Monday, February 4, 2013

U.S.M.C Birthday Ball 2012

I have so much to catch up on my blog, and I figured I need to start somewhere and seeing as I'm still (!!) sorting through my pictures from Europe, I thought I'd go back to the week after I got home from my time abroad.
A good friend of mine is a United States Marine and shortly after getting home, he invited me to go to the annual Marine Birthday Ball. I was honored to be asked and of course accepted. The Birthday Ball celebrates the birth of the Marine Corps and what every Marine puts on the line when making the commitment to serve the country.

The ball was held in a ballroom of a beautiful (and ritzy) hotel. A long hallway was decorated and set up for the cocktail hour where couples strolled elegantly arm-in-arm through the crowd, balancing a drink in one hand, while shaking the hand of a new acquaintance with the other. Every uniform was donned with the utmost care. Every button on the jackets were shined, every belt buckle perfectly centered, every shoe was a smooth glossy black. Dozens of clean shaven faces smiled and laughed as they greeted friends and introduced new ones. There were a few brave women who were also in uniform. With their uniforms just as pristine as the men's, their hair pulled into a conservative bun and just a bit of makeup, there was something about them that made them just as beautiful (if not more) as the other ladies in attendance. The dates of the Marines were wearing beautiful evening gowns, some flashier than others, but all in a variety of deep reds, blues, blacks, whites and other colors that are complimentary to the uniforms or a black tuxedo with a bow tie.
Horrid picture, but the lighting was awful so I had to use the flash.

The hall led into the ballroom where the tables were set up around the dance floor. The dimmed lights made everything from the chandlers on the ceiling and the mirrors on the wall to the glasses tables and the jewelry on the guests look magically sparkly. There was a pageant, some wonderful speeches, and the moving ceremony of the oldest and youngest marine cutting and passing the cake. I have to admit, my eyes were not dry for the whole evening. When the formalities of the ceremony were completed, the dinner was served and shortly after the dancing began. The upbeat music of the oh-so sophisticated Cha-Cha Slide soon had the dance floor filled with couples having fun. After a several hours of formal behaviour and food, and a couple of fun dancing (some not as graceful as others), we left the ball.
Now, if you are like most of my friends, you are no doubt wondering what I wore, so here we go. I found a very elegant deep red gown, the top is draped as a one shouldered bodice. Its silhouette is a bit like what you'd get from a mermaid gown; fitted at the waist and through the hips and gently flaring at the knees. The hem of the gown grazed the floor in the front and swooped down into a small train in the back.

Two small straps held the gown up.
I love how the back drapes into the train.

Tiny fabric flowers and seed beads cover the seam under the bust.
I accessorized with pewter and garnet earrings, black satin heels and a vintage beaded clutch. My hair was very long, so I just pinned it up in a soft, low, twisted side chignon.

 It was an incredible evening, one that I will not forget. If you have a chance to thank someone in the armed forces or a vertran, don't ever pass up that oportunity. Because freedom isn't free.