I’ve always been on the outside of the hashtag #DinerEnBlanc. Usually sitting on my couch looking in on the fun from my iPhone checking out all the partygoers slaying their Summer White. But this summer I decided to attend Dîner En Blanc in Baltimore. This my first time attending the Dîner En Blanc event and also the first time my hometown (AYE Baltimore) hosted this legendary Parisian festivity. My biggest question was (and maybe yours too), “What do I bring to Dîner En Blanc”?
If you’re a Dîner En Blanc first timer here’s a little guide to help you have the best experience.
If you have no idea what Dîner En Blanc is, allow me to catch you up a bit.
The History of Dîner En Blanc
The epicurean event was created in 1988 by a Frenchmen named Froncois Pasquier. He invited a group of his friends to an outdoor dinner party in Paris with a few simple requirements. Everyone must wear formal white attire and be able to enjoy good grub, tasty wine and the fabulous company of friends. It was all about the elegance and etiquette of an event. Oh, and he didn’t reveal the location until the last minute.
Fast forward and 27 years later Dîner en Blanc is now a global phenomenon and can be found in almost every major city in the world and spans 5 continents–including Africa and Australia.
How to purchase tickets for Dîner en Blanc
I’ll be transparent and say that as a first timer the process to attend isn’t for the weak at heart. I definitely almost gave up a few times–before I found my personal plug. As a general rule of thumb, it helps to know folks outside of your own circle. I knew one of the hosts and I also originally planned to be a table leader. The table leader job came with much more of a commitment than I was willing to give so I opted just to attend as a guest. One of my best friend’s good girlfriend actually signed up to be a table leader so we were able to register under her. That was a much quicker route. But if you don’t have a plug here’s how it goes:
Tickets are three sold in phases. In Phase 1, close friends of the organization, it’s leaders, previous attendees/members/volunteers are able to purchase tickets. Volunteers are able to attend for free and are given three invitations (this was my plug). Becoming a volunteer is really easy. There’s usually an announcement for it on their site and Facebook Page. In Phase 2, friends invited by the people in Phase 1 can purchase their tickets. If you are not a part of Phase 1 or 2 you are put on the waitlist for Phase 3. In Phase 3, waitlisted folks are able to purchase tickets.
Tickets must be purchased in pairs and generally run around $40. There is also a $9 membership fee.
Set up an alert on your email
A few weeks before the event you’ll receive an email letting you know the date and time of Dîner en Blanc. You might want to forward that email to the friends you’d like to attend with you so that they can register too. Invitations to purchase your tickets (starting with Phase 1) will be sent out 24 – 48 hours prior to the opening of each registration phase. Here’s where most people drop the ball. You’ve got to be quick draw McGraw and get ready set go on that buy button. Set your alarm and make sure your crew is just as ready as you. Or they will be left on the outside of the hashtag #DinerEnBlanc on their couches looking in from their iPhones at all of the partygoers slaying their Summer White. The tickets are first come first serve and will sell out super fast. The tickets for Baltimore sold out in 23 minutes!
Your seating assignment
I’m mostly confused on this because I skipped this part since I knew my bus leader personally. But you have to select the meetup location in your city and then you’ll select your group leader and bus leader. Everyone in your crew must select the same meetup location and bus/table leader in order to sit together. If it’s just you two, no worries. If you’re 10 deep in your crew, you must coordinate your table efforts in order to be together. Per the current Dîner en Blanc rules, you will not be able to switch attendees to different buses. For folks attending in group it makes sense for you to give your coins to one person and have them buy everyone’s tickets at the same time. This part is overall just really tricky. So just try different things.
Dîner en Blanc prep
I actually wrote down all the reasons I hated my Dîner en Blanc experience. That was originally the name of this post until I realized that was unfair. The truth is, Dîner en Blanc requires a lot of pre-planning (that I didn’t do). Throughout this whole process, I felt scatterbrained. I was on a few group text messages, a few GroupMe messages and then there were the few hundred messages (exaggerated for my feelings) from the Dîner en Blanc site.
What to wear
Your attire is probably the easiest part of this experience. Years ago you had to wear white (not cream or off-white) from head to toe. 2017 allows for more wiggle room with your attire. We were allowed to wear metallic shoes and accessories. Some cities will allow sneakers but for the most part, think très chic (insert my whack ass French accent!). I highly recommend wearing flats because you will be dragging your whole entire life to the secret location and then setting up your whole entire life once you arrive. If you must, bring your heels and change later for that photo opp.
So What exactly is your “whole entire life”
We really underestimated how much of our whole entire life was needed for this event. And we should have done a trial run of our tablescape. That’s the only way to get the look you really want. Most of the items (table, chairs, napkins, utensils, etc.) you can get from Amazon, Ikea, Walmart, or Party City. Everything must be white, covered in white or fit under your table.
Here’s your packing list.
In no real order, just as I remembered to tell you!
1) Folding Table & Chairs: It must be a square table 28″ by 32″. You can also rent them from the Dîner en Blanc store but if you plan to attend more than once just buy them! Be sure to write your name in marker on these in case they grow legs.
Table in a bag https://amzn.to/2VN5LlG
White folding chair cover https://amzn.to/2W4knCe (optional)
White plastic folding chair https://amzn.to/2Wn68HX (they also have these for the low low at IKEA)
1a) Table decor: Here’s where you get creative. You can also search ‘diner en blanc’ in Amazon and lots will come up.
LED Vase https://amzn.to/2M61Fp0
6 pack wine bottle light https://amzn.to/2WwIucc
LED Eiffel Tower https://amzn.to/2M5Ax9x
Super light string lights https://amzn.to/30GTtit
Flameless candles https://amzn.to/2W1VZRG
Cinema LightBox https://amzn.to/30MXK3Y
2) Collapsible rolling/Luggage cart or wagon: Write your name in marker on these in case they grow legs. These things do not have to be white. But if they are not white they must fit under your table, along with your legs, knees, and feet!
Luggage cart http://amzn.to/2up5kUT
Collapsible wagon http://amzn.to/2t5sI63
Travel cart http://amzn.to/2tvhHu7
Personal cart http://amzn.to/2theRxn
3) Cooler or Picnic Basket/Backpack with dinner service: Write your name in marker on these in case they grow legs. These things do not have to be white. But if they are not white they must fit under your table, along with your legs, knees, and feet!
Igloo Roller Cooler http://amzn.to/2upeCAb
Picnic Basket with dinner service for two http://amzn.to/2v7imDT
Picnic backpack with dinner service for two https://amzn.to/2QolHth
4) Dinner napkins and table cloth: There’s a part of the evening that will require a cloth dinner napkin, don’t go for the paper like we did!
70×70 Tablecloth https://amzn.to/2PU9iNi
5) Food & Drinks: Traditionally the event requires a three-course meal. You can either bring your own food or purchase something from the Dîner en Blanc store. But I say don’t over do it because you’ll be carrying all those things back with you at the end of the night. Bring only what you know you will eat because leaving with leftovers was a pain in the butt (but tasty the next day). You will not be able to bring your own liquor or wine but you can purchase wine (no liquor) from the Dîner en Blanc store. There is a two bottle limit for Baltimore. This may be different in other cities.
6) Garbage bag & wet wipes: You have to tote all your nasty gross garbage back with you so it’s best to coordinate that effort with your crew and designate a few people to bring trash bags. Try to eat everything you brought or put it back in the containers. Also, pack a ziplock bag with a wet towel (or use wet wipes) so that you can wipe off the dishes before placing them back in your bag or cooler.
7) Handheld Fan or Battery Operated Fan: Honey its summertime. You will not be under a tent or inside with air conditioning. You are outside! Although the bathrooms in Baltimore were air-conditioned. So you know I camped out in there to reset my makeup a few times.
Handheld folding fans http://amzn.to/2utqot9
Battery operated table fan https://amzn.to/2LHHqbH
8) Clear/white umbrella: The event takes place outside rain or shine. Be prepared! You also may just want want to an umbrella as a part of your Dîner en Blanc look.
Lace umbrella http://amzn.to/2t5M9LR
White umbrella https://amzn.to/2osHSS8
9) Accessories (Fascinators, headbands, gloves): Don’t be boring like us. Play along with the theme and go all out. A part of the evening is being as extra as possible so go for it all!
