The West

Divorce parties mark start of new life
Divorce parties mark start of new life

Los Angeles resident Christine Beaton marked the end of her 19-year marriage with a party - friends, a big cake and plenty of champagne.

"We celebrated myself and my new life," the 40-year-old says. "It was a healing experience. I had fun and it felt like the right thing to do."

Although throwing a party may seem an unusual way to mark a divorce, celebrities including actress Scarlett Johansson and musician Jack White have had divorce parties - and many others are following.

Growing numbers of people are choosing to draw a line under a difficult phase in their lives by holding a celebratory event.

Lois Tarter, author of The Divorce Ritual: Get Up, Get Out And Get On With Your Life, thinks that's OK.

"A divorce changes your life completely," Tarter says. "We should at least celebrate that day or mark it in some way, just like we do for birthday parties or weddings."

In the United States, divorcees can draw on the services of professionals to help create the perfect celebration. In cities such as New York, there are divorce party planners who can make all the arrangements, from what napkins to use to the colour of the invitations.

Alyssa Pettinato decided to include divorce parties as part of her services when she opened an event business in New York a year ago.

"You need to have a certain sense of humour to plan and celebrate a party like that," she says.

That's because Pettinato's clients often have unusual requests, with many asking for ways to needle their ex.

Pettinato organised one party at which a wife who had been cheated on burnt her husband's belongings. Another woman asked all her guests to bring along a single friend.

However, most divorcees just want to have a great party, a kind of stag night with plenty of alcohol and either a male or female stripper. Occasionally things are quieter - some divorcees just want a party to thank friends for their support.

Statistics show that half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. That means there are plenty of potential customers for divorce party planners such as Pettinato.

Attitudes towards divorce parties are changing. Tarter, who is also a blogger, has organised divorce parties.

Such events, she says, are "gradually being accepted by the mainstream, even if there are still people who think it's quite strange in the beginning".

In cities such as New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, industries have sprung up around divorcees. There are places where you can buy cakes on which the words "Just Divorced" are written in pink icing. Jewellers have divorce rings with a broken heart.

The internet is also a rich resource. The website divorcepartysupply sells badges that say "Divorced is the new engaged".

The portal weddingringcoffin offers a very special service, supplying disappointed couples with small coffins in which they can place their rings and have them formally buried.

Beaton did not go that far in marking her divorce. She sold her wedding ring and bought a new one.

She is glad she went to the trouble of having a divorce party. "That was one of the best days in my life," she says.

The West Australian

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