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Friday, October 21, 2011

USMC Birthday Ball: Dos and Don'ts



So being slightly bored I decided to look at my blogger stats. My most viewed entry this month is the USMC Birthday Ball post I did last year. It is nothing earth shattering, just me talking about our experience and some pictures, yet google is sending people here for a reason! So I decided to write a post to help those google stalkers out...

DOs and DON'Ts

- DO wear something you are comfortable in

You need a dress you can sit, stand and dance in. Usually before the ball there is a cocktail hour. They sometimes have tall tables to gather around but unless you rock at standing in five inch heels, go for a little comfort! You will also need to sit for the ceremony and the dinner, so do not get a dress you can barely breathe in. As for dancing, you don't want to be pulling up your dress or dragging your hem all night. The two Cs... Comfortable and Classy.


Early in the night...


Later in the night... shoes come off! (during the dancing!)

- DON'T try and recreate My Super Sweet 16

Do not overdo the neon colors, the glitter and the skin exposure. You are a direct reflection of your Marine. Be respectful to him and the Corps.


No

No

No

No!

No!!

- DO try and wear a longer dress

This can be a matter of opinion. Personally, I think longer dresses are more appropriate for the ball. It is a formal event, the Dress Blues are a formal uniform. Now that doesn't mean ankle length is mandatory. Tea length is fine. They won't kick you out if they see your ankles! But wearing a hoochie skirt that lets people know what color underwear you have on is not appropriate. I saw some girls in very short dresses, and I mean really really short. Remember, there is dancing and fun but you are not going out to the club!!







- DON'T overstress

It is not imperative that you color coordinate to his dress blues perfectly. If you want to, go for it! If you can't, don't stress it. Red and blue and black are great. Want to compliment? Wear yellow. I have seen girls in purple or pink or even green and they looked wonderful.

- DO feel free to bargain hunt

Is a veteran spouse getting rid of her old dress? Are you at an event where they have free dresses for military wives? Did your best friend hold on to her gorgeous prom dress? Go for it! I wore my senior prom dress the first year Ryan and I went, and it coincidentally was a nice blue color! The next year I splurged a little and went to David's Bridal for a red dress... I still spent maybe $100 at most. This year I got a dress at a spouse appreciation night for free. It is black and beaded and may border between tea length and long. It is all good!

- DON'T feel the need to spend a lot of money

The tickets and hotel room for the night can be pricey. If there is a cash bar more money will go. If you need to coordinate flying 3000 miles to fly to see your husband to go to the ball, plane tickets cost money (or maybe this is just me?)! In line with the dress thing, it is ok to do your own hair and make up. My friends did mine for me the first year I went which saved me a good bit of money. If you want to splurge and get your hair done and go to the Mac counter at the mall, that is fine, but as long as you look respectable that is all that matters!


My first ball with Ryan my friend Laura did my hair for me, and it looked awesome!

- DO remember you are an extension of your Marine

Be polite, be sociable. Meet your Marines coworkers and chain of command (if you are introduced). Sirs, Ma'ams, Please, Thank you... manners go a long way. Now is not the time to go into that funny story about the time your Marine came home drunk and mistook your kitchen garbage can for the bathroom. With his buddies, maybe, but not his chain of command! If you get a chance to shake hands with the guest of honor, do it! Chances are they are an amazing Marine and are asked to be in that position for a reason. Ever see the Geico commercial Why Drill Sgts Don't Make Good Therapists? Or Full Metal Jacket? Guest of Honor at my first ball... Gunny Ermey! Picture to prove it.



- DON'T get sloppy drunk!!

Definitely not during cocktail hour, the ceremony, or dinner! Once the dancing and stuff starts it is ok to let loose a little bit but getting wasted is not your priority. I have seen a lot of girls falling all over themselves at various stages of the night... it isn't pretty. I am not saying stay sober and have no fun, just be careful!

- DO pay attention to the ceremony

Texting, talking, staring around the room, sighing in boredom, tweeting... not things to be done during the ceremony. I saw a girl last year texting the entire time and I was so annoyed. If she had been closer to me I would have said something, but I didn't want to cause problems. Be respectful. Listen. I find the ceremony very interesting, yes it can get long, but the tradition is important. The Youngest Marine and Oldest Marine cutting the cake always gets to me too, especially as I get older and it seems that Youngest Marine gets younger every year...


