By Emily Fata
Even during the height of the Reefer Madness campaigning, smoking weed in the parking lot of a wedding reception hall was nothing unusual.
But entrepreneur Bec Koop isn’t satisfied with the puffing-in-parking-lots status quo; she’s on a mission to make cannabis an integral part of the wedding business. Her business, Cannabis Concierge, is proving that cannabis can be interwoven elegantly throughout wedding receptions and ceremonies in the form of party favors, floral arrangements and consumable varieties, like edibles, vaporizing pens and buds.
The Denver-based wedding planner and florist spends her days meeting with engaged couples, making arrangements with venues and photographers, and mixing flowers and cannabis buds into visually stunning bouquets and table arrangements. But as the cannabis industry evolves, Koop is taking on a sociological challenge that is not typically part of a party planner’s job: educating newcomers about the effects of THC, while making cannabis seem like a natural and “normal” part of a wedding celebration.
“It’s definitely becoming more socially acceptable. I think more people have been exposed to it so it’s less of a shock,” she said of her cannabis-friendly weddings that often feature vaporizer bars, THC-infused edibles, and customized floral arrangements that feature poppies and peonies, interspersed with small green buds of indica and sativa.
Koop had her “a ha” moment while running a traditional floral business in Breckenridge, Colorado, and simultaneously working as a budtender for a medical cannabis dispensary. “I was growing [cannabis] in this beautiful antique TV container and playing around with flower arrangements. I put flowers around a bud and I was like, this is it! Oh my God.”
Koop didn’t stop after starting her own cannabis-themed floral business; she launched her own wedding planning business in January of 2014. By fusing two of her passions, cannabis and weddings, Koop has made strides towards “normalizing” cannabis that even a giant mass media marketing campaign couldn’t achieve.
Despite waves in legalization across the country, cannabis is still in the early phases of sociological “normalization” and has yet to shed its cultural reputation as a deviant substance. Infusing something that has long held a stigma of danger and illegality into a ceremony that evokes religion, tradition and prestige is quite frankly a brilliant way of making cannabis seem natural in everyday life.
Koop offers a number of cannabis-themed wedding packages ranging in levels of discretion; for serious enthusiasts, she offers “Love of the Bud,” services that incorporate cannabis into nearly every element of the wedding. She recently planned a wedding for a couple who inhaled from a customized “union bowl” intermittently as they said their vows. But Koop, who has experience planning non-cannabis themed weddings, has found clever ways to incorporate cannabis discreetly into weddings for those who “don’t want to piss off Grandma.”
For the more conservative variety of cannabis-friendly weddings, Koop often encourages her clients to skip the vaporizing bars and put edibles, buds, and smoking accessories right in the party favor bags. She even incorporates a little traditional wedding superstition into her otherwise pioneering business, encouraging couples to save their “budaneers” for their one-year wedding anniversary.
While watching her plans unfold on the day of the wedding, Koop becomes a watchwoman, living up to the main tenants of the Cannabis Concierge business: moderation, education and professionalism. She always keeps a vial of Rescue Tonic in her emergency kit and hovers around the trays of THC-infused edibles. “It’s people from all over, they don’t know how much [THC] is an a cookie hors d’oeuvre.”
Koop faces challenges beyond making sure wedding guests don’t get too high. In order to make cannabis seem like a normal feature at weddings, Koop first has to convince wedding venues that vaporizing pens and edibles won’t make the ceilings cave. Many desirable wedding venues are located on state land, where it’s not legal, while many private hotels and reception halls are not open to changing their policies. “When I first started calling wedding venues, they would hang up on me,” she said. “I was getting so frustrated. There’s money to be made if you open up your freaking doors!”
So what’s next? Koop hopes that the trends in legalization will continue so she can expand her business to every state. She’s daydreaming of offering “cannabis cruises” or other types of themed-honeymoon packages and also looking forward to the day when venues will cold-call her to get on her “cannabis-friendly” wedding list.
Koop’s also excited about the social implications of cannabis-friendly weddings and the embedded marketing it provides for the movement. “When people say I am a pioneer, I don’t really know what to say,” Koop said. “Because so much of this happened organically. It’s crazy to think where I was even three years ago. At this point, the question is not who is going to let me, but who is going to stop me?”