the exact dress elsewhere and ploughed on with the plans.
Liam and I married at sunset in an idyllic hilltop ceremony in the rolling Ibizan countryside, surrounded by all of our family and friends. The setting was perfect: we’d met on the island seven years prior – a pair of lovestruck party-going puppies, united by our love of house music and an instant mutual attraction.
On the night we met we danced until dawn at Amnesia, then chatted as the sun came up, then down, then rose again, exhilarated by the beauty of our surroundings and each other. I was working on the island, Liam on holiday; when his trip came to an end we said tearful goodbyes. By early October, having written (yes, actual letters!) and spoken continuously, I packed my bags and moved back to the UK.
We did what young couples in love do: moved in together, schlepped round Ikea, partied, argued, made up. We worked in central London, having the time of our lives amidst a hectic social scene and large circle of friends. Life was an endless whirl of group holidays and parties.
We bought a flat, then a house, got married, planned a family. So far, so standard; we were completely in love. Everyone around us was doing the same. Then the trouble began. Babies arrived, for everyone but us, then more – until the patter of tiny feet became a stampede. The silence in our own house was deafening.
We went travelling; backpacking around the globe together, before returning to face our infertility. My infertility. Three rounds of failed IVF later, and the strain began to show on our marriage. There are only so many baby gifts you can hand over to all your beaming friends clutching gurgling bundles of joy, so many tiny heads you can kiss as you fight back tears, before your spirit, and marriage, are broken.
We maintained a happy facade, until it became just that. Devastated, we ended our fifteen-year relationship; sold the big empty house which we’d strived to perfect for the family that never happened.
The dress remains pristine in a storage box on top of my wardrobe. All our precious hopes and dreams for the future were silently folded back into that box; they remain nestled amongst the delicate layers of tissue paper, along with the twinkling corset and silk fishtail gown.
And I know I will never open that box again.