This Saturday, celebs and equestrian enthusiasts alike will don posh hats and listen to the sound of thundering hooves at Churchill Downs in Louisville. For those of us who can’t make it to the glamorous Kentucky Derby, we talked to party-planner-to-the-stars Mindy Weiss who gave us some practical tips for throwing a spectacular bash of your own.
The Beverly Hills-based guru has been throwing soirees for over 20 years. She’s created one-of-a-kind weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties for star-studded clients including Heidi Klum, Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Channing Tatum, and Jenna Dewan.
Read on for Weiss’ tips for the perfect Kentucky Derby party.
How to Decorate
Weiss suggests embracing the springtime feel of the event and heading outdoors. “The last derby party I did was a lawn party,” she told InStyle.com exclusively at the HomeGoods Spring Home & Garden Party in New York City. “We even divoted the field.”
For decorations, Weiss likes to think outside the box. “[At a past derby party] I did bales of hay for seating and then put blankets over them,” she said. “It was so elegant!”
What to Serve
“Of course mint juleps are a must at any Derby party!” Weiss told us. For a twist on the traditional cocktail, we love the Chocolate-Spiked Mint Julep at New York City’s Abe & Arthur’s. Blake Lively and Nicole Richie are fans of the sweet, yummy drink. Top off the cocktails with a sprig of fresh mint and Weiss’ pretty striped straws.
For food, Weiss suggests keeping it light and simple—forgo complicated recipes and difficult to eat meals. “I’ve done a huge salad bar! All colorful fruits and veggies—edamame, peas, corn—it was beautiful!”
If You’re on a Budget
So you don’t have the posh bank account that Mindy’s clients have? So what! She told us the one must-have for any Derby party: a strict dress code. “No admittance without a hat!” She told us. “We actually had a contest for Best and Worst Hat. Everyone voted and the winners were both given loving cup trophies—just like the winner of the Kentucky Derby gets.”
Weiss sent the rest of her guests home with a photo portrait of themselves in their derby hat and a horseshoe souvenir.