Bri­dal highs

Il­le­gal or pre­scribed, brides are turn­ing to wed­ding day drugs like never be­fore. Fiona Cowood re­ports…

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

The in­side of the wed­ding te­pee was glow­ing red, thou­sands of fairy lights wound around its wooden beams. Guests were spilling out on to the grass, cake and cham­pagne in hand, ready to watch the Welsh sun set over what had been an un­de­ni­ably gor­geous wed­ding. But two peo­ple were miss­ing: the bride and groom.

They hadn’t snuck off for some sa­cred ‘quiet time’ away from their 150 guests, as rec­om­mended so very earnestly by ev­ery wed­ding magazine. No, they were gear­ing up for what they al­ways re­ferred to in their plan­ning as ‘Phase Two’.

‘When the speeches were done, we headed to the big coun­try house that was be­hind our re­cep­tion,’ ex­plains 36-yearold Jess*. ‘We first got to­gether at the Se­cret Gar­den Party and big, wild nights out have al­ways been our thing. We wanted the same vibe at our wed­ding party. Me even more so – I wanted a re­lease from all the hype and ten­sion that had been build­ing up to the day.’

So Jess and Dan* drank cham­pagne laced with MDMA, which Dan then passed on to his best man and ush­ers to share with the brides­maids.

The ef­fects started to kick in just in time for their (ad­mit­tedly clichéd) first dance – You Got The Love – and by 10pm, Jess ad­mits to feel­ing as high as a kite.

‘I have one brides­maid who doesn’t drink or do drugs and so I gave her the job of keep­ing an eye on me – I didn’t want to go too far,’ says Jess. ‘She kept 

hand­ing me wa­ter and, at one point, she took me off to the toi­lets to freshen up. I’d been danc­ing so much I was cov­ered in sweat.

‘We had the night of our lives, but I do re­gret not say­ing good­bye to some of our guests – in the morn­ing, I felt bad about that. And I couldn’t ex­actly ex­plain why I’d been so rude.’

‘End­ing your wed­ding day on a chem­i­cal high’ is def­i­nitely not a chap­ter to be found in any bri­dal eti­quette guide, but for Jess, it’s sim­ply the way she likes to party and her wed­ding wouldn’t have felt right with­out it. But for many, all the chilled prosecco in the world isn’t enough to take the edge off the months of wed­min and dogged at­ten­tion to de­tail that is now de rigueur for so many cou­ples. These ner­vous brides want to pull the cord on months, some­times years, of pent-up anx­i­ety, and drugs are help­ing them let go.

In some parts of Amer­ica, a whole in­dus­try has sprung up ded­i­cated to sooth­ing the angst of the wed­ding party – via mar­i­juana. Bec Koop founded Irie Wed­dings & Events in Colorado, where cannabis was le­galised in 2014. At Irie, they sup­ply ‘bud­ten­ders’ who at­tend wed­dings with a full menu of dif­fer­ent cannabis strains to com­ple­ment the dif­fer­ent parts of the day.

‘This move­ment is sim­ply mak­ing it more ac­cept­able to en­joy cannabis as part of a group in a so­cial set­ting. We carry sev­eral dif­fer­ent prod­ucts in our line that can help ease anx­i­ety. Any time that my cannabis cou­ples start to get anx­ious, I say, “Here, let’s take a puff and un­wind.” They are much eas­ier to keep re­laxed,’ says Bec, who can sup­ply but­ton­holes stud­ded with smok­able buds and even bongs made of ice.

But there’s an­other side to brides dos­ing up on the big day. With anx­i­ety lev­els among women at an all-time high, cre­at­ing a wed­ding fit for In­sta­gram is push­ing many to the edge. A re­cent sur­vey showed that 42% of brides-to-be say that look­ing at oth­ers’ so­cial me­dia wed­ding posts makes them feel anx­ious ahead of their own event. And that’s be­fore you fac­tor in fam­ily pol­i­tics, timings and the of­ten dis­arm­ing feel­ing of be­ing cen­tre stage for 12 hours or more.

Wed­ding plan­ner Aimee Dunne has been plan­ning wed­dings for 10 years and says she’s seen a rise in anx­ious brides over that time. Aimee says, ‘It’s def­i­nitely more ap­par­ent as a plan­ner. Cou­ples’ – that in­cludes grooms’ – ex­pec­ta­tions are higher and that leads to peo­ple feel­ing over­whelmed and hav­ing higher anx­i­ety lev­els. I do think it’s got worse.’

For women al­ready liv­ing with anx­i­ety dis­or­ders, a wed­ding can be a huge ob­sta­cle to nav­i­gate, but blog­ger So­phie Mei Lan (ma­mamei.co.uk) is proof it can be done – and on a grand scale, too. So­phie got mar­ried in June 2016 in car­ni­val style, com­plete with samba dancers and 350 guests. Per­haps not what you’d ex­pect from some­one who has been liv­ing with se­vere anx­i­ety since she was 10 years old.

‘Pres­surised events with lots of fam­ily can re­ally spike my anx­i­ety, so I didn’t help my­self,’ says So­phie, 29, ‘But I know what to do to keep my­self on a level.’

So­phie, who uses ex­er­cise and two types of anti-anx­i­ety and anti-de­pres­sion med­i­ca­tion, made sure she spoke to her men­tal-health nurse about how she was feel­ing in the run-up to her wed­ding.

BRIDES WANT TO PULL THE CORD ON MONTHS OF PENT-UP ANX­I­ETY. DRUGS ARE HELP­ING THEM LET GO

‘I think it’s im­por­tant to be open about it – wed­ding days are stress­ful. Some peo­ple can deal with that, but if you have anx­i­ety, it can cre­ate a crip­pling feel­ing. It’s like any phys­i­cal health prob­lem. If you were go­ing to go to your wed­ding with a bro­ken arm, you wouldn’t go with­out a sling – you wouldn’t dam­age your­self like that. This was the same.’

On her wed­ding day, So­phie skipped her evening med­i­ca­tion so that she could have some drinks and re­ally en­joy her­self.

‘I’d pleased every­one all day, but the evening was my time. I just went crazy and danced with my friends. I re­mem­ber want­ing to go to a night­club af­ter­wards. Hav­ing got rid of the shack­les of the wed­ding day, I just wanted to party.’

The one thing not to do (though a cur­sory browse of any on­line wed­ding fo­rum shows many brides are plan­ning on it) is to calm your­self on the day with an im­promptu tran­quil­liser, es­pe­cially if you’ve never taken them be­fore.

One fo­rum user writes, ‘Don’t do it! I wish I had thought twice about it when my cousin handed me an anti-anx­i­ety pill on the day of the wed­ding. I didn’t feel like my­self and it blocked the good emo­tions as much as it blocked the bad. The fol­low­ing day, I said to my fi­ancé I don’t re­mem­ber what hap­pened. I keep hear­ing, “No one remembers their wed­ding day be­cause it goes so fast”, but I’m fear­ful that I don’t re­mem­ber it be­cause of the med­i­ca­tion. I would rather have drunk too much and for­got­ten the events of my wed­ding know­ing I had a good time.’

Above: So­phie Mei Lan made sure anx­i­ety didn’t overshadow her big day. Left: in Colorado, you can legally smoke weed at your wed­ding

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