Hosting a Kentucky Derby themed bridal shower or engagement party?! Lucky you! (Amazing choice might I add!). When you have an amazing theme sometimes it’s hard to find the brides style in all fun elements. Read on below to find out how to capture the charm of the derby and also making it unique to the bride-to-be! Need more derby inspo? Check out this post!

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Get a vintage silver trophy and fill it with the bride-to-be’s favorite flowers. This could also be the prize for your bridal shower games, a real trophy!

Get a great mint julep recipe and silver or copper cups to enjoy them in! Is she a Southern belle? Add peach to make the recipe uniquely hers!

Bourbon is a sure bet to be a hit at the party! Especially if you are hosting an engagement party with the Southern gents in attendance! Find our which brands are the couples favorite.

Give away derby ribbons to the best dressed guests or the most unique hat. Get racing flag drink stirs, it’s all in the details!

Make the brides favorite cookies in the shape of a horse (who am I kidding.. buy!). Or make adorable favors boxes with horses!

There are two ways of doing this. Either add a derby style hat to the dress code or buy a bunch of derby style hats for guests to try on throughout the day!

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From the planner…

Holly came to me with a date, a photographer, the dress, and a desire for a unique one-of-a-kind wedding for 300 guests at the country club her fiancé’s family owned – a homey setting where they often spent weekends during their relationship. I knew quickly that her wedding style was an outdoor California wedding in Texas. Meaning, create a style that mixes the effortlessly chic outdoor California vibe with Southern charm in the setting of an unpredictable Texas summer.

Exactly one year out from the big day, as I began pondering plans for my new bride, I sat in a restaurant for an early dinner watching the streets of the Historic Heights District flood, and I just had a gut feeling. Holly, 40 min north of me at that very moment, says she sat on the club’s patio under a clear sky toasting to one year out with her fiancé because as she always says, “it never rains out here!” But as every planner should, from the beginning I had the conversations and logistics moving along for a Plan A, and an efficient Plan B. Though, little did I know, Holly had other plans.

I introduced Holly and her mother to the perfect vendors for me to collaborate with to create her look: Papellerie for her custom branding and stationery who set the tone for guests from the beginning with the wedding website and save-the-date all the way through the wedding and beyond to custom thank you notes; Bows and Arrows for all their Texas-California experience and airy eclectic floral design; and Events in Bloom to lay out the space and dress up the outdoors with their quality rentals, linens, chandeliers, and draping.

The couple being lovers of fun cocktails, we added The Grand Bevy to the mix of vendors since they are the original craft cocktail artists for events. The groom setup their favorite restaurant, Uchi, to provide a sushi station to mix in with the club’s southern inspired menu. Nadine Moon of Who Made the Cake designed the cake around the custom floral sketches used in the couple’s stationery..

Having already hired her talented photographer friend, owner of Kelli Elizabeth Photography, we were left needing film, which was a no brainer: 31 Films. Who were so dedicated to getting “the moment” that they lost a camera to the elements and still managed goosebump inducing ridiculous films to treasure.

Holly’s fiancé, Austin, was in charge of picking the band. He wanted a big party band that would pack the dance floor: thus I turned to Atlanta for their collection of show stopping bands. They hired Jessie’s Girl, who as usual, exceeded expectations.

For hair, Holly used her go-to stylist Karla from Therapy Salon. For makeup, I introduced her to Kristin Daniell who was the perfect calm demeanor artist with exquisite talent to make Holly shine all night long, no matter what…

Now it should be noted that the Spring 2015 wedding season, as it turns out, was one of the rainiest years for Texas to date, especially on weekends. Thanks El Nino!

Fast forward to wedding week: Monday brought Houston historic mass flooding (as in, our city made national news…) Thankfully the club and roads leading to it were ok. But we were thinking, ‘it can’t possibly rain again so soon after all of that!’ But rain was still in the forecast. So we had to listen to my trusty unbiased tent guy, Derek Widis owner of SPF Event Resources, whose gut was telling him it was going to rain. Thus, the lounge and dance floor area would now be under a clear tent instead of exposed to the oak trees above. So after getting an additional décor budget approval, I made a call to Alicia at Bows & Arrows and said, “We have to make this clear tent look like a Plan A; let’s bring ‘that under-the-oak trees feeling’ back!” and Alicia, plus her team, happily worked long into the final nights of set up to get it all done to perfection.

Now for the ceremony, Plan B was a private ceremony inside the club for only family and wedding party to attend at the original ceremony time of 6:30pm. Guests knew about this in advance as we included a details card in the invitation set that stated “If it rains on our wedding day, please join us for cocktail hour at 7pm instead and we will see you there as Mr. and Mrs.! – check our wedding website for updates!” Well… as I mentioned, Holly had different plans.

Day of I still didn’t know which ceremony plan to call. I constantly checked my trusted Weather Underground app for updates. Rain chance= 30%; now 80%; then 40%; now 80%; then 30%… total gamble. It would not make up its mind…and neither could I! But Holly could. Maria at the club came outside to tell me, “Holly wants to get married outside and said you won’t let her.” I laughed and said I hadn’t decided but hey it’s a gamble no matter what plan, so if she wants to decide instead of me, that’s fine! and went to tell Holly the good news. After all, it was her wedding, so ultimately, her choice. But of course that didn’t mean I stopped checking the weather…

Holly and Austin had their beautiful first look under the club’s oak trees and sunny sky above them followed by all of their group pictures before guests arrived. (Plan A based on sunset time and ability to let their family and wedding party go straight into reception). At 5:45pm, ushers began escorting guests down the long path under the trees. The ceremony was set with sounds from the string quartet and harpist surrounded by the club’s lake with an authentic 15th Century French Chapel as the backdrop.

