For your wedding, you want everything perfect. The flowers, the cake, the location. And, of course, the bud. Because what’s a more memorable moment at a wedding than when the officiant announces to the happy couple, “You may now toke with the bride?”
It sounds ridiculous, but in a country where legal recreational cannabis has become increasingly accepted, so-called “cannabis-infused weddings” are in growing demand.
When Denver-based Bec Koop launched Irie Wedding & Events in 2016, she only did a handful of weddings the first year. Now she averages 50 and expects that number to double next year. She’s also expanded to San Francisco and Seattle.
“It’s no longer a novelty,” says Koop. “Half of our clientele are locals or cannabis enthusiasts, but the other half are people from all around the country, in states without legalization yet. It’s becoming a mainstream thing.”
What’s On the Menu
To the uninitiated, a wedding with cannabis might sound intimidating and borderline inappropriate.
“People think it’s going to be a bunch of stoners and a groom in a green tux,” says Korinna Peterson, who runs Le Festin Events in San Luis Obispo, CA, a wedding planning service with cannabis options. “But it’s much classier than that.”
Cannabis is offered to guests much like beer and cocktails, just not as openly. It’s usually served in a tent or “bud bar” set a bit apart.
“Some couples want it at least 50 yards away so Grandma can’t smell it,” says Madlyne Kelly, a co-founder of Irie. “We keep the vaporizers very discreet and super-mild so there’s not a big billowing cloud of smoke coming from the tent.”
If you want a smoke-free environment, an option is “cannacocktails,” a take on the craft cocktail craze. Unlike edibles, which can take hours to detonate and then last well into the night, cannacocktails kick in after just 30 minutes with mild effects that last about an hour.
Please Don’t Smoke the Bride’s Bouquet
Not all of the cannabis at a wedding has to be ready-to-consume. “Many couples like to incorporate it into their ceremony in creative ways,” says Kelly. This could include anything from bridal bouquets made entirely of cannabis and “budonnières” for the groomsmen to table centerpieces discreetly decorated with marijuana.
It may seem like an aesthetic that pushes the envelope, but wedding planners go out of their way to make sure it’s never over-the-top or obnoxious. “It’s important that cannabis be presented really beautifully and elegantly and not so much in your face,” says Peterson.
She recalls one couple who requested a two-layer wedding cake infused with cannabis. “It was mostly symbolic,” Peterson says. “We weren’t going to pass it out to all the wedding guests. After the couple cut into it and posed for photos, we quickly got it out of there.”
What Will This Cost Me?
Less than you might think. The charges at Irie range from $7.50 a head—for flower with the smoking implements of your choice—to $18.50 a head for cannabis-infused cocktails and flower. All-inclusive options, where they handle everything from hiring budtenders to negotiating with vendors, run $3,000 to $9,000.
Compare those costs to a typical open bar for alcohol, which averages $7,350 according to wedding planning site The Knot.
And if you plan on having both—because not all weed-lovers drink, and not all your drinking relatives enjoy cannabis—you can do both and actually save money.
“Alcohol consumption can decrease anywhere from 20% to 40% when you also have cannabis as an available option,” says Koop. “When guests are using cannabis, especially at a wedding, in general they tend to be more careful and in control. They’re monitoring how much they’re consuming, much more than they would with alcohol alone.”
See Also How to Throw a Weed Party
Uh-oh: What Is Grandma Going To Say?
You might be surprised. Peterson has noticed that at many of her weddings, older people are among the first to flock to the bud bars.
“When the tent opens up, it’s always the wedding couple and their friends initially, and then the parents are right behind them.”
It helps that bud bars are novice-friendly. “Even if guests don’t choose to consume, we get a chance to educate them,” says Koop. There will be guests who seem offended by the mere presence of a once-notorious weed, but this may be the experience that turns them around.
As for Grandma, brace yourself. Koop claims that the most enthusiastic cannabis consumers at weddings are 65 and older.
“We had an 84-year-old woman try a vaporizer at a wedding, she was a total first-time consumer, and she was dancing and loving it,” Koop says. “We’re have a group of East Coast conservative lawyers and doctors who were all over 70, and we got them to try some topicals, which were low in THC. Pretty soon they were calling their wives over and rubbing each other down with topicals. We have the opportunity to change minds all the time.”
Your Weed Wedding Checklist
Hire a budtender
It’s essential to have a cannabis expert watch over the bar and make sure guests are taking or toking only what they can handle. “Guests should never be allowed to self-serve,” says Koop. “It’s important to have someone knowledgeable behind the bar who can answer questions, mix the cocktails, and hand them the joints.”
They’ll also make sure that nobody under 21 is venturing into the adults-only tent.
Talk to your vendors
Even if you’re planning your wedding in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, that’s no guarantee that all of your vendors will be on board.
Koop remembers a horror story in which a wedding photographer disappeared upon discovering the bride and groom sharing a joint. “He left them at the altar with a $4,000 non-refundable package and they got none of the photos from their wedding,” Koop says. “It’s an important reminder that you need to inform everybody.”
Keep the doses down
“Preventing overconsumption is one of the cornerstones of our business,” says Koop. That’s why the standard serving size is lower than state recommendation.
“In Colorado, the suggested serving size is one gram,” Koop says. “We cut it in half.”
If you’re serving alcohol, inform the bartenders. “Discuss not serving shots and making it just beer or wine,” Koop suggests. “Or only a few cocktails rather than a large open bar with shots.”
Be ready for emergencies
It’s the one question every couple should ask before hiring a cannabis wedding planner: Do you have a plan if the Mother of the Bride takes one hit too many? Koop and Kelly always come with an emergency case of homeopathic remedies, which they call the “Oh sh*t kit.”
“There are certain substances that can help alleviate the symptoms of cannabis should someone not be enjoying a particular experience,” says Kelly. “A dose of CBD, for instance, can reverse the effect of THC.”
It doesn’t even have to be a freakout. “If someone’s had too much of an indica and are feeling lethargic and they’d rather be on the dance floor, we have something that can wake them up as well.”
Leave ‘em with a goodie bag
Encouraging guests to take it easy at the reception will be easier if you leave them with a bag full of party favors.
“We call it a Midnight Munchies bag,” says Peterson. “It comes with a joint and an edible cookie. And also some Cheetos, red-eye drops, and a bottle of water.”
The bags are passed out “as people enter the shuttles be taken back to their hotel,” Peterson says. “So they can keep the party going, if that’s what they want.”
The bag also includes tips on dosage and traveling with cannabis—so Uncle Joe doesn’t get stopped by TSA.