It's time for the Trump administration to host its first-ever state dinner. On Tuesday, April 24, President Donald and first lady Melania Trump will open the White House doors and welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and French First Lady Brigitte Macron. Given the different nature of President Barack Obama's White House compared to Trump's, how will Trump's first state dinner look in comparison to Obama's?
The French state dinner is really Melania's show. As the first lady, she has taken charge of planning and overseeing everything from table settings to entertainment. Melania first made the announcement about the French state dinner in an April 23 tweet. She wrote that she and President Trump are looking forward to welcoming the Macrons and thanked everyone who helped out with planning. The first lady also gave a little behind-the-scenes peek into the preparations for the dinner in the form of a video featuring Melania looking very busy planning out decorations and china, going over seating arrangements, talking to the chefs, and looking over masterfully plated dishes. Melania wrote,
After months of preparations,
@POTUS and I are looking forward to hosting our first State Dinner with France! Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this visit a success.
Although people are expecting Trump's state dinner to look very different than Obama's, there is one thing that will bridge the gap: the veg. The menu will comprise a rack of spring lamb and jambalaya made with celery, peppers, onions, and herbs from the South Lawn garden planted by Michelle Obama back when her husband was still in office, according toTime. I guess taking herbs from the Obama era is a small showcase of some nice bipartisanship, even if it's only vegetable-deep. According to a statement from The Office of the First Lady, the Trumps will serve food that showcases "the best of America's cuisines and traditions," with some French influence thrown in, as well.
What other aspects of Trump's state dinner will look familiar? Melania has chosen to use the Clinton China from President Bill Clinton's administration, as well as china from the administration of George H.W. Bush, according to The Daily Mail.
But any similarities pretty much stop there. Right off the bat, the Trumps' first state dinner comes much later than the Obamas' first state dinner, which was held to honor Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009, within the first year of President Obama's tenure in the Oval Office.
Aside from Trump being late out of the gate, his affair is set to be a little more intimate than Obama's. The Trump administration has chosen the Washington National Opera to provide the night's entertainment, which is nice and local, but very different from the Obamas' first state dinner. They chose to have singing powerhouse Jennifer Hudson serenade the crowd.
But Hudson won't be the only celebrity missing from the Trump state dinner. According to The Daily Mail, the A-listers who usually are in attendance at state dinners will not be there to honor the Macrons. Trump is scaling down his first state dinner in comparison to Obama's and limiting the guest list to 150 people. The Obamas had more than 300 guests at their dinner, according to ABC. So who else didn't make the cut? All the Democratic members of Congress as well as members of the media, according to Politico. According to The New York Times, the Obamas invited several prominent Republican figures to their first state dinner, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner, both of whom declined but sent their regrets.
To accommodate the large guest list, the Obamas set up tents on the lawn and ran with a garden theme. Here are a few photos of the Obamas' first state dinner, which was a lush affair:
It's like a forest wonderland.
In comparison, the Trumps' dinner hasn't happened yet, but Melania tweeted some photos of the preparations, which look a bit more restrained.
Although maybe I wouldn't expect Trump to "scale down" anything, given his affection for, well... the opposite (have you seen inside the man's New York City penthouse?), I am not at all surprised at his trimmed down guest list. Trump's waged a "fake news" battle against the media since the 2016 campaign trail, so the fact that he has chosen to cut reporters out of his first state dinner... well, I saw that coming. All in all, the Trumps' first state dinner looks like it's going to feel very different than the Obamas' first one, and not even a shared garden will be able to bridge that gap.