My first ball was with my Poppy... he has been the oldest Marine at every ball he has been to in the past decade or so! He is now 92 (as of 2014).

- DON'T wear your wedding dress

Seriously. And I am not talking about the nontraditional slinky white gown... I mean a full on ball gown that you look at and go "Dear Lord she is wearing a wedding dress."

- DO have fun

Take pictures, meet people and enjoy the night with your Marine. It is a fun celebratory night that you can both enjoy. Make some memories (:



This post is not to criticize or judge or anything like that. I saw a lot of people looking at my pretty uninformative post from last year and figured I may as well do one that could help some people! Other bloggers have done similar posts, feel free to link them here if you want (: I hope all you ladies attending the ball this year have a blast. I will be flying out to 29 Palms for my husband's at the end of November and I am pretty excited... even if it is on a Friday!



EDIT: This post is my most read post on this blog! I have updated it to reflect some different things as time has gone on, but the main points still apply. Remember this post was originally published in 2011. For other Marine Corps birthday ball posts from My Marine and Me, see below.


Ball 2007 - Attended with Grandfather, didn't blog then. Pictured above.
Ball 2008 - Attended with Ryan, not blogging yet. The pictures in the blue dress are from that ball.
Ball 2009 - Blogging, but Ryan was deployed to Iraq, so we did not attend.
Ball 2010 - Washington DC (ball in Arlington, red dress pictures)
Ball 2011 - 29 Palms (ball in Palm Springs)
Ball 2012 - Camp LeJeune 2nd Reg (ball on base)
Ball 2013 - Ryan is in Afghanistan so no ball this year.
Ball 2014 - SOI East Ball (student status) in Wilmington, NC

69 comments:

  1. First of all I would have been giddy to meet Gunny Ermey!Aw your poppy looks like hes having a good time :)

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  2. Great post! I know there are always a ton of questions around this time every year so I'm sure it will come in handy for someone! Unfortunately I've only gotten to go to one ball in our nearly 5 years of marriage (and it was before we were married actually!), but I always enjoy looking at other's pictures. My hubby's ball is in Vegas this year- he's pretty excited!

    Oh, on the shoes, for the 2006 ball, I wore Cinderella slippers that were a gift from my husband the first time we met in person, only a month earlier. As a romantic gesture, I decided to wear my 'glass' slippers...afterall, he was my prince and we were going to a ball! The first part of the night, they were fine but once the dancing started- ouch! And wouldn't you know they told us we could NOT take our shoes off? Seriously (they'd obviously never danced in heels)! So, word to the wise, make sure those shoes are reasonably comfortable- just in case!!

    Have a great time at your ball! It's such a wonderful event:)

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  3. Love the dos and don'ts! I think you are dead on with all the things you have pointed out! I agree with the long dress - I'm a long dress kind of girl so it works perfectly :) haha!

    I LOVE the picture of you and your poppy, adorable! :)

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  4. Great post! I can't imagine how many women show up looking like they never gave their outfit a second thought.

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  5. Dear Lord she is wearing a wedding dress, LOL!

    I seriously just laughed out loud and now I'm getting funny looks from the dog and baby.

    I completely agree with everything you posted though. When people ask me about the ball, the first thing I always say is that they're representing the man they're attending with and need to keep that in mind when choosing a dress and when choosing which attitude to take with them to the event!

    This year is our last ball, and while I'm happy we'll be EASing next year, it's still sad! So we're going to making this one pretty special! (at Disneyland YAY!)

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  6. I am so not-secretly jelouse that American military have things like fancy parties :P. This list made me laugh, a wedding dress, really? I love that black and white one, though!

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  7. Cute post!! I love the picture of you and your poppy!! Great dress selections as well!

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  8. Thanks for the tips! I'm going to my first non-ROTC ball with my soldier in just a few weeks, so this was very helpful. I'm glad my dress fits all your guidelines :)
    Great post, and very timely! Love the photo of you and your Poppy, so very sweet.

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  9. I feel so special!!! I had so much fun doing your hair that day!

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  10. I'm going to my first Ball this year...thank you!!!