White fascinators http://amzn.to/2uoTPNq
White fascinator headbands http://amzn.to/2uq4Aie
White lace gloves http://amzn.to/2uyXCrO
White hats http://amzn.to/2t5L72v
Lace bunny ears with veil http://amzn.to/2upk1Y2
10) Camera: My iPhone worked ok because I am a G with the apps. But I would have brought my camera with a flash if I had of used some of my common sense. You’re in the dark! Here’s the camera I have that I should have bought with me http://amzn.to/2t6hFcE
11) Bottle opener and wine chiller: Most of the wine bottles available for purchase have screw tops, but just in case you get one with a cork… you also may want to chill your wine.
Wine bottle cooler stick http://amzn.to/2t68I2V
Wine bottle cooler wrap sleeve https://amzn.to/2N8mW0w
12) Your driver’s license and registration print out: They will be checking to make sure you are who you say you are.
13) Portable phone charger: I’d suggest bringing at least TWO fully charged chargers. Someone will end up asking you to borrow yours because they didn’t plan properly. Be a better friend than me.
The best one ever https://amzn.to/2YNc0HY
14) Flashlight: Or you can use your phone. The event wasn’t over until 11:30 pm (ish) so depending on your surprise location it may be pitch dark while you are trying to clean up and pack our things.
15) Hair tie and sweater: For obvious reasons.
16) Wet wipes or hand sanitizer: For obvious reasons.
What you don’t need is Money! Everything is pre-paid.
Set up tips:
We didn’t realize that everything we brought with us needed to fit under our tiny square table–along with our knees, feet, and legs! So when you pick your table set up situation, choose carefully.
Baltimore provided bottled water but we were initially told to bring it, so grab some just in case. I love cold water so next time I will be putting my water in a Swell bottle like this picture above.
Your table doesn’t have to be white because a white tablecloth is required. But it does need to be a certain size. The links I provided to the tables above are the exact size you need.
Make sure your table decor is well lit. You won’t be able to bring real candles but you can bring string lights and flameless candles. I don’t think we realized that we would be eating in the dark until we were eating in the dark.
Bring a cake platter dish thingee to house some of your food. You will run out of space since your table ain’t but so big. Use different textures since sometimes white on white gets lost.
Stay away from foods with a lot of sauce and NO red sauce at all. It’s the easiest way to ensure you won’t be filthy when you leave. Also, think about scotch guarding your look. But you must do this days in advance for it to dry properly.
Dîner en Blanc is here
Be on time. (1) It’s rude to the strangers that you are traveling with, (2) you could get your a– left! Our bus leader was super patient and super nice and waited for a good 6-10 minutes after our leave time. You might not be so lucky. I had one friend that missed her bus by four minutes. You still late ma’am! Our bus leader told us the location once our bus took off. Some of my friends on other buses didn’t know until they arrived.
Year 1, we were at the Baltimore ZOO
Once you arrive the chaos will begin. Everyone will race to the section to get set up. Be sure to take your entrance pictures as soon as you see your vision. You will most likely get overwhelmed and forget to go back to take them. You also may run out of daylight. If you ordered table and chairs they will be waiting for you at the location at the end of your assigned row. But you still have to set them up yourself. If you ordered food and/or wine you will need to pick them up. Since there are two people to a table do some delegation. I suggest one person do the picking up and the other person do set up. The lines to pick up food and wine get long and dumb real quick. But also note, setting up the table could be a two-person job.
Once you’re all set up you won’t be able to eat until the traditional waving of the white napkin is called. I speak from experience, waving a paper napkin sucked balls so bring a cloth dinner napkin. While you eat there will be live music or a band playing. Baltimore had some soothing Parisian tunes in the background. Minus the berets and croissants, it kinda felt like Paris.
Beyond all the rules, have fun
When it comes time to hit the dance floor you will be alerted by the Dîner en Blanc voice. He was the person who told us when to do certain things all night. The sparkler tradition is the sign of when you can start dancing. Baltimore also had a marching band which was a fitting gesture for my hometown. After that, the DJ played a good mix of ratchet and pop music.
Words can’t really describe how magical the night is (despite the work involved) so here are two videos that let you live the moment if only for 5 minutes.
Now that you’re all versed on the hype of Dîner en Blanc, all you have to do is share this post with your friends! We wouldn’t want them to catch FOMO would we?
PIN THIS IMAGE!