A few weeks ago, I attended Le Diner en Blanc, which is what would happen if a flash mob, a wedding, and a fancy picnic somehow combined to create what turned into a piece of public art. With dinner.
I was asked by the organizers to come and find out how frugal the event could be.
I’ll get this out of the way right now: this event is not frugal. You have to come wearing white everything, you have to bring your own chairs, tables, linens, napkins, centerpieces, oh, and food. The event costs $37 plus $8 membership. So, no, this is not frugal.
But if it’s something you really want to do, you can find ways to save money. Here’s what we did:
Step 1: Head to Goodwill
I went to Goodwill (the one on SE 6th is giant and awesome!) the day of the event to procure some clothes. I knew if I didn’t get clothes, I’d end up wearing my wedding dress, which I realized later wouldn’t have been weird because it wasn’t nearly as fancy as some of the white dresses that were there!
I found everything I needed for $42:
I had to buy Brent some shoelaces from Walgreens because the ones I found were inexplicably missing shoelaces (and I had absolutely no idea where I could buy a pair of shoelaces having not made a purchase of laces without shoes since I was a kid and I bought those curly ones to put on my Keds, so I’m glad Walgreens pulled through).
Step 2: Make a Reasonable Dinner
I went to New Seasons to pick up things for a picnic:
I bought a giant loaf of bread to make the biggest sandwich I’ve ever made (the invite said to bring enough to share, and, sure enough, other people ate the sandwich!), some turkey, almonds, little cheeses, and cookies. I think I spent almost as much on our dinner as I did on our clothes (which, for me, is par for the course). Brent made a kale caesar salad out of ingredients we already had. Then we were off!
Step 3: Do Not Buy Booze
This event had free Perrier (which was awesome, what a fantastic partnership that was!) but then… expensive wine. We could have gotten Dom Perignon (for $150!!!) or Moet ($50), but holy smokes, Champagne is one of my favorite things in the world, and it is not frugal. Plus I was pretty sure if we brought flutes we would break flutes. So, we skipped the Champagne.
Then, we went and had a picnic in Pioneer Square. The organizers had us meet at a bar near Pioneer Square because Pioneer Square was an undisclosed location. But that piece of it didn’t really make any sense to me, who didn’t know what this event was. I looked it up, and in the past, they’ve had buses take people to different parts of downtown. But I don’t think they achieved the “secret” element they were going for by having us meet somewhere that wasn’t Pioneer Square.
So, we spent about $80 total (a little more, if you count parking), all told. Which is about the same price as a high-end dinner in a restaurant. So, it’s a special occasion thing to do.
Now, I’m pretty sure we spent a lot less than some people who showed up, and in that respect, it was a fantastic place to watch people.
Here are a few more photos:
Walking to Pioneer Square:
The ceremonial waving of the napkin:
Our candles in action:
Overall, the event was silly fun. I enjoyed having a picnic with a bunch of strangers wearing different versions of the same outfit as me. It had the vibe of “adult prom” which meant I saw people way more decked out on a Thursday night than is normal for Portland (and my weeknight activities!). Would I do it again? Sure, maybe. I heard whispers that they’re aiming for more and more fun and adventurous places to hold these in the future.