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5 Things You Need to Know to Prepare for Your First Military Ball

Author: Tobias H. Gillot
by Tobias H. Gillot
Posted: Sep 04, 2020
spouses expected

Formal balls are a common occurence in the military. In fact, each branch hosts at least one a year and, just like everything else in the armed forces, there is specific protocol that attending spouses are expected to follow. For example, the evening usually starts off with cocktail hour where guests can mingle. But it's important to pace yourself when enjoy a few drinks because over-indulging is frowned upon. Aside from common courtesy and appropriate behavior, there are a few other things you should know. This is especially true if it's your first military ball and you're a little nervous about expectations.

1. Black tie is required.

Military spouses are expected to present themselves well. The personnel themselves wear dress blues or class A uniforms, and their spouses wear formal wear. For men, this usually means dark suits or tuxedos; for women, it's typically tea-length or floor-length gowns.

The thing to remember is to keep it classy, elegant and sophisticated. The best way to do this without breaking the bank is to wear a somewhat simple gown and dress it up with formal jewelry. You should be able to find classic pieces wherever your spouse is stationed that you can pair with various gowns for different events. You can start by doing some internet research for local jewelry stores. For example, you might search for "jewelry store northern virginia" to find a good local shop if your spouse is stationed at one of the many bases in the state.

Jewelry by Designs is a great resource for a variety of pieces, whether you want a simple gold necklace or something with gemstones. They even have a great jewelry repair service if you'd like to refurbish an old piece instead of getting something new.

2. The evening has a schedule.

If this is your first military ball, you might be caught off-guard by the structure. Just like everything else in the military, these are very regimented events and guests are expected to comply. The first hour or so of the event is cocktail hour. You may drink and have hors d'oeuvres, but leave these behind once it's time to move to the receiving line. In the receiving line, women walk in front of the men and give simple, short introductions. This portion of the evening is intended to move quickly so that dinner can be served at the announced time.

This structuring doesn't mean you can't have fun. After dinner comes the dancing and drinking where you can cut loose quite a bit more. Just follow your spouse's lead and you'll do fine.

3. Children are not allowed

Unfortunately, no kids are allowed to attend military balls. It's recommended to find good childcare as far in advance as you can. Start by asking other couples attending the ball about their childcare preparations. Perhaps you can share a babysitter with several families at one house. This can make the experience more fun for your kids and more convenient for you.

4. Makeup should be tasteful.

Nothing ruins an elegant look more than a bad makeup job. Of course, your evening look can be a little heavier than your daytime look, but keep in mind that you're going for a high-class look.

This can be difficult to achieve if you're not used to glamming it up. If this is the case for you, keep a few things in mind. For one thing, simple additions go a long way. Purchase a good eyelash kit or a strong lip color and let the. Some subtle but full eyelashes will change your entire look. Also, add a touch of sparkle. This doesn't mean you should apply glitter like a 13-year-old. It just means maybe use a shimmery eyeshadow or a subtle glowing highlighter.

5. Be prepared for lots of toasts.

Before being seated for dinner, there is a lot of ceremony. There will be an invocation, a flag ceremony, and several toasts. Most common are toasts to the particular branch you're in, the president, and the United States. You can toast with whatever you like, but try to take small drinks since you'll have to keep sipping.

About the Author

A freelance writer with a BA in English from Sarah Lawrence College.

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Author: Tobias H. Gillot

Tobias H. Gillot

Member since: Oct 23, 2019
Published articles: 24

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