Normalizing Cannabis Weddings, One Canna-Bar At A Time

You shouldn’t have to sneak out of a loved one’s wedding – or even your own, for that matter – to smoke a joint.

This is the decree of Love and Marij, a cannabis wedding and special events planning/advocacy group spearheaded by Stamford, Connecticut’s Niki McDonald.

The online platform, launched in July 2015, serves both as a listing service/inspiration board for prospective brides and grooms in legalized states who are looking to incorporate cannabis into their ceremonies, and as a network that advocates for the rights of said brides and grooms.

“While Love and Marij… lists the world’s first cannabis-friendly wedding vendors, most wedding vendors still fear working with cannabis, which makes it difficult for newly engaged couples to plan a wedding with cannabis,” McDonald told Civilized.

“At this moment in time, because cannabis is still federally illegal, a lot of wedding vendors… and a lot of people [in general] just don’t understand the laws or are afraid of the laws, which are ever-changing.”

Enter Love and Marij. Every day, the group works with wedding industry leaders – be they hoteliers, limo drivers, venue operators and everything in between – to educate them about the various ways cannabis can legally and responsibly be incorporated into upscale events of all kinds.

From bud bouquets and cannabis corsages to ganja gift-bags and ceremonial smokes, the ways marijuana can be married with a wedding if you can find an accommodating vendor are endless (as demonstrated on Love and Marij’s homepage, which offers a range of examples of ‘upscale imagery’ provided by cannabis-loving newlyweds).

The canna-bar is the biggest challenge

Alexander Elledge Wedding 573 / Jessica Hill Photography

But the most desirable (and often most challenging) way to incorporate cannabis into your ceremony, according to McDonald, is with a ‘canna-bar’, which serves up a range of strains to guests. The trouble with canna-bars is that in most states, you cannot serve cannabis at a location that has a liquor license. McDonald says there are always “creative workarounds” to issues like this, like the Loopr bus in Denver, which doubles as cannabis-friendly transportation to your venue and a place to recreate with cannabis outside of your venue.

Desire for cannabis-friendly event planning has always existed, surmises McDonald. Now that legalization measures are sweeping the nation, these demands are being legitimized for the first time – and the growing pains are palpable.

“The demand for cannabis weddings has always been there… brides and grooms may not bring it to the forefront of their wedding to actually serve it, but tons have a quick hit to help calm their nerves before they go down the aisle, or they sneak out to recreate,” said McDonald.

This gap in services is something McDonald first picked up on while she was still working in television production in 2014. After being sent by MSNBC to cover marijuana legalization in Colorado, she saw first-hand the lack of understanding around the potential for ‘sophisticated’ cannabis use – and the lack of access to professionals who could help facilitate it.

lauren brad details 56 uai 2880x1920 / Ali. V Photography

“Whenever I would tell my friends back home that cannabis could be upscale, there was no frame of reference. They couldn’t picture that,” said McDonald. “I also noticed that a bunch of people I knew who were getting married wanted to have cannabis at their weddings and couldn’t figure out how to do it legally… I saw where the market needed help and figured this was the perfect cause for me to start fighting.”

While there’s still a long way to go in terms of the acceptability of cannabis-infused weddings and events, McDonald believes a societal shift of sorts is undeniably underway.

“More and more people – especially in states where it’s legal – are looking to include cannabis in one way, shape or form [in their weddings] and there are more and more service providers coming forward saying they’ll do it,” said McDonald, adding that “a comfort level is starting to emerge.”

She hopes this movement will be further burgeoned by Love and Marij’s upcoming release of a state-by-state educational infographic, which will detail for vendors (or a DIY couple) how they can legally work with cannabis for a wedding. The graphic is set to be released by early November, “for the start of engagement season.”

weed wedding011 / Ali. V Photography

“We’ve figured out all the loopholes so that anyone who wants to do this, in whatever capacity they want, can do it… These infographics will give a lot of people who are sort of on the fence about [cannabis weddings] the power to go full throttle,” said McDonald. “From there, I think it will just be a matter of seeing people do it, and [hopefully] it will just become normal.”

Banner image: / Ali. V Photography