But once I saw a giant yellow storm cell caving in around our location on the radar, I knew we had to start early; we had to start now! In my mind, I knew I just had to get the bride and groom to the altar before the sky opened up. Once at the altar, it would be out of my hands. So I radioed my assistants inside with the wedding party to line them up and send them out. It was 2.5 min walk from their location to the altar, clock ticking, storm-a-brewin’.

Family lined up next to me, but our quartet had to stop playing and cover their antique instruments as the rain drops lightly began. As soon as the wedding party line was approaching, I cued family to walk down the sprinkled aisle. Next wedding party: No time to pace them out, couples in single file line filtered down the aisle to their place. I turn back around expecting Holly and her dad to be approaching me and sweet Holly was a minute’s walk away waiting for me to give her Plan A’s cue to walk once Austin was turned around (a calming feeling for me knowing that in her happy mindset, all was going to plan). I motioned her with discretely speedy hand movements and as she passed me then through the ceremony gates she had a huge smile on her face, here was their big moment.. And sure enough, as her strappy flats hit the aisle, thunder boomed for the first time that day.

During the very brief ceremony, the rain got harder and harder as the smiles and laughter got bigger and louder. As I stood, literally in the aisle holding and umbrella over Kelli and her camera, I thought (and think I even said out loud with a chuckle), “huh, it’s only water…it’s only water!” I then realized that when Holly decided to get married outside that day, she accepted that she might just get rained on in doing so, and that it was ok because it was all about getting married to Austin, in front of that chapel with however many guests were willing to get rained on too.

As the officiant quickly got to their vows, the rain drops were fast and large, and as he announced them husband and wife, the sky completely opened into a complete downpour. The newlyweds ran down the aisle laughing to the awaiting a golf cart to whisk them back inside. The club staff was ready for the wet guests with towels, hair dryers and hot food ready inside as they ran for cover. The strings, now protected under the tent, played during cocktail hour, followed by Jason Allen, a friend and country musician, on his acoustic guitar while the rain continued to pour around the tents.

After getting the couple dried off and fed dinner in the club’s beautiful, well-equipped locker room, they were off into the reception to joyfully celebrate alongside their guests. They enjoyed their first dance and dances with parents before they got on the mic to thank everyone for sticking it out with them on this oh-so-special day. The band came on for a 3 hour continuous set and all danced the night away. At the very end the band’s horns section led guests out to the front of the club to clear the tent of all guests, band, and staff so the couple could dance one private last dance before making their formal exit through sparklers. The bride later told me the wedding party stayed up with them until the wee hours continuing to celebrate and even had a fireworks show lit by the groom’s brother as a surprise.

One-of-a-kind unique wedding? CHECK!

PHOTOGRAPHER Kelli Elizabeth | CINEMATOGRAPHER 31 Films | PLANNER Keely Thorne Events | FLORIST Bows And Arrows | WEDDING DRESS Casa De Novia (similar) | CAKE Who Made The Cake! | BRIDE’S SHOES Christian Louboutin | BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES Bella Bridesmaids | CATERING Uchi + Houston Oaks Country Club | MAKEUP Kristin Daniell Makeup Artistry | HAIR Therapy Hair Studio | BAND Jessie’s Girls | VENUE Houston Oaks Country Club | FLORAL RIBBON Frou Frou Chic | GROOMSMEN ATTIRE Jos. A. Bank | LIGHTING + Sound ProSound | PHOTO BOOTH Smilebooth | RENTALS Events In Bloom | PAPER GOODS Papellerie | BRIDESMAIDS ROBES Plum Pretty Sugar

With Cinco de Mayo around the corner featuring a Fiesta themed engagement party seemed oh-so right! I love all of the tassel details, pops of colors and the mini patron favors! Every little detail was styled and captured beautifully! Next make sure you check out this Maids and Margs party!

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From the planner..

What better way is there to celebrate your engagement than a Cinco de Mayo-themed engagement party? This pool-side fiesta was filled with tequila, chips, salsa and bold decor. This bride was set to celebrate her big news in the most fun way. Ivy Robinson created a festive lounge area near the pool to enhance the Cinco de Mayo vibes. Colorful pillows filled the seating area.

The overall feel was fun and energetic. Sabrina Laine styled the bride in white outfits with poppy accessories. The engagement invite designed by Bohemian Ink was enclosed in a gold-glittered box with a small tequila bottle with a hand drawn tag “Drink Me” to invite guests to this this party and get them in the fiesta spirit! Every element was designed to be fun, modern and stylish.

PHOTOGRAPHER Allison Kuhn Photography | STYLING Sabrina Laine | INVITATIONS Bohemian Ink | HAIR + MAKEUP Lindsey Regan Thorne | PLANNER Ivy Robinson Events | TASSEL EARRINGS (similar) | ORANGE PUMPS Steve Madden (similar here and here) | MINI PATRON BOTTLES Etsy | TASSEL CLUTCH Rebecca Minkoff (similar here, here and here)