Divorce parties: Creating closure, or a tacky spectacle?


Divorce parties, complete with some of the classic features of weddings – cakes, feasts, toasts – are gaining traction across the country.

An Associated Press feature story on the parties is getting wide play. Locally, it was carried by the Pioneer Press. It also showed up online at MSN Money and in the pages of newspapers ranging from the Dallas Morning News to the Hamilton, Ont. Spectator.

Google "divorce parties" and you'll find a plethora of ideas and photos of the food, the invitations, and, of course, the events themselves. The AP story talked to bakers, event planners and the divorcing spouses about the growing prevalence of the parties.

"I've taken to naming them freedom fests, as you aren't celebrating the end of the marriage but the freedom you have chosen in your life," said Richard O'Malley, a New York-area event planner who organized one divorce blowout that cost a woman about $25,000.

As the divorce rate has climbed, shame associated with a marriage's end has declined. While divorce claims about half of all marriages, the rate varies from state to state. According to statistics compiled by StateMaster.com, in 2012, Minnesota was ranked at number 41 of the 50 states in its frequency of divorce per capita.

A cake served at a divorce party is likely to taste sweet, but they often come with a certain bitterness. Dessert chef Lisa Stevens in Tampa, Florida, makes one divorce cake a month now, a steady climb over the last year. The story said that cake styles that shows the wife pushing the husband off the top tier or that features an edible divorce decree have become popular.
Steve Wolf from Austin, Texas marked his amicable split with a party co-hosted by his ex that included a lemon cake she baked herself. The father of three, Wolf said the event offered closure, especially important because kids were involved.

"We cut the cake together like we did the wedding cake 10 years before. When life gives you lemons, make lemon cake," he joked.

The AP story framed the parties and celebrations in an entirely positive light. But a story broadcast by the CBS station in Miami offered a dissenting opinion. "Some say that celebrating what most consider a failure sends the wrong message," the story said.

“To celebrate something that did not result in a good union, that goes against the vows that somebody took,” psychiatrist Harris Straightner said, adding that such events can backfire if the couple has children. "So you brought me into this world now you’re celebrating that you’re splitting up,” he added.

An article in the U.K.'s Daily Mail was more blunt. Headlined, "Why having a divorce party is like celebrating a miscarriage," the story said, "...for most normal people this is a time of tremendous loss, bereavement and sadness." It went on to call parties "shallow and trivial."

The Huffington Post posed the question for readers to weigh in on whether divorce parties are helpful...or plain old tacky? In an entirely non-scientific poll on the site, readers were asked if they would have a divorce party; 43.16 percent said no, but 56.84 answered in the affirmative.

Earlier in the week, the Associated Press reported divorce parties were condemned by a senior Iranian cleric. Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani called the parties a ‘‘satanic’’ Western import and a ‘‘poison’’ for Islamic society.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Large police presence at Emagine Willow Creek movie theater in Plymouth

There are few details at this stage as to what has happened.

Maple Grove Police Department

Maple Grove-based businessman convicted of fatally shooting wife

Wiseman owns properties in both Minnesota, Nevada and China.

betty and earls biscuits facebook

Jason Matheson's biscuit shop to briefly close ahead of relaunch

Betty & Earl's will shut down for two weeks before reopening under a new name.

Simon Merino Go Fund Me

Worker dies in forklift accident at paper recycling business

The victim was described as a loving father of two who was devoted to his church.

rosie means - go fund me

Authorities ID woman killed by hit-and-run driver who ran red light

A fundraiser was created to support the family after the "sudden and senseless loss."

Prior Lake Football

Watch: Prior Lake stuns Rosemount with last-second hook and ladder

The Lakers dusted off an old favorite to get a victory on Thursday night.

unsplas - maple leaf frost fall lawn

MN gets its first frost advisories, freeze warnings of the season

The coldest spots could dip to below 30 degrees overnight.


Ahead of Big Ten clash, Huskers fans spend their Friday mocking PJ Fleck

Huskers fans are in a playful mood ahead of Saturday's game.

Jamal Smith

New 1st-degree murder charge for man accused in youth coach's killing

A grand jury indicted the suspect in connection with the shooting of Jay Boughton.

trick or treating halloween

COVID: Mayo Clinic's tips for staying safe while trick-or-treating

A layered approach, especially for those who aren't vaccinated, is recommended.


'My patience level is gone': Walz calls on lawmakers to help hospital strain

The governor said only legislators can enact some of the needed measures.