If you've been to many a wedding reception, you probably think you've seen just about every wedding trend out there. But have you ever been offered a fat doobie during cocktail hour? What about helping yourself to a wedding favor bar full of THC edibles at the reception?
Oh, yes—weed at weddings is a very real thing now that recreational marijuana is legal in several states.
In Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, marijuana bars are becoming a popular wedding addition. FYI: Washington, D.C., remains iffy because the commercial sale is illegal, even if recreational consumption isn't.
Some brides and grooms have embraced pot as a wedding theme, but it's still on the fringe and by no means mainstream. It's far more common for couples to have something marijuana related off to the side, much like a photo booth. After all, it's hard to find a large group of wedding guests who are all totally comfortable breathing second-hand pot smoke (or taking the edible plunge) to celebrate your big day. Some guests may not have a problem with smoking marijuana per se, but they can't risk failing a drug test at work to indulge your wildest fantasies of a hot box at your wedding reception venue.
For those who do choose to "serve" the proverbial sticky icky at their weddings, how are they doing it?
Pot bars: Just like a cocktail bar, this is a separate table featuring a display of several kinds of rolled joints, with a dispensary professional on hand to answer questions about how each type of marijuana should affect the user.
Pot tents: With a nod to the folks who don't want to (or can't) accidentally inhale, the marijuana bar is built inside a tent that also features cocktail tables, like a VIP lounge. Guests are asked to do their smoking inside the tent so as not to affect guests who don't want to breathe second-hand smoke.
Welcome gifts: Couples are including marijuana baked goods and candies in welcome baskets and bags that greet out-of-town guests when they arrive at their hotels (Note: You must label these in a very obvious manner so that no accidents happen. Most people don't carefully read labels before popping a goody in their mouth if they're hungry. They aren't expecting to be drugged.…)
Reception favors: Most marijuana favor bars feature edibles, such as brownies, cake pops, and candy, though there are a few stories of brides and grooms who have given guests a "to-go spliff" at the end of the night.
Be aware: Wedding planners and wedding venues in legal-marijuana states are not loving this new trend. There's a huge amount of liability that comes along with it.
While pot may be legal in a particular state, most hotels and other wedding venues don't permit smoking of any kind inside. And their insurance policies may prohibit the use of "controlled substances" on the property, including terraces and outside decks. In some cases, the insurance policies just haven't yet caught up with the times. But for the most part, these venues don't want to deal with all the potential problems they fear permitting marijuana could bring.
On a wedding-planning trip to Colorado recently, I discussed the new trend in detail with the wedding coordinators at several very popular venues in Denver.
"First, we started having things like THC gummy bears appearing in the welcome baskets," explains the general manager of one hotel in the tony Cherry Creek part of the city. "That's a no-go for us because it's our hotel delivering the baskets to the guests' rooms. We could be held responsible if somebody, God forbid, had a negative reaction to it. Plus, not everything we've encountered was labeled well. It would be so easy to eat something and not have any idea you'd just taken drugs until they kick in."
Now they have to go through all the welcome gifts that are supposed to be delivered to make sure there are no "contraband items." She says they have, in fact, found carefully disguised "party supplies" included since they instituted the rule.
If you want to have a marijuana option at your wedding, the best place for it is at a privately owned venue, where the owners can give you written permission (after they've checked with their own insurance company). The safest way to do it is to contract with a legally authorized dispensary in the area where the wedding is being held, as it'll be familiar with any local ordinances that could affect your plans.
Remember, just like you have legal responsibility in many states if your guests leave your wedding "overserved" and get into an accident, you can be held accountable for their behavior post puff too. This is a new trend in weddings, which means there are still a lot of gray areas, and just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.