I threw a $30,000 'divorce party' and tossed my wedding ring into the sea (2024)

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Sabrina Philipp. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I hadn't expected it to be so emotional, but the high point of my divorce party was taking a slingshot and launching my wedding ring into the ocean.

A friend played "Goodbye Girl" by The Chicks as the wedding band hit the water. It was out with the old, in with the new. My life was over as a married woman. The next adventure had begun.

My guests — including my parents — clapped and cheered. I had never felt so relieved and happy. It might have cost $30,000, but my divorce party was worth every cent.


My ex and I were the only people at our wedding

I met my ex-husband in Bali in June 2017, when I was a 23-year-old graduate from the University of Florida. He was an Australian who was about to turn 29 and traveling simultaneously.

He was my first serious boyfriend — certainly the only one I'd lived with. We had a great time exploring Bali and then Europe. A couple of years later, we moved to Scotland.

The relationship had its ups and downs. We shared many interests, such as food, travel, and animals — but spent a lot of time apart, particularly when he flew to Australia to visit his child from his first marriage.

Still, I quickly said "yes" when he proposed in January 2020. We began to plan a destination wedding in Bali in July 2021. However, the pandemic shut everything down, and we had no idea when it would end.

An immigration attorney suggested that we move the wedding forward. We ended up getting married in Denmark in August 2020. Restrictions were still in place, and we had to take COVID tests before and after the trip. Only the two of us were there, but my family watched the ceremony via Zoom.

I threw a $30,000 'divorce party' and tossed my wedding ring into the sea (1)

I cried when I said my vows. Everyone thought it was because I was so happy. The truth is, I was thinking, "Oh, my God, I just got married, and my mom and my dad aren't here." But, in my young mind, I thought it was the right decision.

We settled in Edinburgh, where I ran my business coaching company. We got two dogs — Bonnie and Clyde — and considered starting a family. But there were issues behind the scenes, such as him declaring his love and ghosting me. We had couples therapy.

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After a while, my ex stopped going to therapy. I went on my own. Things weren't working out. I was growing older and wiser as I approached the age of 30. We argued about money, and there were other fights. We separated in the summer of 2023.


It was extremely traumatic. I felt emotionally lost. Then there was a drama about finances. Luckily, he didn't object to me keeping our pets.

I focused on health and wellness after the split

I'm an influencer and shared the details of our break-up on Instagram. It struck a chord, especially with women. They commented on my posts, messaged me, and asked for advice. I realized I had a platform to talk about the reality of divorce and how to survive it.

Meanwhile, I became focused on health and wellness. I wanted to feel good and look good — purely for myself. I got Botox and plastic surgery, including rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty, in New York City.

My friends and I jokingly coined the phrase "Hottest Ex-Wife Ever." It was one of the reasons I decided to celebrate my new look and new-found freedom with the divorce party.


I threw a $30,000 'divorce party' and tossed my wedding ring into the sea (2)

I wanted to challenge the negativity around divorce. Many people see it as a failure. If your marriage ended, that doesn't mean it failed, or you should regret it.

We live our lives in chapters. It's OK if one chapter is marriage and the next is being single again.

The party happened in April in my home city of Miami, just before my 30th birthday. Eighteen people flew in from Canada, California, Texas, North Carolina, and all over Florida. It meant the world that Mom and Dad were there. They hadn't attended my wedding, so it was fitting that they came to my divorce celebration.

I felt the opposite of ugly, rejected or unwanted

I micromanaged the guests' outfits. Everyone had to wear black because it was a funeral for my marriage.


We started with a sexy lingerie shoot in my hotel suite with my girlfriends. I posed in lacy underwear with my divorce cake in the shape of a black heart. It was great because, when you go through a divorce, you can feel so ugly, rejected, or unwanted. I felt the opposite.

I threw a $30,000 'divorce party' and tossed my wedding ring into the sea (3)

Then, we had a four-course dinner at a waterside restaurant in Miami Beach. We ate caviar and seafood and drank bottles of Dom Perignon. The ambiance was perfect. I couldn't have wished for better company or a better time.

As for my wedding ring — a platinum piece from Cartier that I'd bought for myself in Copenhagen for $1,000— we had a mock ceremony when I pitched it into the sea.

