Danyelle Sousa and Mindy Pereira of Dixie Rae Events love setting up the ultimate in outdoor meals.
Back in the day, picnics were unassuming affairs, often an impromptu inspiration on a gorgeous day. All your essentials fit in a single basket: blanket, simple sandwiches, beverages of choice and maybe some cookies for dessert. It took less than five minutes to set up and even less to pack it. Of course, you can still go that route, but if you are looking to up your game and create a truly epic picnic experience, let Danyelle Sousa and Mindy Pereira of Dixie Rae Events take care of the details.
Dixie Rae Events is a pop-up picnic planning service in Leland that will dream up the picnic of, well, your dreams. They design and supply everything you need for a memorable proposal, rehearsal dinner, baby shower, girls’ night out, children’s birthday party, corporate gathering or any other occasion — special or not. The best part is, they do all the setup and pack up!
The idea for the business venture was born from Sousa’s desire to do something special for her mom’s birthday last year.
“She already has everything she wants or needs, so Mindy, my sister-in-law and I were trying to do something unique for her,” Sousa says.
“I thought about a picnic on the beach, and I looked at other businesses that specialize in luxury picnics, but they were far away. So, we started looking through pictures of similar events and thought it might be fun to do this on our own.”
Sousa’s mom was blown away, and the pair enjoyed the experience so much, they decided to take a shot at starting a business. Dixie Rae Events was born in October of 2021. The name comes from Sousa’s maternal grandmother, Dixie, and her mom’s middle name, Rae.
Dixie Rae Events is a full-service operation. They go to the outdoor location designated by the client, set up everything well ahead of arrival, then come back after the event to pack everything up and take it away. They can bring the picnic to your own backyard if you’re looking for a more private or intimate event, or they’re happy to host it at a public space like the beach or a park. “We even had a request to set one up in the woods,” Sousa says.
Sousa and Pereira started the business from the ground up with no experience but a lot of motivation.
Sousa, who is a stay-at-home mom, has thought about opening her own business ever since her husband started his own tile installation venture six years ago.
“I love seeing him do something he is so passionate about,” Sousa says. “I see him work all day on a job and then come home at night, get on the computer and bid on jobs and go over blueprints,” she says. “He never complains though. So, it’s safe to say I’m well versed in knowing the commitment it takes to run a business and do it right.”
Pereira is glad about this.
“Danyelle is definitely better at the day-to-day business side of things than I am,” Pereira says. “I’m good with helping set up, decorating and shopping for the items we need.”
Though Dixie Rae Events provides inspiration photos to give clients ideas for their own events, they also work to accommodate specific requests to create a truly customized experience. They even deliver a personalized playlist for each event based on the mood the client is looking for — from romance to dance party — which the client can play through their smartphone using the Bluetooth speaker Dixie Rae Events provides.
Some themes clients can choose from include beachy, boho or luxury events featuring velvet draping, place settings, huge tablescapes, throw pillows, ottomans, flower arrangements and end-tables to name a few. Picnics include food packages from charcuterie platters to food trays and decadent sugary delights. But they also offer classic picnics with just “a blanket, cute food, and some candles,” Pereira says.
There is a price-point for every budget.
Every picnic design is purposefully planned before it ever makes it to the client’s site of choice.
“We do a practice run and stage it before the event to make sure everything flows,” Sousa says.
For clients who are looking to create Instagram-worthy memories of their pop-up picnics, Dixie Rae Events also partners with Leland photography studio Bits O Bacon, who will come out and photograph the experience.
As for events the pair would like to do more of, kids parties are at the top of their list.
“We’ve been doing fun, elaborate parties for our own kids and to see them walk in the room when it’s all set up, that’s my favorite part,” Sousa says.
With social distancing concerns still lingering, outdoor picnics are even more attractive, especially as we look toward spring. And who wouldn’t want to spend time in a natural environment with great friends and family?
Want to set up a picnic?
Dixie Rae Events