So much thought goes into preparing for a marriage and a wedding day. Invitations are sent, a venue booked, flowers ordered, and decorations arranged to set the stage for one of the most significant events of a woman's life.
Long after the exchanging of vows, most of us hold on to cherished keepsakes from that red letter day. A portrait may adorn the wall, toasting glasses brought out to celebrate an anniversary, a gown fit for a queen hangs in treasured protection in the closet, and the bride wears a testament to her commitment on her left ring finger.
Though the years pass and styles may change, mementos from one's nuptials tend to remain precious. Few times in a woman's life does she ever surround herself by so much beauty, tradition, and emotion as on her wedding day. The motion of everyday life can shift the spotlight of that once magical day onto the more mundane issues of daily living, or onto other momentous achievements like new homes, the birth of children, and years of new memories added to the portfolio of life.
A wedding ring, gown, and pictures of one's wedding day rank high as possessions that many would act to rescue in a fire or other disaster because their sentimental value is beyond compare. But what happens when the relationship that these objects represent deteriorates into something painful?
What do you do with these tarnished treasures once a divorce occurs?
A ring is an eternal symbol of belonging and love. One looks at her hand, and that circle of stone and metal tells a story of time, love, and milestones. That piece of jewelry is a signal to others of her relationship status: single, a blushing bride-to-be, or a wife.
When my ex and I decided to divorce, one of the first outward signs of our change in relationship status was when we each removed our rings. Like most married women, my ring was selected with the anticipation of a lifetime of happiness. When first placed on my finger, I never entertained the thought of taking it off. To do so would signal my relationship's end! My wedding ring was a lovely creation of gold, topped with a brilliant cluster of diamonds and sapphires. It was unique. It was breathtaking. It was me!
Almost ten years later, my ring was a witness to the birth of two children, a home purchased with my mate, and my blossoming as a woman. Ten years later, and my marriage was shattered like a pile of glass shards, waiting to be swept up. I needed a fresh start for me and my children. I needed to remove all traces of that experience from view, lest I be brought down by memories of him or what we went through. I needed money to help get on my feet.
Like so many soon-to-be ex-wives, I went to a local jeweler and pleaded with them to buy it from me. I visited no less than three merchants who advertised that they bought gold and jewelry, because one after the other insulted the beauty and value of my ring with terrible offers around $50! Out of desperation, I finally gave in to a jeweler who offered to buy my wedding set and a few other pieces tainted by having been gifts during my marriage. My payment might have covered a third of a month's rent—it was appalling; but, what else could I do?
I no longer wanted that ring because of all it stood for, and I had my doubts that it was worth saving for my daughter because it was a relic from the severing of her family. It was beautiful, but ugly at the same time. The final outcome of my ring was that the jeweler I sold it to didn't even want the diamonds because he felt he could do more with just the gold. He removed the stones and sent them home with me in a little plastic bag. I don't even know where they are now!
What a waste! Granted, I wouldn't have wanted to do what my mother did with her original wedding set. She had hers melted down into a pendant. To me, it wouldn't matter what form that particular chunk of stone and rock took—it would still be from my failed marriage!
I, and my ring, deserved better, which is why I'm glad that women now have much more dignified options! A divorced woman can now have assistance to sell her rings and other jewelry for top dollar through a very trustworthy and intelligent option such as a service I learned about: Worthy, which will have the jewelry picked up by Fed Ex and delivered to a team of top-notch experts who grade and value the pieces so that you, and prospective buyers, know exactly what the piece consists of and is worth. They then highlight the beauty of each piece through incredible photography, and list them in an auction setting directly to jewelers who will pay the largest amount for each piece.
My ring could have had a second chance, just as I did, either in its original form or in a new creation. Regardless, I would have made a lot more money from my sale!
The wedding dress.
Fortunately, I "up-cycled" my wedding dress years before the divorce. My daughter was born five years after my wedding, and I was already contemplating how to best store my gown and whether or not it was a good idea to keep it. It was too lovely to spend a life sentence at the back of my closet, and there was no guarantee my daughter would want to wear it for her own wedding.
My inspiration for reinvention came when she was three-months-old and we decided to have her baptized. I held my breath and cut into my lovely confection of lace and tulle in order to make her a tiny dress for her baptism. She looked like an angel in the salvaged pieces of my dress. After the ceremony, I framed her dress in a shadow box, which still hangs on her wall.
At one point during my divorce, my ex looked at the framed dress and queried, "So, every time she looks at that, she's going to think 'that's my mom's wedding dress'?", to which I replied, "No, every time any of us look at that, we will remember her as a beautiful baby for her baptism!"
My wedding pictures faced the worst fate of all. What can you do with a photo of a bride and groom no longer together? I even found portraits of me in wedding garb posed with other people to be too awkward and memory-provoking to keep. They're gone! Perhaps one day I'll regret not having them to show my children; but, I don't feel like storing them or hanging on to the past!
What did you do with the remains of your wedding now that your marriage is no more? Did you trash the souvenirs of your wedding, or find a creative way to repurpose them? Did you save them, and if so, for what reason?
Written by Audrey Cade
Audrey Cade is the author of Divorce Matters: Help for Hurting Hearts and Why Divorce is Sometimes the Best Decision, and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is experienced in the areas of co-parenting, step-parenting, parental alienation, and remarriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids.