What’s behind those wild, cathartic ‘divorce parties’?

By Cristina DC Pastor

Bring out the limos, the martinis and the magic mics. ‘For better or for worse’ has just become ‘For closure!’

Welcome to divorce parties, a booming industry that’s leading un-coupled women toward celebratory catharsis and keeping wedding planners very busy.

According to a TIME Magazine article, a “divorce party-planner in Los Angeles has tripled her business since 2003,” booking three parties a month at $5,000 to $20,000. A Las Vegas party-planner, according to the same article, reports “bookings for divorce parties have gone up by 70 percent.”

It’s not necessarily a West Coast thing. In the New York area, at least two FilAm wedding professionals have been hired to do them.

“I’ve had three in the last two years, two of them Filipinos,” said Amable Yalong of Key Music Group, a wedding DJ company in Bergenfield, New Jersey. “It’s definitely a trend on the rise.”

A divorce party is, in essence, a party hosted by a woman minus the ex. Depending on the budget, it can be an intimate dinner for six at a friend’s house or a lavish party of a dozen tables at a Manhattan hotel, complete with DJ music, an open bar, and a photo booth. The woman is dressed for all-night dancing, not necessarily in white. Depending on who planned it, a male stripper may pop out of a table.

“It’s fun,” said Amable when interviewed by The FilAm. “It’s like a birthday party with close friends and family. It’s always the ladies throwing the parties, never a guy.”

As a wedding DJ, Amable – his dee-jaying style has been compared to Ryan Seacrest’s — said he usually plays some danceable beat music like “Danza Kuduro” by Puerto Rican Don Omar or Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” Classic hits like “Dancing Queen” or “I Will Survive” are not the most popular but available on request by women of a certain generation.

“Whatever happened to the marriage, whether you regret it or you feel like you married too young, or had a bad relationships you wanted to get out of, the divorce party is a way of letting your close friends know ‘not to worry about me. I’m happy, I’m not stressed out, I’m OK,’” said Amable.

Sometimes, the message can be sassy as: ‘I’m back in the market.’

Divorce parties come with gifts and short speeches from close friends. Gifts can be anywhere from raunchy underwear or cash to help the woman start afresh. Amable knows of an accomplished professional whose grown children gifted her a round-trip plane ticket for a well-deserved vacation.

Some speeches may get emotional, but always it is full of love and support for the woman entering a “milestone,” he added.

Men host divorce parties too, said Ivie Joy Agustin, owner of Ivie Joy Floral Arts. It could be for themselves or their recently separated buddies. “I’ve done some for both women and men.”

“For men, it’s more of the food,” she said. “These are usually vindictive type parties, so they emphasize the food they were not allowed to eat (when they were married).”

Such parties are usually held at a best friend’s house. Who to invite becomes a tricky question because it usually divides the loyalties of their friends, said Ivie Joy.

“Divorce parties, whether for men or women, are like a form of emancipation,” she said. “The trend is whimsical and adventurous, the colors more vibrant and showy. It’s a freedom party!”

For flowers, a color palette with the rainbow colors shows an approach that is adventurous but also elegant with creative layers. One of her favorites is the gloriosa lily which has flamboyant petals in yellows, reds and oranges.

“The key words are whimsical, fresh start, and wild,” said Ivie Joy. “The idea is more on catharsis.”

Ivie Joy Agustin of Ivie Joy Floral arts. Photo by Lindsay Adler

Ivie Joy Agustin of Ivie Joy Floral Arts. Photo by Lindsay Adler

Amable Yalong of Key Music Group, a wedding DJ company

Amable Yalong of Key Music Group, a wedding DJ company

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