Tripping Down the Aisle

Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Getty

There are many ways to create a vibe for a wedding. One Brooklyn couple who married in Joshua Tree, California, skipped the strict dress code and string quartet and went straight for the psychedelics.

“We hate conventional weddings, and we basically wanted to do everything antithetical to what that entails,” the bride, a journalist who asked not to be identified, tells me. “So we thought it would be hilarious if rather than choosing meat, fish, or vegetarian on the RSVP, we have people choose their drug.”

They offered choices of cannabis, mushrooms, or palo santo (which is not a drug but a wood native to South America that’s burned in spiritual practices and also sold in bougie general stores — basically the “thanks, but no thanks” option) via a Google form.

“It had an element of surprise and delight for our guests,” the bride says. “And combined my passions of complicated Excel spreadsheets, crafting, and dabbling in drugs.”

Once the couple convinced their 120 guests they weren’t joking, they received a pretty even one-third split between the options, which they delivered in Etsy welcome totes when they arrived.

“We were so simpatico with everyone that was actually there that they knew us, they knew our intention,” she says. “Even if they weren’t into drugs, they could have fun and laugh about it.”

The cannabis came from a legal California dispensary, and the mushrooms were provided by “a friend in Brooklyn who grows mushrooms and puts them in these cute little microdose capsules with adorable branding,” according to the groom.

The couple tested the dosage in advance to make sure it was subtle and labeled baggies of two capsules for those who requested mushrooms with a little note. “I wrote something like, ‘Wanna feel almost nothing? Take one. Wanna feel a little buzz? Take two,’” the bride says.

Still, one of the groom’s cousins, we’ll call her May because she teaches at a university and didn’t want to use her real name, was a little nervous.

“I wasn’t really sure how much I was going to be able to retain my faculties on mushrooms at a family wedding,” May says. “But then as soon as they started to kick in, I realized that it was going to be totally fine, and it just became incredibly fun. I remember dancing and just feeling so awake and alive. Everything was sort of glowy and the lights were so beautiful, and I just felt like I really loved my cousins and my family so much.”

Afterward, she sank into a hot tub surrounded by stars and Joshua trees.

“I just remember feeling exactly the way they tell you you’re gonna feel on mushrooms: just connected to the universe — which sounds so silly when you say it when you’re not high — but just feeling my heart beating in the same rhythm as the stars were pulsing,” May says. “I think it should be at every wedding — and every celebration. It should be at baby showers.”

While not quite standard baby-shower fare just yet, psychedelic mushrooms have been popping up everywhere for a few years now, thanks in part to Michael Pollan’s 2018 book How to Change Your Mind, the 2019 documentary Fantastic Fungi, and countless stories about the miracles of microdosing, helping users to hack productivity, creativity, and anxiety.

On the wedding circuit, a small dose of psilocybin offers something simpler: fun. Which is to say, an enhanced sense of open-heartedness, gratitude, connection, and presence — many giggles with no hangover.

Lately, couples are offering them as pills, chocolates, and gummies via tongue-in-cheek menus, IFYKYK baggies, trusted “squires,” and silver platters. Forget dusty baggies of chewy, dried-out caps and stems; a growing cohort of purveyors — many of whom are side-hustling from the legal cannabis sector — is making mushrooms as palatable and user-friendly as a signature cocktail.

One Los Angeles–based manufacturer of handsomely branded (illegal) psilocybin-laced edibles, let’s call him Jeff, told me he’s selling upward of 20,000 chocolate bars per month — each of which contains eight half-gram doses — up from his initial order of about 5,000 in 2019. Jeff couldn’t say for certain how many of those end up at weddings. But he did connect me with one guy who had flown several hundred of his gummies and chocolates to a Miami wedding of about 300 guests in March, where men wearing butler uniforms brought them on silver platters to the hotel rooms of predetermined guests. (“The dope thing about it is you can take a really small amount, wait an hour, and feel a little something,” this guy tells me. “It’s not as fiend-y as cocaine. It doesn’t require as much activity and having to go to the bathroom every five minutes. And you’re not sweating like crazy because you’re on MDMA and looking like a fool in front of family members.”)

“It’s definitely trending right now,” said Ashley Smith, a Bay Area–based planner who organizes multiday wedding celebrations, on the topic of combining mushrooms and matrimony. “Microdosing anything has become way more popular in the last three to four years.”

Smith, who describes her clientele as Burners, founders, and new-money “movers and shakers,” says she sees microdosing mushrooms at the nexus of her clients who love to party and those who are Cali sober and abstaining from alcohol.

When compared to alcohol, “it makes a more connected and loving vibe,” explains Brian, a New York–based entrepreneur in his 30s who went to eight weddings last summer, expects to attend five or six this summer, and asked that his real name be withheld. At his own wedding on a Connecticut estate last year, he discretely offered mushroom chocolates to younger guests. (As one of several hundred people in attendance told me: “It wasn’t like part of the wedding, but at some point, the groom’s pockets were full of mushroom chocolates, and he was giving them out to people.”)

