Luxury Picnic Planners Try to Dodge Bad Weather

September 6, 2023

When indoor gatherings became restricted during the pandemic, people turned to outdoor events like picnics in order to socialize while staying safe. Spotting an opportunity, some event planners launched luxury picnic companies that have since turned into profitable enterprises. From romantic dinners to full-scale weddings, these outdoor dining startups charge as much as $300 per person for gourmet meals with elaborate decor and cozy seating. That is, as long as the weather cooperates.

For example, Rachel LeBar of Colorado Luxe Picnics endured an onslaught of rainfall in early summer that led to several disastrous setups. At one wedding in June, huge gusts of wind upended glassware and expensive table settings while LeBar’s husband held the wedding cake steady. “I texted the bride about 10 to 15 minutes before she was going to show up and let her know that, ‘Hey, I’m so sorry but this is going to be a setup that’s going to look a little bit rough,’” said LeBar. Situations like these show why many luxury picnic planners have also become intense weather watchers, monitoring meteorological reports closely to see if the skies will stay clear. 

At Berkshire Picnics in Massachusetts, owner Jennifer Meister Knodler starts tracking the weather on an hourly basis about two days before an event. Along with keeping up to date with four weather apps on her phone, Knodler’s 11-year-old son also provides a morning report based on Doppler radar and TV news segments. “Around Thursday morning, we start to strategize,” said Knodler about planning weekend picnics. “Let’s say the weather says there’s more than 50% chance of rain—we’ll need to think about backup plans.” Still, even the most vigilant weather watchers can be shocked by unforeseen outbursts from Mother Nature. For Gladys Prieto of the Florida-based Pretty Picnic, one oceanside event turned into chaos when “sudden wind gusts just took our entire inventory off the ground and dumped them a mile out.” She estimates it cost her $950 to replace lost materials. 


  1. What are the potential risks and rewards of operating a luxury picnic company?
  2. How does the constant threat of bad weather affect everyday operations at luxury picnic companies?

Source: Florence Wu, “Luxury Picnic Planners Become Extreme Weather Watchers,” The Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2023.