A sea of people adorned in white from head to toe chat in a parking lot while anxiously awaiting the arrival of charter buses that will transport them to a top secret location–sounds like a scene from a movie, right? No, this is just standard protocol at a Le Diner en Blanc event, and let me tell you, it was one of the coolest experiences that I have ever been a part of. A tradition started 29 years ago in Paris, Diner en Blanc events take place worldwide in picturesque locations. April 16th, 2016 was the inaugural Le Diner en Blanc Las Vegas and it was a night that will never be forgotten. After attending the special event, I’m thrilled to share my experiences with you and hopefully shed light on planning and preparation if you plan to attend one in the future!
When I told my husband how excited I was to be chosen off of a waiting list to attend a monochromatic picnic at an unknown location, he had the reaction that many husbands would have. He simply stated, “So you’re telling me that you are excited to pay for an event where you bring your own food, your own decorations, and have to haul your own table and chairs?” This is when he politely declined my invitation and told me to invite a girlfriend, which was the best decision for all of us! He got to stay home with the kids, while the event planner in me got to plan table decor, create menus, and attend a surprise event with one of my best friends. An event like this was right up my alley, but don’t be deterred if you don’t have a degree in hospitality; you can make it as detailed or as simple as you wish. There were people like us with elaborate floral arrangements and homemade food and others that brought prepared meals from Whole Foods. Simple or elaborate, everyone at Diner en Blanc was having a phenomenal time eating, socializing, and dancing under the lights of Las Vegas.
Now that you want to attend a Diner en Blanc event of your own, let me share some lessons learned from our experience. This is a social society that takes pride in providing chic picnics worldwide, so much so, that we went above and beyond in fear of being blacklisted from future events. Truth be told, no one was walking around with a checklist to be sure that we were wearing the perfect shade of white, that our plates were not plastic, or that we had the proper courses on our menu, but it is respectful to abide by the rules and keep the tradition of the event because that is what makes it special.
Planning and Preparation
Preparation and purposeful packing were essential to the success of our night. Prior to attending, we were under the impression that EVERYTHING had to be white, but we now know that anything stored under your table does not have to be white. If you take care to ensure that your coolers and bags are smaller than the table dimensions, you should have no problem storing it all under the table. When packing for Diner en Blanc, we found it incredibly helpful to have a cooler on wheels. We managed to fit all of our food and plates in the cooler and the decor in a tote bag that fit over the handle. This made it manageable for one person to wheel the cooler and tote, and the other to carry our gorgeous, Layers of Lovely, floral arrangement. Be sure to bring paper towels, or better yet, a package of baby wipes to clean your dishes before packing up. These were extremely helpful because we left a lot of the mess behind. As for the white trash bag they tell you to bring, it was not necessary because there were trash cans throughout the event space. Do bring one if you attend as there are not always amenities like this on site. Plus, ours came in handy to hold our dirty dishes. In my mind, it was better to be over prepared!
When planning our table decor, we found it very helpful to mimic the table by masking off the dimensions with tape. After doing this, we decided to downsize our plates to salad and appetizer plates instead of a full dinner size. Here, in Las Vegas, we were fortunate that the sponsors donated tables and chairs for the evening, but if you are attending an event and bringing your own, I highly recommend the REI Camp Roll Table because it rolls up into a bag that can be flung over your shoulder. We used a simple white tablecloth and napkins, a small faux fur rug from Hobby Lobby on top, family silver, and cheap glasses in case anything broke during transportation. The highlight of the table was, of course, our floral arrangement. It stole the show and caught the attention of party goers and onlookers throughout the night. Huge shout out to Catherine at Layers of Lovely for the unbelievable arrangement. If you are hosting an event in Las Vegas, be sure to check out her incredible work. It was a simple, elegant, purposefully planned design that wowed!
Our menu consisted of fresh ingredients and easy recipes. With two little ones at home and company in town, I did not have time to create anything too out of the box.
Watermelon, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella Bites
Cantaloupe and Prosciutto Skewers
Bruchetta Sandwiches on Baguette
Ham and Cheese Canapes with Chive Knot
Cucumber, Avocado, and Feta Salad with Dill
Assorted Cheeses and Crackers
Salami and Grapes
Peridot Sweets donated our delicious desserts that consisted of:
White Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Unbelievable White Chocolate Cake Pops
What to Expect
To kick off the event, the host welcomed all guests to Le Diner en Blanc and led everyone in the traditional waving of the napkins. This signified the start of the event and the most important part, the start of dinner. After eating the meal and socializing with those around us, sparklers, or in our case LED wands, were passed out and lit to start the dancing. I figured that the dancing would be to slow, jazz music given the type of event this was, but to my surprise, the music was provided by an international DJ. Needless to say, we were not very good at dancing to electronic music, but we made do and had fun! If any club goers have any dance tips for this uncoordinated mama, please share! The night concluded at 10 pm, everyone broke down their tables, packed up decor, and headed to the chartered buses that took us home. What a night it was!! If you have any questions about Diner en Blanc, the event, or what to bring, please feel free to comment below. I will do my best to answer any questions.
So that was the night, folks! Thanks to my great friend, Kristen, for accompanying me and taking unreal photographs; it was a blast. I can’t wait to start planning for next year!
Photography by Kristen Joy Photograpy