Till Death Do Us Party
Andrea Nicastro, 27, was surrounded by cheering friends as she cut into a pink frosted wedding cake and proclaimed the beginning of a new era. At first glance, the gathering looked a lot like your average reception, except that, atop her cake, the bride figurine stood alone—and the only trace of the groom was a ripped-up photo burning in a nearby garbage pail.
That's because Andrea, a publicist in Los Angeles, was actually celebrating her divorce, finalized earlier that day. "I was just so beyond excited to get divorced," she says. "I needed to celebrate, so I thought, What could I do that I would never have done with my husband?"
She chose a princess-themed slumber party, at which she and her 10 closest friends donned rhinestone tiaras, played the board game Girl Talk, gave each other facials, and ate chocolate off pink Cinderella plates. "I felt empowered," says Andrea. "Get divorced again!" said her friends. "This was the best party ever!"
As the stigma fades from divorce, more women are publicly celebrating the demise of their marriages. "I have people e-mailing me all the time with their divorce-party plans and themes," says Jill Conner Browne, author of The Sweet Potato Queens' Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide. "All my divorced friends have hosted divorce parties, and I'm only seeing the numbers increase."
There's a good reason that divorcées are the new debutantes: "For most milestones, like a graduation or a funeral, we have a ritual," says Christine Gallagher, author of the how-to guide The Divorce Party Planner. "A party is an opportunity for friends and family to let you know that you are loved and supported."
Gallagher has helped friends plan fetes ranging from Survivor-themed bashes (commemorating getting out of a marriage in one piece) to more practical affairs: "I'm a fan of divorce showers, which are great for reoutfitting the person with the essentials—especially if her spouse has taken half the stuff," she says.
Still harboring resentment? "Then throw an Ex-Mex party," says Alison James, author of the breakup book I Used to Miss Him…But My Aim is Improving. "Serve margaritas, and have each guest pin a picture of an ex on a piñata." Then, she says, "swing away for fun!"
Of course, you might not feel like kicking up your heels when you've separated from your partner—and possibly a car, mutual funds, and a cordless drill. But that's all the more reason to do it, says Lynn Harris, cocreator of advice website breakupgirl.net. "When your friends ask what they can do for you, tell them you want them to throw you a party." But there is one hard, fast rule: "Don't do any of the work," says Harris. "The point of a divorce party is to remind you that through all life changes, sad and happy, your friends are there as a source of support and, equally important, fun."