Kentucky Derby Theme Bridal Shower – Details

Kentucky comes to Kansas!


My leopard hat is from Charming Charlie’s. I actually already had it. I use it as a pool hat on vacation because it’s made of cloth instead of straw so it packs easily. 


For Marisa’s bridal shower I attempted to bring a little bit of Kentucky Derby sass and class to my Kansas home. I did a lot of “online research” to get ideas. (“Online research” is what I tell my husband I’m doing whilst surfing Pinterest.) While there were a lot of great Derby-themed party ideas, many of them just didn’t feel very bridal to me so I put my own girly twist on the Derby theme. Here are some of the details…


First thing’s first…you have to start with a great cake. My husband and I are cake people. We are those people at your wedding who are secretly judging the success of the entire event based solely on the quality of the cake. We will talk about your cake in the car on the way home. We attended a wedding once where they served mini fruit pies in lieu of cake and we were outraged. One of my dear friends from college, Karl, actually said to everyone at a party, “If you want to see a piece of cake disappear, put it in front of Emily Jean!!!” The truth hurts sometimes.


Pink Champagne cake from 3 Women and an Oven

You know those really beautiful rhinestone initials you can order for the tops of wedding cakes? I originally envisioned that. While looking for one, I stumbled across this wooden letter at Hobby Lobby which I ended up liking even better and (bonus) it was under $3. I think it lends more of a down home vibe in keeping with the theme.

“W” for the Bride’s new last name

The gin bottle centerpiece was one of my favorite things. I had planned on using one of my nice crystal vases for the dining room table centerpiece, but my husband and sister were on a little martini kick the weekend before so I found myself with this gorgeous empty bottle and put it to good use. I now have it displayed in my kitchen because I love how it turned out.



The Refreshment Station featured Mint Juleps, Bloody Marys, White Wine, Lemonade, and Sweet Tea

The Mint Juleps were a totally new experience for most of us at the party. In fact, I had to have my mom taste the first one I made because she was the only guest who had actually had one before and knew how they were supposed to taste. The ingredient list is actually very short: Sugar, Water, Mint, and Bourbon. We made the simple syrup by boiling three cups of sugar in three cups of water, then put it in a carafe in the refrigerator until the party. I displayed the fresh mint in a mason jar, and my mother loaned me her mortar and pestle so I could properly muddle the mint. My husband actually had a stroke of genius and drove over to Sonic to buy a bag of ice. This was a really nice touch and saved me the trouble of running the crushed ice maker on the refrigerator every time someone wanted a julep (which was often.)

The Sonic Ice along with the pestle and mortar really made the juleps a success!

If my mother had hosted the party, EVERYTHING would be made from scratch. That’s just how she rolls. She has actually won prizes in baking contests before. This is what gave me the idea for my Award-winning Pecan Pie. The recipe is very simple. You buy a pecan pie from the grocery store and place a blue ribbon on it.


Blue Ribbons are surprisingly hard to find (for those of us who have never actually won one.) I finally found one at a teacher supply store called Mardel

I always like to include a framed invitation as part of the decor

The horse statue was another Hobby Lobby find. It originally came on a stand, but when I got home and took it out of the bag, I discovered it had completely broken off the base. Some people might blame the horse’s tiny ankles, or the infamous quality control standards of Chinese imports, but I had to wonder how this thing made it all the way from a factory in China to a shelf in Kansas completely intact and I managed to break it within ten minutes of ownership. Sigh…


So I improvised and put it in one of my apothecary jars that I always keep in my dining room. (I change the contents based on season or party theme.)

The valance was a Pinterest suggestion. It’s just a plastic table cloth and some tulle bows. Easy peasy!

I did actually win this trophy.

I found these napkins on clearance at Party City and thought they were so cute I bought all the packages they had left! You could do a whole diamond ring theme party around these napkins. Who’s getting married next?  I will throw you a shower. These napkins are burning a hole in my pantry.



Framed invite and horse shoe

Hand drawn banner

So usually I find shower games kind of boring or awkward, but I think they can be a good ice breaker if done properly. I would highly recommend this activity, especially if you need a game that is appropriate for all ages, but not lame like a word scramble or ridiculous like anything involving toilet paper (apologies if I just offended you. Again, the truth hurts sometimes.) Guests wrote either advice or vow suggestions for the Bride and Groom. We had everything from advice to “argue naked” to rap song vows and inside jokes that provided both laughter and an opportunity for the bride to tell stories about how they got engaged or other funny memories, etc. Hilarity ensues.

So those are the Derby details! Feel free to leave any questions in the comment space.


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