Planning the Perfect Kentucky Derby Party

By Lola Valentina Team April 28, 2023

Every year on the first Saturday in May the Kentucky Derby brings people from all over the world together to Louisville, Kentucky to cheer on the fastest thoroughbreds in all of horse racing. Often known as the “most exciting 2 minutes in sports,” the Kentucky Derby is the last event of a two week long derby festival at Churchill Downs. This annual celebration is known for its parties, the people who attend them, and of course, the horses at the center of it all. In this blog post you will find everything you will need to host the perfect party to celebrate this iconic “Run for the Roses.”

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Event Planner: BW Studio + Events / Photo: Jasko Omerovic Photography / Venue: River Roast Chicago / Florals & Decor: Branching Out Featured: Light Blue Terrazzo placemat charger + napkins by Lola Valentina

Perfect Venue to Watch the Race

Churchill Downs accommodates about 150k people who will be attending the Kentucky Derby in person this year however, more than 16 million viewers will tune in to watch the spectacle broadcasted throughout the country and world. When it comes to choosing where to host your Derby Day gathering, picking a location with a TV readily available will be key. A restaurant event space, at home, or even a backyard with a large projector screen setup are all great options for making sure the celebratory day is comfortable for all of your guests to watch the race. 

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Event Planner: Fallon Carter Events & Erica Jabouin/ Photo: Jasmine Oliver / Venue: Venue SIX10 / Floral: KEE BK Floral Event/ Furniture + Rentals: Ellie and Rose/ Drapes: Drape King / Featured: Custom Black Geo placemat charger + napkins by Lola Valentina

Kentucky Derby Menu featuring Mint Juleps and Derby Pie  

Southern gatherings are known for the great food passed around and shared. The Kentucky Derby brings together the best that southern food and sporting event gatherings have to offer. The Superbowl of the horse racing world is known for its signature cocktail, the Mint Julep. Made with only the finest Kentucky Bourbon and fresh mint, this refreshing cocktail is sure to pair well with your day’s menu featuring Kentucky classics;  Derby Pie, Southern style brisket, BBQ sliders, bourbon balls and bread pudding

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Creative Director: Your Agency/ Design + Styling: Ellie Styled/ Photography: Hannah Schweiss & Wild Wood Photography/ Venue: Wildwood Studio/ Photo/ Backdrop: S + T Party Design/ Food: Chicago Private Dining Vendador / Floral Installation Hanging: ROLD Design/ Table Florals: Oak Leaf Gardens/ Furniture /Rentals: Bowery + Bash/ Glasses: Relics Rentals/ Napkin: BBJ Linen/ Plates + Candles: Hazel James Home/ Flatware: The Festive Frog/ Featured: Black Butterflies placemat charger + napkins by Lola Valentina

Derby Day Decor

Derby Day Decor will set the stage for your gathering to be as memorable as the race’s victor. Bringing in subtle equestrian themed elements paired with Southern Charm patterns will create the perfect scene for cheering on the thoroughbreds. The use of patterned linens from Lola Valentina’s Geometrico Collection featuring Checkerboards, Abstract ovals, and Shapes would be a perfect design choice to mirror the patterns on the silks worn by the jockeys to stay on theme for your gathering. If your party has a specific horse you are cheering on it would be a great idea to incorporate decor that represents the specific silks of that horse’s jockey for a personalized design touch. Another design idea would be to use the Nude Burgundy Angles for table linens, pillows, napkins or placemat chargers as a design homage to the iconic “Twin Spires” of the Churchill Downs racetrack. The Kentucky Derby is known as the “Run for the Roses” so incorporating rose floral arrangements or rose patterned linens would be an elegant way to capture the theme of the day. The Brunswick Pink Rosa pattern would also be a perfect design option to represent the rich history of this iconic race.

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Wedding Planner + Design: Katharine Mann Events /Venue: Barn at Reynolda Village / Florist: Taylored Blooms / Photography: Megan Travis Photography / Rentals: Party Reflection /Featured: Table Linen: Green Delights /Napkins: Bubblegum by Lola Valentina

Southern Style on Kentucky Derby Day

Last, but certainly most important, is the topic of Kentucky Derby Day Style. No Kentucky Derby party will be complete without over-the-top statement hats matching floral and frill dresses and pastel sear sucker suits paired with patterned ties and bowties. This is a fashion scene as much as it is a horse racing scene. A fun way to emphasize the fashion statements at your gathering is to match wardrobe to the decor. Bright hot pink hats would compliment Hot Pink Southern Garden table linens or a pastel green searsucker suit would look great beside Malachite Mini Gingham tabletop decor elements. The most important fashion rule for celebrating Kentucky Derby Day is to remember that “no outfit is complete without a mint Julep in hand.”

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Table Linen: Brunswick Pink Rosa by Lola Valentina

By bringing together the perfect balance of theme-centered venue, menu, decor and style, your gathering is sure to become an annual event just like Derby Day. Combining a southern style menu with race day inspired decor elements your guests are going to feel like they are off to the races. The perfect Kentucky Derby Party will bring family and friends together for a celebratory day and make you feel as if you too are standing in the Winner’s Circle beneath the Twin Spires.


At Lola Valentina, we can help you decorate your minimalist wedding space with unique table linens, runners, napkins, placemat chargers, and more. You can shop our revolutionary design house to mix and match our selection of original designs, or you can work with our team of in-house designers to create a custom pattern that matches your wedding color palette. Visit our design bar to explore color and pattern combinations until you find just the right look for your wedding.

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