Last night, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama held their first state dinner at the White House. According to Politico, the "first couple applied their formal-but-comfortable style to a social event with international implications," with the President toasting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a giant tent on the White House lawn, "Mr. Prime Minister, today we worked to fulfill our duty — bring our countries closer together than ever before. Tonight, under the stars, we celebrate the spirit that will sustain our partnership — the bonds of friendship between our people."
The NY Times reports the Obamas "made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches," such as hiring a new florist who "bedecked the tented outdoor dining room with locally grown, sustainably harvested magnolia branches and ivy" and selecting "a guest chef, Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in New York, an American citizen who was born in Ethiopia, reared in Sweden and cooks up melting pots of flavors and cuisines." The menu was meatless (with the exception of a curry prawn dish), a nod to the Prime Minister, who is a vegetarian.
The china was a mix of china services from George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Dwight Eisenhower, and the guests spanned Hollywood (Steven Spielberg, David Geffen) to New York (Mayor Bloomberg). And the Washington Post found the procession of guests—around 400, hence the tent since the White House's dining room only holds 130—"the sweet but awkward quality of teens dressing up for prom: posing for pictures, rushing along (Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kalpen Modi), afraid of making any mistakes of etiquette."
Of course, the biggest news may have been Michelle Obama's glittering strapless dress by New York-based designer Naeem Khan, who told People, "I feel so happy to be a part of this historical event between the two countries where my heart lies. I am relieved to have a job well done and am so honored to have been chosen. This is a Thanksgiving in its truest form for me and one that I will never forget — an American dream coming true."