Picture that special moment when the father of the bride rises to give his teary-eyed toast. What if in lieu of a bit of bubbly, he instead asked you to raise a joint in honour of the happy couple—would you be down to take a toke?
In U.S. states where recreational marijuana has been legalized (like California, Colorado and Oregon, to name a few), weed at wedding ceremonies is becoming the reality for brides and grooms who want to incorporate their love of lighting up into their big day.
Call ’em canna-friendly weddings. And happy couples are using weed for more than just smoking. Some have opted to sprinkle their bouquet with cannabinoid-rich buds and nuggets of the good stuff, while others have gifted their wedding party with everything from embossed smoking pieces to special strains to commemorate the union.
Since Justin Trudeau’s new legislation for the legalization of marijuana should be in effect by mid-2018 (barring any major probs), we can only assume the “weedings” trend will move north shortly thereafter.
To find out more about the budding trend, FLARE talked to California natives Lisa and Daniel, the pioneering duo behind the Instagram account @my420wedding, which documented all the highlights of their April 20, 2015n nuptials. For good measure, we also reached out to Harrison Jordan—an Osgoode Hall Law School grad and articling student at Lewin & Sagara LLP, helmed by prominent Canadian cannabis lawyer, Paul Lewin—to find how exactly how a Canadian canna-friendly wedding might look under the new proposed law.
An inside look at a canna-friendly wedding
Lisa married Daniel—who she calls her #bestbud—a little more than two years ago out in the rolling hills of California, she says, not wanting to share the exact location. Marijuana has been more or less legal in the state since 1996, and both Lisa and Daniel have been users and members of the cannabis industry for many years.
“I spent 10 years bedridden with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia,” says Lisa. “I was prescribed loads of pharmaceutical medications—full of horrible side effects—and slept my life away.” She recalls gaining roughly 100 pounds, becoming an absentee parent and losing her career—all due to illness. “I was emotionally and physically broken,” says Lisa.
That’s when she turned to medicinal marijuana.
“Life [using marijuana] has never been the same,” Lisa says. “We want to share this medicine with the world, because we know it can make an enormous difference in the lives of many.” The respect Lisa and her husband share for the powers of marijuana prompted them to incorporate it into their wedding day as much as possible.
Embracing her alternative theme, Lisa’s dress was green and leaf-embossed. Fresh-cut cannabis from the couples’ personal garden served as the centrepiece for both Lisa’s bouquet and Daniel’s boutonniere. Party favours included joints, pipes and edibles—like sugar-glazed pecans, a vegetable tray with medicated ranch dip and concentrated cannabis syrup to add to beverages.
At the time of Lisa and Daniel’s wedding, marijuana was only medically legal in California, so the cannabis offered at the wedding was only available to prescription holders, a status typically verifiable by identification card. “The wedding was very intimate, so we already knew who held a medical marijuana prescription and we didn’t require anyone to show their card,” says Lisa. “There was several kids at our nuptials so we made sure to isolate it. The cannabis was mostly kept in a separate room with smoking devices like a volcano and bongs, and a few pre-rolled joints.”
Some of the invited guests refused attendance, calling it a taboo theme, and Lisa admits a few people attended begrudgingly. But most of the 42 attendees—even the roughly 10 non-users—enjoyed the event. “We have no regrets,” Lisa says. “It was fun and meaningful to me and my husband. Everyone else was just there to witness our moment.”
Lisa’s cake featured a large joint and two marijuana leaves holding hands above the words: “Daniel and Lisa Jointed 4-20-15.” Instead of saving the traditional cake slice to dig into on their one-year anniversary, Lisa had cured her bouquet. “We store it in a large humidor and smoke a little to celebrate each anniversary,” she says.
Of their wedding day, the bride and groom say they loved the theme so much, they’re already envisioning a cannabis-themed vow renewal ceremony. “We want an infused dinner and a complete cannabis bar this time around. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad or weird about having weed at your wedding,” she says. “It’s your day, after all!”
As much as Lisa and Daniel enjoyed their event, it was a difficult one to pull off. At the time they did have some trouble finding vendors to help them with their unique requests. “It was difficult to find a tasteful green dress appropriate for a wedding,” says Lisa, “and it was challenging to find a cake-maker that would do a cannabis-inspired design.”
A new opportunity for wedding planners and vendors
The demand for weed-themed weddings (or at least canna-friendly ones) is increasing—so much so, that it’s prompted some wedding planners to offer more extensive cannabis-related services. Korinna Peterson, owner and head coordinator of San Luis Obispo, CA-based Le Festin Events, tells FLARE that the company has planned three canna-infused nuptials to date.
