It’s summer, the season of weddings. Ah, weddings, those meticulously organized displays of love and commitment with all of their conventional trappings: the white satin dress! The champagne toasts! The flowers! The cover bands belting out “We Are Family”! The buffet lines!
Many weddings today are the result of months – if not years – of stressful planning, and lots of cold, hard cash. And, for many couples, the much fussed over wedding will be counted among the happiest days of their lives.
Unless of course, you end up in one of those couples that eventually gets divorced. Party officially over.
In King County, the formal finalization of a divorce is a decidedly unceremonious ceremony. In most cases, just one of the soon-to-be-legally-split spouses shows up before an ex parte court commissioner, hands him/her the necessary paperwork, and answers a very brief set of hum-drum questions about the amount of time that has passed since the divorce was first filed, as well as the marital assets and debts, the children of the marriage (if any), and other issues that must be dealt before any divorce can be declared final. After the testimony is given the commissioner hands back the signed final orders, and you are done – officially a single man or woman. The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes, and it’s far from festive.
Unless of course, you are one of the 25 or so couples who’ve booked a “divorce ceremony” with a Japanese entrepreneur named Hiroki Terai. For the low price of 55,000 yen (or about $600.00 US – much cheaper than the typical modern American wedding), Mr. Terai will plan and host your divorce ceremony at his “divorce mansion” in Tokyo. Your family and friends can look on as you and your not-beloved-anymore make vows to start new and separate lives, before smashing your wedding rings with a hammer. Then you may all wine and dine – at separate tables, of course – in celebration of your now-severed nuptials.
Awkward much? Well, Mr. Terai says that he sees the divorce ceremony as “a positive way to end a marriage and move on by making a vow to restart their lives in front of loved ones.” And it appears that at least 25 ex-couples agree. Still, we think it unlikely that you’ll find your social calendar brimming with divorce ceremonies any time soon.