• Shanna Kelly

Picnic With A View

Seven Mile Sunset creates instagrammable beach setups

Shanna Kelly | Seven Mile Satellite

Gallery photos submitted by Kari Giuffre

 

On June 6, Kari Giuffre, 29, and her husband of one year, walked up the long, sandy trail to 44th Street beach in Avalon — the moment mirroring her wedding walk with her father down the same path 365 days earlier.


Blankets in hand, Giuffre asked her husband where they should sit. As he motioned to a spot on the beach, she saw a picnic setup and noted that there must be an event — to which he answered, “‘It's for you,’” Giuffre, a real estate agent from Stone Harbor, recalled.


A low wooden table, complete with candlesticks, place settings and yellow flowers imitating her wedding bouquet, rested in the sand, accompanied by cushions to sit on and a white, bohemian blanket. A chalkboard sign read “happy 1 year anniversary,” and a white fringed umbrella shaded the sunset setup, ready for the couple to delight in a charcuterie board, chocolate covered strawberries and cold beverages.


“I thought I was walking into an Instagram ad,” Giuffre said.

Photo submitted by Seven Mile Sunset

This anniversary picnic was courtesy of Seven Mile Sunset. Run by sisters Lauren Froschhauser, 28, and Nicole Peckman, 34, the business, which launched in March, offers personalized tablescapes and events for everything from anniversaries, to bachelorette parties, to microweddings. So far, picnics have been hosted from Ocean City to Seven Mile Island — excluding Stone Harbor since only Avalon allows picnicking.


The sisters work in finance and marketing in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and have been spending family summers and holidays on the island for around 15 years. The idea for Seven Mile Sunset came to them last year during the first pandemic summer. The sisters found that there wasn’t as much to do despite the island feeling relatively normal. Instead, they stayed on the beach later, packing little picnics and enjoying extra time with family. Now, with Seven Mile Sunset, they can share this experience.


Their picnics include decor — sitting pillows, a low table, umbrella, message board, bluetooth speaker — a food board, a floral arrangement and one non-alcoholic beverage per guest such as sparkling water. To stay within city guidelines, nothing is glass, candles aren’t lit and no alcohol is provided.


Boards can range from meat and cheese, to brunch, to dessert, and clients can upgrade to a full meal. Whenever possible, the business tries to source food and flowers locally. Brunch, for instance, may be sourced from places like Isabel’s Bakery or Duck Donuts.


“Part of the magic of the Seven Mile Island is all the small businesses,” Peckman said. “We want people to not only feel that golden hour vibe but also have the local charm that everyone loves as part of their tradition when they're down there.”

Photo submitted by Seven Mile Sunset

Picnics for two guests start at $150, going up by $25 per additional person, and can range based on extra picnic requests. Events typically last 2-3 hours, and everything must be cleared off the beach by dusk.


To schedule events, the sisters use an intake form in the business’ Instagram bio. Clients fill out a questionnaire with information such as time, location, color scheme and other requests, which allows a quote to be made.


Clients pay an initial deposit based on how many guests are in the picnic, which can be refunded if there’s a cancellation within a week of the booking. Events must be fully paid for up to 72 hours before to ensure the picnic stays in compliance with the town’s ordinance, which restricts payment at the time of the event. If inclement weather interferes, clients have the option to rebook their picnic within the following three months.


Before the event, Froschhauser and Peckman do a practice setup in their backyard, making it quicker to arrange on the day, especially if the path is as long as that of 44th Street beach. Then, on the day of, the sisters start setting up the picnic about an hour before the scheduled event and stay to greet the client. They then leave the beach, staying nearby, and return to clean it up.


While the picnics are undeniably convenient, it's more than that, the sisters agreed; it's about an elevated experience.


“It's more than just your average setting of your beach day or your beach night,” Froschhauser said.


“It elevates your golden hour, and you can fully enjoy without all the preparation that is required,” Peckman said, jumping in.


Using Seven Mile Sunset allowed Giuffre’s anniversary celebration to be a surprise. The couple simply had to show up without having to worry about lugging everything down the beach path.


“It almost feels like you're at a restaurant, but like you're at a VIP restaurant where you have your whole beach to yourself,” Giuffre said.

Photo submitted by Seven Mile Sunset

This VIP experience does have its limits though. When it comes to cleanup, clients are responsible for disposing of any alcoholic beverages since they aren’t provided by Seven Mile Sunset, and are technically not allowed on the beach.


“When they sign up for a picnic, in their terms and conditions, it does state that once we leave the premises of the picnic, they are responsible for everything. Then, once we get back, that is when their responsibilities are lifted,” Lauren said. “At that point, we do ask that if they are going to consume adult beverages that they have to discard them. We cannot and will not dispose of them.”


So far, this summer has been full of bookings, especially this past month, causing them to explore the option of two picnics per day. While the sisters work full time and have kids, they see it as a labor of love, Peckman said.


“We've realized that this has given us the creative freedom that we've been craving, regardless from the pandemic, even prior to that, being in corporate America,” Froschhauser said. “But when I look at what I'm doing now, I feel almost, like, fulfilled.”


So far, one of the sisters’ favorite picnics was the Giuffre anniversary because of the design and sentiment — one that Giuffre felt as well. The aesthetic setup made the anniversary feel like the reception dinner that they never got after postponing their wedding four times and deferring to a microwedding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Giuffre said.


While the couple had planned to return to the same beach for their anniversaries, there may be a place for Seven Mile Sunset in future celebrations as well. “I hope it's now our anniversary tradition,” Giuffre said.

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