Sources: Corbin Gurkin Photography via Style Me Pretty (left); Kurt Boomer/Stephan Pappas via Southern Weddings/Sugar & Charm (centre); Cambria Grace Photography/Lauren Wells Events via Style Me Pretty (right)
It’s been a while since I did a hen party/bridal shower theme roundup, but with Ascot in the UK and the Durban July in South Africa last month, I started dreaming up a horse racing themed shower that would give us girls a chance to dress up. Which we love, obviously. Plus, like all my favourite themes, this one’s versatile enough that it can be done in a sedate way, or with a little more alcohol involved for a hen/bachelorette. For inspiration, I turned to our American cousins, who have been throwing Kentucky Derby-themed parties for a good while now, and boy did they have a lot of prettiness to share! So here’s how I would go about throwing a fabulous Ladies Day bridal shower that will get your bride to the marriage finish line in style!
Invitations: You’ll find lots of adorable shower invitations on Etsy – search for Kentucky Derby and customise them accordingly. My favourite is the one top left with its playful wording that uses racing terminology. You could have a lot of fun with this if you’re designing the invites yourself. Stock images of horses are relatively cheap and easy to get hold of, so pair these with a pretty vintage font for a really classy look, and customise to suit your colours.
Venue: You don’t really need to go to the races to throw this sort of party, but if you’re planning a summer wedding, the timing could work out perfectly. I’ve been to big horse races a few times and they’re always so much fun, and ideal if you want to throw a hen party/bachelorette as the only thing you need to do is organise tickets for everyone and then let the day take care of itself. Even if you don’t have a Met or July near your wedding date, you can often organise to attend a less fashionable day of racing at your local track with the benefits of a hospitality package, and its always good fun to get everyone involved in the racing! As an alternative, you could organise the party in someone’s home on the day of a big race and watch it on TV, or just pick a date that suits and enjoy the dressing up and fun without the gigis.
Activities: The obvious one here is having a flutter on a race or two, but of course you don’t need to bet big bucks to get the thrill of watching your horse come in first. If you’re watching at home, get the girls to each put a fixed sum into a pot and then pick a horse’s name out of a hat, with the winner of the race taking the winnings. Or play the horse race game, where you throw a dice to see which horses move forward. There’s even a number of virtual horse racing games you can find online. Or why not spend some time crafting? You could have each lady make a fascinator (you’ll need supplies and someone to give a tutorial, such as Bella Chiara in Cape Town) or decorate a hat – give prizes for the most outrageous, most creative, prettiest, etc. Or you could make personalised rosettes in paper or fabric. Your guests may even choose to wear their creation to the wedding!
Sources: Home Modern (top left); Erica Ann via Dress (bottom left); Cambria Grace Photography/Lauren Wells Events via Style Me Pretty (top right); Rachael Hall Photography/Sweet August Events via Style Me Pretty (bottom right)
Decor: If you’re throwing the party at home, I’d stick to soft pastel colours like blush, mint and grey. Spray paint plastic horse shoes or toy horses in gold or chalkboard and place them on each plate at the table, and fill trophies with flowers. Set up a pretty dessert table as your centrepiece.
Sources: Row 1- Jar of Vintage Buttons/Sophia Blue Photography via The Party Press; Row 2- Paper Antler/The Inspired Bride via Southern Weddings (left); jessie senese & stevie pattyn/shop sweet lulu (right); Row 3- via Pinterest (left); via Southern Living (centre); Cambria Grace Photography/Lauren Wells Events via Style Me Pretty (right)
Food & Drink: You can serve pretty much whatever you like on your food or dessert table. Serve shaped iced biscuits – how cute are the ones that look like hats? For cocktails, the Americans would recommend mint juleps (which are awesome, by the way) but South African horse races don’t have the same degree of signature drink. I’d serve lemonade and rosé champagne, or how about a ‘garland’ – see here for the recipe. For extra prettiness, serve pre-made drinks in mason jars and make ice blocks with rose petals frozen in.
Source: Row 1- Jonathan Fong Style (top left); Paper Antler/The Inspired Bride via Southern Weddings (bottom left); (top right); via Design Happens (bottom right); Row 2- Paper Antler/The Inspired Bride via Southern Weddings
Dress: Here’s the fun part. Hats are a must, or fascinators of some kind. Dresses are also a definite, but can be super stylish cocktail dresses or more casual sundresses, depending on how formal you’d like the party to be and whether you’re actually going to a track.
Favours: Horseshoes are supposed to bring good luck, so they make a perfect favour, either in full size or as a little necklace or silver charm. Or place candy bags on the dessert table and let your guests take home some treats for later.
Real horse race themed parties:
- via Amanda Frances
- via The Domesticated Diva Blog
- via Glamourless Lifestyle
- via Kimberley Kay
- via The Little Things
- via Mrs Kansas Mommy