Couples are including cannabis at their weddings. How you can, too
“Folks have been consuming cannabis at weddings for as long as cannabis and weddings have existed,” explains Andrew Mieure, budtender and founder of Colorado-based Top Shelf Budtending. “We’re just putting a new, classier twist on the presentation.”
That elevated spin includes everything from edibles in the goodie bags to a fresh bud bar. It can help a couple take a “first toke” instead of a first kiss or have a signature strain in place of a couple’s cocktail. For Mieure, the sky is literally the limit—he even has budtenders juggle bongs into the air.
Since launching his company six years ago, Mieure has served more than 80,000 customers in six adult-use marijuana-legal states at weddings and social events. Like mixologists, budtenders help create experiences for guests through their product. But instead of wine and spirits, it’s indica and sativa. “Our jobs are more complex than just selling a product or rolling a joint for a guest,” he adds. “It may sound ridiculous, but we really like to take it over the top.”
Whether he’s curating a cannabis lounge’s wares or tossing around consumption devices, Mieure is onto something, namely, that cannabis is becoming a regular part of weddings. According to a study by WeddingWire in August 2019, 17% of engaged couples plan to incorporate marijuana, CBD, or edibles into their wedding; 10% of couples surveyed already had, including cannabis in some form or hiring a budtender.
“The amount of inquiries Top Shelf receives has grown by double every year since Colorado has legalized adult-use cannabis,” Mieure says of wedding clientele. “Families are loosening up their restrictions on what they feel can be allowed at a wedding.”
Fortune chatted with Mieure about what it means to be a budtender, how couples choose to include cannabis, and what to name your signature strain.
Fortune: What goes into being a budtender?
Mieure: On the surface budtending seems really simple, right? Consult with your guests, break up some cannabis, put it into the guest’s device, and hand it over to them to consume. The reality of this profession is much more complicated than what you may see on the outside. Specialized, highly trained budtenders often fit into a niche, much like wine sommeliers do. These cannabis sommeliers use their senses to relay not only smell and taste recommendations, but potential effects from the flower that they are consuming. Beyond this, we as budtenders must be very aware of the legal and safety issues associated with the business.
What are some ways a couple can wow their guests with cannabis?
Cannabis can be integrated into weddings in nearly every way alcohol can; in some cases, even more. Budtender-staffed bud bars are the most simplistic option, but there are many other premium services that guests can add to take their cannabis wedding experience to the next level. The bride and groom could go with a paired joint or a ceremonial bowl or bong hit to kick off their vows. Custom-infused edible arrangements, cannabis cocktails, bespoke goodie bags, and over-the-top bud bars round out just a small percentage of what is available to wedding guests. We’ve taken it as far as handcrafting bong water, allowing the guest to taste unique flavors sourced locally to pair with the cannabis they are consuming.
You also offer flair budtenders. How does that work?
Flair budtenders serve their guests by juggling bongs and other consumption devices. They toss around glass, bongs, and joints in a way that looks like a circus act. It adds a whole new layer of entertainment to the guest experience.
Couples sometimes include a signature strain like a signature cocktail. Would you tell me more about that?
This is certainly a thing. Each variety of cannabis has different chemical compounds that make them interesting and diverse to consume. We recommend thinking about a feeling or vibe you want; instead of the name, focus on the smell, taste, effect of each variety. That said, some names can be very fitting for weddings, but here is a pro tip: You can name a strain anything you want. If you want to rename your “Cat Piss” to “Wedding Dress OG,” definitely do so. Signature names can go far when getting guests excited to consume. These names create banter and fun plays on words that guests will remember for years to come.
For all the fun, cannabis is a tricky subject on so many fronts these days. What’s challenging about working with cannabis and weddings?
Cannabis affects guests differently than alcohol, so understanding the nuances with cannabis consumption in public can be a very unique experience for those who are unfamiliar with it. The price points are generally different as well. If you want to go all out on your cannabis bar, you could spend nearly the same or more in comparison to alcohol bars. Plus, there is a lack of cannabis-friendly venues and cannabis-based insurance; issues stemming from prohibition mindsets; compliance issues; DUI prevention; and children being at the wedding reception. Prevention first is always the best policy.
If you could offer three major tips to a couple looking to include cannabis in their big day, what would those be?
Find a venue that will allow full consumption far in advance of your wedding date. Finding consumption-friendly venues is always a struggle. Companies like us have a preferred, cannabis-friendly venue list. Make sure that all of your family and those who are assisting in financing your wedding know that cannabis will be present at the event. Not much is worse than the guests not being aware that cannabis was integrated into the event when they are vehemently against it. Be honest, and everyone should have a great time.
Finally, compliance is king. Make sure you consult with a company well-versed in serving cannabis to avoid common pitfalls of cannabis events.
Do you see these being a rising trend? What do you see for the future of budtending and weddings?
The future is now. What we are doing in adult-use legal states will be and has been the road map for the rest of the country moving forward. I predict that the model will be expanded upon, and new services, products, and techniques will be introduced to create next-level experiences as the laws allow.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—The most anticipated books of 2020, according to Goodreads
—Why this 100% sustainable Icelandic sea salt is becoming a chef favorite
—The magic of the wedding industry’s most exclusive conference
—Just in time for Dry January: No-alcohol whiskey and gin alternatives
—The best travel destinations for every season of 2020
Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.