Marijuana Is a Welcome Wedding Guest in Colorado and Washington State

At his wedding in Tabernash, Colo., Bradley Melshenker and his groomsmen wore boutonnieres made mostly out of marijuana buds and leaves. (Credit Alison Vagnini)

Earlier this month, when Ellen Epstein arrived at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colo., for the wedding of her friends Lauren Meisels and Bradley Melshenker, she, like the other guests, found a gift bag waiting for her in her hotel room. But rather than a guide to activities in the area or a jar of locally made honey, the canvas bag contained a rolled joint, a lighter and lip balm infused with mango butter and cannabis, along with this note: “We wanted to show you some of the things we love the best.”

She knew then that the wedding of her fellow Boulder residents would be just a little different from the ones she had attended in the past.

The Meisels and Melshenker nuptials looked as if their inspiration had come not from the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings but from High Times. All of the floral arrangements, including the bride’s bouquet, contained a variety of white flowers mixed with marijuana buds and leaves. Mr. Melshenker and his groomsmen wore boutonnieres crafted out of twine and marijuana buds, and Mr. Melshenker’s three dogs, who were also in attendance, wore collars made of cannabis buds, eucalyptus leaves and pink ribbons.

All of the floral arrangements, including the bride’s bouquet, for the Meisels and Melshenker nuptials in Colorado had a variety of white flowers mixed with marijuana buds and leaves, like this bouquet made by Plum Sage Flowers in Denver. (Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times)

All of the floral arrangements, including the bride’s bouquet, for the Meisels and Melshenker nuptials in Colorado had a variety of white flowers mixed with marijuana buds and leaves, like this bouquet made by Plum Sage Flowers in Denver. Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times
Before going into dinner, the guests were given a baby marijuana plant in a ceramic pot with their name and table assignment written on a card in green ink, in the kind of stylish script you might find on a container of artisanal goat cheese. The tables were named after different strains of marijuana, like Blue Dream, Sour Diesel and Skywalker (the groom’s favorite strain). Ms. Epstein, who was seated at Skywalker, said that everyone at her table, where the ages ranged from 40 to 70, passed around a device similar to an electronic cigarette — except that it contained hash oil instead of nicotine. “It didn’t feel weird or bizarre,” she said. “It kind of becomes a new cocktail.”

With the sale of marijuana for recreational use now legal in Colorado and Washington State, pot and its various paraphernalia are becoming visible at weddings in those states — as table favors for guests like miniature vaporizers or group activites like a hookah lounge.

Brides and grooms, even ones who say they don’t partake often but want to be hospitable, are giving guests choices that are much different than the standard merlot or chardonnay. Now, the choice could be Tangerine Haze or Grape Ape.

Marijuana use at weddings is “out of the closet now,” said Kelli Bielema of Shindig Events in Seattle. “I did a wedding recently where they had a little box, like a trinket box, and it had a bunch of joints in it. They just passed it around, and said, ‘Here, enjoy yourself.’ ”

The choice to make pot an integral if not central part of their wedding was almost a no-brainer for Mr. Melshenker, 32, and Ms. Meisels, 34 (who also had an open bar). Cannabis had been a major part of the couple’s relationship from the beginning. Ms. Meisels, who grew up in Manhattan, and Mr. Melshenker, who is from Maryland, met in 2007, when they were both living in Los Angeles. On their first date, they smoked a joint together, and Ms. Meisels, who worked at United Talent Agency at the time, told Mr. Melshenker she had been searching for a boyfriend who smoked pot.

“She was like, ‘I’ve been going out partying every night and I need a pothead to slow me down, to cook dinners and watch movies instead of this Hollywood night life,’ ” Mr. Melshenker remembered. Five years ago, they moved together to Boulder, and opened the Greenest Green, a marijuana dispensary and cultivation center, which they recently sold.

“Our whole life for the last five years has been cannabis, cannabis, cannabis,” said Mr. Melshenker, who with Ms. Meisels now operates Green Life Consulting, an advisory firm for those who want to start marijuana-based businesses, and 710 Labs, which manufactures concentrates like hash oil.

