“Indigenous cultures, for thousands of years, have always united spirit over smoke,” says Denver's Philip Wolf, president of the Cannabis Wedding Expo. “That’s why they would have shared peace pipes and so forth, because that represented a unification of spirit. And so in some weddings, they will take the ceremony to those types of depths.”
Marijuana has made its way into the wedding world, allowing happy couples to display their love for one another through their love of Colorado’s favorite plant. This cannabis commitment can be woven into nearly every element of a wedding, from beverages to attire to gifts for guests.
Wolf produced the first Cannabis Wedding Expo in Denver at the beginning of 2016, showcasing 22 of the country’s top vendors and specialists within this up-and-coming area. Since then, the Expo has added Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago and Boston to its annual tour, with events featuring as many as 55 vendors at a time.
A couple of years before he started the wedding expo, Wolf had launched Cultivating Spirits, one of the first businesses in the country to offer legal cannabis-infused dinners with “pairings,” matching cannabis terpene profiles with food flavor profiles for “harmonization and enhancement of the food, which is done through smoking,” he explains.
That experience came in handy when planning wedding menus that work even when the guest list includes a wide variety of people, from stoner cousins to abstaining grandmas. “You can infuse anything, and so we see a lot of creativity with what types of desserts people like,” Wolf says. Small, savory bites or even a separate infused wedding cake for those who partake have become popular choices.
With almost every matrimonial celebration comes the hope for an open bar, and there are ways to make marijuana part of that, too. Some couples toast with alcohol, others with blunts and bowls. And bud bars help guests become part of the pot party, usually as an adjunct to a more customary bar.
To help guests understand the options, these bars are usually tended by budtenders who can prepare the provided products, whether flower or concentrates, and also provide advice. But the happy couple should do some advance work, letting those invited to celebrate their nuptials know that there will be some special aspects to the day.
“It’s educational in nature,” says Jennifer Gray, owner of Pine Cone Avenue Social, a weed-friendly venue in Firestone. Relatively new to both the cannabis community and the wedding industry in general, Gray started hosting small groups last May and has had five cannabis-related events so far.
“I don't think people really know much about it,” she says. “But learning about the different products that are out there and how they make you feel, and appreciating different flavors and smells...it's like a wine connoisseur to a degree, and it's really learning about it — that educational piece — that is really fun for guests.”
Fun, and legal: The State of Colorado prohibits public consumption, so these ceremonies and celebrations must be on private property.
“We’re an outdoor venue, and we're privately owned, so that gives us some flexibility,” Gray explains. Still, as soon as a party requests that weed be allowed at an event, the venue immediately creates a clear contract that lays out expectations and legalities.
In Gray's experience, event organizers come prepared with concise plans of how to make things run smoothly. “The cannabis community has some really responsible people," she notes, "and they have guidelines, too, about how to make guests comfortable, how we monitor usage and encourage people to make responsible decisions — like how long cannabis is served during the event, what you do at the end, and having backup plans for safe transportation.”
A weed-friendly wedding isn't all about consumption. Cannabis can be used in decor, as well, with marijuana leaves or buds incorporated into bouquets, boutonnieres and table toppers. And often the couple will want to use green as a major part of the design scheme: The color green, while representing the leaf, also symbolizes tranquility, good luck and good health.
Cannabis in costuming is becoming more common, too, especially for the bride-to-be. Janay Joy, owner of High Vibe Bride, based in Mission, Kansas, says she has made “eco-awesome magic for gowns” with multifaceted hemp material since she was nineteen.
“Many people are waking up to earth-consciousness and bringing this into their weddings, which is so awesome,” Joy says. “Once I learned that the fashion industry was the second-biggest polluter next to the food industry, I made the decision to only make earth-approved garments. If not for your most sacred union in love, then when?”
Her call to the divine feminine has her working with brides personally, customizing their gowns to their liking. She's shown her wedding dresses at several Cannabis Wedding Expos, often pairing her hemp silk blend with an organic cotton voile lining that she says is “light as a whisper” and has two distinct sides — one shiny and one textured/matte.
Decorating with cannabis, wearing cannabis and serving cannabis aren't the end of the options. Wolf recommends cannabis-related gifts for guests, especially those out-of-towners flying in for the occasion. These are often provided on arrival, so that they can be “set up for the weekend" while still keeping Colorado's law in mind: Up to one ounce of marijuana can be given to adults 21 years and older. The goodie bag for guests can include everything from regulated tinctures to all the tools necessary for them to enjoy their party pack. Some also include reminders that it's illegal to take marijuana out of state and that they should leave behind any leftovers.
For as long as it's been cultivated, this versatile plant has been known to unite people; today there are endless ways to use it to enhance special events, including weddings.