The Charmed Diner En Blanc Experience (And how to have your own enchanting all-white party)

There’s a lot of mystery and excitement about Dîner En Blanc (DEB).  And, dare I say an air of love (especially when you hear the French music serenading you as you make your way to the secret location)? Dressing in your finest whites to celebrate life, friendship, and good eats are the makings of a charmed life.

If you’re like, “Tia, what the heck is a Diner En Blanc?” Let me explain…

Quick backstory

Nearly 30 years ago in Paris…

Launched with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier nearly 30 years ago, Le Dîner en Blanc® de Paris now assembles over 10,000 guest every year, with a record 15,000 people attending the 25th anniversary in 2013. The French capital’s most prestigious sites have played host the event over the years: The Pont des Arts, the Eiffel Tower, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles, the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the Esplanade des Invalides, the periphery of the Place de l’Étoile, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Le Louvre Pyramid, Trocadéro Esplanade, and the Palais Royal Garden! The Paris police continue to tolerate this ‘wild’ gathering, if not perhaps even wishing they could join in!

Background per philadelphia.dinerenblanc.com/about

Fortunately for me, Natanya DiBona and Kayli Moran brought DEB to Philly 6 years ago. Read about Natanya as she discusses DEB here.

Some of the main reasons for the mystery and excitement surrounding the DEB include:

  • Thousands of people (last year there were 5,000 people) meeting up at a secret location in Philly to dine.
  • Minus a select few, NO ONE knows the secret location ahead of time. We meet at a designated meet up spot (anticipation builds).
  • People have an “excuse” to get their outfits made (I totally need to get hip to this).
  • The catering is phenomenal. However, you can bring your own food.
  • The entertainment is on point.
  • There is some exclusivity as there is a lottery pick process of who goes to DEB.
  • You can form new relationships, like do each year I attend.
  • You can unplug for a few hours and just be yourself under the night’s sky while you dance, drink, eat, and be merry.
  • DEB is not hosted at the same place twice.

Prosciutto, cheese, and white wine, some of my faves!

 

Last year was my first time attending DEB. Under the full moon, 5,000 people gathered at the art museum and celebrated Philly’s 5th DEB. I was a guest of a table leader. One of the functions of the table leaders is to guide a group of people from the meet up spot to the secret location.

Droves of people came from various meet up locations. The group I was in met at Logan Square and we walked up to the Art Museum.  And, what a sight that was to see a sea of white! Some people began doing a two-step dance while bands played music, ushering us along as we got closer to the no longer secret location.

 

It was all positivity the entire night.

People complimented each other.

Photobombs were welcomed.

It rained but we still danced!

Someone got engaged!

There isn’t anything I would imagine doing differently.

 

Fast forward to this years DEB.

This year, I was a Table Leader. Table Leaders lead a group of 49 people (I make the 50th person. There are 25 tables and two people to a table) from the meet up point, which was The Sugar House Casino for my group, to the secret location. The secret location this year was at the historic Franklin Square park. With 5,300 people, Philly’s Dîner en Blanc is now the largest in the country. The theme this year was historic Philadelphia and for this DEB to be interactive. There was mini golf and and a merry-go-round. Some people where playing double-dutch!

Me with my group!

 

Behind the scenes action

Now I’m the table leader with a guest, my best friend Caroline.  As of 3 August (DEB was 17 Aug), I still haven’t found an all-white outfit. Now, the worst case scenario would be that I wear last year’s outfit, but who wants to do that?! Lol Side note: Time ALWAYS flies with me. I would swear I have two weeks to do something or thought something happened a month ago when that’s not the case at all. So, I was on a massive hunt for an all-white outfit. Finally, (as in 11 Aug) I found my entire outfit from Nordstrom, my headpiece from Claire’s, and my shoes from Macy’s.

I ordered the wrong table size. When I clicked on the recommended table icon on a lady’s blog post, it stated the correct 32”; however, when I clicked the icon (And failed to realize) it took me to the 18” table page. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package. I searched high and low for a table. Luckily a fellow Table Leader had a spare table for me to borrow.

My bestie friend’s car broke down on the New Jersey extension. I was so worried for her safety. She was literally stuck on the highway. Her car was eventually towed. Her fiancé, who just returned to New Jersey from a business trip in Canada drove to pick her up from towing place to Philly. He was the real MVP.

We made it!

The universe was on my side. My best friend made it in the nick of time (Literally, her fiancé dropped her off at the bus of the meet up spot). The table was assembled and we party hardy at Franklin Square.

Me with the bestie

Made new friends and got photobombed

 

Just when you think the night was over, there’s the after party, which took place at the Sofitel hotel in downtown Philly. So, Caroline and I dropped our stuff at home and headed towards the afterparty!

 


 

 

Some food for thought regarding outfits for parties:

  • All-white parties are popular. Just like every woman should have a go-to all-black dress, get yourself a go-to all-white outfit.
  • Get a few dresses made. Seriously. Reduce the headache.
  • Be willing to shop beyond your go-to stores. You’ll be surprised where you’ll find a cute outfit.
  • You don’t have to shop for an expensive outfit for it to look glamorous. YOU make the outfit. Don’t let people overprice an item because they know it’s DEB season.

 

How to have your own enchanting all-white party

You can totally have your version of DEB at your home or venue. A lot of work goes into making DEB an event to remember. So, here’s how you can make your enchanting all-white party an event to remember:

  • Send formal invites to your positive, fun loving friends. So, go old school. Get their addresses and make the invitations unique.
  • Set a limit of the people who you will invite. You don’t have to invite everyone. You may want to cap it off at 20 people.
  • Set a dress code. Make it all-white elegant. So, no cut up/distressed white jeans.
  • Set a theme. Masquerade, fairytale, Alice in Wonderland, etc.
  • Get catering or have everyone bring something. You really just need several finger foods and some desert.
  • Have themed drinks.
  • Set up a Photo Booth and have some props. Don’t forget to have a bright light!
  • Have some entertainment. Hire a juggler or magician.
  • Create a playlist that will last for three hours.
  • Decorate your house, go to Ross or Marshall’s for odds and ends.
  • If you’re having it at a venue, ask what decorations you can and cannot have.
  • Have tide wipes on hand!

 

So, there you have it! You have permission to indulge in living a charmed life, even if it’s for a few hours. Unplugged and celebrate life with people who you like and who like you.  Let me know in the comments below how you will be hosting your next enchanting exclusive party!

11 thoughts on “The Charmed Diner En Blanc Experience (And how to have your own enchanting all-white party)

  1. Aleah

    Nice to learn something new. I’ve always like all white parties. So classy and elegant. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Allie

    Omg this looks amazing!! Even though you had some issues with ordering and your friend’s car breaking down, etc, it sounds like it was a really fun and successful event! I adore themed parties so this is something I’d be really interested in. Loved reading about your experience!

    1. Tia Johnson

      I love themed parties too! It’s a great creative outlet. You should def sign up for the DEB newsletter in your city or nearby city so you’ll receive the news about next year’s DEB.

  3. courtney

    Wow! I was just talking to a friend about this. Diner En Blanc is in Atlanta this year and we are on the waitlist to attend!

  4. Rebecca

    This sounds so interesting – I was already curious when I read the first sentences. Too bad we don’t have something like this in Germany 🙁

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