Franklin Park Conservatory's Hat Day isn't the only spring event that revolves around elaborate headpieces. The annual Kentucky Derby race, held each May, offers another opportunity to don a fancy hat -- and a grand reason to throw a spring party.

Franklin Park Conservatory's Hat Day isn't the only spring event that revolves around elaborate headpieces. The annual Kentucky Derby race, held each May, offers another opportunity to don a fancy hat -- and a grand reason to throw a spring party.

The governor of Kentucky hosts a Derby Day brunch each year for high rollers, but if you didn't make the invite list, you can host an elegant Southern brunch for a group of your own VIPs.

With the help of Lora Snell from Elegant Touch Events in Dublin, we came up with ideas that celebrate the sophistication surrounding the Derby. They include lush red roses, silver mint julep glasses, gorgeous hats-and a nod to the real stars of the day, the horses (think riding spurs repurposed as napkin rings and equine-themed ceramic figurines scattered on the table.)

Jenny Zemenak, owner of the Dublin specialty invitations company Seedlings, dreamed up chic invitations and place cards that incorporate a bright pink and black color scheme. So every guest feels suitably special, each invitation comes in its own fancy, thin box for mailing.

And in honor of the Derby's home state, we worked up a Southern-inspired menu of Fresh Mint Fruit Salad, Country Ham Frittata and Bananas Foster French Toast.

Everyone will expect you to serve the Derby favorite mint juleps -- and you should! -- but save them for the race. Earlier in the day, try sweet tea or bellinis garnished with fresh mint. Plan to serve your meal in the early afternoon, allowing for plenty of mingling before the race starts at 5.

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