Trashing wedding dresses at a "divorce party camping weekend". Photo posted by Kris Krug on Flickr.
An unusual trend is taking off in marriage-weary countries. Why mourn your failed marriage, when you can celebrate your divorce?
While it's been growing in popularity in North America for the past few decades, the "divorce party" is now flourishing in the UK too. From swanky London cocktail bars to your local Mexican eatery, venues are enticing the recently-divorced to play their wedding video backwards and trash the white frock. Wearing T-shirts proclaiming 'Free as a bird', and tucking into cake depicting the horrible death of the ex-partner, revellers can well and truly bury their marriage in a 'wedding ring coffin'. While specialist divorce party organisers tend to target women, "gentlemen's clubs" are also getting in on the act. And the whole thing can be captured by a divorce photographer.
A far-cry from the days in which divorce was taboo or induced pity, the parties celebrate a "new you" and announce being "back on the market". The high profile divorce parties of British glamour model Katie Price on a 12 hour bender in Ibiza and American actress Shanna Moakler, with her three-tier divorce cake depicting the bride shoving the groom to his doom, could partly explain how this new celebration has become de rigeur. The "divorce industry" is simply no longer the domain of solicitors and therapists.
Almost half of UK marriages now break up and figures indicate that divorce parties are celebrated mainly by people going through the process for the second time. Divorce parties may be in its infancy in the UK (most party organisers admit business is not brisk, yet) but the business joins the post-divorce dating agencies, divorce self-help books and divorce gift lists offered by some large department stores, in this burgeoning market.
Above, an advert for Texan divorce party organisers. Posted here.
Posted on Flickr by "wwhyte 1968" on Oct. 8, 2008.
“My divorce was the most self-loving thing that I had done for a long time”
Alexis Flanagan, a holistic (whole-body homeopathic) health therapist from Washington DC who divorced after ten years of marriage, celebrated her legal separation in 2008.
After a long and arduous divorce process, it was such a relief to have my life back. Getting my maiden name back was particularly symbolic and it felt so good I couldn't walk away from that court house quiet! I was in court that morning at ten and went to a local pub that very evening with my friends and family who had supported me through the process. Although there were mainly girl friends, plenty of guys were there too and no-one deemed it to be inappropriate: they had seen me struggle in the legal limbo of the separation for over three years. There happened to be a group of divorce lawyers in the bar that evening, and that seemed oddly apt and they enjoyed the fun too!
My divorce was the most self-loving thing that I had done for a long time. I could re-evaluate what was important in my life. Just two years into my marriage I had realised it was not what I wanted. But I was stuck in my toxic marriage for ten years, of which nearly four was going though the legal process which is particularly complicated in the State of Maryland. I felt liberated - of course I was going to celebrate! I detached myself from the church which had kept me in an unhealthy relationship and I guess the divorce led me indirectly to the career I'm now in as a holistic health therapist, which encourages people to take their own decisions.
Whether I find the industry growing around divorce tacky? I guess some of it is opportunistic on the part of companies, and I didn't go in for any of that kind of thing. But it does help normalise divorce in our society. No-one goes into a relationship thinking it will break down. I think we have to acknowledge the reality of divorce. I wouldn't begrudge anyone celebrating their divorce and regaining control of their lives."
The icing on the cake