This past weekend, I had the honor of accompanying my boyfriend to his Military Ball. At first, I was so excited! I was gonna get to dress up in a long formal dress, which I never get to do, and go dance with my handsome boyfriend in his fancy uniform. It was like a fairy tale come true, I was gonna get to be a princess!
And then panic set in. I was going to be shaking hands with some pretty important people in the military. I met a two-star general ya’ll! I knew nothing about formal dining! I mean I had taken a business formal dining crash course, but never had I actually put it to use. I was doomed, I couldn’t go. There was no way I was going to embarrass my boyfriend!
But I went. And I’m here to tell the tale. My boyfriend still has his job and I had a great time! Lol. Here’s what I learned from my first ball:
Everyone is there for the same reason. At first I felt so weird going in a long dress. I’m just not used to it, being short, I prefer to wear knee length dresses for anything semi-formal. But once I got to the event and saw everyone else in their gorgeous dresses I felt more at ease. And once I started shaking hands and meeting people, I realized they were all so nice and no one was there to judge me.
Just smile and be nice. Literally everyone there was so welcoming! Smiles and handshakes everywhere you looked. Everyone was there to enjoy a night out and look their best. Oh, and have fun of course!
No one expects you to know all the formalities down to the T. Sure you need to know the basics, but using the dinner fork as opposed to the salad fork for your first course is not that big of a deal. And most of the formalities you can catch on to pretty quickly. For example:
- Move inwards. Use your utensils from outside in.
- The courses help guide your utensils. If you have a spoon on the outside you know you’re gonna have soup; if you have a spoon placed above your plate, you know you’re having dessert, if there’s two forks you know one will be used for salad, etc.
- You’re host helps guide you. The MC was great at letting us know when to sit, stand, toast, applaud, etc. There was also a program at the table with a schedule of events and toast responds. But if all else fails, just follow what everyone else does. Hehe.
- Use common courtesy. Don’t chew with your mouth open, don’t put your elbows on the table while eating, don’t speak with your mouth full, etc. You know how to behave.
Overall, I think this event was a great success. Am I an expert at formal dining, absolutely NOT! But I know that I can go into the next event with a little more confidence!
Ladies, raise your hand if you buy a dress and only wear it once? That gorgeous dress that took you forever to find now sitting in your closet, collecting dust, never to be work again. Guilty!
So when I found out about Rent the Runway, I just about died! How genius is it to rent formal gowns? I mean, men rent tuxedos all the time! And the selection of dresses is enormous!
You just put in what days you’ll need the dress for (4 or 8 day rental) and they’ll show you the selection of dresses they have available in your size for those days. They deliver the dress 1-2 days before your event and you return it 1-2 days after your event. The best part: you don’t have to worry about a return label or washing/dry cleaning it! They take care of all that for you. Insurance for the dress is also included in your price.
They always have promotions going on as well. Most include a free 2nd dress rental. I am so glad I did this because I had originally picked a red dress and this fushia dress as my backup. I am 5’2″, 108 lbs and a 0R did not fit. It was just too long! Welp! Thankfully I ordered this fushia dress in a 0P and it fit like a glove. Literally, this dress hugs in all the right places!
Not in need of a long formal dress? They also rent semi-formal and casual dresses, tops, bottoms, jewelry, and accessories.
Have you ever been to a formal event? Got any additional advice? I would love to hear all about it!