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Today's divorces can mean cake and eating it, too

May. 28, 2014 8:33 AM EDT
By Leanne Italie

NEW YORK (AP) - Divorce, it seems, has turned into a party - special cakes and all.

Event planners, bakers, lawyers and academics note the rise of "divorce parties" over the last several years, many with cakes featuring weapon-wielding brides or gloomy black frosting on inverted tiers.

"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.

Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a marketing professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, has been to a few such parties and sees them as part of a larger trend in celebrations.

"People are also celebrating 'coming out' to their parents or co-workers, and the birthdays of their pets. Cancer survivors are celebrating relevant milestones of being cancer-free. There has been an enormous increase in the variety of things that Americans celebrate," she said.

So why not a divorce, asks Steve Wolf, who lives outside Austin, Texas. He marked his amicable split with a party co-hosted by his ex that included a gluten-free cake she baked herself in lemon, a favorite flavor for both of them.

Wolf, the father of three boys, considers the end of his marriage a "conscious uncoupling." Yes, like Gwyneth Paltrow. The party, he said, offered closure, especially important because kids were involved.

"We wanted to do something that expressed the fact that we were doing the divorce not so much as an end of our relationship but as us moving into things like co-parenting and co-business management," said Wolf, whose former wife works for him in his special effects and stunt business serving the film industry.

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

In suburban Orlando, Florida, cake designer Larry Bach recalled creating his first divorce confection about eight years ago for a woman whose wedding cake he had made 18 months prior.

"She said, 'Your wedding cake was the best part of my marriage,'" he recalled. "We came up with this upside-down cake, with the cake landing on the groom. I've repeated that design several times. I think it's a healthy thing. When my sister got divorced about 25 years ago, she and my mother went into mourning. Divorce was so embarrassing in those days."

Family law attorney Jennifer Paine in Ann Arbor, Michigan, sees the divorce cake - blood-themed or otherwise - as a fresh take on closure.

"For divorce, that means the final date of divorce, when all of the hard work and emotions are over," she said. "It used to mean going out with buddies. Then there was the era of sending a divorce card, then the trip to Las Vegas, and now parties."

Parties, O'Malley noted, that include cakes with the wife pushing the husband off the top tier or edible divorce decrees scanned on. Dessert chef Lisa Stevens in Tampa, Florida, makes one divorce cake a month now, a steady climb over the last year.

"We call them freedom cakes. The first one was maybe six years ago. It was ordered by a guy. It had a groom with a broken heart on his lapel," she said. "I try to redirect the anger to a more positive place when it comes to the cake."

Duff Goldman, chef and owner of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and Charm City Cakes West in Los Angeles, said he has been creating divorce cakes for a decade, with one or so orders a month nowadays.

"We're thrilled to put a positive spin on what can be a difficult and stressful time for people," said Duff, whose custom cakes were featured on the Food Network reality show "Ace of Cakes" from 2006 to 2011.

O'Malley's first big divorce client popped up two years ago. She's the one who hosted the $25,000 bash at a fancy venue, complete with a cocktail reception, sit-down dinner, toasts and an eight-piece band. She wore white, though not her wedding gown.

"We set up a chapel-looking area and her father walked down the aisle by himself to take her back, instead of give her away," said O'Malley, who has handled several divorce parties since.

The bridesmaid who caught the woman's bouquet eight years prior threw one back to her, he said. Wedding gifts were photographed, placed in silver frames and given to gifters in attendance.

"This is something you don't have to regret, like the wedding," O'Malley said. "It's something without any shame."

Join the discussion

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toddisit May 28 2014 at 11:21 AM

Wacky, but that is America today, ceebrating divorce and marrying two people of same sex is probably the tip of iceberg. What is next? ***********? It's all about the self today, more that ever. Forget morals, ethics, religion, God. How could people be so naive?

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7 replies
don54321 May 28 2014 at 11:50 AM

Divorce is a death. Nothing to celebrate. Divorce can destroy the person that never saw it coming. Problem with society is they make a mockery of the sacrament of marriage. It's a shame.

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1 reply
ScotyD69 don54321 May 28 2014 at 12:44 PM

To many couples try and hold on for the wrong reasons. Staying together...just cause your married?...Sometimes the person is suppose to move on...and if our conscious minds restrict us for some kind of rigid reason of "cause your suppose to cause...it's always been done that way" our subconscious will find one way or another to end it.

