How Melania Trump’s State Dinner Role Puts Her Directly In The Spotlight
Tuesday could be one of the highlights of the Trump administration so far for First Lady Melania Trump. She has been hard at work planning the party of the year. She and the president will be hosting French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, in what will be the first-ever state dinner for the current FLOTUS. Given how involved she has been in every step of the process, the upcoming state dinner means Melania Trump may have a chance to shine.
Unlike other years when prior administrations have hired outside event planners to pull off an event of this magnitude, this year's was organized by Melania Trump herself, together with the help of her staff. Stephanie Grisham, FLOTUS's director of communications, told Town & Country that her boss wasn't skipping any step of the process.
"Mrs. Trump has been involved in every detail of the planning," Grisham told the magazine. "Over the past few months she has been very focused on guest experience, tradition, and our country’s rich history with France."
Given the time and effort that the first lady has put into the event — and her aversion to other aspects of the job — this will really position her for a standout moment of her time in the White House. "The President has been busy with his schedule. The first lady took all preparations for the state dinner under her own wing," Grisham told CNN.
Most administrations would have a state dinner during the first year in office — Obama hosted India's prime minister in November 2009 — but the Trumps didn't have one in 2017. Instead, they hosted leaders at Mar-a-Lago and took a number of foreign trips.
State dinners are a specific type of diplomatic meal that include a showy arrival ceremony outside on the South Lawn, complete with military spectacles and troops. The leaders then have meetings, hold a joint news conference, and then have dinner and mingle in the evening.
Trump on the campaign trail promised that he wouldn't have any state dinners until the trade deficit evened out. Instead, it has grown, the Financial Times reported. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in December there was no "singular reason" for the delay in hosting one last year, according to the Associated Press.
Trump has been hosted overseas, most notably in China, where there was an elaborate state dinner. In France, Trump was hosted on Bastille Day, the French national holiday. That's the trip that gave him the idea for the military parade.
According to the Washington Post, Melania Trump's attention to detail will play out in every detail of the dinner. "She has amazing taste, which makes things very, very easy,” social secretary Rickie Niceta told the Post.
One of the decisions that Niceta and the first lady took was to keep the guest list more limited. Only 130 to 150 people will be present, which allows the party to be thrown in the State Room, one of the smaller spaces at the White House. It also may have been possible to keep the guest list so short because no Democrats or members of the media were invited, as Politico reported.
Niceta told The Post that Melania Trump thinks “it should never be too crowded." Niceta continued, “You should be able to move; you should be able to see the White House and feel special that you’re here.”
That's just one detail that will be show Melania Trump's style, but it's certainly one of many. Everything from the flower arrangements to the menu will have her personal touch, her staff said.
Just what she picks remains a surprise, but it's clear she put in a lot of effort for this big moment of hers.