The service birthdays are upon us and that usually means military birthday balls to celebrate the occasion. For the Navy ours is quickly approaching on October 13th. This year I will be attending the ball and in my process of preparing for it I couldn’t help but think about all the bad etiquette I might see. There have been lots and lots of blogs and articles written about attire and that topic gets driven home pretty well so hopefully I won’t see any attire that is inappropriate. It’s the etiquette part that I am going to focus on with my eight tips.
1. Don’t get drunk! Being drunk at a formal event is unbecoming and most often it will lead you to saying something or acting in way you will regret the next morning. Be classy and limit yourself to 2-3 drinks at most. Leave the heavy drinking for another night.
2. Watch what you say and who you say it to. Just because your hubby’s CO decided to come introduce himself and tell you what a great guy he thinks he is, doesn’t give you the right to start complaining about all the things you don’t like about the command. For example, late hours or duty rotation. Keep those conversations to small chit chat and if you aren’t sure who someone is, ask your spouse who they are. This one ties into the drinking…. be careful! Booze tends to loosen up the filter.
3. Give your undergarments a test run. Make sure your undergarments aren’t to0 dark under your gown, panty lines can’t be seen, bra straps are not sticking out and so forth. At the last ball I went to there was a woman who you could see her panties right through her gown. I joked with a friend that she must have gotten dressed in the dark. It is a special night so go ahead, spend the money on good undergarments meant to be worn under ball gowns.
4. Carry a evening bag. Do not use your bra as a place to store your phone, ID and money. Nothing looks tackier than watching a woman reach down her cleavage to check her phone or grab some cash for a glass of wine. Like I have said, military balls are special events and you don’t want to be the person everyone is talking about. Carry a small evening bag big enough for your phone, ID, some money and maybe lipstick. There are tables you can set it down on.
5. Guys, use valet parking or drop your date off at the door. Gentlemen, please do not make us walk in our heels. If valet parking is an option, TAKE IT! If not, drop your lady off at the door and then go park. It is just polite to do. Enough said……
6. Be respectful of the traditions during the ceremony portion. The ceremony portion can be long and boring for us civilians but the military members cherish it. These birthday balls are very traditional and it is extremely meaningful for them. So, don’t talk during the speeches, stand during the anthem and just try to act like you care and keep in mind it is about taking a moment and remembering why we are all there to begin with.
7. Don’t be late. There is a cocktail hour for a reason! Show up during that time and not once the ceremony has started. It is understandable that sometimes things happens but don’t be late just because you like to be “fashionable”. If you are late because of something beyond your control wait outside the ballroom until the ceremony is over. It’s just rude to walk through it to find your seat.
8. Military members wear your uniforms. The newest rage seems to be for the military members to not be required to wear their uniforms. Well, take pride in the service you serve and your country. This night is in honor of your service and you the member. Be proud and wear your uniform! Plus, men in dress uniform are well…umm….. yeah….
There you have it….eight simple tips of etiquette. The moral here is, you don’t want to be “that” person the whole command is talking about on Monday morning. Or even the one the Ombudsman Assembly uses as an example of what not to do at a birthday ball during their training (Yes, we do that. How do think I came up with these?). Military Balls are steeped in tradition and it is important that we, the civilian guest, are respectful of those traditions. So, be classy and have an amazing fun night being dressed up and looking your best!