Obamas' First State Dinner to Honor India's Prime Minister

Among those lucky 320 invited to the Obamas' first formal fete are notable Indians from the United States and abroad, as well as the Indian delegation, members of Congress, many top-level administration staffers and a few of the Obamas' Chicago friends.

VIDEO: Obamas First State Dinner at the White House

Actor-turned-White House staffer and Indian-American Kal Penn is also expected to attend.

The complete guest list, under lock and key until this afternoon, will be scrutinized later today for celebrity figures and big donors perhaps being repaid for campaign support by receiving the golden ticket.

An Inclusive White House

While many on the guest list no doubt will be Washington, D.C., elite the White House is also attempting to open up elements of the dinner to those who might otherwise not be able to soak in such White House tradition.

Seventeen high school girls got a special sneak preview of the White House state dinner arrangements this afternoon, shown by hostess first lady Michelle Obama.

ABC News video preview of the first Obama White House state dinner.

As part of the White House Leadership and Mentoring Program, the first lady invited some of her mentees to the State Dining Room to sit at two tables outfitted for tonight's White House dinner on the South lawn.

Dressed casually, the girls filtered in and took their places at the tables, which were draped in apple green linen, set with White House china and adorned with the intricate purple flower settings.

"We've got a big day going on," Michelle Obama said. "This is our first official state visit of the Obama administration. It's very exciting for us."

Historic Figures Gather at State Dinners

The first lady said the joke -- midway through the official state visit with still much left to do, including the all-important state dinner on the horizon -- is that they feel like a "swan."

"We're kind of calm and serene above water -- but we're paddling like mad, going crazy underneath, trying to look smooth," she said.

Going over some of the behind-the-scenes preparation, she said it takes everyone at the White House, the State Department and the military office to put all of today's events together, She then ticked through all the things that were handled, "the guest list, the invitations, the place settings that you see here, you've got to figure out who sits where -- all that fun stuff."

Michelle Obama explained that even in a house as big as the White House, "there's only so many people that we can invite," so the girls were invited to the White House beforehand so they could see what will happen at the state dinner and so they could understand an event that feels to them "untouchable."

"The state visits and dinners are a really important part of our nation's diplomacy," she said. "Throughout history they've given U.S. presidents and the American people the opportunity to make important milestones in foreign relations. So these dinners and events are really critical to what we do internationally. And they've helped build stronger ties with nations as well as people around the world. That's what President Obama and Prime Minister Singh are doing today."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...