There are few events that are both as formal and as fun as the military ball. Once a year, each branch of the military holds a formal gala where military personnel attend, decked out in their Class A’s or Dress Blues, with their spouse dressed to the 9s. Without a doubt, there is a lot of pomp and circumstance, and proper etiquette to accompany the customs and traditions of each branch and military post, but it is also a chance to unwind and celebrate all the hard work each service member does all year round. Many college and even high school ROTC and jROTC outfits also maintain the practice of holding a military ball, and while they mimic the etiquette of the formal military ball, there is also a little more wiggle room.
The Big Entrance
With an event this formal, the entrance is as important as the setting once the guests are inside. Make sure everyone’s arrival is memorable and invokes the honor and prestige of attendance. A flag garland outside the event location paves the way for the transformation just inside, with a formal coatroom and reception area tastefully illuminated with tissue paper lanterns and patriotic-themed columns of red, white, and blue, leading the way into the main event area.
Set the Tables for Talking
Lots of conversation happens across the table once the formal dinner has begun, so this is a time to avoid large, showy centerpieces and instead opt for elegant yet understated pieces. Try several silver reflection centerpieces at each table. You can fill them with elegant red roses, or red, white, and blue flowers, or even flowers with the military unit’s guidon or post colors. Surround them with an assortment of candles, as the reflective surface of the centerpiece will work with the candles to create an illuminating and stunning effect for graceful and practical table décor.
Keep the Occasion in Mind
It’s fun to decorate and plan events, albeit quite stressful at times. You can find easy inspiration by thinking of the event as a 4th of July themed affair, but always be sure to match the patriotic fervor with an inspired eye for muted elegance. You don’t want to outshine the guests, and etiquette dictates that their outfits are not too loud, so pair the requisite classic fashion with subtle effects to plan a decorating scheme that will look like it was professionally planned. Create areas around the ballroom for conversation and networking with pairs or trios of luminescent columns.
Light up the Night
Finally, mirror the flickering elegance of the table pieces with easy-to-arrange lighting effects that would make even the most intricate of fireworks themselves become lit up with jealousy. Curtains lit with LEDs, placed behind various layers of gossamer in shades of royal blue, brilliant red, and pure, confident white, transform even the most drab event location into a tasteful, stylish, and premiere celebration of the hard work and dedication of military personnel.
Following these decorating tips (and adding bits and pieces of your own insightful flair) will earn you your 4 stars and top honors with your gala, for sure.