This year my husband and I will be going to the 240th Marine Corps Ball. These are one of the schedule times I actually get to dress up and look like a queen…I LOVE IT! So I want to share with you guys a little history on the Marine Corps ball and some basic social survival tips on the event…
At Marine Corps functions, remember that loved ones behavior, manners and attire represent their marine and the USMC. November 10, 1775 is the Marine Corps Birthday. All over the world this date is celebrated with a formal birthday ball. This is attended by marines and their spouses/date only, NO CHILDREN are allowed. This is an important evening filled with tradition and camaraderie.
Before I get started, here are some Survival Kit items to bring with you to the ball:
-Official Form of ID (Just in case)
-Band Aids (For blisters)
-Pain relievers (For headaches, etc.)
-Feminine Products (Emergency)
#1- Usually the evening is begun with a cocktail hour.
-Use this time to check the seating chart
-Find your table
-Meet the people whom you will be seated with.
This is not a mandatory portion of the evening, so you can go ahead and take an extra 15 to 20 minutes to put those final touches, in hair and makeup. Once you arrive, this is your opportunity to mingle, meet co-workers and locate where you will be seated. One advantage if you decide to show up early is the picture line may be shorter during this time. The cocktail reception is when pictures are generally being taken and the line can be long.
#2- The ceremony will begin once all are situated properly.
-Marines will stand at attention, so follow the lead of your marine (The narrator will also guide attendees to sit or stand).
-Guests must stand without slouching or leaning to demonstrate proper respect
-It is common courtesy not to have conversations during the ceremony or be on your phone, checking Facebook and conversations before or after, not during. Just turning your ringer to vibrate is not enough when all attention is on the colors and everyone is silent. The ceremony commemorates the history of the Corps and is by far the most formal part of the evening . Every effort should be made to give it the respect and attention it deserves.
This is the 15 minute warning call before the ceremony begins. It serves as a great time to get one last trip to the bathroom and possibly one last drink before you take your seat. ONCE THE BALLROOM DOORS CLOSE, NO ONE WILL BE ALLOWED IN!
The main event. While some ceremonies may vary, they generally follow the same scripted events. There will be a narrator who outlines the events as they take place and will give a general description as they happen. During this time you will witness what the Marines pride themselves on, upholding of traditions with events such as call to colors and the cake cutting. You can follow along with the ceremony by following the program provided at your table.
Please note that the ceremony is the center point of the ball and it is imperative that you be attentive and respectful through its entirety.
#3- Commandant of the Marine Corps message and Final remarks:
Following the ceremony there will be a guest speaker. These individuals are typically a higher ranking serviceman who has a great history and a very respectable reputation. Generally this will be a speech, followed by a gift being presented to the speaker.
Immediately following the ceremony, a video message is played from the current commandant of the Marine Coprs. Please Observe the same common courtesies during this portion of the evening as for the ceremony. The official portion of the evening can take a while, a good idea would be to have a snack prior to the ball. If you are expecting, asking for some crackers at the table is a good idea.
Relax and enjoy your multi-course meal while socializing and chatting it up with your other table members. Do not be intimidated by the amount of forks or glasses you may have set in front of you. Relax!
If you have food allergies or will be bringing a guest who does you may contact the respective units ball coordinator to inquire if they have alternatives.
It is also recommended you wait until everyone at the table has been serves their meal before partaking. Be advised most units have a chaplain who says a prayer before the meal is served. Finally it is polite to wait until the highest ranking person at the table starts eating before you do.
#5- Dancing and celebration:
Formal attire is worn to fancier events such as weddings, private dinners or balls. Women must wear floor length gowns as shorter dresses are not acceptable. Formal attire is extremely strict with distinct guidelines and any guest who deviates from them is considered to have poor etiquette.
-When in doubt match your attire to your Marine’s uniform
-Many women opt for the classic little black dress, a simple and appropriate for a party.
-Remember! Your attire will reflect upon your Marine, Dressing in attire too revealing is considered poor taste.
Be yourself and don’t feel too stressed about conversation. Here are a few key things to remember:
-Avoid controversial issues such as politics, religion and personal issues.
-Show an interest in others
-Listen to others
-Ask questions and make others feel important
-Please… No swearing!
-Avoid gossip AT ALL COSTS!