Going to Your First Mardi Gras Bal? Here are the Rules and Etiquette You Need to Know
If you're going to your first Mardi Gras bal ever, whether it's in New Orleans or Shreveport-Bossier, LA, this is what you can expect and the rules and etiquette you should follow.
So you've been invited to attend your first Mardi Gras bal, but you have no idea what to expect. No worries! We've got a full list of what you should and shouldn't do, plus a list of unspoken rules about proper etiquette.
How do you get tickets for a Mardi Gras bal?
First off, you may be wondering about tickets. Tickets can generally be purchased through the host Krewe's website. If you can't purchase your tickets that way, ask a friend who's a member of the host Krewe and they should be able to hook you up. Remember, just because you were invited, you'll still more than likely have to purchase a ticket.
What do I wear to a Mardi Gras bal?
Secondly, you should know that most Mardi Gras bals are formal events. Depending on the host Krewe, ladies should wear a long formal gown. For less formal events, a cocktail dress is acceptable. Word to the wise, if you have the option, go with the full-length formal dress. You'll thank me later! Men should either wear a tuxedo or if they're in the military or law enforcement, a formal dress uniform. Hint: You can purchase your tuxedo new for about the same price as renting one, so go ahead and invest in yourself. Also, some bals are 'masked.' If they are, please respect your host Krewe's wishes.
Always, and I mean always, plan on a safe ride. Depending on the event, there may be an open bar. Regardless, the alcohol will be flowing. Make sure you have a safe ride home for the evening and bring plenty of cash to tip and purchase drinks if needed.
Do they serve food at Mardi Gras bals?
Generally, some type of food is provided. A lot of Krewes opt to serve a breakfast buffet towards the end of the evening to help soak up some of the adult beverages you may have imbibed. At some bals in south Louisiana, they'll allow you to bring a cooler stocked with snacks and drinks!
Make some Mardi Gras memories!
Bring a camera! You'll want pictures of your big night! Ladies, you also might want to bring a pair of flats or ballet slippers for dancing later in the evening when you just can't handle those heels anymore. Nothing looks worse than someone who is dressed to the nines running around drunk with dirty Walmart feet and strings of confetti stuck to them.
Pregaming is key when it comes to Mardi Gras bals.
Drink LOTS of water beforehand. Hydration is key! Eating something light before the event is a smart move as well. I bet you thought I was going to tell you to drink before going. Trust me, you won't have a hard time finding booze at a bal!
What does it mean if I've been invited to sit at a royalty table at a Mardi Gras bal?
If you are invited to sit at a royalty table, make sure you RSVP as soon as possible. Also, you might find fun trinkets and gifts at your place setting. Those are yours to keep. However, it's considered rude to remove centerpieces and other decorations without the express permission of your host. Also, keep in mind that it's tradition to bring a congratulatory gift if you're a guest at a royalty table. Gift ideas include anything Mardi Gras or Louisiana-themed. Hint: Gift bags are a great way to sneak in alcohol if the event doesn't feature an open bar.
What can you expect to experience at a Mardi Gras bal in Louisiana?
A few other notes, when you arrive at the event, you'll check in and present your ticket. At that time, make sure to ask where you'll be seated. That way they can direct you to the specific royalty or float table you belong at or seating reserved for visiting royalty and guests. The first hour or two are dedicated to socializing, then you'll be asked to be seated for the 'tableau.' This is the program part of the evening when the Krewe will celebrate outstanding members and present their royalty. During the presentation, you can expect royals to throw beads and other trinkets. If you're there supporting a specific royal, they will usually have confetti cannons and such on their tables for you to use when they are presented. After all of the royal shenanigans, a band or DJ generally plays and food is served. After that, just have fun! FYI, you don't have to be a member of a Krewe to go to their Grand Bal. They love having visitors!
Happy Mardi Gras and let the good times roll y'all!
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Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells