This past Thursday night, just under 1,000 Charlestonians put on their snazziest white outfits, packed up their picnic baskets, and gathered at Brittlebank Park for a picnic unlike any you've ever been to before.
The way Dîner en Blanc works is that you sign up in groups of 2 and you choose a meeting place (the actual location of the dinner is secret and you won't know it until you are led there the night of the event!) and a group leader (this is the group you'll sit with during dinner). When you register for the event, you order your alcohol through the organization and they have it waiting for you at the event.
Every couple needs to bring a square table, 2 white folding chairs, white table cloths, utensils, plates, any non-alcoholic drinks desired, and dinner. You can also choose to bring your own table settings like candles, wine buckets, cutting boards, etc. Some tables had white christmas lights, a giant disco ball, intricate flower arrangements...the sky (and your ability to carry whatever you bring) is the limit!
Rather than bring our own dinner, we opted to pick up a pre-made dinner prepared by The Daily, which consisted of fresh baguette, labneh with za’tar, hummus and tahini, fall pickles, citrus-marinated olives, slow roasted autumn squash salad with Anson Mills farro verde and herbs, tahini & honey dressed brussels sprouts, Ras el Hanout sweet potatoes with almonds & preserved lemons, and fresh gianduja and dried stone fruits for dessert.
To mark the start of dinner, everyone stands up, cheers, and waves their napkins in the air. During dinner, we were serenaded by a fantastic quartet who sang samplings from Michael Buble. To mark the end of dinner, everyone was given sparklers, which we lit all at the same time as the quartet packed up and DJ Natty Heavy took over for the rest of the night.
And then the party started.
The only downside to the event was that you had to pre-purchase all of your alcohol ahead of time. Dumb me thought that pre-purchasing just 1 bottle of white wine would be enough (wrong), and once it was gone, that was it. I've never felt more like an alcoholic than when I was schmoozing with my neighbors hoping they'd share some of their champagne (They did! Thanks neighbors!).
Hopefully they can get their liquor license worked out with the city for next year's event. As you are asked to provide all of your own food, equipment, and alcohol, it is truly the experience you are paying for. Maybe next year they could at least provide a bottle of cheap champagne on each table to start off with a synchronized cork pop and everyone toasting.
All in all, I had a great time and I highly recommend you check it out next year!
Photos courtesy of Sydney Gallimore and Byrdhouse Public Relations