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2 replies
S321Saint ScotyD69 May 28 2014 at 9:15 PM

Again you are using the tired cliche about staying together "for the wrong reasons". If people went INTO marriage (and that would include living togther) honestly and with an adult attitude..then you wouldnt have the problems. Does that mean that some divorces would still occur ..sure...much like as many laws against crime you propose...crime still occurs..the idea is to minimize it. Extravagant weddings costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for what? Just so little Mary will get her "princess for a day dream"...then five years later..deep in debt..fighting...wondering where the money went?

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guinnessfan ScotyD69 May 28 2014 at 11:40 PM

When you get married, you both make a vow (PROMISE) to stay with the other person. When you choose to divorce, you have broken the biggest promise you will ever make. How can that event possibly be cause for celebration.

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streetlaw1 May 28 2014 at 1:33 PM

....And we wonder why no one respects us!

This is silly. Having been divorced, it is a lot like death.

Sadly, we are glorifying something that ought not be glorified.

Soon, we will be throwing parties for our daughters when they lose their virginity or a soiree for the first threesome.

We are becoming a nation of pre-teens stuck in a state of "Look at me!"

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1 reply
skipfamily streetlaw1 May 28 2014 at 2:15 PM

That is something that is celebrated in some countries and cultures. You need to do some reading on the subjects that you speak of. Just sayin!!!

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1 reply
HAYLEY BUG skipfamily May 28 2014 at 4:46 PM

Kevin.... you will be waiting a while

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Deirdre Donovan May 28 2014 at 11:28 AM

When I went through my divorce (I did NOT want; wanted my husband to TRY; but, when he became infatuated, he reneged on his promise to "try", and later regretted giving up so easily), I very seriously wished I could have had something similar to a funeral. For all intents and purposes, the man I loved was "taken from me", and I was utterly devastated, robbed even of the comfort that "he loved me". But rather than getting "support" and casseroles, people told me "he was a loser" (this is the man I love! Albeit falling into a Very Common Life-trap), and to "get over it". They'd've treated me very differently had he died, I could've retained the illusion that he'd loved me. 15 years later, I'm very glad he did NOT die (cuz I love him and want him to be happy), but, still am amazed at the utter lack of support for people in my situation, and there are a lot. It's nice to spin it into something "positive", and eventually I did. But, ya gotta "own" the pain too, and support the bereaved.

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patriot1too May 28 2014 at 6:30 PM

Divorce is nothing to celebrate at all. Its like a death in the family that destroys lives, children and futures. Nothing to celebrate except by some moron.

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Charlie May 28 2014 at 11:10 AM

The world simply does not need any more American
retarded moronic idiots.

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3 replies
jtamayo779 May 28 2014 at 3:54 PM

If divorce is cause of celebration, it seems we are in a decadent period.

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S321Saint May 28 2014 at 9:09 PM

That tells you how pathetic many in these last few generations are. You should NEVER celebrate divorce. BUT when you dont really support marriage...then celebrating divorce is just another pathetic juvenile way to go through life. No committment, no authority, no need to grow up.

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pbjclv May 28 2014 at 1:47 PM

And they wonder why men are afraid to commit. Todays marriages are usually for all the wrong reasons. Today, the wedding is way more important than the marriage. You can go to any book store and find dozens of magazines about how to have a trendy wedding. The girls get to go SHOPPING, and then more SHOPPING and then a little more SHOPPING. The guy gets to rent a tux. The girls will pour over the right stuff (whatever that is) until it is "Perfect." The guys don't care. When it is all over, the bridesmaids will get out of their dresses ASAP, because they hate them. The guys don't care. Once the party (wedding) is over and reality sets in, the happy couple have to go back to work and try to pay for all this stuff. Wedding planners will allow you to spend as much as you want or desire on this event. Now comes the hard part. The happy couple has unraped all of the presents, which is just like Christmas, and they have to return almost everything. Then the bills start comming in. Oh boy!

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sardukar83 May 28 2014 at 5:18 PM

AOL is absolutely pathetic....they kill the Snowden story in a few hours...its nowhwre to be found.....and this blather is an example of what they come up with.....pathetic

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1 reply
patriot1too sardukar83 May 28 2014 at 6:29 PM

Thats why America has become so dumbed down due to the liberal media. Also why divorce rates are so high. Divorce is nothing to celebrate at all for anyone.

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