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Brides Hitting Bongs: A Saturday Afternoon at the Cannabis Wedding Expo

High-end offerings for your 420-friendly nuptials

“I’d like to think cannabis will class weddings up,” a woman named Crystal tells me. She is standing behind a display of arm-length joints with cucumber-like circumferences, cross joints expertly fashioned into the shape of hearts and thoughtfully arranged edibles perched atop lush displays filled with other types of natural greenery (like actual grass). She is here on behalf of a company called Bud Diva. She lets me know she’s connected to a gorgeous, 420-friendly event space in Big Sur, which is both oceanside and with a pool, and asks if I’d want to get married there.

I answer honestly and emphatically: “Yes!”

Around us, models in bridal gowns made of hemp silk pose with blue-glass pipes and bongs. Cannabis leaves float in a fountain. A man in a pink suit invites me to another booth to try ice-water-hash-infused mini donuts in flavors like “pink champagne” and “vegan horchata.” Irie Weddings, a wedding planning company that handles all of your traditional needs as well as the cannabis components, advertises, “You have found your one love, now let us be your one company.” Someone plays an acoustic cover of Drake’s “One Dance” live.

We’re on the patio at Boulevard3, a large Hollywood nightclub with indoor/outdoor spaces, where everyone from President Obama to Justin Timberlake has hosted events (according to the website). Neither are in attendance today, but everyone receives the celebrity treatment here at the Cannabis Wedding Expo, which began in Denver in 2006, with recurring iterations in Denver, L.A., San Francisco and Las Vegas. Individuals purchase tickets for $14.20 (get it?) in advance and just under $20 at the door to attend. It’s designed as an opportunity for cannabis companies to meet stoner couples who may be interested in enlisting their services.

Some companies don’t deal with weed at all, such as catering companies hoping to land contracts for events where guests have quite the appetite, while others are 420-friendly without building their brand around such values, such as Memory Lane Foto Booths, which offers costume accessories, flattering lighting and protective takeaway frames.

While the idea of a cannabis wedding may still sound new, surprising or even funny to some people, others have no qualms about their desire to make cannabis an integral part of their ceremony and reception. At these nuptials, guests no longer have to wander off for suspicious walks or worry they’re going to miss the speeches at the reception as they rip a bong in a loosey-goosey aunt’s car. (At my family functions, that aunt is my mom, which clearly puts me on the path to my own cannabis wedding.)

We’ve been smoking cannabis together since our first date,” explain Alice and Clark, self-proclaimed “newly-weeds” who go by “That High Couple” on Instagram and are sporting matching green formal wear. They married last year on a Victorian estate built in 1904. “Our good friends at GPen gifted us something really special for the occasion — personalized GPen Gio vaporizers with our names and wedding date laser etched into each vape. This kept us high all day without tipping off the nearby grandmas. Also one of our guests, Chef Holden Jagger from Altered Plates, is a cannabis chef and grower and he decided to reveal at the reception that he had cultivated a strain called ‘Alice & Clark.’ We walked away with a branch of cannabis and seeds to start our own weed lineage together.”

“Thankfully,” the couple continues, “everyone who wanted to enjoy cannabis was able to without alarming the more conservative family members. After the reception, when it was only the bridal party left to enjoy the estate, there was a bacchanal of bongs, joints and dabs that went way into the night.”

Ironically, though, here on the floor of the Cannabis Wedding Expo, there could be no smoking (or ingesting) of weed. Because, for the moment at least, California law prohibits open consumption, which means our gift bags are weedless and none of those heart-shaped cross joints ever become lit. (In some areas of California, however, the laws are likely to loosen enough to allow for cannabis lounges, which should restore the culture of events like these back to their deserved state of puff-puff-pass abundance.)

Still, my afternoon at the expo proved there is no shortage of ways to get high (and involve weed) at my wedding, even if I couldn’t get high learning about them.

The Budbar

Immediately upon entering the expo, my eyes meet a visual feast of weed options at the booth of Elevated Engagements, a cannabis event company based that offers a variety of bud bar options. “Weddings have eclectic mixes of people, so we recommend people include a few of our options in their package — to cater to both the first-timers and more experienced people,” Joshua Plummer, the company’s co-founder, tells me.

Of course, there’s your flower bar, which comes with an array of top-shelf flower, pre-rolls, bongs, pipes and papers and other supplies needed to roll your own joints. Meanwhile, the vape and concentrate bar ditches the flower in favor of potent weed concentrates. If you prefer CBD to THC — or at least want to provide the option for your guests seeking out physical relaxation without all the psychoactive effects — there’s also a CBD bar option filled with pre-rolls, vape pens, batteries for those vape pens and topicals including balms and lotions.

Then there’s the edible bar, full of gummies, candies and other desserts, which isn’t to be confused with the infused chocolate fondue bar, complete with fruit, marshmallows and other toppings. My personal favorites, though, are the snow-cone bar, outfitted with a snow-cone machine and multiple cannabis-infused, flavored syrups (and non-infused versions upon request), and the coffee and tea station, full of CBD and THC infused varieties, a perfect accompaniment for cake-cutting and generating that second party wind among your (stoned) guests.

