One of Chelsea Doebler’s fondest high school memories is heading to the local drive-in after school and sharing Vanilla Cokes with her boyfriend Daniel. 

Several years later as she and Daniel began to plan their wedding, there was no question they wanted to weave a Coca-Cola aesthetic into their vintage country wedding at a historic museum in Altavista, Virginia, close to their former hangout. 

“I’m a huge Coca-Cola fan,” Chelsea said. “It’s my drink of choice, and I love the happiness motto.” 

As the big day neared in the summer of 2012, Chelsea and her mother, Linda Davidson, collected Coke bottle caps and had their florist cleverly incorporate them into beautiful sunflower arrangements and wedding-party boutonnieres. Old-fashioned Coke glasses were also tracked down to give to guests as wedding favours. 

The happy couple even chose Coca-Cola red as their signature colour, using it for everything from the tablecloths to the groom’s tie and the best man’s suspenders. In a fun twist the bridesmaids all wore red polka dot dresses, which Chelsea says reminded her of carbonation bubbles. 

“We just loved the idea of having an old-time vintage feel to the wedding, of making it feel like simpler times,” she said. 

While sites like Pinterest are filled with creative ideas for Coca-Cola-themed weddings, the concept actually dates back to the early 1900s, when advertising campaigns promoted the drink as a natural part of any celebration with friends and family, explained Coke archivist Ted Ryan. 

This 1939 Coca-Cola add appeared in theLadies' Home Journal.

A 1939 Ladies' Home Journal ad shows an elegant, tiara-bedecked bride holding a bouquet of calla lilies in one arm as she prepares to take a sip from a bottle of Coke below the slogan, "There's always a moment for the pause that refreshes." Calendars from the 1950s and 1960s featured a smiling bride in traditional dress accepting a bottle of Coca-Cola at the reception. 

"It starts with the basic premise of Coca-Cola belongs wherever people gather. It's such a natural companion to any special event,” Ryan said. 

The idea for a Coca-Cola wedding often naturally grows from a retro theme and branches off from there. Kari Warwick, a Minneapolis wedding planner, suggests filling old wooden Coca-Cola crates — once used to carry glass bottles from the delivery truck to the store — with flowers arrangements or tall grass and using them as centrepieces or place-card holders. 

Providing a self-serve Coke float bar for guests, using glass-bottle Cokes tied with red-and-white baker's string as favors or seat assignments are other fun touches Warwick suggests. 

Some event planners suggest simply beginning with the signature Coca-Cola red colour and letting your imagination take you from there. A blog by South Africa's largest wedding directory urges couples to explore and play around with Coke’s iconic red-and-white colour palette: "This bright and joyous colour combination has so much to offer in terms of flower options, dessert table goodies (cherries, candy canes) and festive decor (streamers, Chinese lanterns)." 

Courtney and Heath Cline's wedding celebrated the groom's roots as a Coca-Cola collector.

Katelyn James

When Courtney and Heath Cline set out planning their wedding, they never considered using a Coca-Cola theme. However once the couple settled on red, black and white as the colours for their special day, they realized it was “a natural fit” and a great way to celebrate Heath’s lifelong passion as an avid Coca-Cola collector, the groom said. 

A vintage Coca-Cola ice bucket at the Cline wedding.

Katelyn James

Heath started collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia while growing up in Woodstock, Virginia. It wasn’t until his dad took over the country convenience store in neighbouring Columbia Furnace when he was 11 that the hobby really took hold.

“I began gathering his expired Coca-Cola promotion materials, inflatables and sign. He even bought me an old flat-box cooler for my bedroom,” Heath remembered. 

On the big day last fall, Courtney's all-red bridal bouquet featured local dahlias, cabbage roses, Red Mikado spray roses, mini calla lilies, and orchids. Red napkins at the tables urged guests to “Eat. Drink. Be Married,” and glass containers of red-and-white straws were strategically placed near the drinks. They were even able to borrow a vintage replica ice tub from Heath’s father’s convenience store, and fill it with ice and frosty bottles of Coke. 

"It happened to be 96 degrees in October, so they proved to be a big hit," Heath said. "It was a unique extra touch that put a smile on our guests' faces while celebrating our special day."