First of all, for those who don't know what Diner en Blanc is - it is an all-white pop-up dinner party that originated in France about 27 years ago and now occurs in major cities around the world. Diners get dressed in all-white, bring their own dining gear (tables, chairs, glassware, etc) and food to set up in a public location unknown to them until the day of the event.
So what's the purpose of the event? The Diner en Blanc website explains it best:
Over the course of the evening, guests experience the beauty and value of their city's public spaces by participating in the unexpected. Beyond the spectacle and elegance of the dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse backgrounds by good taste and a love of beauty. Le Dîner en Blanc recalls the elegance and glamor of high French society, and guests engage one another, knowing that they are taking part in a truly magical event.
This amazing event is coming back to Washington, DC this month. I was fortunate enough to attend the first annual Diner en Blanc DC two years ago (even got to create some graphics for them) and had an absolute blast. Unfortunately, last year I missed it because was recovering from open heart surgery (darn you imperfect heart!) and this year I'll miss it again because of work (darn you event planner life!). So, in order to feel like I'm still somewhat kinda a part of it, I'm offering up some tips from my first time at Diner en Blanc!
Tag team with friends on gear - It's usually much cheaper to buy items in sets, so talk with your friends or utilize the Diner en Blanc forum to see if anyone wants to divide up costs for purchasing or renting items. For example, when I was looking for white napkins - It was way cheaper to buy a set of 4. Of course I only needed two, so we split the costs with another couple.
Rent, don't buy - Another way to save a few bucks on gear is to rent instead of buying. A group of us ended up renting our white chairs from AAA Party Rentals in Alexandria. There were six of us so we just had one person pick them up for all of us on the day of the event and return them the day after.
Bring rolling carts/coolers - Many people think they can easily carry two chairs, a folding table, and your picnic basket filled with dishes, glassware, and food to the dinner site, but I'm telling you now: you can't. Well, even if you can, you're going to be tired and sweaty by the time you get there and it's going to ruin the mood a bit. So save yourself the grief, and get something you can roll whether it's a rolling cart, cooler, or suitcase or at the very least, bring items that you can carry on your back. Trust me.
Don't over pack your meal - If you plan on bringing your own picnic, be cognizant of how much food you're bringing. The towers of cheese, crackers, and charcuterie sure look nice but are you really going to eat that much? Again, try tag teaming with a few friends or other attendees in your group if you really want a variety of items.
Time management - This tip was more relevant the first year because the dinner occurred on a Thursday instead of Saturday. But I very clearly remember getting home from work and being so rushed that I was beyond stressed. Between putting the finishing touches on my meal to doing my hair, I was exhausted by the time I got to the dinner site. So, make sure your entire picnic is made the night before, do a test run of your table and centerpieces, lay your outfit out with all of your accessories, and don't plan on doing anything else the morning prior.
Make friends with your group - Even though we went with a group of our friends that we already knew, one of the best parts of the night was meeting new people. Diner en Blanc not only brings together people from around the DMV area, but there are a few out of town guests too. Enjoying a sense of community with the fellow diners is an important part of enjoying the overall experience.
Wear comfortable shoes - Self explanatory? At least bring comfortable walking shoes and then change into your fun shoes when you get to the dinner site.
Have questions? Utilize your Team Leader - Your team leader is someone who not only has done the event before, but has gone to pre-event meetings to discuss logistics and frequently asked questions. So, if you have any question at all - make sure you ask them!
Embrace it - My final tip is to embrace Diner en Blanc completely - from the preparation to the actual evening. I don't mean that you should have over-the-top picnics or centerpieces, but rather be as CRAZY and CREATIVE as you're comfortable with. On the day of the event, let loose and enjoy yourself (get out on that dance floor!). Diner en Blanc is truly a unique event and it will be one that you will always remember.
So those are my tips for you. I'm really hoping I'll be able to make the 2017 event! Have any other questions about what to expect? Ask me in the comments!