All of these packages come with budtenders, whose job it is to inform guests about the specific weed offerings, make recommendations and help operate the more complicated devices, like dab rigs. “Some curious but inexperienced people aren’t interested in walking into a dispensary because they feel dumb for not knowing anything,” says Plummer. “Our budtenders create a comfortable environment where guests can feel secure and welcomed in trying cannabis in a comfortable way.” (He adds that budtenders make things safer, too, by ensuring nobody over indulges.)

“A lot of people are shocked, like, ‘Is this really happening [at a wedding]?’ The funny thing is, even folks who have no interest in consuming, tend to approach the budtenders and ask about what’s happening, so we see that as an opportunity to educate people. They can see it, smell it and feel a part of it. Most importantly, they can see that cannabis can be done in a luxurious, responsible way,” Plummer continues. “A lot of the time, the bride and groom are super gung-ho for our services, but their mom, grandma or cousin Ed aren’t. Still, we’ve had a number of experiences at events where a family member comes up and says they don’t like cannabis or what we’re offering, but usually, they ask us questions anyway and it becomes a cordial conversation.”

Plummer says his own father has been critical of cannabis, buying into old myths about it being a gateway drug, but as Plummer and his sister continue to grow Elevated Engagements, he’s slowly coming around. For couples whose family holds similar views, Plummer offers a mobile smoking lounge (i.e., a converted party bus) that provides a contained arena for toking. “Our lounges keep things out of view, but are still inviting,” he explains.

The Flowers (Duh!)

When you add cannabis to an arrangement of flowers, it brings the arrangement to a whole different level,” says Cortney Lynn of Bitchin Bouquets, who is sure to include weed in said bitchin’ bouquets. “I’ve had many people who aren’t cannabis enthusiasts of any sort actually enjoy my arrangements, when usually complaining about weed. Not only am I bringing two flower industries together, but I also feel that I help bring cannabis users and non-cannabis users together more, to help make it more widely accepted. It’s not just weed. It’s a flower that’s absolutely gorgeous, and when people see my arrangements, they understand that it’s more than something you just consume.”

One of Lynn’s favorite ways to present her creations is in a My Bud Vase, a hybrid vase/bong, or the place where flowers meet flower. They’re an array of beautiful ceramic and porcelain, ranging from feminine, floral styles to minimal, modern pieces that resemble the kind of stuff sold in a museum gift shop. “I live in South Carolina, a prohibition state,” says Doreen Sullivan, the founder of the brand. “One day, during a home consumption sesh, someone came to my door unexpectedly, so I hid my bong amid the vases in my house. After the visitor left, I sat there, stoned, and looked side to side at the bong and the vases and went, ‘Huh?’ I was in a wonderful, altered state and saw both the similarity and the dissimilarity. It’s not normal that people look at a vase and think about picking it up and smoking out of it, but the result is a beautiful execution of a smoking device.”

That said, brides seem to have a particular knack for understanding what she saw. “I have brides emailing me months in advance about getting vases for their weddings,” Sullivan explains. “We’re starting to get brides wanting to use some of our smaller vases for their bridal party, where they’ll order a vase for each bridesmaid, and we’ll even match the color of the ribbon on the vase to their dress colors.”

The dual purpose of her product means that as centerpieces, My Bud Vases are the perfect way to encourage a post-dinner smoke. And each vase comes with matching faux flowers that are pokers for your bowl, so you’ll never have to use a bent paper clip or broken bobby pin to clear your device again.

On the tech-ier side of things, Bello’s tabletop vape uses single-touch, “tap” technology to turn the vaping experience into a sipping experience. As the company explains, “A part of your decor, Bello serves as a port for a stylish cocktail-style glass that smoothly fills with vapor. It is easy-to-use, automatic and compatible with the widely popular 510 thread cartridges. The refreshingly simple experience allows consumers to automatically fill their own wine-shaped glass with vapor. When sharing wine or scotch, there’s a reason every guest at a party doesn’t drink out of the same cup. Bello is an elegant solution to sharing cannabis.”

Groomsmen and Bridesmaids Gifts

For the Cannabis Wedding Expo, I created rolling tray gift sets — the groomsmen example included a teak wooden tray, walnut wood joint tip, walnut and glass pipe, customized rolling papers and a cannabis leaf embellished lighter case,” says Angela Mou of Elevate Jane, an L.A. smoke shop. “The bridesmaid example included a matching, customizable handmade ceramic rolling tray and matching one hitter, all adorned with 22-karat gold. They make great gifts because each one can be customized and personalized, and every bride and groom wants to pick out unique, creative gifts that their friends will love and use forever.”

Mou isn’t married, but definitely plans to have cannabis at her future wedding. “My floral arrangements would have buds and leaves, and the reception would have the most glorious bong bar and joint-rolling stations, with beautiful, sun-grown flower,” she says. “It’s important to me that non-smokers are well taken care of too, so I’d want to have CBD tea, and both micro-dosed and non-infused cake!”

This isn’t to say cannabis weddings can’t present challenges of their own. As a lifelong cannabis consumer, it’s not like Crystal’s wedding was 420-unfriendly, but things certainly kicked up a notch when she celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary with a big party last year.

“We had a whole area called ‘The Dab Tent,’ that way guests who weren’t interested could still feel comfortable,” she explains. “But of course, the Dab Tent was very popular, and when it came time to cut the cake, I had to get on the mic and encourage that everyone come pose for a photo with us before we did so. Some of my guests were like, ‘Even those of us in the Dab Tent?!’ and I had to say, ‘Yes, even those of you in the Dab Tent!’”