A quinceañera marks a young lady’s transition to adulthood on her 15th birthday. Combining time honored quinceañera traditions and a beautiful reception (with all the hype of a Sweet 16), each celebration reflects the unique culture of the birthday girl and her family.
Quinceañeras are often celebrated in Latin America, the Caribbean, Mexico — as well as in Latino/Hispanic communities in the United States and elsewhere.
Event planner Annie Nuño of The Soirée Co. Wedding and Event Planning tells us, “The beautiful thing about a quinceañera is you get to see the heritage.” She also reminds us, “Depending on your background, your traditions are different, therefore your celebration will differ from one quinceañera to the next.”
While every country has different traditions, it’s not unusual to see common elements throughout the reception “that always stay the same.”
Keep reading to see how The Soirée Co. Wedding and Event Planning designed and produced a beautiful celebration for 15-year-old Evelyn — with many common quinceañera traditions woven into the reception.
As Nuño shares, “It’s a fairytale for parents to be able to celebrate their child’s quinceañera.” See how “happily ever after” unfolds one gorgeous element at a time.
*Quinceañera may refer to both the celebration and the celebrant.
Annie Nuño of The Soirée Co. Wedding and Event Planning began her career choreographing quinceañera waltzes at local celebrations. As she made connections with other talented vendors, she began to take on new roles as an MC and day-of-coordinator. Discovering a passion for event planning and design, she expanded her portfolio to other milestone celebrations and corporate events.
Annie is now the proud owner and lead planner of The Soirée Co. This luxury wedding and event team offers planning, design, and coordination for couples at home and abroad. She and her team excel at capturing each client’s unique vision. Their attention to detail and flawless planning process results in beautiful events, each and every time. And yes, she still plans quinceañeras.
The court of honor, usually composed of close friends or family, symbolizes the love and support shown to the celebrant (also known as a quinceañerea) as she transitions into womanhood. In addition to performing a waltz for the celebration, the court of honor often puts on a “surprise” dance. While modern celebrations may feature a smaller court, traditional quinces often have 14 damas (girls) and 14 chambelanes (boys).
The chambelan escort is distinguished as the celebrant’s main escort. You can expect to find the escort as her counterpart in the traditional waltz — as well as preliminary photo sessions.
Much like a contemporary wedding reception, the quinceañera’s grand entrance to the celebration is often accompanied by music and an MC. The MC announces the arrival of the celebrant’s parents, followed by the court. Finally, the quinceañera and her chambelan escort enter the party to the standing ovation of friends and family.
The entrance is the perfect opportunity to get creative and make a dramatic entrance. See how one young lady arrives on horseback in grand style. We especially love how Evelyn’s entrance is perfectly on-theme as she descends from Cinderella’s carriage. The scene is further heightened by fog and fanfare trumpets.
The toast is reserved for the celebrant and the most important people in her life, such as parents and godparents (padrinos). This beautiful tradition is an opportunity to thank loved ones for their help in bringing the beautiful celebration together. It’s also a chance to congratulate the young lady on her transition into adulthood — and reminisce on happy moments in her childhood.
The changing of the shoes represents the quinceañera’s transition from girlhood to womanhood. The celebrant begins the evening wearing flats. Right before the waltz, her father or a close male relative will help her change into heels. We love how the royal seating and swirling fog amplifies the importance of this age-long ritual — while also tying into Evelyn’s Cinderella theme.
After changing into heels, the celebrant takes her first turn on the dance floor as a young woman. She shares this important moment with her father or a father-like figure. Just like the parent/child dance at a wedding, it’s an emotional moment that symbolizes the eternal love between parent and child — as well as the young lady’s embarkment into a new life.
After the father/daughter dance, the chambelan asks the father for permission to dance with the quinceañera. From there, the birthday girl goes on to waltz with her chambelan and court.
Known as the “Tree of Life,” the 15 candle ceremony symbolizes the 15 years of the celebrant’s life. Traditionally, the celebrant writes and reads something special about each person to whom she presents a candle. Often the young lady’s parents will receive their candle at the end, marking their important role in her life.
ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS FROM QUINCEAÑERA
7. The Gown
The transition from childhood to adulthood calls for epic fashion attire. While each celebration differs in the level of formality, quinceañeras often wear stunning ball gowns in a favorite color. Here, Evelyn wears a beautiful blue ball gown that matches the color scheme of her Cinderella theme. If you like this, just check out the tablescapes and cake.
The court will also dress up in gowns and tuxedos. It’s common to also find the celebrant decked out in princess-like accessories such as tiaras, sashes, and a scepter to hold.
An epic party requires the perfect venue. Evelyn’s quinceañera took place at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. The stunning ballroom featured silk wall coverings, stone arches, and crystal chandeliers.
So many beautiful traditions, such as the changing of the shoes and the 15 candle ceremony, take place during the reception bash. We love how The Soirée Co. Wedding and Event Planning designed and produced a gorgeous celebration that included candlelit tablescapes, a larger-than-life seating chart (reminiscent of a fairytale book), and a photo-worthy dance floor that deserves its own mention.
Of course, every waltz needs a dance floor. We adore how The Soirée Co. Wedding and Event Planning went above and beyond a traditional square of hard flooring. We are obsessed with this clock-like dance floor.
Fun fact: The hands of the clock are ‘set’ to her birth time. While it’s true, the Cinderella-themed reception eventually came to an end; the memories on the dance floor will certainly last a lifetime.
The cake is another sweet and memorable element of any reception. We love how this Cinderella-themed cake is topped with a glass slipper, while the blue icing evokes the celebrant’s own ball gown.
People Also Ask…
What are the Most Important Things in a Quinceañera?
Every family must decide on which elements and traditions they want to incorporate into their child’s quinceañera. For example, some families may choose to have a religious ceremony while others will only celebrate with a reception.
While there is no right and wrong answer, quinceañeras will often feature common elements such as ball gowns and tuxedos for the court, a beautiful venue space, and a sitdown dinner with music and dancing.
PartySlate can help connect you with top local vendors for bringing your dream quinceañera (or other milestone celebration) to life. Head to our curated directory to search by event type, pro category, diversity designation, and more.
What is the Order of the Quinceañera?
While there is no right or wrong way to order your child’s quinceañera reception, the celebration often unfolds in the following way:
- Arrival of guests
- Entrance of parents, the court, and the celebrant
- The toast
- 15 candle ceremony
- A reception dinner
- The changing of shoes
- The parent/child dance
- The waltz
- Dance time
- The cake cutting