Are Luxury Picnics the Best New Pop Up Party Trend?

romantic luxury picnic by sunday and gather
Sunday & Gather

Forget glamping and—honestly?—forget brunch, too. Because right now, it’s ALL about the luxury picnic. There is nothing more integral to a memorable gathering than food and people. Dining al fresco is nothing new, and the pop up picnic trend is taking it one step further by adding fun design elements and decor to your breezy, laid-back lounging. Thanks to social distancing measures and their oh-so-Instagrammable qualities, the idea of a luxury picnic has surged in popularity—and with it, several new businesses who are ready to make your photo-worthy picnics a reality.

What is a luxury picnic?

While the details vary, the general idea is that you—and your partner or friends or party people—gather around a whimsical display to eat beautiful, delicious food and cocktails and enjoy each other’s company.

And the possibilities are endless! You can hire a team to set up a pop up picnic for your proposal, bridal shower, bachelorette, or rehearsal dinner. It could be as simple as a movie night in your backyard or even your micro wedding reception. And then, of course, there are date nights at home celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, or the fact that it’s Friday and you’re still in one piece.

Here at GWS, we’ve seen luxury picnics set up most often for engagement celebrations and elopements. It’s the perfect way to host your own little elopement reception and stay inside the dream of your day just a little longer.

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luxury picnics by miss mays
Miss Mays Picnics

What are the best pop up picnic locations?

The only rule to choosing a location making sure it’s one where people like to gather! Imagine setting up at your favorite park or scenic overlook. You could go to a winery, the beach, a botanical garden, or on the grounds of historic buildings. But first, make a plan. Alessandra of Details Darling shares, “One thing to double-check when planning a picnic is that some beaches don’t allow picnics and some you need to get a permit for. So definitely do research prior to showing up.” And don’t forget, even backyards can be utterly dreamy.

luxury beach picnic bridal shower
Design by Alessandra of Details Darling

This particular setup was actually for my bridal shower. I love that you can do a picnic set up anywhere and you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on a venue. — Alessandra of Details Darling

pouf wedding table seating
Photo: Photo by Julieta // Boho in Mexico: 4 Tips for an Unforgettable Destination Wedding in Mexico

What is included in a luxury picnic?

Many luxury picnic companies offer packages from bubbly and snacks to full-scale spreads. Some will partner with vendors to provide food, some are fully in-house. It’s a growing space and we’ll be sharing some of our favorite businesses, but be sure to research your area to see what’s available.

colorful luxury picnic by sunday and gather
Sunday & Gather

It’s all about the customizable details! Anyone can throw a table and pillows on the beach. But we like to elevate our picnics by curating palettes, having a distinct vibe/style, and bringing that all to life with floral installations, custom menus, signage, and hand-picked decor accents. One of our partners is a floral designer, so we are huge fans of an eye-catching floral moment. Not just a vase on the table…let’s have flowers growing up from the sand or hanging from umbrellas! — Jill & Alessandra, Sunday & Gather

miss mays luxury picnics
Miss Mays Picnics

How much does a luxury picnic cost?

Even though it’s called a luxury picnic, that doesn’t always mean it comes with a luxury price tag. Your final bill will depend on a number of factors, just like any other gathering. The number of guests, amount of courses you’d like served, etc. Most businesses offer packages for you to choose from. And if you’re planning a low-key event just for the sake of gathering someplace other than your go-to spots, one common way to keep costs manageable is to split the bill with your friends!

elopement picnic
Photo: Bruna Kitchen Photography // THIS is How to Elope in Big Sur: With Two Dresses + Plenty of Pampas Grass
fall luxury picnic miss mays
Miss Mays Picnics

What do you need for a DIY pop-up picnic?

First of all, gather up friends and food. And then there are the atmospheric elements like flowers, seating, table decor, and the perfect playlist. Here’s where to start:

Mini Picnic Table — You can purchase foldable boho picnic tables on Etsy and have them made to size. Here’s one for a larger party and this one is perfect for a party of two.

Waterproof Blanket — Even if you’re sitting on floor pillows, it’s best to have a waterproof blanket handy to prevent any moisture. We LOVE this large white boho waterproof picnic blanket.

Floor Pillows and Straw Poofs — Here’s our go-to for floor pillows and cushions. Always so many colors and options! And these flat straw ottomans from Amazon are great for seating or holding trays of food!

Cheese Board — A necessity. Our favorite options from boards to knives and all the accessories for your charcuterie are always from here.

Picnic Basket — You’ll need something to carry all the goods! We love this classic basket or this one for a wine and cheese spread.

Votive Candle Holders These votive holders— Pillar candles look amazing and bring in some height, but you’ve got weather and wind to consider. are SO cute and would be perfect alongside a few vases of fresh flowers without any risk of falling.

PlatesThese plates are lightweight and chip resistant but they look just like stoneware. Made from plant-based materials and dish-washer friendly, they’re perfect for outdoor spreads.

Stemless Wine Glasses — Easier to pack, harder to accidentally fall and break — these are the wine glasses you’re looking for.

Cloth Napkins and Napkin Holders — Again, we’re thinking about wind and avoiding sending paper products flying down the beach. But we’re ALSO thinking about aesthetics. Which is why these napkins with these napkin rings are perfection.

floor seating tables
Photo: Corrie Butler Photography // It Was All Good Vibes, Crystals, and Festival Seating for this Bohemian Mountain Wedding
maui luxe pop up picnic hawaii
Maui Luxe Picnics

We believe that there are many opportunities to incorporate a luxury picnic into your wedding. They would be perfect for a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, a comfy lounge setting for cocktail hour, a morning after “recovery brunch,” a micro-wedding reception, a simple elopement, or even a unique vow renewal. The possibilities are endless! — Christine, Maui Luxe Picnics

Intimate Backyard 30th Birthday Party
Photo: Courtney Pecorino Photography design I Do Details Weddings & Events // This is What it Looks Like When a Wedding Planner Throws a Boho, Backyard Birthday Party!

All in all, this is a fun new trend we can totally get behind. A massive thanks to all the stunning pop up picnic businesses who contributed their images and tips!