Thanks to the legalized recreational cannabis, couples now have the choice to add Cannabis into their wedding day festivities. In our interview with Bec Koop, founder of Irie Wedding and Events we learned that cannabis can be incorporated in many ways and it ranges from subtle to over the top. Imagine adding cannabis to your wedding flowers or offering infused drinks, setting up a fully serviced bud bar or creating a VIP smoking area.
The creative approaches are endless and the demand for this type of wedding planning is growing (no pun intended) as the Cannabis conversation and consumption becomes more socially accepted.
At Irie Weddings and Events they service clients in Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle with planning, bud bars and floral designs for the special couple!
What we loved most about talking to Bec was recognizing how as a true entrepreneur her and her team have an incredible skill set to solve for challenges and problems to make their clients dreams a reality.
Check out the Q and A below!
- Tell us how Irie Weddings came to be? What was the inspiration for starting this journey with Madlyne (Kelly)?
B.K. It was definitely an aha moment – 2-3 weeks prior to recreational cannabis becoming enacted I was at home and there were some leftover event flowers, I had a cannabis plant that was at its maturity and ready to cut down. I put some of this cannabis beside the flowers and then thought how beautiful! Then I thought; ‘ why can’t people smoke on their big day’? So I started ‘Buds and Blossoms’. I hit some opposition with vendors so I started to work with accommodating vendors and that is how the planning aspect started. We started to build a network of open minded folks who wanted to tap into the cannabis space and we built a network of amazing partners. Madylne and I met in 2015. She had worked on the medical marijuana compliance side, and she helped people stay compliant within the state. She had just had her daughter and she wanted a lifestyle change so she reached out to me and we partnered to take the company to the next level. The two backgrounds and skill sets went hand in hand and we complement each other very much.
- In what ways do most clients incorporate cannabis into their celebrations?
B.K. The most common way is the bud bar. Comparable to an open alcohol bar what happens is the clients purchase the cannabis and gift it to us and then we gift it back to the guest. We provide budtender service and experience and the couple that provides the cannabis. There cannot be any fiduciary exchange for the cannabis. No tip jar as example.
- I’m a bride-to-be; both my fiancé and I enjoy recreational Cannabis as do our close circle of friends. What would be the three pieces of advice you would give me before I commit to incorporating cannabis into the celebration?
- Is your venue friendly to the way you want to consume cannabis. Example open flame. For example in Colorado there can be fire dangers and so an open flame may not be allowed. Some places are not open minded to edibles or concentrates.
- How many minors and how do you implement a safety plan to prevent minors from gaining access.
- Do you have any guests you don’t want to offend? How do we put it onsite without offending those guests?
- What exactly is a cannabis friendly venue?
B.K. Could be a multitude of things, the main thing is the wedding has to be deemed a private party. Cannabis may happen at a private function that is not open to the public. Therefore a wedding is an ideal function for a bud bar. Some venues even take it so far to say they don’t want it on their property but they may allow a ‘party bus’ to be parked offsite or go for a ‘smoke ride’ on that bus. Some venues are more strict, not allowing minors at weddings with cannabis. You can create a adult only smoking area or a time that cannabis becomes incorporated. Example: Cannabis after 10 pm when the children leave the event.
- I have some friends and family members that I really need to be there yet they are not Cannabis users; nor am I sure they condone it. I don’t want to ‘hide’ the focus of Cannabis, and I want to ensure their comfort and safety. How can we offer Cannabis yet make these guests feel comfortable?
B.K. We would suggest a method that is not so blatant and obvious. Some don’t like the smell of smoke, perhaps then we would recommend vaporizing. Some parents may not want to be away from the main event and over to the side. Also, canna cocktails are great – the only visual difference between my drink and your drink is the garnish. Mine will have THC and yours won’t!
- What if you don’t want your children to see you consuming at the wedding?
B.K. We have hired Nanny’s or babysitters so parents can step away into a vape lounge. Sometimes one parent watches the children while the other parent experiencescannabis.
- When you think of this wonderful, exciting business you’ve created and the many people you’ve made so happy , what is the one experience you hold in your heart as the most effective and gratifying for you personally?
