i will be attending our 4th and last marine corps ball in a few weeks. seems like just yesterday i was in your shoes- excited and curious and nervous…
the first part is cocktails. we usually skip this part because the drinks are way over priced. we either drink in our room beforehand and/or sneak some alcohol in with us and hide it under the table, lol.
after the cocktail hour, they will ask everyone to take their seats and they’ll begin the ceremony. once the ceremony begins no one will be allowed in or out of the ballroom, so if you need to use the restroom or whatever, make sure you do it before.
it will start with the presentation of colors, sword detail, national anthem, etc. there’s always a video birthday message that they show (you can probably find videos of past years’ on youtube). the guest of honor and others will speak. there will be a cake cutting ceremony where the oldest marine and youngest marine share a piece of cake and then they retire the colors and dinner will be served. and there’s usually a mad dash to the restroom at this point, haha.
after dinner, they serve dessert and the dancing begins. sometimes the food is really good, sometimes not so much. one year, they had a buffet and it was amazing. they always give a party favor too (the first year, it was given at the ball, the last 2 years, they were sent to my husband’s work). for us, it’s always been a glass. and the first year i went, they had roses waiting for all the ladies at their seats. i still have mine because i’m sentimental that way, haha.
they will have photographers there taking pictures that you can buy if you’re so inclined. i would do this early in the evening before you get too tipsy, haha.
this goes without saying, but make sure you have a designated driver for the evening if you have to drive home that night.
as for you hair and nails, you can get them done if you want, but it’s not necessary. i usually just wear a pretty head band and paint my nails a pretty color.
and once you married (if he’s still in the service), look out for ball gown give aways through your marine’s base. people donate really great dresses and accessories. i got my dresses for this and last year’s balls at give aways. my dress from last year, was brand new and still had the price tag!
hope this helps!