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  11. Not appropriate for this post, but something I thought you would be interested in: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/22/health/homeless-veterans/index.html?iref=allsearch

    *Cat

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  12. I went to my first military ball last July. I could not believe how much skin and tattoos I saw, on the women!! I could not believe it.

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  13. I know it's a little late, but you look lovely in all of your pictures.

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  14. Great post! You look beautiful in the both dresses! I also love your black and white choice for a "do" dress. Thanks for linking up today! :)

    http://semperwifey.blogspot.com

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  15. Great post and I love your red gown, it went so perfectly with your hubby's dress uniform. You two are a cute couple. And especially love the photo of you and your Poppy, he is very handsome.


    Blessings & Aloha!
    I am stopping by through Semper Wifey's Marine Birthday Bash. I couldnt remember which past post I shared about my gown I sewed for his grad ball, but I did link up with a past post Purple Pirates, so if you take a look at the end of the video clip, you can see my gown :o)

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  16. Great post! I wouldn't say I am a veteran wife (9 years in) but I am a no newbie either. Your do's and don't's were great! I laughed so much throughout the post. Especially at the short glittery dresses that you know you will see every year.

    PS... I am super jealous of your Gunny Ermey picture. the hubby met him a few years ago at a USO event. Also of your picture with your Poppy. That is just an amazing picture all together.

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  17. I have a question, I recently lost my husband in a tragic diving accident, but I've been told by our Marine Corps Family that I should still attend the USMC Ball for his unit. Do you think it would be acceptable? Or do you think that would be frowned upon?

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    1. Emily,

      Your email didn't appear with your comment so I hope you see this. I think you should go. I know many widows who attend balls after losing their husbands. It won't be easy but they all seemed to get something out of being there. Do you still have friends within his unit? Anyone who you'd be comfortable going with or sitting with? If you're comfortable I say go, especially if they invited it you. I don't think it will be frowned upon at all. Good luck.

      Allie

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  18. i just want u to know i was totally stressing over finding a dress and the rules on them and stuff and u helped me ALOT!! and i to have to fly forever away to go to the ball for my marine lol so thank you so much u made it aalot easier on me:)

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  19. This was so helpful, thank you! I'm flying 3,000 miles to go to my first ever military event, let alone ball, and am getting pretty nervous! Your post has really helped :)

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  20. This post was extremely helpful- I'm going to my first Marine Corps Ball next month in Las Vegas, and I'm flying over 2200 miles to see my marine. So excited! :)

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  21. Thank you for such a helpful post! One of my good friends just asked me to go to the Marine Corps Ball in Novemeber and I had no idea what to do about the dress, but not anymore! Thanks!

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  22. Great informative post! I am going to the Ball in Vegas this year with my former fiance, just as friends. We went to several USMC Birthday Ball's in the past, and I could've used alot of this information back then. I love the pictures with NO! To funny! Well back to finding a dress for the event? Anyone got something in red or white a size 14? let me know

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  23. I'm going to Marine Corps ball this Nov. in Camp Lejeune and my husband is a corpsman in the Navy. Thanks for the advice on dresses; I wasn't sure what to get!

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  24. Ok ladies, i need advise!! This is my first ball, and I'm the only date my boyfriend has ever taken. This is big for him and I want to make him proud to have me on his arm. I have a strapless od green dress with minimal embellishments under the breast line. My hair dresser will be in Japan at the ball herself, so I was trying to be creative with my hair, and keep it cheap. I bought a bun assistance plastic piece,but for the life of me cannot get it down. Any other suggestions on hair other than an updo as I'll be 200 miles from home with no one i know there to help.

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  25. I just noted about the email, brittany.towns85@gmail

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  26. Your post was great. It was just what I was looking for. This year is my first time going and would not want to embarass my marine.

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  27. As a Marine, I am very pleased to see you sharing this information. Thanks for stressing the fact that their is a lot of tradition behind the Marine Corps Birthday. Ladies I can only say, your Marine looks better with you at his side. Have fun and enjoy. It is an event I hope you all will come to look forward to.
    I am inviting friends to a local Marine Birthday Celebration and was looking for information to share with them. To help give them a heads up on the nights event. I will pass this along as well.

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  28. I think you pretty much broke it down Barney style Marine Corps Ball for dummies

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  29. Great advice. I was in the Corps and was also a Marine's wife and attended many a Birthday Ball throughout the 1980s, so you totally nail it!Glad to see you enjoyed the ball this year. I don't get out to many of 'em these days but I always still try to remember to mark the day with some cake even if it's just me at home in front of a computer. Semper Fi!

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  30. So happy I found your blog! It's good to know what to expect and things I should think about ahead of time. I'm attending the ball next year for the first with my Marine and I'm so excited and I'm already looking at dresses.

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  31. I was asked by my boyfriend who is a marine to go to this and I am SOOO nervous. This calmed me a bit and now I know what type of dress to get and how to take everything. I'm so excited. Thank you

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  32. I was asked by my boyfriend who is a marine to go to this and I am SOOO nervous. This calmed me a bit and now I know what type of dress to get and how to take everything. I'm so excited. Thank you

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  33. This has helped me a lot. The only other Military person I have in my family is my cousin who is married to an Army Ranger. It's good to hear the girls side of the Marine ball!! Great Post!

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  34. As a young lady who will be attending her first marine corps ball this november, and who was so so soo nervous, this was super helpful and really helped me relax about the whole thing! thank you so much!

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  35. I will be attending my very first birthday ball this upcoming November and this helped soooo much because my Marine isn't great at helping me figure out what is appropriate. I think the first time I asked he told me "wear a dress or something. its up to you" and that was the most detail I could get out of him. first time reading and excited to read more

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  36. This helped me. Especially since I'm stressing over finding a dress. Its my first usmc ball that I'm attending

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  37. Allie - Thank you for providing first hand tips. This is such a wonderful guide to assist me in selecting a dress for my first USMC ball. Reading your post has gotten me super excited even more so! I'm glad to know that showing my shoulders would be ok, I was worried about that, but would've brought a wrap anyway. You are adorable.
    All the best to you and your family.

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  38. Allie I was wonder if you thought that a dress with gems on the top and on the straps would not be a good thing to wear???

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    1. Your comment had no email attached so I hope you see this! Gems are fine! As long as you're comfortable and classy you're set. Add a splash, you don't have to be boring by any means. Just make sure it's classy.

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    2. Thanks. I just really didnt know.

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    3. Thanks for the help. I just didnt know if it would be too much

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  39. I was asked to attend the USMC ball with a friend last week and this is the first time I've ever done anything like this (I don't typically dress up... I didn't even attend my own high school prom), so this really helped me figure out what's okay and what's not. Thanks so much!

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  40. I was invited to my first USMC ball last week -- and really my first formal event ever... I didn't even go to my high school prom -- by a friend and had no idea what I should wear. This has helped me so much in figuring out what I should do. I'm not the typical dress wearing kind of girl so I'm way more nervous than I should be. Thanks for this though!

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  41. hello allie! i am attending my first marine ball this year with my boyfriend of 7 months. his first year in the marines has been training so i have not been able to meet any of his buddies or their significant others to ask about the ball. i bought a dress that i absolutely love and i am comfortable in. i am very concerned about being to fancy, so would you mind giving your input? Thank you so much!!
    http://www.davidsbridal.com/Product_Sleeveless-Stretch-Taffeta-Dress-with-Lace-Keyhole-XS4665

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    1. Lauren,

      Your email wasn't attached to your comment so I hope you see this! Your dress is beautiful and I think will be perfect for the ball. I hope you have a wonderful time and make some good memories!

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    2. Allie,

      Thank you so much! I am very much looking forward to the ball. Loving your blog by the way:)

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  42. HI ALLIE! OMG your blog is so useful. It helped me so much :D Your so adorable! Well, This November will be my first Marine Ball that I attend. The past couple of days i have been searching for a dress and i can not make up my mind. until today where i found a dress that just fit perfect it was sooo comfortable. it was a low to high dress though...
    it was dark teal.
    here is a kind of similar example..(the back bottom part)

    http://www.windsorstore.com/Shop/Dresses/All-Dresses/Luisa--Red-Homecoming-Dress/p/173944

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    1. Karen,

      Your email wasn't attached to your comment so I hope you see this. I'm glad you found a dress that's comfortable but if the picture represents the same length that dress may be a little short in the front for a ball. Some girls do wear short dresses but it's usually not common. Personally a long dress is much more appropriate. It's up to you but that's my opinion. I hope you have fun at the ball and thanks for stopping by.