A jeweler told me I could have melted it down and gotten around $70 for the weight of the metal. "That's not very fun," I thought. "Do I want $70, or do I want photos and videos of me slingshotting my wedding band into the ocean?" The symbolism was everything. I took the slingshot.


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I threw a $30,000 'divorce party' and tossed my wedding ring into the sea (2024)


Who legally owns an engagement ring after divorce? ›

Courts have ruled that engagement rings are conditional gifts, typically made by the husband-to-be to his fiancee. If the parties marry, then “the condition has been met,” and it becomes a “completed gift.” Therefore, the wife gets to keep the engagement ring as it is her non-marital property.

Is a wedding ring an asset in a divorce? ›

While there are no specific laws in California that govern the ownership of wedding rings, typically the court considers these rings to be separate property and grants ownership of the ring to the recipient during a divorce. There are, however, a couple of notable exceptions.

Is it bad luck to wear your wedding ring after divorce? ›

Only 11 percent of brides felt that wearing a ring from a broken marriage would lead to bad luck. Meanwhile, 24 percent disliked the idea of wearing a ring that came from a marriage that ended in divorce not because they felt it was unlucky, but because they disliked the association with an unhappy ending.

Who gets a wedding ring after divorce? ›

There are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, each partner gets to keep their respective rings post-divorce.

Can my husband take back my wedding ring? ›

Usually in divorce, a wedding ring is considered the property of the spouse to whom it was given. But if your wedding ring or the diamond in it was your ex-spouse's family heirloom, you might want to consider giving it back, even if you're under no legal obligation to do so.

Can my ex sue me for an engagement ring? ›

If you do not get married then the engagement ring is to be returned to the person who gave it to you. If your ex sues you, you will have to tell the judge that you lost the engagement ring. If the judge believes you, they may dismiss the case.

What is a divorce ring? ›

What Are Divorce Rings? “Traditionally, engagement rings and wedding rings symbolize the commitment and union between partners, says Rachel Akmakjian, Director of Jeweler Relations at BriteCo and Graduate Gemologist. “'Divorce rings' are seen as a way to mark the end of a marriage and celebrate newfound independence.”

What finger do you put your ring on if you're divorced? ›

Some individuals choose to wear their divorce ring on the ring finger of their left hand, similar to where a wedding band would traditionally be worn. This symbolizes the transition from marriage to divorce. Others may opt to wear it on the right ring finger to signify a fresh start and newfound independence.

Is it wrong to ask for the ring back after divorce? ›

As we explained above, even if an engagement ring is a conditional gift, it belongs to the recipient once the couple is married. For this reason, most state courts agree that the engagement ring is the recipient's separate property. That means the recipient will probably get to keep it after the divorce.

Do you still wear your wedding ring when separated? ›

Names and Rings

The wife continues to use her husband's name (if she has taken it), and both spouses usually continue to wear their wedding rings.

Why would a divorced woman wear her wedding ring? ›

"This jewelry provides a tangible outward reminder of progress towards a new life and a fresh start. While the idea of divorce rings may not resonate with everyone, for some women, it can be a meaningful way to mark the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one."

Do I legally have to give back my engagement ring? ›

The vast majority of states consider engagement rings to be conditional gifts made "in contemplation of marriage." When the implied condition—the marriage—doesn't happen, the person who gave the ring (the donor) has a right to get it back. It doesn't matter how long the marriage lasts.

Who should keep engagement ring after divorce? ›

Who will get the engagement ring in the divorce? Section 3(2) of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 states that engagement rings are an absolute gift. It is therefore your property.

Is it legal to keep an engagement ring if you break up? ›

Under Civil Code § 1590, upon the termination of the relationship after the engagement and at any time prior to marriage, the person who purchased the ring (i.e. the donor) is entitled to the ring or its value in the situation where the donee sold the ring to a third party.

Do you legally have to return an engagement ring? ›

The vast majority of states consider engagement rings to be conditional gifts made "in contemplation of marriage." When the implied condition—the marriage—doesn't happen, the person who gave the ring (the donor) has a right to get it back. It doesn't matter how long the marriage lasts.

Who is the rightful owner of an engagement ring? ›

If the relationship falls apart, the ring is the “non-marital” property of the recipient which means it is exclusively theirs and not subject to any marital property division. Long story short: walk down the aisle and the ring is the recipients; forgo the aisle and give the ring back to the giver.

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