Pretty soon you’ll start to see everyone in the military spouse community posting all over Facebook about one thing. Military balls.

Ball season is just about here. Every branch of the military seems to find something to celebrate between September and February!

Military balls can be super glamorous and exciting. They can also be incredibly intimidating and overwhelming.

For Every Military Spouse at Your First Military Ball

Are you staring down your first ball season with a good mix of terror and anticipation? You’ll love these tips to help you navigate your ball effortlessly.

Get the Official Word from Your Spouse

Rely on your partner or spouse to pass the official details to you. This could be through emails via the chain of command or the unit’s family readiness group. There might be a formal invitation sent to all unit members or maybe just a brief from the CO. Whatever form it takes, details from the unit will be the official information about the ball.

Ask your spouse about the dress code, RSVP policy and cost. All of that should be relayed through official channels.

Ask Other Spouses

While getting the official details is a job for your spouse to handle, you can get more gouge by using your spouse community. Often, the “word” you’ll get from the unit is basic. Place, date, time, menu options and uniform of the day.

For more information, turn to your fellow spouses.

We can share with you all the nitty gritty extras you might not think about. You might not have thought about carpooling or what kind of bag to carry. Is it a cash bar or open bar? Where are the best places to buy or borrow formal wear?

You local spouse community can share all of that information with you!

Many Balls, One is Yours

Ball season can get confusing. You’ll hear your spouse talk about The Ball. You might assume that there is just one ball for everyone at your location.

That’s generally not true.

On any given base during ball season there might be anywhere from several to dozens of functions. In Okinawa, there are so many balls between the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Army that ball season runs from early October to February!

Some troops might need to attend multiple balls or have several different types of formal events throughout the year. Rely on your spouse and chain of command for official information. Then turn to the spouse community for the extra info you’ll need to survive.

What to Wear

This is one of the most hotly debated topics in all of military spouse history. You’ll hear every opinion under the sun.

Here’s the thing: you do you, just in a formal and dressy way.

Military balls are ultra formal. Think high school prom, but way more extra. Your service member will be wearing their most formal and fancy uniform. You should dress to match that level of formality in a way that suits your comfort level.

You’ll hear lots of opinions about dress length or tuxes with tails versus three-piece suits. At the end of the day, you’re the one wearing the outfit. Find something that makes you feel comfortable and elegant.

If in doubt, ask your spouse to check it out to make sure that it matches their uniform!

Enjoy Responsibly

Remember that while this is a celebration, a military ball is also a work function. Your spouse’s entire office and chain of command will be at the ball, too.

Everyone is definitely much more relaxed though. You might even catch a super salty Gunny cutting a rug or watch the General tip a few back. However, unlike Vegas, what happens at the ball might not stay there.

Have fun, enjoy adult beverages if you legally can and definitely have a slice of cake. But also know when to call it a night or close your tab. Call a cab or arrange for a DD to get home.

Military balls can be a ton of fun, and also a little scary. What’s your best advice for a ball newbie?



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Meg is a military spouse, teacher, writer, and mom of two MilKids. She is an education blog and coaching/advocacy service focused on military families. Meg's mission is to help families understand and navigate the K-12 world. She provides timely posts, timeless advice, and personal assistance to families with school-aged children. You can find Meg online at and @MegFlanaganEducation

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