Kentucky Derby-Inspired Wedding Ideas

If you’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby (which is the first weekend of May), I highly suggest you put it on your bucket list. We went to the Derby a few years ago and had the BEST time. The weather was crappy and the track was muddy, but the sun came out just in time for the 9th race (AKA the “Run for the Roses”), and it was a blast.

Even if you don’t live in the South, there are so many ways you can incorporate Kentucky Derby-inspired elements into your wedding. I’ve compiled a few of my favorites, below.

1. Speciality Drink: The Mint Julep

Pass around the official drink of the Derby, The Mint Julep, during your cocktail hour. I can attest to how tasty and potent these are, since I had 5 of them on Derby day. Yee-haw!

Click here for a Mint Julep recipe

2. Horseshoe decorations

$17.50 for a 10 pack

Spread these out along your reception tables for a unique touch, or tie tags with guests names on them as escort card holders/wedding favors. Tell guests to hang them in a U-shape above their front door (on the inside). I found this cool website where you can order old ones in bulk.

3. Get a Bluegrass band

Hiring a bluegrass band to play music before, during, and after your ceremony (particularly during cocktail hour) adds a unique twist to your Kentucky-inspired wedding. Go to to find one in your area.

4. Wildflowers

The Goldenrod (Solidago altissima), a wildflower, is the official state flower of Kentucky. Ask your florist for an assortment of yellow wildlflowers (or pick your own!) for your table and wedding bouquets, but make sure you’re not allergic to any of them first!

5. Derby-chic wedding hat

Finding the perfect hat to wear to Derby Day is a big part of the experience. In lieu of a wedding veil think about wearing a chic hat instead. They’re perfect for balmy summer days and nights and will help keep the sun out of your eyes when you say your vows. I like them big and floppy, like this one.

6. Use a bourbon barrel as a guestbook

$85 and up

Instead of a traditional guestbook, have guests sign an old (or new) bourbon barrel. Shipping might get a bit expensive, but how cool would it be to have an old barrel displayed in your home to remind you of your big day?

Click here to buy old and new barrels


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