“I just kind of knew that a lot of people at my wedding would,” Brian says of taking mushrooms. “I just had extra in case someone else wanted them.”

He added that unlike people using cocaine — which he’s also noticed on the rise at weddings — those on mushrooms tend to drink less, rather than more.

“We probably had dozens of people take [mushroom chocolates] in small amounts and we didn’t have a single problem,” he says. “The most harmful thing that can happen with mushrooms is someone wanders off for a little bit and has a good time on their own, like, looking at the moon.”

Still, small quantities are crucial to ensuring that no one goes off the rails.

“We would not want people just going totally into a psychedelic experience that has nothing to do with the wedding,” says Derek Chase, the founder of Psilouette, a brand of not-quite-legal psilocybin-enhanced gummies marketed for therapeutic purposes. Chase suggests being mindful of guests’ varying experience levels and offering what he calls a “nootropic dose, which is non-inebriating but still immersive.”

“It’s an enhancement, it’s not an overtaking of the spirits,” he says. “You know you’ve taken a substance, but it’s not hampering your ability to act like a normal person.” He recommends a range between an arguably mild dose of 50 milligrams (0.05 grams) for nervous newbies to a gram for more experienced psychonauts with higher tolerances. (Okay, maybe two grams for them, he concedes warily.)

And of course, letting guests decide if and how much to take should go without saying — but apparently doesn’t always. Smith, the wedding planner, had to put the brakes on one couple who wanted to microdose their guests with mushroom chocolates before their Big Sur ceremony without telling them.

“They wanted everybody’s hearts to be more open,” says Smith. “I was like, ‘You absolutely cannot do that.’” In the end, Smith says the chocolates were offered transparently to a select 20 to 30 people by a friend of the bride. (“To be clear, my team had no part in administering anything like that,” Smith says.)

Still, it’s good to keep the planner abreast of the plans. At another wedding Smith organized on California’s central coast, she was unaware about mushrooms on offer until two guests tried to walk across an avocado ranch several hundred acres to the road and the photographers had to pick them up with their car.

“They were tripping out, but dinner ended up taking like four hours because we had this celebrity chef,” she says. “These people could not handle it, I guess, and so they decided to just leave the wedding.”

Still, the intimacy and often spectacular locations of destination weddings can offer something extra special for a shroomy celebration.

Jake and Amanda (not their real names), an L.A.-based couple who work in film and TV, got married at a summer camp in the mountains of southern California last fall in a creekside ceremony officiated by Amanda’s sister with about 100 of their friends and family.

“What we really wanted for our wedding was for people to be free to connect with each other and to be in this beautiful natural setting,” says Amanda. “Mushrooms really just made it a little bit richer for the people that wanted to do it.”

Jake, who professes to being “that guy” when it comes to proselytizing the miracles of microdosing, brought two different doses of mushroom capsules — one microdose of 0.1 grams and the other a half-gram. He wrote up a card describing the dosages to live in a bag with the capsules and ordained a few trusted friends — “I would say squires,” he laughed — to distribute them. “We tried to make sure that everyone knew exactly what they were getting into.”

And get into them they did. When Jake finally went to dip into the bag for himself after the ceremony, there were almost none left.

“I expected maybe 20 people to have a really good time,” says Jake. “And I think it was over half of our wedding.”

“I liked the idea when Jake brought it up of it being mindful, of it being carefully dosed out,” says Amanda. “At a lot of weddings I’ve been to, people do drugs. They do coke and ecstasy and mushrooms and whatever, but they’re doing them in secret. It was nice to just have it be a very intentional thought-out thing, just like a signature cocktail.”

Even then, they maintained some discretion to avoid offending older family members.

“We didn’t, like, hand them out individually to people with the Champagne or goodie bag,” says Jake.

For couples and guests who have gone two COVID-stricken years without the emotional camaraderie and catharsis a great wedding can create, microdoses of mushrooms are amping up the magic.

Lisa Curry, a standup comedian in her 30s, kicked off the season with a destination wedding in Playa del Carmen last month. At the reception, after a day of snorkeling and a ceremony on the sand, another guest — “a mom,” Curry notes — offered her two little capsules. (She adds that although the wedding hosts didn’t technically provide the mushrooms, they took them, too.)

She didn’t hesitate and says before long she was experiencing an elevation of the gratitude, love, and fellowship that was already washing over her before she took the pills.

It was just that now, when LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” started to play, she felt fairly certain she couldn’t hold back her tears. And so she didn’t — instead, she bawled happily, surrounded by friends on the dance floor for the remainder of the party before they all ended up in the pool.

“Every once in a while, you just have to break down and cry about how good things are,” Curry says. “It’s so corny, but you have to hang on to those moments when you have them.”

Tripping Down the Aisle