The Ultimate Guide to Military Ball Etiquette for Spouses

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Sitting on the couch reading a book, my service member walked into the living room, cocked his head to the side and asked, “So you want to go to a military ball with me?”

I had little knowledge about military ball etiquette or how to find a military ball dress, but I knew instantly that I wanted to go.

I mean, service member in uniform? How can you not?!

On the inside I was screaming like a middle school girl at a Bieber concert, but on the outside, I was acting all calm, cool and totally-got-it-together-twenty-something lady.

I looked directly at him and responded, “Sure babe,” then promptly returned to “reading” my book. But instead of reading, I started to daydream about what my first military ball experience would be like.

Then there was trouble.

I didn’t know a thing about military ball traditions, etiquette, what to wear, or how to interact with other service members. Instead of learning the basics, I opted for a thing I love to call “trial by fire.”

And four years later, I’m still making military ball etiquette mistakes. At the most recent ball my husband and I attended, my dress was again too short.

Best military ball etiquette basics.

I’m finally getting my act together and learning the basics of ball etiquette, and whether you are a military wife or a military girlfriend, hopefully I am helping you do exactly the same. Let’s break it down category-by-category to make it simple.


Flag etiquette.

Cocktail hour.  

Receiving line.

Dinner hour.

Traditions, ceremonies and speeches.

As the dinner hour winds down or immediately after, there are usually several traditions speeches and ceremonies.

Post dinner hour.

More posts on military ball etiquette.

Print this free military ball etiquette printable.

Chances are you won’t remember everything from this post. Grab your free printable to help you remember the 9 phrases from this post! Easy peasy!

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