Weddings are a time of great joy and celebration, laughter and tears, music and dancing, champaign and – cannabis? With so many states relaxing their laws on marijuana use, couples are including bud bars supervised by skilled budtenders on their special day.

Newlyweds who shun alcohol are turning to smoky tokes instead of traditional beverage toasts.

Mike Whittaker and Jordan Mackenzie became sweethearts in high school. Whittaker described their vision for the upcoming nuptials:

“Picture an open bar theme with cannabis.”

A budtender serving the herbal libation will help “our guests to have that relaxation and experience the herb the way we want it to be,” said the future bride.

On October 5, 2019, a Cannabis Wedding Expo was held in Boston, Massachusetts, to bridge traditional weddings with specialty cannabis services and products:

“The Expo gives couples the chance to engage with progressive traditional wedding vendors and specialty cannabis brands to learn how to incorporate cannabis into their wedding day in classy and tasteful ways. From glamorous wedding services and full-blown Budbars, to small nods of cannabis culture, attendees can connect with every vendor they need to make their day unique.”

The Expo showcased more than 50 expert wedding and specialty cannabis vendors, mobile budtenders, massages, and raffle prizes. Who wouldn’t want a chocolate fountain infused with CBD at the reception?

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana (and hemp for fiber) in 2014. Bec Koop is one of the owners of a company called Irie Weddings & Events and also founded the Cannabis Wedding Expo. (“Irie” is a Jamaican Patois and Rastafarian English term that means to be at total peace with your current state of being. It’s the way you feel when you have no worries.)

Koop offers the full gamut of wedding services: wedding day coordination, overall event planning, floral arrangements, and cannabis open bars. The company also consults with venues seeking to attract pot-inclusive clients.

Irie Weddings & Events co-owner Madlyne Kelly explained that the majority of those betrothed view marijuana as an accessory to the main event:

“Most of our clients don’t want a cannabis-themed wedding, they want cannabis available for their guests in a safe and moderated way.”

The budtenders are insured professionals who act much like a bartender at a tavern – except with weed rather than booze. Kelly explained that her company’s staff guide the guests to smell each variety of the fragrant herb “to see which one is going to be the best for them.”

For $3,000, you can get the works, called the O.G. Kush plan, which includes everything from finding a suitable venue to day-of coordination. Or simply elope for $420 and get the officiant, a wedding photographer, and a dinner reservation for the happy couple.

A wedding coordinator with expert knowledge about marijuana and canna products is cleverly called a Best Bud, available for $50-$100 an hour for event help on the joyful occasion.

Bear in mind that not every venue located in a place where marijuana is legal will allow its use on the premises. Be sure to ask well in advance to avoid disappointment, especially when considering a corporate brand that may not be eager to associate itself with the budding bud industry.

Similarly, an establishment that allows cannabis service may not permit serving alcoholic beverages – and vice-versa. It all boils down to rules, regulations, and licensing. Again, be sure to speak plainly with venue managers to avoid miscommunications.

Consider, too, offering wedding guests vaping and edible options. The day of the gritty skunk weed bar is long gone. Today’s consumables are state-of-the-art. Many mask the distinctive taste completely – so proceed with caution and make sure your guests don’t overdose and fall asleep.

One tip is to buy or make cannabis edibles weak on purpose. People tend to binge at parties, after all. Since it takes an hour or two for the stomach to digest ingested marijuana and release the psychoactive THC, plan accordingly:

“You may want to serve a small chocolate or other cannabis-infused treat just before the ceremony or during cocktail hour to give it plenty of time to kick in before the fun gets started.”

It’s really important that all wedding guests know in advance that marijuana is in their food and drinks. Clearly label anything consumable that contains cannabis. Physically separating “high” items from “straight” fare is also a good idea.

Finally, remember there may be children present on the auspicious occasion. Plan to keep all cannabis products out of their reach for the entire event.

Why go to the extra trouble and expense adding a wedding bud bar and budtender? Vanessa Lynn Pierrard, Marketing Manager and Event Planner for San Francisco-based company The High Note, a top cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles, explained poetically:

“No other herb, plant, substance, or single thing on Earth brings a sense of community like sharing a bowl, joint, volcano with friends, strangers, and those odd relatives we all have.”

Irie, mon!