Many pot enthusiasts think of alcohol as an old-fashioned, old-school toxin whose overuse can inflame family tensions and cause people to say horrible things, especially at weddings. In comparison, marijuana, they contend, is more like a tonic that calms people down and makes them like each other more rather than less — perfect for a wedding, they say.

Some of those who have attended weddings where joints, bongs, vaporizers, e-pens or hookahs are passed around also say it heightens the community-building mood that is inherent at a wedding. At Get High Getaways, a bed-and-breakfast in Denver, smoking pot is “not only permitted but encouraged,” said Dale Dyke, who runs the place with his wife, Chastity Osborn. Last March, Mr. Dyke and Ms. Osborn hosted a wedding and reception at their inn featuring joints rolled from various strains of marijuana including Critical Mass, Widow Kush and Skunk 1. (The bride and groom said they love smoking marijuana but did not want to be interviewed about it.)

“Everybody was blazing the whole time,” said Mr. Dyke, who believes cannabis is a much more romantic substance than alcohol because it represents exploration, rebellion, openness and togetherness. “Marijuana intoxication is full of positive emotion. People feel love and connection. Every single person cried at the wedding.”

The rules and regulations about marijuana — particularly regarding where it is legal to use and where it is not — are still being written and constantly changing, like springtime weather in the Rockies. It is legal to imbibe on private property but not in public; however, there is endless debate about what constitutes private versus public.

Heather Dwight, who runs Calluna Events in Boulder and organized the Melshenker-Meisels wedding, said it was difficult to find a place that would permit a joint bar or hookah lounge. Even the owners of “private” spaces, such as lofts or large houses, balked. It was possible to openly serve marijuana at the Get High Getaways wedding because B&Bs are considered private property and Mr. Dyke was open to it.

Many of the most popular places to hold weddings in Colorado, like the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the top of Aspen Mountain, forbid marijuana, citing the law against consumption in public. Tourists complain that marijuana is simple to buy in Colorado (dispensaries are almost easier to find than Starbucks cafes), but there are very few places where it is clearly legal to consume it. So, for now, Ms. Dwight said, the easiest place to have a weed wedding is in your own backyard.

Because they are smokeless, cakes and pies with cannabis baked in are a hard-to-detect way of consuming pot in public. It is also illegal to do so. In Washington State, Alison Draisin, a baker who creates what she calls “medibles” — because she intends them for medicinal use — said, “A restaurant cannot offer medibles on their menu, as it stands now.”

Even die-hard marijuana enthusiasts say the high from edibles can be incredibly powerful and long-lasting. Julie Dooley, of Julie & Kate Baked Goods in Denver, makes granola that contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and describes the experience of ingesting a pot-infused edible this way: “It’s not like wine or a joint you might pass around for a fun party atmosphere. When you eat an edible, you are committed for four hours and mine can last six to 12 hours. It’s a long experience.”

Also, most edibles, which include caramels, lollipops and chocolates, look like regular treats, which makes them especially tempting for children. At a wedding where a tray of pot brownies was served a few weeks ago, the hired planner, Kerri Butler of A Touch of Bliss in Denver, said that the space’s bartenders checked the IDs of guests before handing out the brownies (which had been baked by the mother of the bride).

Jake Rosenbarger of Kim & Jake’s Cakes in Boulder said he would not make a cannabis cake if asked. Marijuana ruins the flavor, he said, and it can even ruin a wedding. “It can divide a room as much as pull it together,” he said. “It creates a vibe of, ‘Are you in the cool kids club or not?’ ”

Penni Ervin, a wedding planner in Crested Butte, was aghast when asked if she was working on any weddings in which pot was involved. “We’re talking about highly professional people, and I just don’t see C.E.O.s getting stoned,” she said. “It’s a family event with grandma and grandpa,” adding, “and you don’t want them to get shocked.”

