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Diner en Blanc, officially called “Le Diner en Blanc” but also called “DEB” is an all-white, outdoor, fancy dinner party that has become a phenomenon across the globe. Guests arrive from different locations throughout a city to one secret location-usually a landmark in that particular city. I first heard about DEB years ago when I saw a Youtube video of Le Diner en Blanc in Paris. It looked absolutely magical! I found out that they had these dinners in the U.S. but unfortunately my city of Atlanta was not listed until 2014. I made every attempt to attend it this year and it was worth it! Diner en Blanc Atlanta 2015 took place on Peachtree Street in front of the iconic Fox Theater and had roughly 1700 attendees.
Being able to attend this event takes timing, strategy and a lot of coordination if you plan to go with a group. In this Diner en Blanc guide for first timers I will walk you through the process of how to purchase tickets, how to prepare for the event and most importantly how to have a blast! But first a little history…
The History of Diner en Blanc:
If you are going to go to this event you should know how it originated! In 1988 a Frenchmen named Froncois Pasquier invited a group of his friends to an outdoor dinner party in Paris. The requirements were simple. Wear formal white attire, be able to enjoy good food and wine and even better company. Guests were expected to exhibit elegance and proper etiquette. He did not reveal the location of the event until the last minute and this tradition remains today. 27 years later, Diner en Blanc in Paris hosts 15,000 people annually! It can be found in over 50 cities spanning 5 continents including Dubai and Jamaica! Funny note-In Kingston, Jamaica Diner en Blanc broke the internet since my awesome countrymen were very confused as to why so many people were in one place dressed in fancy white clothes. People actually travel from city to city and from country to country just to attend different Diner en Blanc events!
Purchasing White Dinner Tickets:
In order to attend Le Diner en Blanc (White Dinner) you must first purchase tickets. This is not a simple process and due to the confusion many people miss out on this amazing event. I will walk you through the steps.
a) The Phases: Tickets are sold in phases that open for purchasing at different times. In Phase 1 close friends of the organization, its leaders, previous attendees/members and volunteers are able to purchase tickets. Volunteers attend for free, act as table leaders and are given 3 invitations. If interested, sign up on the Le Diner en Blanc website to be a volunteer. In Phase 2 friends invited by those in Phase 1 may purchase tickets. In Phase 3 the remaining tickets are offered to those on the waiting list. Since there are usually thousands of people on the waiting list these tickets go very fast. In order to be on the waiting list you must sign up/register on the Le Diner en Blanc website for the city that you are interested in. Select your continent then country then city. Look for the area on the right to log in or create an account. The cost per person ranges from $30-45 which covers transportation plus $8 for membership. Tickets are purchased as a pair and everything is based on 2 people throughout the process.
b) Email Invitations: Once registered, you will receive an email invitation a few weeks before the event letting you know the date and time but not the location. If you would like to attend the event with friends be sure to forward them this email so they can also register for your city. Anywhere from 48 hours to 1 week before the event you will receive another email letting you know when your purchasing phase will open. This email will contain a link to their website and guide you through the steps to purchase tickets. Please take note of the date and time that your tickets go on sale! Set your alarm and alert all your friends who are registered! These tickets are on a first-come, first-serve basis and will sell out fast.
c) Table/Seating assignments: Follow this part very closely! There will be several meeting locations around your city to choose from. There will be one group leader for each location. However, there may be several bus/table leaders. Bus leader and table leader are used interchangeably so be aware of that. This is crucial while purchasing tickets. You first select a location in your city, you then select a group leader, and lastly you select a bus/table leader. Everyone must select the same bus/table leader in order to sit together at the event! Per current Le Diner en Blanc rules, they do not switch attendees to different buses prior to the event. However, you may be able to switch with people on other buses/tables on the day of the event.
Preparing for Le Diner en Blanc:
So you have purchased your tickets. Now what? A lot that’s what! Preparing for this event was not easy!
a) Le Diner en Blanc attire: You should dress in all white including your shoes. Get creative and add fascinators, hats and masks! Start shopping for your outfit during the summer since it is hard to find white clothes after Labor Day! Women-wear flats and bring heels to change into at the event since you may have to walk a bit to get to the event location. Pinterest is a great place to get ideas on attire and table decor.
b) Tables: The Diner En Blanc website will list requirements for table sizes and recommend locations to both rent and purchase tables and chairs. Compare prices on Amazon, Ikea, Target and Walmart. You will need to bring a table, tablecloth, cloth napkins, table décor, utensils, plates and glasses. Everything should be white. However, your table can be any color since it will be covered by a tablecloth. You will also need bottled water, lighters for the sparklers during the event and garbage bags to take all your trash with you. Pack light and use a pulley to transport your items. Anything that you use to transport your items must be able to fit underneath your table. You will find most of what you need for table décor and linens in Bed Bath & Beyond and even a dollar store. Do a trial run of setting up your table and décor prior to the event to make sure everything fits and is pretty!
c) Food & Drink: Typically there is a 3 course meal of appetizer, entrée and dessert at Le Diner en Blanc. You may bring your own food or purchase catered meals on the Le Diner en Blanc online store. You will have access to this while purchasing tickets and after your account is set up. Per Le Diner en Blanc rules, you cannot bring your own alcohol to the event. You must purchase alcohol on their online store. They have bottles of champagne and wine available for purchase. I went with the Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial Champagne and it was yummy! I even received two white goblets to go with it!
