Welcome summer and embrace the joie de vivre with a French-inspired picnic! The ambiance of your meal is just as important as the portable provisions, so a bit of planning is required to elevate your soiree from basic to elegant. The French practically invented picnicking and everyone loves a good theme. Recreate the dining al fresco experience amidst the Jardin des Champs-Elysees in your own backyard. From what to wear, to who to invite and what to pack, this is your ultimate guide to a tres chic French Market Picnic.
Invite Good Company
From an unforgettable girl’s night to a romantic dinner for two, a French market picnic is the perfect theme. It’s all about enjoying the company of your loved ones and friends. A sweet baby shower, bridal luncheon, birthday celebration or simply just because are all lovely occasions for a French style picnic. However extensive your guest list, those among it should simply be happy people who make you smile.
Consider the Weather
Obviously a forecast of rain or snow doesn’t bode well for a relaxing time outdoors. Aim for a sunny day with temperatures to your liking. Avoid the heat of the day, but plan to enjoy the sunset. If it’s been raining recently, consider setting up on a paved surface or picnic table.
Choose A Picturesque Location
Whether it’s the privacy of your own back yard, a nearby park, beautiful garden or a even a lake-side destination, the possibilities are endless. Choose a setting that feels calm and serene. Our picnic was hosted on the grounds of the incredible Spain Ranch. A private, park-like location on a luxurious ranch provided the ideal backdrop. Guests were whisked away to the Provincial countryside surrounded by shade trees, sprawling lawn, tranquil pond and gorgeous architecture.
Compile a Mood-setting Playlist
Close your eyes and be swept away to the Champ de Mars with the perfect French soundtrack. Start with timeless classics by the likes of Edith Piaf (“La Vie En Rose”) and Sidney Bechet (try “Summertime”). Spice up the tempo with songs by current American artists such as “Paris” by Lana Del Ray or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Paris (Ooh La La)”. You also can’t go wrong with the entire “Sacrebleu” album by Dimitri From Paris.
Serve French Cuisine
The three main components of a picnic in France are bread, cheese and wine. Not only are they delicious, French provisions are easy to serve and eat. When shopping for your spread, bear in mind what you’d find in the booths of an outdoor French market. Curate a cheese platter with a variety of types, then add charcuterie (cured meats), nuts (almonds or pistachios) and a few spread options (cheese honey or perhaps fig jam). For breads, choose traditional baguette, croissants or fancy crackers. A summer picnic calls for fresh produce. Seasonal fruits like peaches, blueberries, cherries or strawberries are all lovely options.
Rose is the ideal wine selection with it’s lightness, beautiful color and fruity notes. Champagne is also an appropriate indulgence. For non-alcoholic beverages, opt for something refreshing and light but still perfectly lovely. Hydrate with a simple fruit-infused water or a sparkling variety. Pastel-colored artisanal lemonades were made for picnicking and are available in convenient single-serve bottles. Don’t skimp on desserts. In Tulsa, stop by La Madeleine or Antoinette Baking Co for pastries and sweets (think macarons and tarts).
Pack the Essentials
A picnic isn’t a pique-nique without a fabulous basket. Real place settings and serve ware, plus fine linens add a sense of decadence. Plentiful blankets and pillows for lounging are a must. Tote your stem-less wine glasses in a caddy with a handle and layer linen napkins between your beautiful plates. A crate is great for transport and can be turned upside down to serve as a mini table. Keep your drinks chilled and easily accessible in a bucket full of ice. Don’t forget a serrated knife for bread cutting, a cheese knife/spreader and a corkscrew if your vino isn’t twist top.
Nothing elevates the tone and gets you into character quite like dressing the part. When it comes to wardrobe, think light and airy layers, comfortable for sitting and summery textures (linen, lace, chambray, eyelet, etc.) From head to toe, it’s all about simple details. For beauty inspiration, channel your inner Brigitte Bardot with a sultry cat-eye and nude lip. Understated hairstyles evoke the easy-breezy picnic attitude; a braid, top knot, or low ponytail are all excellent French-inspired choices and also combat the Oklahoma wind. Accessories like oversized hats, head scarfs and sunnies are not only fun, but functional. Avoid heels and choose capable footwear such as flat sandals, espadrilles, or wedges, which are essential for trekking through the grass.
Here, guests were invited to wear something they might wear to shop a French market and choose whatever made them feel pretty. A color palette of cool tones, neutrals, plus subtle touches of blush made a huge impact on the overall sweet and calm vibe.
Special thanks to our incredibly talented photographer, gorgeous host location, lovely models/guests and vendors.
Photography Angela Williams of Hazel and Haze Photography
Venue Spain Ranch
Concept & Styling Melissa Click
On-Set Design Consulant Christen Heath of Blue J Home
Hand Lettering Prairie Letter Shop
Wood Platters, Kumquats & Striped Apron (on Taylor) Ever Something Event Planning