B.K. That is a tough question. We have had so many unique clients we have encountered. I love really working with first time consumers. You have three type of consumers at an event. The Enthusiast – At the front of line is the person who loves herb and is excited to consume. Then behind the Enthusiast you have the Canna Curious – definitely curious but intimidated, so they ask a lot of questions. Third is the Skeptic – standing behind, perhaps not even friendly. The first two ask so many great questions and we love when we can educate. I will encourage the skeptical guests to come over and smell it – I tell them, it won’t get you high if you smell it. It is almost like a sommelier experience. We have palate cleansers and we have them smell and clean their palate and smell some more. We encourage them to try to learn the strains and explain what the strains are and how they may affect them. We coach!
B.K. Education is the fun part. There was a lady at one event probably in her 80s and she was not happy with us. She was walking by with her wine in her hand and glaring at us, almost stomping her feet. Finally I said to Maddy, I need a conversation with this lady. I went to find her and I began with apologizing to her if we had offended her … she is standing there with her wine and getting aggressive with me, she didn’t think we should be part of the ceremony and found it offensive. I asked her what her relationship was to the bride and she said she was her Great Aunt. I asked if her if she was aware that the bride cannot drink alcohol and that she was incredibly anxious. I asked her if the bride should be able to take something that makes her less anxious and able to enjoy her big day? She started to soften so I continued. I asked her, ‘Do you have friends with Parkinsons, lupus, cancer? She admitted yes. I asked her if any of her friends had used cannabis for those diseases? She said yes. I asked her if she had any needs for cannabis? She immediately hid her hands, I asked to see them. They were swollen and gnarled. I asked her if it was rheumatoid arthritis – she said yes. I told her about my back injury and how the CBD topicals cream were providing relief. Then I showed her the cream and she tried it on one hand then five minutes later she came back and asked to put it on both hands. I took someone who wanted to kill us and converted her into a person that was willing to try it! She ordered herself some CBD topicals before the end of the wedding.
B.K. Another great educational experience is when we had two doctors and a lawyer at a wedding and we had a great conversation and educated them during the event. By the end of the event we had one doctor and the lawyer try THC and the other doctor try CBD. They put topicals all over themselves! Sometimes you just need a place to ask questions with no pressure to buy, unlike the dispensary. It was approachable in this venue for those folks and it presently surprised them.
‘We have had 100 first time consumers and we have served over 10k in the last 5 years!’
B.K. A lot of people getting married in Colorado are coming from states that are under prohibition so we get a lot of guests that are curious and are in a safe place to have a positive cannabis experience.
B.K Everything is a micro serving so the guests come back and we can monitor consumption and observe them to see how they are handling their consumption to determine if we need a cut off plan. We also carry an over consumption kit with homeopathic options, oils, foods and CBD vape pen. This kit can calm, balance for both sativa and indica effects. There are different ways to counteract the high to a better state vs out of control.
- What is the most original cannabis element you have incorporated so far?
B.K. It is tough to call out a favourite but I love the way our different clients are choosing to kick off the bud bar. Here are three examples.
- While waiting for the bride and groom to come in for the grand entrance we ensure consuming guests have a joint. When the bride and groom arrive they light first and all the guests light behind them … almost like a champagne toast!
- We had a client who had a glass blower make a unity bowl with two mouthpieces so the bride and groom could participate together.
- Selecting a beautiful hemp silk wedding dress.
- We see that you are located in Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. Is this a franchise and do you any plans for Canada?
B.K. It is not a franchise but rather chapters of the business. We would love to expand into Canada and we just need to know how to get through the legal hoops. We need the right partner. We are doing our own research right now.
- Tell us about women working in the Cannabis industry. How is it different than women contributing in other industries?
‘It is frickin’ incredible. It is a powerhouse tribe of some of the most bad ass babes ever.’
B.K. It’s amazing – so many women of so many backgrounds, races, sexual orientation . Women who are more cooperative together vs competitive. We are all in it for different reasons;, nurturing ourselves, our family, our community or our planet. A very different set of entrepreneurs. Look up the Cannabis Executive women statistics, there are more women in leadership roles in Cannabis than other industries. It is a really cool stat.
- What do you think the next five years has in store for the industry?
B.K. The cat is out of the bag now. We are really in motion to progress and move forward, faster, harder and stronger. It is encouraging to see a lot of research into the cannabinoids and the whole plant. I am happy to see regulation coming for cultivation. If you look at any other crop they are so specific about pesticides and herbicides and the cannabis market is still loose on that. I only see the industry getting bigger and better and more prosperous across the entire world.