Military balls are an exciting time for military communities to get together for a no-stress social outing. Service members and military spouses don their formal attire (service members in their dress uniforms, of course) and prepare for a night of ceremonies, dinner, drinks and dancing. Be it your first or your tenth, there are some rules and tips for you to follow. Each branch runs their event differently, so some of the following advice varies.

8 THINGS YOU need to know to prepare for military balls

There are eight things it’s good to know about preparing for your next military ball.

  1. Best behavior.

While some people view it as a night to get schwasty-faced (even some service members), military spouses and significant others should be on their best behavior. For all the shenanigans you go through to get ready, you have to remember that the night is not about you. Be a good guest.

  1. Book the logistics

Your service member will purchase the tickets from his or her command or family readiness representative. If it is at a hotel and you both plan on drinking, it is advisable to get a room to stay overnight. Generally speaking, there is usually no childcare offered, so if you have kids, be sure to call the babysitter.

  1. Proper attire

The attire should be considered “black tie.” This usually means floor-length gowns for a formal military ball for the women if they’re not in the military. Keep in mind, formal does not mean “prom wear.” You may be in a room with the some of the most respected military flag officers in the nation, and you’ll want to represent yourself well.


  1. Cocktail hour

When you arrive, there may or may not be a receiving line with the command leaders and their spouses. If there is, know that the female is greeted first. This is also the time to meet and greet with others before the dinner hour begins.

women shoes and clutch

  1. Bring cash

There will most likely be a professional photographer who will take a portrait of you and your service member. Some will accept card, but if they don’t, have some cash handy and be sure to get a receipt. If you don’t have to use the cash for the photographer, it comes in handy at the bar.

  1. Dinner hour

Dinner hour is usually signaled with a bell. Guests take their assigned seats. At this point, the posting of the colors, Commanding Officer’s welcome and the invocation will happen. There will also be speeches, and, if it is a birthday ball, there will be a formal cake-cutting ceremony.

  1. Make new friends

From personal experience, I feel it’s the best time to make new friends once dinner is served. Cocktail hour is great for quick meet-and-greets, you or your service member are saying hi to people you know, making introductions left and right, and it can be hard to keep track. At dinner time, people are more relaxed, especially after 1 or 2 drinks, they have food in their belly, now would be the time to get to know people better. If you’re up for it, get up and mingle!

  1. After dinner

When the presentation ends, the dance floor and bar will open up again. Depending on the band or DJ, more contemporary music can be played. This is your chance to let loose on the dance floor but be sure to leave the club moves at home. If you didn’t take your formal picture at the beginning of the night, hop over to to the photographer’s booth and do so.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Unilever & Operation in Touch via MSB New Media. The opinions and text are all mine.