‘I Threw A $30,000 Divorce Party – I’ve Never Had More Fun’

'I think women need to know that sometimes it feels like your life is burning down or you're breaking, but you're not.'

Divorce party

by Millie Payne |
Updated on

Words by Sabrina Philipp

The very first day I realised I was getting a divorce, I remember going on a sad bender, crying to my friends over bottles of wine. That was the hardest of seasons – so having a divorce party that coincided with my 30th birthday felt like closing the chapter.

Three years after we met, my ex-husband and I got married in Copenhagen during COVID, on the 5th August 2020. My parents were watching on Zoom, and I remember crying as I said, ‘I do’. Everyone thought it was because I was so happy, but I was actually thinking, ‘What have I done? My parents aren't here.’ I think, for a lot of people, your wedding day is such an accomplishment. But my family never liked my ex-husband. I felt like they had been hinting to me, ‘You don't have to go through with this.’

Our marriage was very unhappy. We separated last summer, and the divorce was finalised in March this year. I earn a living as a business coach and influencer, and ended up paying out to my ex-husband in the proceedings - spending four times in legal fees what I was originally quoted. I felt like, ‘If I'm going to [pay out] all of this money, then I should get a party to celebrate myself.’

Divorce party
Divorce party ©Ashlee Huff

People choose to invest in a wedding because they think it’s an important moment in their life. I didn't get to have that during COVID, so for me, the divorce party was that investment – and I spent $25,000 to $30,000. I have no regrets.

After pulling it together in six weeks, I hosted the intimate party in Miami Beach on 13 April, with the celebrations spanning a total of four days. Even though I live in Edinburgh now, I grew up and went to school in Miami, so it just felt like a really fun place that represented life before my marriage. We had a $2,500 family welcome dinner the night before the party at a gorgeous restaurant called Cecconi’s Miami Beach. We also had a pre-party at the W Hotel in South Beach, which hosted me in a giant suite costing $3,500. It was there I decided to do a lingerie photoshoot with a cake that said, ‘hottest ex-wife ever’.

For the main event, I wore a $2,400 Clio Peppiatt dress – the same one Taylor Swift wore on her 34th birthday – and paired it with Louboutins, as well as treating myself to professional hair and make-up. I had everyone dressed in black because I thought it would look really chic and sexy. It’s funny, my mum said, ‘All black? Isn’t that like a funeral?’ I said, ‘Yes, for my marriage.’

Divorce Party
Divorce Party ©Ashlee Huff

The most expensive element of the party was the four-course dinner for 18 people, which ended up costing around $12,000. The first course was caviar and Dom Perignon champagne, and the second was seafood towers, steak tartare, and beetroot salads for my vegan friends. I love wine, so I paired the second course with a Chablis or Albariño. The third course was flaming Tomahawk steaks prepared tableside, paired with Barolo or Bordeaux, before we finished with $600-$700 cakes, as well as more Dom Perignon and espresso martinis.

In terms of other costs, we did about $2,500-$3,500 in florals, and I also flew in a photographer from Texas, who was paid $3,500. My favourite photo was one of the entire crowd flipping off the camera; my five-year-old brother was there so I made sure to cover his eyes! At one point, my family friend Komal [Minhas] - an amazing photographer and wonderful human who interviewed Michelle Obama and was one of Oprah [Winfrey]’s Super Soul 100s - suggested that everyone go around and say something that they love or admire about me. That had me in tears.

But my favourite moment was sling-shotting my wedding band into the ocean before we sat down for dinner. I asked my dear friend Andrew to be my ring bearer, so he was in charge of keeping the slingshot and the wedding band safe. It was a bit emotional, but my glass of Dom Perignon afterwards moved me through it. It was really healing, and maybe one day the wedding band will wash up on the shores and be somebody's gift from the sea.

Divorce party
Divorce party ©Ashlee Huff

The response to the sling-shotting was split between supportive and gross. I had some comments saying I should give the wedding band back - but I paid for it. It’s mine. I think the insults reinforced why I did what I did, because it continues to enhance the message of, 'You shouldn't celebrate divorce. It's shameful.' And it's really not. My ex is in Australia and I haven’t heard from him, so I don’t know if he knows about the party. I'm sure he would say the idea was ridiculous, but that's fine with me.

I think about my divorce party every day - I’ve never had a more fun moment in my life. You come out of divorce feeling so broken and unloved, so it’s being able to say, ‘I f**king made it.’ I want to reset the narrative to, ‘Divorce is something we can really celebrate and mark as a momentous occasion in your life - not a moment of shame, but a moment of transformation.’ You don’t need to spend as much as I did on a divorce party, but I don't think we should ever shame people for celebrating the important moments in their lives.

Life gets really good really fast if you let it, and there’s no such thing as a failed marriage. The bravest thing you will ever do is choose yourself. The thing about divorce is you can’t rush the healing. You have to be in your season. And then one day you wake up and you’re happy again. I think women need to know that sometimes it feels like your life is burning down or you're breaking, but you're not. I would burn down my life all over again to end up exactly where I am.

Sabrina will be launching her "Hottest Ex-Wife Ever" brand — the hot girl’s guide to divorce — on 5 August (her wedding anniversary).

Divorce party
©Ashlee Huff
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