I am planning a Soda Fountain inspired Sweet Sixteen party for a client right now–a surprise for her daughter. Trust me, it is a really cool idea and for an adult event (I’m assuming it’s for adults since it is a wedding…:-D), why not do “gourmet” floats? Lemonade floats are fun and unusual, plus you can get all kinds of flavored lemonades. Or, unusual or “different” sodas. OR, go the completely nostaligic route and use cane sugar Coca-Cola (still in glass bottles if you buy the “Mexican Coca-Cola”), seltzer bottles, and your favorite hand-dipped vanilla ice cream. Don’t forget the different types of floats–Brown Cows are Coca-Cola and ice cream, Root Beer Floats are self explanatory, Orange Creams are orange soda and ice cream, et cetera. There are also some alcoholic versions that are supposed to be yummy. Instead of signature cocktails, you could invent a signature float or two!
If you need supplies or simple inspiration, I’ve found Prairie Moon a good source–they even sell the soda jerk outfits!
I have no clue about your budget, but if you have access to a marble topped table or a piece of marble to put on the serving table that would add the authentic soda shoppe feeling. Do you know what a party bowl is? It is a type of very large round ice bucket. Purchase or rent enough for each flavor of ice cream (or two if you are only doing one flavor), coat the inside of the larger bowl and the outside of the smaller bowl with cooking spray, place a smaller metal bowl inside, fill the larger bowl (not the smaller) with water, and freeze to create a diy water/ice jacket. Fill the smaller bowl with rounded scoops of the ice cream using a trigger scoop or a large melon baller (other tools would work too) or simply fill it with the ice cream. Refreeze and take out about 5-10mins before serving. Provide (rent or buy) trigger scoops or ice cream spades, long straws (there are some really cool ones made in a slew of colors), iced tea spoons, footed float glasses or frosted glass mugs (plastic would work too), and luncheon-sized paper napkins (you can even buy Coca-Cola branded ones if it fits the overall theme). Hang pom-poms, ribbons, balloons!, or even paper chains in your colors above. I’m sure you could find a ice cream parlor table & two chairs (you know the one’s wire wire or rattan heart backs?) for super cheap to sort of set the scene by setting it on the diagonal to the right of the serving table and placing a simple bud vase with a single flower that matches the rest of your decor. If possible, take a cheap/free piece of wood (or foamcore board or cardboard), paint it a solid white, stencil on “____ & ____’s Soda Shoppe” or something similar, and suspend from the ceiling or place it off-set on the counter to the left side. Add a few glass canisters of varying sizes filled with penny candies or varying sizes of pom-poms in your colors and scaled-down version of your centerpieces. Ta-da! Instant diy soda floats bar. If you want, hire (or ask a friend ;-)) a person to watch over it all and serve dressed as a soda jerk–white paper or cloth soda jerk hat, white tuxedo or dress shirt with bow tie in one of your wedding colors, white bib style apron (usually paper), and black pants.
If you want to do a diy photo booth, the whole area might work as a cool backdrop/prop, even!