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Divorce Parties: are they tacky or therapeutic?

Article written Dilvin Yasa

In a world filled with ‘I do, I do, I’m done’, divorce parties are not only increasing in popularity, they’re providing much needed closure for many

As a drag queen celebrant, Sandy Bottom is a huge fan of all kinds of celebrations, from birthdays and weddings to anniversary parties.

What he really loves, however, is an ever growing pillar of his business: divorce parties.

“I’ve never understood why we celebrate only the traditional milestones in life,” he says.

“Birthdays – while great – come around every year, but should a massive life change such as divorce occur, it will hopefully only happen once and should be marked in a way that helps you move forward to the next chapter.”

An increasing number of us are coming around to Sandy’s way of thinking.

A recent Pinterest report revealed searches for “divorce party ideas” had spiked 55 per cent, while celebrities including The White Stripes’ Jack White, model Karen Elson and singer Robin Thicke have enjoyed heavily publicised divorce parties.

Psychologist Dr Amanda Ferguson says our increasing enthusiasm to celebrate life’s less rosier moments is a healthy move.

“What a great way of honouring the marriage that was, versus slinking off in shame, of holding your head high and being empowered,” Dr Ferguson says.

“A divorce party is a wonderful way of closing a significant chapter with another ritual – to bookend the wedding ritual.”

Sandy agrees, explaining that for many of his clients, it’s all about needing closure.

“Divorce parties aren’t about making a mockery of marriage or celebrating divorce, but to spiritually let go in a happy space filled with supportive friends and family, and state your intention to start afresh and hit reset on the clock,” he says.

What a divorce party looks like

Sandy says it’s not just a matter of turning up and letting loose.

“Before the big day, I’ll ask the person to start writing down the story of who or what they want to let go of – kind of like an episode of This is Your Life and then I like to compile a whole lot of wishes and dreams they’re moving on to,” he says.

“The whole idea is to say, ‘This is who I was in the marriage, but this is what I’m moving on to’ and then of course there’s cake, food and dancing.”

Some people might do new vow renewals or symbolically rip up or burn a copy of the marriage certificate or the wedding dress.

Others might just enjoy a party without any of the symbolism that goes with it.

Best divorce party ideas

  • Pick a fun theme to tie it all together. For example, lemons – as in ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is popular.

  • Make a weekend of it by locking in a stay at a spa retreat, go hiking on a scenic trail and stay in a lovely cabin, or have a wild time in a destination of ill repute.

  • Have a divorce karaoke party. Who can go past an evening of singing Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive with close friends?

  • Employ a healthy dose of symbolism by having your divorce party in an escape room.

  • Hold a bucket list party. This is where you gather with loved ones to create your ultimate “to do” list and fill it with everything: holiday, life-goal and day-to-day wish list items you could never articulate when you were with your ex.

  • Take time out before the day to consider your who, what, when, where, why and how. This celebration should only be about looking towards the future, not seething about the past or bagging out your ex.

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