Beginners Guide to Diner en Blanc
Last Friday, I had an absolute pleasure of attending Diner en Blanc Dallas, a chic white (think dress from head to toe and everything in between) pop-up invitation only dinner. To make things even more interesting, the location is kept secret till the very last hour! Diner en Blanc was first organized in 1988 by Francois Pasquier who wanted to picnic with friends in Paris but now it is a worldwide event! You can check out the official site for more detail... This year, Diner en Blanc Dallas took place at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, a beautiful venue overlooking White Rock Lake. If you plan on attending Diner en Blanc next year, here is a Beginners Guide on how to get an invite, planning your outfit, and what to expect at your first DEB!
(....keep reading because getting into Diner en Blanc is not that simple).
GETTIN INTO DINER EN BLANC : Diner en Blanc is an annual event but depending on the country/city you are in, check their official site for dates. In Dallas, dates are announced early Summer but purchasing tickets is not that easy.
There are three ways you can get in : by being part of the Hosts or Leaders’ personal network and getting invited by them (Phase 1); by knowing someone who registers during Phase 1 and asking them to sponsor you for Phase 2; or, by signing up to the waiting list and registering during Phase 3. Tickets are sold in pairs so be sure to have someone to go with you...and they almost always sold out very quickly. If you really plan on attending, you need to act fast. Tickets cost about ~$50 per person.
Once you are registered & get your tickets, expect to receive an email with event time & date, pick-up location, table leader etc..but more on that below.
PLAN YOUR ATTIRE: When I say plan, I mean plan to arrive in style and accessorize yourself from head to toe in white. Since it was still pretty hot in Dallas, I went with Grecian look and kept my accessories to minimum. Just from my personal experience, have 1-2 white outfits ready ahead of time because all-white outfits are hard to come by after the Labor day weekend. There was everything from elegant gown, to casual white dress, and a nice pair of slacks and shirt...It's up to you to keep things fancy, minimal, or casual but look elegant.
Diner en Blanc has traditionally always been outdoors...and rain or shine, it doesn't get cancelled. Check the weather before heading out for the evening - pack a light weather or dress lightly. If you foresee rain, bring a white or transparent raincoat, poncho and/or umbrella.
DON'T FORGET SHOES! You will be picked up at your designated spot and chartered to the secret location in a bus (or an official vehicle). You are responsible for bringing (and carrying back) your own tables, chairs, and picnic supplies, I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes (unless you live in your heels then you will be okay). A lot of people brought flats + heels along because depending on the location, you may have to walk a bit + all the dancing you will be doing later. Expect the landscape to have both concrete and grass...
FOOD & DRINKS : You have an option to bring your own food (which means a lot of planning ahead) or purchase a catered meals ..Typically it's a 3 course meal but you can do more if you'd like. A lot of people brought picnic style food - cheese board, finger food, salads. If you decide to bring your own food, plan for leftovers too!
If you don't want to go through the hassle, you can order your food from the catering company or chef your city is partnering with. This year, Dallas partnered with Gil's Elegant Catering and dinner costs anywhere between $45 -$100 (for two). And yes, there are different options for your protein including vegetarian. Remember that you are not allowed to bring your own alcohol - wine & champagne is available for pre-purchased from Diner en Blanc website and will be distributed on-site.
TABLE SETUP: Like I mentioned earlier, you are responsible for bringing your own folding table and chairs that can be either rented or purchased. You need to comply with size requirements but it does not have to be white. Additionally, you will need white tablecloth, napkins, plates, flatware, decor for table such as vase, flameless candle/light, glassware, or anything else you want for your table decor. Your table leader or host will probably give you instructions on how/where to set the table. One of my favorite part of Diner en Blanc was walking to everyone's table and seeing the setup/decor - they were all very creative and beautiful!!
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BRING? A cooler with ice, luggage cart/wagon, trash bags, wet towels/wipes, bottled water, wine opener, portable charger, camera are few things that will come probably handy. And don't forget your ID and some cash.
ENTERTAINMENT : DEB Dallas had a lovely string trio music during dinner. You will also find many photo booth opportunities throughout the site. Once everyone's table is setup, the host will initiate an iconic napkin wave to signify that the evening is about to begin (see the very first picture on top).
Towards the later part of the night, DJ will change the music so make sure you have your dancing shoes on! Depending on the city, you can expect surprise performances, firework show/sparkles, and vendors (we had henna tattoo)!
ANYTHING ELSE? I attended as a media vs. participant but if I was one of the guests, I'd probably read the instructions and plan things accordingly. Don't be late to your meeting spot.. You can expect A LOT OF PEOPLE (Dallas had 2500 people this year), which makes it big fun outdoor party!
DEB is one of the most sought out event so have fun, dress up, and dance the night away with your loved ones.
You can read more about Diner en Blanc on their official website (and pick your country/city for specifics) and if you are interested in attending next year, you can register now to be on the waitlist. I'd love to attend DEB as an participant in the future.
I'd like to thank Le Dîner enBlanc – Dallas for hosting me. Additionally, a big shout out to Southwest Airlines // Merrill Lynch- Raehpour Group // Evian // Badoit // Gil’s Elegant Catering for making everything possible!
photo credit: Justin Yoder Studios