Each year the Air Force, Marine, and the Military hold a Military Ball Party (formal Dining Out). A military ball is a lot more fun than other formal events — it’s not a wedding or a funeral, and servicemen and women get to bring their spouses. Military personal attends wearing their dress uniform.

Oh… This is the first Military Ball I have ever been too and I am very nervous about going to it! What is the best for packing with me on the plane? What should I do to look the best at a Military Ball? What is also the best color to be wearing? You are nervous because you’re excited and it’s your very first time. You may use some of the following information.

Basic Things To Keep In Mind

It’s a black tie formal affair, not the high school prom. Don’t show too much skin and keep the Bling to a minimum. You should wear a formal full length evening gown. Tea length dresses are also acceptable as well. Guests wearing civilian attire will dress as follows:

Women: will wear a formal evening dress or gown, it should be knee to floor length and tasteful. NextEve carries a great selection of prom dresses, evening dresses, and ball gowns perfectly suited for military balls.

Men: will wear a dark suit (tuxedo is optional, no “khaki’s and ties”.


Receiving Line

Receiving lines are located at the entrance. Some people tend to avoid the receiving lines, this is a “discourteous action”.

The first person in the line will be in charge of announcing the names of the guests (usually the commander of the hosting event).

They do not shake hands or carry conversations, their job is just to introduce the arriving guest to the next person in line.

Posting Of The Colors

Once everybody has been introduced, they go to their tables to wait for the entrance of the colors. Individuals in uniform should remain at attention and face the colors at all times during the presentation. The color-guard posts the colors once indicated by the commander.

Pow/mia Ceremony

This is a very solemn ceremony conducted to honor those (men and women) who remain missing in action or as prisoners of war. A table is set in the middle for all to see and remember them.


Before dinner, the toasts are done to honor the military personnel, leaders and guests. Also a silent toast is performed to honor the prisoners and missing in action.


No special rules here, only proper dining etiquette.

Guest Speaker

On each ball a distinguished guest is asked to address the assembly of military personnel, This person usually has some connection with the armed forces.


Following the dinner, the colors are retired and the Ball Dance begins. This is when the good times start.

Tips for Attending Military Balls

  • Formal dress… Dress like in a prom but not trashy (like a lot of the little girls wear);
  • Get your hair done and toes and nails, and make sure the shoes you wear are comfortable enough to stand in for a while. The ceremonies can take a while;
  • Wear whatever color suits you. I have seen every color in the rainbow worn to balls. Do a search online for formal or evening wear. An actual ball gown would more than likely be to “poofy” and would be a royal pain to take on a plane. Classy is the way to go.
  • Exciting conservative formal here is the key. The key is conservative exciting, hint but don’t put it on display. Good luck to you.
  • Also, VERY important, when they start the toasts, DO NOT DRINK… either sip or PRETEND! The toasts are LONG, and usually before dinner. If you drink to each toast you will be wasted.
  • Several hours of traveling is very common when attending military balls. Get a gown length garment bag for your dress so you can carry it on the plane, they work very well. Hang the dress in the shower when you get there.