Updated: Nov 13, 2019
The thought of carrying a table, chairs, decorations, dishes, and food while wearing all white doesn’t sound too appealing does it? But trust me, it’s worth it. I recently had the pleasure of joining over 4,000 other guests in Centennial Olympic Park for Dîner en Blanc Atlanta. This was my second year attending, and it was more magical than the year before!
Dîner en Blanc is an “exclusive” worldwide event that takes place in over 85 cities across six continents in which guests gather in a public space, set up elegant dining areas, and enjoy dinner and drinks while wearing all white. The concept began in 1988 in Paris when Frenchman François Pasquier invited friends to an elegant outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne. Guests were asked to wear all white, so they could easily find each other. The rest is history, and now here we are…
This year, Dîner en Blanc Atlanta partnered with MARTA for transportation and provided guests with commemorative Dîner en Blanc MARTA cards. All guests are assigned a table leader and a departure point, so you know where to meet and head to the festivities. My table leader this year was fantastic! She started a GroupMe chat after we purchased tickets in August, so she could answer questions and coordinate logistics in addition to getting to know everyone in the group. On the day of the event, we met our table leader (and the rest of the guests in the group) at the departure point and hopped on the MARTA train. If you were wondering - YES, we had to carry everything on the train (and walk a mile) to get to Centennial Olympic Park. In typical Dîner en Blanc fashion, we didn’t know the location until we were en route to it.
A MARTA train ride and a mile walk later we arrived at Centennial Olympic Park in the heart of downtown Atlanta! Seeing everyone dressed so elegantly in white with their fabulous table presentations made the two-hour struggle leading up to it worth it. Upon arrival, our group was directed to our assigned area where we set up our tables, which have to be bumped together in a straight line to give the illusion that it's one long table. My table set up was fairly quick. Less is more for a couple of reasons: 1) you have to carry everything that you bring, and 2) you only have a limited amount of time to get set up. I kept it simple this year by decorating my table with white flowers, candles, glass and gold accessories, and a LED sign. I brought a charcuterie board, carryout from Olive Garden, dessert, and of course plenty of libations to last through the evening. Cute, quick, and easy!
Once all the guests arrived, and the tables are staged, you must wait until the traditional waving of the white napkin, which signals that it’s time for dinner. The napkin wave is one of my favorite parts of Dîner en Blanc, not only because I’m starving after all of the manual labor I put in leading up to the event, but because it’s a beautiful sea of white in the air. It’s really a sight to see, especially with over 4,000 white napkins being waved at one time. Orchestra Noir, an African-American orchestra, played all of the R&B classics during dinner. Other entertainment included aerial dancers, people on stilts, photo booths, and a DJ. After dinnertime, the lighting of the sparklers takes place. This is my other favorite part of Dîner En Blanc because it's like mini fireworks signaling that it's time to party and hit the dance floor!
There was a lot going on and a lot to see at Dîner en Blanc, especially with over 4,000 guests. I enjoyed walking around looking at other guests’ outfits and tables. People are really dedicated to making sure their table is fabulous. I saw a table with a spinning sequin mannequin as a centerpiece. Other tables' decor included a live fish swimming in 2-ft tall vase, canopies, light up Eiffel Towers, and more. People really go all out!
Overall, Dîner En Blanc is beautiful, organized chaos. Attending this event takes timing, strategy and a lot of coordination if you plan to go. It may seem like a hassle, but you'll have the time of your life once you're there! I had a fabulous time, and I definitely plan to make this an annual tradition with my friends!
So why Dîner en Blanc is such a big deal?
Exclusivity! Not everyone can attend. You have to be "invited," and securing tickets is like the Hunger Games since they are released in phases.
·Phase 1 is for Members who attended the previous year, friends of the organization, and leaders.
Phase 2 is for friends that are "sponsored" by Phase 1 members.
Phase 3 is for people who signed up on the general Dîner en Blanc waiting list.
The invitations are sent depending on which phase you're in. Each guest is required to purchase two tickets and a membership. This year’s total came to around $94. That may sound like a lot for an event where you have to literally bring everything, but you’re basically paying for the experience. The good news is that once you purchase a membership and attend, you'll automatically be in Phase 1 the next year, which basically guarantees your attendance. Be sure to find your city on the Dîner en Blanc website, so you can sign up for the waiting list if you want to attend!
Tips for Attending Dîner en Blanc
Pack light. Remember, you have to carry everything you bring. Less is more.
Bring baby wipes and paper towels. You'll be wearing all white, moving around, etc. Baby wipes and paper towels help get rid of stains and make clean up easy.
Bring items that you don’t mind breaking or throwing away. You'll be transporting plates, glasses, utensils, etc. in addition to many other items, so items may break or you may not feel like carrying them back. I purchased most of my items from Ikea, so I wouldn't have to use my nice dishes from home.
Dress to impress. You really can't go wrong with all white.
Have a pair of comfortable shoes. You will be walking, so it's best to wear flats during the transport and setup processes, and change into your heels once you arrive.
Have a portable charger. It's pretty much an all-day affair, so your phone may die especially if you're taking photos on it. A portable charger is a must.
Have fun! Despite the blood, sweat, and tears, it's a fun event, so don't forget to let loose, take it all in, and enjoy it!
Here's some photos from my Dîner En Blanc experience!