Le Diner en Blanc Event Day:
a) Be sure to be on time to your location! The buses will leave you and remember-you will not know the secret location of the event. Find and check in with your bus/table leader.
b) Once you get to the Le Diner en Blanc event location you will quickly set up your table, chairs and décor. Then, get ready to eat, drink and party! It is truly a sight to behold once everyone has arrived and set up! The words that come to mind are elegant, sophisticated and just plain fabulous. While dining we listened to live music and then the DJ came on. People were busting moves on the dance floor AND dancing in the aisles.
c) Some of the traditional moments that take place during the event are the napkin wave, lighting of sparklers and taking photos at the Le Diner en Blanc photo booth. You can get a feel for how spectacular this event is by watching the video I mentioned below.
Whew – you made it through my Le Diner en Blanc guide for first-timers! I hope you find it very helpful! Have you been to Le Diner en Blanc? If so where? Share your thoughts with us below! Visit the F.A.Q page of Le Diner en Blanc for further information.
Be sure to pin this Le Diner en Blanc Guide!
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Now see? I should have had YOU as my group leader at DEBNYC2015! Your blog post is extremely comprehensive, so I’m sure you were able to keep everything together. But I also know it’s hard to manage that many people for such a large event, so I should cut my group leader a little slack for looking like a deer in headlights. LOL
Great photos & great summary! Wouldn’t is be AWESOME to do Paris?!?!? #IJS =)
YES!! I would travel back to Paris just for Diner en Blanc! I was born in NYC and grew up in Northern NJ so would love to do NYC as well. lol about your group leader! It is a lot of work!
I will make it to Dinner en Blanc next year! This is my claim right now. I’ve heard of all the fabulousness and I need to take part. Now will it be NYC or ATL!
You definitely should MJ! We had a great time!
Your guide was extremely helpfu I was just curious how one is to travel on a bus with tables, chairs and table decor ? How long does one have to set up? How do we transport the food. Could we have a friend drop off tables, food etc to our location so we don’t have to haul it ourselves.
You probably won’t know the location until you get to the location. Pack up your table, chairs etc on a dolly and your food in a cooler or purchase food from DEB.
I would like to attend the DEB2016. While I live in the SF Bay Area and the DEBSF2016 might be the easiest city to participate in my first year, is there a list of cities that will host DEB2016? If yes please point me to the website where you register. I read through your fabulous ‘First Timer Blog” and I don’t see the URL for the initial registration ( I must have missed it).
Thank you so much!
Hi Aileen! Thank you for reading! If you click on the very first link “Le Diner en Blanc” or “Diner en Blanc” under purchasing tickets it will take you to the main website. From there you must click on “Americas” then “United States” and it will have a list of US cities that are currently participating. Once you are on that page look at the right hand side of the page towards the top for a log In area. Under the log in area it has prompt to sign up/register if you are not currently a member. I hope this helps!
I just registered for the 2016 event in Chicago. This guide is VERY helpful! It explained so much! Thank you!
Your welcome!! Have fun!
I received my registration code, but have a previous engagement that ends at 5:30pm. What time does the event start or rather what time do you have to meet at the pickup location?
HI Ken, every city is different. Once you purchase your tickets they will email you the times. The times are usually around 4-5 pm but if you are going with friends they may be able to notify you of the location and you can meet them there.
What an excellent guide for first timers! Thank you so much for providing so many details! While I understand the “secretive” vibe that is characteristic of the event, there are a lot of moving parts, coordination and preparation involved. So it is extremely helpful to have this article to use as a reference prior to a first timer’s event. I live in South Florida and I’m crossing my fingers (and toes) that I will be able to attend the inaugural DEB in Orlando this October!!! Thank you again for this great piece!
Hi Monique! I am so glad you found the guide helpful! I hope you are able to attend the event in Orlando and have a blast!
Hopefully I will get on Le Dîner en Blanc – Kingston this year, this is something I’ve been wanting to do since I read about it in 2015!!!?
Hi Stacie, I am just seeing this comment. Did you get to go in Kingston? My family is from there so I would love to hear about it!
Did DEB in Houston 2016. Gearing up again for 2017. Would love to have come upon your blog last year. We over packed, had too much food. But had lots of fun.
Well that is great that you had fun!
Thanks so much for sharing this information for first time! I will be attending Diner en Blanc in Orlando on Nov 10, 2017 & I am so Excited! Just ordered my table & chairs off Amazon. Now I’m looking for a basket to spray paint white. Thanks again!
I am glad you found it helpful!! Have a great time!
The guide is awesome… On average what’s the total amount to plan to pay for bus, table and chair rental, and food for two just ball park range to prepare for.
Every since I just happen to be in the correct location while shopping. I was mesmerized! Someone i believe was in charged gave me website to sign up and I been on the waiting list since. I am hoping this year I am one of the chosen few. We been picking stuff up. Your to do list is very helpful, thank you very muc
Your welcome! I hope you get to go!
What time does it generally start? I’m going to take the day off so I can be ready, but I was just curious on timing?
Each city has it on different days and times. Have fun!