Before Jennifer Beck, 27, and Chase Beck, 24, were married on May 3, also at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch, they briefly discussed serving THC-infused cupcakes in addition to traditional ones. Mr. and Mrs. Beck, who founded, a Denver Internet company that connects customers to marijuana-based businesses, ultimately decided not to include the special cupcakes, in part because it was springtime, the season when the rivers are raging with snowmelt and the bears are coming out of hibernation — not the ideal moment for anyone to be stoned in the mountains.

However, Mr. Beck had no qualms about sharing some weed — a strain called Space Cheese, to be exact — with his groomsmen after the ceremony at a private cabin he rented nearby. “The Space Cheese itself lent a giggly buzz to everyone while we rehashed the day’s events,” he said.

Today, there are “budtenders” (think sommeliers, only they work with cannabis instead of wine) in every dispensary, to help couples who are so inclined find the ideal strains for their weddings. Bec Koop just opened a business, Buds and Blossoms in Alma, Colo., to advise those who want to include marijuana in their centerpieces, dinner salads, bouquets and boutonnieres (or “bud-tonnieres,” as she calls them).

When it comes to marijuana, she is like a skier bombing down a steep slope, far more adventurous than cautious. For instance, during a recent conversation, she suggested placing a tincture containing flavored (like peppermint or vanilla) THC-infused liquid next to the wedding cake, for guests who might want to add a few droplets. “Like putting syrup on your pancakes,” she exclaimed.

Ms. Koop believes brides and grooms should choose their wedding weed as carefully as they select their music or clothes. Certain strains help shy people get up and actually enjoy dancing in front of a crowd, she said, while others could bring out the carefree, bubbly side of even the most ferocious Bridezillas.

“If there are two conflicting families who are not too happy about the wedding,” she said, “you might want to find a strain that will make them a bit more euphoric.”

Kristen Tsiatsios, co-owner of Jubilee Event Engineers in Seattle, worked on a wedding last summer that had a jazz-era theme and included a cigar/joint bar set up outside the reception hall.

“We just walked around telling people, ‘If you go to the cigar bar, there are joints underneath the table,’ ” said Brandon Wagner, the bridegroom. “Prohibition is over.”

As it turned out, the “cigar bar” was like a strong undertow that drew all the guests outside. “Nobody was on the dance floor,” Ms. Tsiatsios said. “Everyone had gone out front to get stoned, and there they stayed the whole night.”

It is hard to predict if pot will become more or less popular at weddings in the future. Mark Buddemeyer, a Colorado budtender whose nickname is actually Bud, expressed doubts that marijuana would ever become widely acceptable at weddings.

“We’ve got to get to the point where smoking is classier than drinking,” he said. “A bride blowing out a big cloud of smoke is not necessarily attractive.” (Of course, you do not have to inhale to get high anymore. You could drink one of Dixie Elixirs’ THC-infused sparkling beverages that come in trendy flavors like pomegranate or watermelon cream.)

Others wonder if it’s really necessary for a bride and groom to heighten, lighten, deepen or in any way alter the experience of getting married. Isn’t promising to spend the rest of your life with someone enough of a high? The Becks made a pact not to get stoned (or tipsy) before their ceremony. “It does change your energy,” Mrs. Beck said. “It does change your ability to engage. For the wedding, you’ve got to be there.”

One thing that can be said about weed weddings is they are likely to generate less waste. While many centerpieces, boutonnieres or bouquets are typically thrown out, ones made out of marijuana buds will probably not be discarded.

For the wedding at Get High Getaways, Ms. Osborn made the bride’s bouquet, which included several buds of S.A.G.E. Zeta. After the wedding, Mr. Dyke said, the newly married couple hung the bouquet in a closet at home to dry it out, and intend to smoke it on their wedding anniversary next year. Mr. Dyke likened it to the tradition to saving a piece of wedding cake in the freezer and sharing it on the first anniversary.

This practice could be a new way to relive the day. As Mr. Dyke put it, “You catch the same buzz you had on your wedding day.”

Via NY Times


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