Instead of a standard tea party for a bridal shower, event planner Michelle Durpetti created a “bridle” shower in honor of the Kentucky Derby. Since one of the brides-to-be is an equestrian, embracing an equine aesthetic was fitting for the celebration. Emerald velvet couches helped to create an elegant, but homey, feel to the fête, and both red and pink roses were arranged throughout the space. “That loose, deconstructed, still-life feel had me dreaming of Caravaggio even though we were channeling the Kentucky Derby,” explains Michelle. “It makes perfect sense in my head that dreams of Renaissance Italian [appear] at the same time as equestrian chic, with a dash of baroque – and for good measure, a hint of Southern charm.”

Guests enjoyed small bites, both savory and sweet, as well as an eye-catching method of obtaining Champagne. A wall of boxwood and roses, in addition to framed photos of horses, featured small cutouts with velvet curtains. Servers hidden behind the wall would reach through these miniature curtains with white gloves, holding Champagne flutes out to entering guests. “Is there anything better than being greeted with bubbles when you arrive at a party?” asks Michelle.

Take a look at the photos in the slideshow above that offer inspiration for an elegant pre-wedding event!