It’s been a while since I did a bridal shower post, but with Ascot in the UK and the Durban July in South Africa last month, I started dreaming up a horse racing themed party that would give us girls a chance to dress up. Which we love, obviously. Plus, like all my favourite hen party 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! *Links in bold denote affiliate links. The cost to you remains the same, but SBB may receive a commission for any sales made.
Credit: And They’re Off! – Kentucky Derby Party Banner by Glitter Design Co
You’ll find lots of adorable horse racing party invitations on Etsy (I’ve picked my faves above!) – search for Kentucky Derby and customise them accordingly. I especially love those with 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.
Row 1: Kentucky Derby Invitation Template by Simon and Le | Row 2: Kentucky Derby Seersucker Bridal Shower Invitation by Miss Poka Dot (left); Derby Bridal Shower Invitation by Festivity Ink (right) | Row 3: Blue Ribbon Bridal Shower Invitation by Jula Paper Co (left); Kentucky Derby Themed Couple’s Shower Invitation by Kathryn Kahl Design (right) | Row 4: Horse Race Bridal Shower Invitation by Miss Poka Dot (left); Kentucky Derby Bridal Shower Invitation by After February Co (right) | Row 5: Kentucky Derby Invitation Template by Simon and Le
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.
Credit: Row 1: Cambria Grace Photography/Lauren Wells Events via Style Me Pretty | Row 2: 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)
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.
Credit: 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)
Here are some fab essentials:
- Misty Rose Flowers Woman’s Derby Hat by Lady Hats Boutique on Etsy
- Rustic Lucky Horseshoe by The Lonely Heart Co on Etsy
- Amscan Super Fun Jumbo Trophy Cup Party Favor
- Prextex Plastic Horses Party Favors
- She’s Off to the Altar Banner by Little Legel Designs on Etsy
- Equestrian Cupcake Toppers by GlitterDesignCo on Etsy
- Race To The Altar Bingo Game by iDobyksoldo on Etsy
- Hold Your Horses Sign by Little Legel Designs on Etsy
- Beistle Horseshoe Fanci-Frames
- Bride to Be Rosette by Super Sweet Party on Etsy
- Hold Your Horses Kentucky Derby Personalized Napkin by Rubi and Lib on Etsy
- Bling Jewelry Lucky Horseshoe Pendant
- Kentucky Derby Betting Cards by Little Legel Designs on Etsy
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!
Credit: 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 (above)? For cocktails, the Americans would recommend mint juleps a la Kentucky Derby (which are awesome, by the way) but since most other horse races don’t have a 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.
Credit: 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
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.
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 HEN PARTIES
- via Amanda Frances
- via The Domesticated Diva Blog
- via Glamourless Lifestyle
- via Kimberley Kay
- via The Little Things
Find more fun bridal shower ideas on Pinterest!