DENVER — When planning the perfect wedding, is it all about the dress? The cake? The flowers? That, of course, depends on the priorities and tastes of the lucky couple. But getting higher and higher on that list, at least here in Colorado, is the bar. Not the bar offering booze, beer and wine — but the cannabis bar.
“It became a reality that this was something that we could do,” said Scott Stransky, who got married last fall in Berthoud, Colo.
But before you start jumping to conclusions about the perfect white wedding gone horribly green with weed-themed everything, think again.
Stransky and Hailey Pash got married in a picture-perfect ceremony on a family ranch near Berthoud.
“Very classy and really well-done,” Stransky said.
Theirs was the quintessential Colorado occasion — with one notably new offering.
“We wanted to share some of our favorite things with our guests,” Pash said. “For me, that was food and wine. And for Scott, it was whiskey and cannabis.”
“I think it created some excitement around coming to our wedding,” Stransky said.
“Both my parents were supportive,” Pash said. “My mom was a little surprised.”
A simple Google search led the couple to Irie Weddings and Events.
“Irie is a Jamaican word, so envision the song, ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ but, ‘Don’t worry, be Irie,” said Irie co-owner and founder Bec Koop.
Irie’s business is blossoming as they seamlessly incorporate pot and peonies here in Colorado.
“People are buying things far less for their weddings,” said co-owner Madlyne Kelly. “They’re spending money on experiences; and our service is a huge experience for somebody and their guests.”
“We work with over 70 venues within 2 ½ hours of Denver,” Koop said.
In just a few short years, co-owners Koop and Kelly have made a name for themselves, and they are dispelling stereotypes and changing minds.
“It’s not folks with tie-dye t-shirts and dreads rolling up and this billowing cloud of smoke coming out of a tent,” Kelly said. “That’s not how it looks.”
Irie sets up a bar in the reception area or in a separate tent, depending on what couples prefer.
Irie is insured and offers micro-edibles, joints and vape canisters, as well as budtenders who guide guests every step of the way throughout the night.
“All of our guests have to be 21 and up to consume,” Koop said. “We have to guide them through the experience the right way, to make sure we’re not putting them in any potential danger or room for over-consumption.”
Irie takes care of almost everything for the wedding parties and guests.
“Especially for first-time consumers,” Kelly said. “Folks here from out-of-town for the wedding — maybe they’re from sea level, not used to our altitude.”
Wedding planner Heather Allen says it’s definitely a balancing act.
“I’ve literally had guests not make it to dinner,” Allen said.
Allen owns Table Six Productions, one of Denver’s premier, longest-running and most reputable wedding planning services.
While Allen embraces this budding trend, she’s guarded about it.
“What makes it fun is just coming up with creative ways to incorporate it,” Allen said. “I’ve done edibles in gift bags.”
She’s also careful to incorporate it tastefully and safely, with budtenders who don’t over-serve. After all, Colorado is also a mecca for destination weddings.
“The clients that want to do it most are the ones that don’t live here,” Allen said.
Koop and Kelly took painstaking measures to dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s.
“Sure did,” Koop said. “Lots of lawyers. Cannabis consumption liability insurance, which is similar to liquor liability insurance.”
Irie believes sharing buds with old buds in Colorado should be considerate, carefree and comfortable — even for those in the canna-closet.
“So, Aunt Sue from Wisconsin, who you wouldn’t think smokes – ‘Oh - yes she does!’” said Kelly. “And she’s going to do it at her niece’s wedding.”
“They’re going to remember the food, the drink, the cannabis bar,” Pash said.
Scott and Hailey are certainly a testament to how it can be done. The couple brilliantly blended buds and bouquets on their big day.
“It can be classy,” Stransky said. “It can be safe and approachable.”
“I think people are going to be talking about it for a long time,” Pash said.