It’s sad when people fall out of love. But dissolving an unhealthy, unhappy marriage is a good thing, and it takes a lot of courage to stand up and say, “We deserve better.”
Divorce parties not only let us close the door on that misery, these rites of passage provide the ritual we need to help us heal. They offer us a way to celebrate a new independence, to thank those who have stood by us through the muck, and to announce to the world that we are ready to move on in life. Finally, it’s official.
Save the Date
It’s tempting to set a date for your party as soon as divorce proceedings get under way. But muster up all your patience and wait until things are just short of being finalized. Like any social gathering, your party will require some preparation ahead of time, and you don’t want to be thinking about guest lists and napkin rings in the throes of legal negotiations. You’ll be in much better spirits if you show up at your divorce party with decree in hand.
The Guesting Game
Divorce party guest lists come in all shapes and sizes, and the only factor that determines who you invite is personal comfort level. Would you feel better surrounded by guests of the same sex, or does a co-ed event feel more like a celebration? Do you want to just hang with other divorcees? Does it feel right to bring together only the people who have stood by you through this many-monthed mammoth of a nightmare or are you hoping for something more inclusive that brings even your coworkers and neighbors into the fold? Are you on really (really, really) good terms with your ex and feel that they should be there? The only right answers to these questions can come from you, so put some thought into it and — if it helps — start with a long list and whittle it down.
Deck the Halls
The intensely organized go so far as to print up invitations, arrange a gift registry (ideal for those who lost it all in settlement) and announcements for their party. Some get a kick out of decorating the party space (rented-out restaurant, bar, friend’s house, etc.) with streamers, obscenely decorated cakes, voodoo dolls, piñatas, balloons and bowls of snack food.
Get some ideas from Christine Gallagher, a writer from L.A., who published a book in 2003 called The Divorce Party Planner: How to Throw a Divorce or Breakup Party and has sold thousands on her website, RevengeLady.com. One word to the wise: decorations, catered food and other props can ring up a hefty tally, so be realistic in what you can afford with your new single-income earning status and stay within that budget.
Pieces of the Action
Besides the usual telling of (hopefully by now) funny stories and making plans for the future, the activities at your divorce party can be as uneventful or as coordinated as you like. I’ve read of some recently divorced who have hired officiants or asked a close friend to perform a short, meaningful sermon about healing and the joy of change, and about a woman who asked her mother to lead a renaming ceremony in which she symbolically gave her daughter back her maiden name.
Others still have projected First Wives Club or War of Roses in one area of the gathering and had a ceremonial burning of the marriage license in another area. Don’t feel pressured to include any of these aspects if they don’t feel right to you. A low-key gathering of a few close friends can be just as momentous as one that takes months to organize. The details of your party should reflect your mood and own personal style.
And Just Don’t…
Even if your divorce party is lush with hot and horny singles, it’s probably best not to fool around with one of them at or just after the gathering. After all, this is an event intended to celebrate your newly reclaimed independence, and bringing a sexual interest into the picture now complicates your newfound simplicity of lifestyle.
Other experiences to avoid at your fete include getting totally trashed (you don’t want to want to get all weepy or confrontational), destroying any tangible memories of your marriage’s happy times (your wedding album and keepsakes from your courting days might mean the world to your kids), and making plans to do anything of importance the next day.
And remember that this event is not about hurting the person you’ve fallen out of love with through badmouthing or trash talking. This is an occasion to commemorate your personal path of healing and newfound independence.