Delegate the Derby: Tabletop Inspiration

And just like that, we’re off to the races yet again! May is such a crazy month for events, and it feels like everything is back-to-back, especially with Easter so late this year. There’s the Derby, Cinco De Mayo, Steeplechase (for all my Nashville friends) and then Mother’s Day. It’s just too much to celebrate. Just kidding, we know that’s never the case with me. After all, “more is more, and less is a bore” in the words of Iris Apfel.


One of my favorite new friends, Lauren Cermak of “Going for Grace,” was kind enough to collaborate with me on a Derby party this year. Lauren is an uber-talented entertainment and fashion blogger with impeccable taste, a ton of class and a little bit of sass. Just how I like my friends to be- ha! Thankfully, because our styles and taste in decor overlap quite a bit, it was easy for us to come up with ideas that we both loved. In fact, when we were picking out our Draper James dresses to wear (since we’re both ambassadors for the southern brand), we sent each other images of all the same dresses. We compromised by wearing our current favorite print but in two different styles. They’re both perfect for outdoor parties, since they’re cotton eyelet and very breathable. And since they’re both white, they go with just about any hat or shoe you’d want to pair them with for the Derby. I provided a selection of hats and fascinators I already owned (from years spent going to the Nashville Steeplechase), plus a few new affordable options from Amazon (linked below), that we added to complete each outfit.


With our attire selected, we moved on to the necessities required for any Derby party: mint juleps, equestrian-themed décor and southern food. We made sure to include those items, and then each gave input on colors and additional details, and easily pulled together two beautiful tabletops as well as a bar set-up. One of the best “finds” for our shoot is a Nashville-based florist, Twigs, who did the flowers for each tablescape. She went above and beyond, and as you will see, her flowers are stunning and fit perfectly with each table design. See the bottom part of this post for all the additional details and sources from our fabulous Derby fetes!

For our “paper table,” we decided to stick to the traditional colors found at the Kentucky Derby. We wanted everything about this table to be easy to recreate onsite at an outdoor event, whether it’s in a box or down in the infield at a tailgate. The paper plates, napkins, flatware and cups are all disposable. I love how sophisticated the equestrian pattern is on the paper goods, and the disposable, faux mint julep cups were a great find as well. The basic 6ft table, table linen and chairs are from Please Be Seated and are rentals that are affordable and easy to source from any rental company near you. Twigs did a great job with the real mint julep cups that ran down the center of the table, filled with roses that could easily be re-created if you don’t want to hire a florist. Red roses are of course a great go-to for any Derby themed party, and are the perfect filler for mint julep cups or any trophies you might have lying around the house (you will see this in Part 2 of the post).

You can’t have a Derby party without Derby pie. This is where Lauren and I differ of course. She is a fabulous cook and baker, so she baked a homemade Derby pie that is simply to die for. It’s not my usual thing to include any recipes on my blog, but for Lauren, I will make an exception. We used her delicious and beautiful Derby pie in our more formal tablescape (see below), but for our “paper table,” I wanted to include mini Derby pies that would be easy to transport and actually eat onsite at an event, such as the actual Derby. So of course, I called Sweetie Pies ‘n Baby Cakes to make us mini Derby pies, which she delivered and looked absolutely darling on our table. If you live in the Nashville area, I suggest you order your Derby pies NOW, as she books up well in advance for this event. She can make full-size or mini pies, and you better believe, I’ll be bringing the mini Derby pies with me to Steeplechase to serve my guests in our box this year. The additional decorations you see on the table, including the faux grass table runner, the “winner” ribbons tied around the back of each chair, and the balloons are all linked for you below.

Horse with Blanket Paper Plates and Napkins
Horse Balloon and Red Balloons
Silver Plastic Cups
Horse Race Award Ribbons

On to our more formal table… Many people host Derby-watching parties at home, and this is where it’s easier to set-up a more formal tablescape and bar (see Part 2 for the bar set-up). Lauren selected the color scheme for this table, which is a “nod” to the Derby without taking it too literally. We started with the tablecloth and napkins from Pomegranate, and then layered in other details, such as the rented china, glass and silverware from Please Be Seated and the metal horseshoes from Amazon. Lauren’s Derby pie looked beautiful on the sideboard next to the stunning floral arrangements from Twigs, and the overall look was sophisticated and fresh.


Lauren and I had the best time shooting together in our outfits and handbags all from Draper James. They do a great job with providing everything you need for the holidays (aka- fun, themed items), and I’m in love with my “Place Your Bets Y’all” wristlet, which I will also be wearing to Nashville Steeplechase. All of our Draper James goodies (and a few more options) are linked below as well. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, which will have all the details of our beautiful (and easy to set-up) Derby-themed bar!

Mary’s Dress:
Draper James Collection Eyelet Button Front Dress
Lauren’s Dress:
Draper James Collection Eyelet Flounce Dress
Mary’s Bag:
Draper James Place Your Bets Y’all Wristlet
Draper James “Place Your Bets Y’all” Canvas Tote
Mary’s Shoes:
Castaner Carina Linen Wedge Espadrille Sandals
Lauren’s Shoes:
J Crew Raffia High Block Healed Sandals
Lawliet Linen Summer Women’s Kentucky Derby Wide Brim Sun Hat
Mud Pie Women’s Fashion Casey Sun Hat
Lauren’s Derby Pie Recipe: 
1 unbaked pie crust
4 large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare pie crust in dish.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat eggs, sugars, corn syrup, flour, melted butter, bourbon, and vanilla about 2 minutes.
Using a spatula gently fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and use spatula to spread the chocolate and pecans evenly.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until the middle in set.*
Serve pie warm or chilled.
*Place aluminum foil around the rim to cover the crust about halfway into the bake time if worried about crust.

* All photography provided by Lele Fain Photography

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.