“A safe and classy canna-wedding needs to be well thought out,” says Peterson. “Since this is new to many, there are actual steps involved to ensure that guests enjoy cannabis while keeping comfort and safety in mind. I understand the legality and safety measures, the appropriate dosing, the best cannabis types to use and the design limitations.”
Peterson is a huge advocate for incorporating marijuana into the wedding industry—but she believes education comes first. “I, as well as the vendors, play an integral part in ensuring that clients understand the legal limitations. You can’t just imbibe anywhere,” she says. “The property which will host the wedding must be agreeable to marijuana use. From a legal standpoint, until it’s ironed out in 2018, there is also the matter of ensuring that all cannabis present is gifted or acquired legally, and that it’s within legal possession limits.”
Taking safety in account first and foremost, Peterson believes that there are so many fun and tasteful opportunities for introducing weed to a wedding. “We once created a lovely adults-only wedding on a private estate, where we set up a gorgeous tent filled with rugs, eclectic pillows, low lighting and refreshments,” she says. “We deemed it ‘The Lounge,’ and it had a bud station.” She also incorporates marijuana into personal florals (like bouquets and boutonnieres), little gifts and bits of greenery for the bridal party.
Alternatively, some companies are entirely dedicated to the tasteful planning of cannabis-themed weddings—like Colorado’s Irie Wedding & Events. Bec Koop, 32, and Madlyne Kelly, 27, co-founded the company in January 2014, when recreational marijuana was deemed legal by the state. Koop worked in the wedding industry alongside her mother throughout her childhood, and after starting her own floral company in 2011, she realized there was a real demand for cannabis-themed wedding services. Kelly—who previously worked at a medical marijuana registry—had been on the hunt for a job around this time. It felt like a natural fit for the two friends to form a business partnership, and together they founded Irie Wedding & Events.
By the end of this summer, Koop and Kelly will have planned and executed roughly 25 cannabis weddings. “Our business has grown exponentially year after year. We even have clients booking up to two years out,” says Koop. As the company’s popularity has grown, the duo has noticed an influx of inquiries from out of state. “Unfortunately, we only service Colorado at this time, but we have more plans for expansion into other legal states in the future,” says Kelly.
The increase in marijuana-themed weddings may be, in part, due to the fact that cannabis is more affordable. “We tend to see that the overall alcohol consumption is typically less at weddings where cannabis is being served,” say Koop. “We have various moderation techniques to ensure that the guests are not over-consuming, such as micro-servings, and we tend to choose strains that are not super potent.”
While the pair has seen some negative reactions to cannabis weddings, most people—even if they don’t smoke—are simply curious. “The Bud Bar and Budtenders are meant to make the guests feel comfortable, and to provide the accurate education to anyone considering trying it for the first time,” says Kelly. “We help guide their experience to ensure it is enjoyable and comfortable for everyone.”
So what would a weed wedding look like in Canada?
Should Bill C-45 be approved (the Cannabis Act proposed by Trudeau’s Liberal government), medicinal and recreational weed will be legal across the country by July 2018. The federal government will be in charge of licensing producers, while the provincial governments will have jurisdiction over how marijuana is distributed and sold—and at what price. The federal government has set the tentative minimum age for buying marijuana at 18, but provincial governments will hold the right to raise it.
This means that we could soon store weed in our homes like we might a wine cellar, says Jordan, who also is head of The Big Toke, a consultancy agency for Canadian cannabis companies. He says the proposed law would allow individuals to grow up to four plants on their private property, which means that one day you could just reach into your own garden for what you want to serve. If you don’t want to DIY it, you could head to whatever brick-and-mortar shop your provincial government creates for the sale of recreational weed.
Not only could you grow your own weed for your guests (can you say #FiscallyResponsible?), but you wouldn’t need to worry about asking them for any sort of prescription. “Under the proposed law, there is no inherent limit to personal possession, and there’s a 30 gram limit to public possession, which is way more than any individual guest could want or need,” says Jordan.
For now though, Canadian weedings are out of the question (sad). As Kelly Beker, manager of community relations for one of Canada’s licensed producers, explains: “At this time, the only legal cannabis users are those with a medical prescription, which can be obtained by your own GP, or a physician at a Cannabis Clinic. Registered patients cannot share their medication with other people, as with any medical prescription.”
Guess we’ll need to cross our fingers for an invite to a 2018 #weeding.
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