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  43. Hi Allie, I will be attending my first Marine Corps Birthday ball this year so your blog really helped!! I think I found the perfect dress, but I'm not sure about the slit... Do you think it will be okay?

    http://www.amazon.com/Sunvary-Fashion-Shoulder-Cocktail-Dresses-/dp/B00BIXL2SW/ref=sr_1_31?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1382909964&sr=1-31&keywords=Dresses

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    1. Dely, your email wasn't attached to your comment so I hope you see this. If you will be comfortable in the dress I say go for it. It's hard to tell in the picture how big the slit is but if it's something your feel comfortable wearing then you'll be fine.

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  44. Hi Allie,

    Your article has been very helpful! I'm attending the Ball for the first time this year and am very excited and feel honored to be going. I do have one question though. I keep hearing about gifts - am I supposed to get a gift for my Marine?

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    1. Miss M,

      Your email wasn't attached to your comment so I hope you see this. About gifts, I've honestly never gotten one for Ryan. At the ball they usually have some sort of favor you can take with you at the end of the the evening, usually a custom glass of some sort (we've gotten beer steins, champagne flutes and wine glasses before) or the unit coin or some other sort of favor. Is that what you mean?

      Allie

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    2. Maybe that's why I keep seeing gifts mentioned, then. Thanks for your help! This is all new to me.

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Devyn,

      Your email wasn't attached to your comment so I hope you see this. I think I mentioned in the post there is a difference between a white dress and a wedding dress. The girl I saw was legitimately wearing a full ball gown style wedding dress! Train and all. If you're wearing a comfortable classy white dress you'll be fine! Don't let white scare you!

      Allie

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    2. Honestly you have made me feel 100 times better thank you soooo much! :)

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  46. Thank you so much. This is my first ball with my Marine. I'm so excited yet terrified.your pay helped a lot. Just like he said I'll be his princess. I wish I could take you shopping with me lol. But I am in debt. You saved me from all this questions. I hope I can look as good as he does in his handsome blues. Thank you thank you =)

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  47. I feel out of place asking this... But I got asked to go to a Marine Corps Ball by a guy that I don't know all that well. That being said, I like him and he's an incredibly nice person, and I'd love to go. But I feel sort of out of place. I know this is an important event, and I'm worried about going as a random girl - not the girlfriend, fiancé, wife, etc. Is it okay to go? Am I being incredibly silly? Is it normal for the marines to bring people, even if they are not their significant others or family? What is your opinion?

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    1. Your email wasn't attached to your comment so I hope you see this! That happens quite a bit. People will go as friends or even be set up with their buddies friends so they don't have to go alone. Just be friendly and have a good time!

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  48. This is the first time I am going to a marine ball. This post really helped alot, I am going to Japan in November :)

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  49. Hello, i was concerned about tickets for the birthday ball for 29 palms. I might have the pleasure of attending this year, 2014, with my boyfriend. My man is a little on the slow side to get the ball rolling and it would ease my mind if i knew how he could acquire them. I would really like things to work out. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you

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    1. Brandi,

      You didn't leave your email so I hope you see this. Your boyfriend needs to talk to his command or family readiness officer. They will have that information. Each ball is hosted my its own regiment or unit so it depends who he works for or is stationed with. His chain of command will know. Good luck!

      Allie

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  50. Allie,

    I was wondering if there was a way I could email the pictures of my dress for the ball and see if you think it is appropriate. My boyfriend is stationed at 29 Palms and the ball will be held in Las Vegas in early December (they will be at ITX on the 10th of November). I just wanted the opinion of someone who has been going for several years now.

    Caroline (caroline.mcewen523@yahoo.com)

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  51. My husband is a permanent medically retired marine. He does not want to wear his dress blues, because they are too uncomfortable. Will he be out of place wearing a nice black sport coat, pants shirt and tie?

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    1. Natalie I tried to find an email for you but couldn't. I am sure your husband will be ok if he is dressed nicely (especially if his blues are uncomfortable because he is medically retired). If you really want to be sure contact the unit hosting the ball or the family readiness officer to make sure. I know I have seen husbands with wives who are active duty wear suits before too. So the short answer? I am sure it would be fine.

      Allie

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