Once Bec Koop had finished passing out joints to every wedding guest who wanted one, she waited until the bride and groom were ready to join the reception and then made her announcement: “Okay, are you ready to light up for the first time with them as a married couple?”
The newlyweds entered, greeted by a sea of sparking lighters, a big, collective inhale, and a cloud of fragrant smoke. “It was like a champagne toast, but lighting up,” Koop says.
Smoking weed on a wedding day isn’t unusual in Koop’s line of work—in fact, it’s her job to help make it happen. She’s one half of Irie Weddings & Events, a cannabis-oriented wedding-planning service she runs with her business partner, Madlyne Kelly. Their operation, which also puts on traditional weddings, is based in Denver, where a small but growing number of caterers, bakers, florists, and others are starting to capitalize on the intersection of the increasingly lucrative market for marijuana and the already lucrative market for weddings, as Colorado’s laws permit them to. Last year, Irie Weddings & Events orchestrated a dozen weed weddings, and has more than that booked for 2017.
The existence of cannabis weddings isn’t just an indication of marijuana’s increasing normalcy—it also signals the drug’s maturation from a blacklight-and-lava-lamp pastime to a grown-up product with gourmet options. Weddings are one way cannabis is being classed up, says Andrew Mieure, the proprietor of Top Shelf Budtending, a business in Colorado Springs that serves marijuana at parties and events. “Brides demand a level of quality and sophistication that is rarely seen in the industry,” says Mieure, who wears suspenders, a bow tie, and black-rimmed glasses.
A year ago, when Cliff Stokes, a like-minded entrepreneur, co-founded a limo company catering to pot smokers in Denver, he was surprised to learn how posh his customers were. “We originally thought we’d get a big party bus and do what everyone else did, and pursue the snowboarders and the young folks,” Stokes says. But soon, he was shuttling well-dressed clients around in a fleet of fancy cars that includes a Tesla Model S, an Infiniti QX80, and a Mercedes Benz GL450. High End Transportation’s riders are accompanied by a host who’s there to roll joints, pass around munchies, lead field trips to dispensaries, and look after guests. The company has done bachelorette and bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners, and weddings.