After two dreadful years of being waitlisted, I finally attended this year’s Dîner en Blanc!
Okay, maybe not as dreadful as it sounds since I completely forgot I even signed up for the waitlist, oops.
If you haven’t heard of this chic Parisian dinner frenzy, it is basically an upscale, white-themed picnic where guests are invited exclusively by word of mouth (or you can sign up to be on the waitlist like I did). The idea originated from Frenchman François Pasquier when he organized a picnic with his friends and suggested everyone to dress in white for the ease of finding one another. This phenomenon soon spread across the world and became a well-kept not so secret, secret tradition.
This year being Vancouver’s 5th year hosting Dîner en Blanc, the event took place on Thursday, August 18th at Concorde Pacific Place with over 6,000 attendees.
How to Attend
Registration for the event opens in three phases:
- Phase 1: Close friends of the organization and leaders and members of the previous year
- Phase 2: Friends recommended during the Phase 1 registration process
- Phase 3: Guests who have signed up for the waitlist
Like I said, you get invited by word of mouth. Either you know someone who is organizing the dinner or you know someone who has been invited in previous years and can bring you along as a guest or “recommend” aka sponsor you to join the event where you can then bring another guest of your choice. Now the number of participants have grown significantly over the years hence why there are extremely limited spots in the Phase 3 registration. If you are unable to register in Phases 1 or 2, you may just have to wait upwards 1-2 years.
How It Works
Once you have secured a registration spot, you then get to pick which table leader’s group you’d like to join based on transportation types/meet up points. Again, this is a very exclusive event and part of the fun is to not know the actual location of the dinner until you meet up with your table leader and they lead you to the designated venue.
I work in Downtown so I chose the closest location to me that was still available, which was the Pedestrian option at Waterfront Station. If you and your pals would all like to sit together, make sure to sign up for the same table leader!
After you have selected a table leader, you can then proceed with food and drink options. If you’re bringing your own food, simply skip this step but do remember that guests aren’t allowed to their own wine so order your wine on the DEB site beforehand.
Prior the event, make sure to print out your invoice as proof of purchase and bring it along to show your table leader.
To be honest, when I first saw that we had to pay $74 for two just for attending the event, I thought it was ridiculous. We are essentially bringing our own table and chairs, perhaps bringing our own food as well so getting charged an entrance fee just seemed bizarre. But after having attended the dinner, I absolutely loved it so no complaints there.
On the actual day, arrive to your designated meeting spot at the said time and check in with your leader to get your DEB wristband and food/drink tickets if you have ordered any as well as sparklers and off you go!
Even though we were the pedestrian group, we ended up taking the skytrain and it was definitely very chaotic. Each table leader will carry balloons in different colors and shapes, which makes it easier to find and follow them but in case you do get separated, make sure you know your seating arrangements beforehand.
Once you have arrived at the venue, feel free to set up your table and chairs and proceed to pick up your food and wine (if you have ordered any).
Table decor on point thanks to Pinterest inspiration.
The Napkin Wave
By the time we finally got everything together, we were
starving famished. After you set up your space and before starting your dinner, you are to wait for the cue for the “Napkin Wave” which is when all guests twirl their white napkins in the air as a signal for the official commencement of DEB. We just couldn’t wait so we actually started our appetizers before then. We weren’t the only ones either but if you do wish to stick to the event’s actual rundown, snack a bit before dinner because you will be hungry after lugging table and chairs around.
The Sparkler Moment
Lighting up the sparklers was no doubt the highlight of the evening. Words cannot describe how magical this moment was. As mentioned above, you get sparklers from your table leader upon arrival so they are provided, but you can of course bring extras as well.
Having to bring your own table and chairs – especially ones that have to adhere to specific size guidelines as per instructed by DEB – may sound like a big hassle. A lot of my friends found that to be a big turn off factor for attending, and trust me, it isn’t easy to carry all that shit and walk around in heels and what not. I definitely recommend having a couple male guests on the team to do all the heavy lifting. In fact, the more the merrier. Attending in a big group of friends is actually, in my opinion, better because everyone shares the responsibility, which makes the workload a lot less stressful on each individual. It is also perfectly fine to wear sneakers and change into heels when you arrive at the final destination. DEB has quite a few rules but when you’re really at the event, there are so many people I mean who’s paying attention? Sure they say dress strictly white, no creams, but hell I saw creams, I saw nudes, just follow the general guidelines and don’t stress too much about the details. It truly is an extraordinary experience and my friend and I both enjoyed an amazing time. Oh and yes, the food was good! We couldn’t bother to pack our own appetizers and entrées hence we went with the meal options DEB had provided. The portions were a little small but I was pleasantly surprised. Needless to say, I would for sure be back again next year!
Please note that not all photos were taken by me, as they are from the official 2016 Dîner en Blanc Vancouver Facebook page. See you in the next post!