A Quinceanera is an important cultural milestone and celebration in Latino communities and marks a young woman’s 15th birthday. It’s traditionally a formal celebration with lavish Quinceanera invitations, decorations, dresses and more.
A Quinceanera is the celebration of a young lady entering into a new stage in her life. It marks the change from girlhood to adulthood and the addition of new responsibilities. It is believed to have originated when the Spaniards colonized what is now known as Mexico, but its history can be dated back to the Aztecs around 500 B.C. In colonial Mexico, girls were not allowed to dance in public before they were 15 years old, so families starting throwing Quinceaneras to commemorate their introduction into adult society.
Quinceanera is celebrated in countries from North America to Central America, the Caribbean and South America. The ceremonies differ slightly between each country. Many begin the festivities with a special mass. During the mass the Quince receives holy communion, makes an act of consecration to the Virgin Mary, gives the Virgin Mary a bouquet of flowers and receives gifts that are blessed by the priest.
After the mass, guests are invited to attend a Quinceanera reception. In some countries a 15-candle ceremony is conducted where the birthday girl passes out 15 candles to the 15 people who have had the most influence in her life. Sometimes the Quince will give a doll to her younger sister .
Almost always, the waltz is performed by the Quinceanera court which includes 15 young people with significance in the Quince’s life. It’s normally comprised of seven young ladies (Damas) and seven gentlemen (Chambelans). After the traditional waltz they often present other special dances. The party continues with toasts until the presentation and crowning of the young lady. It many countries this is done precisely at midnight.
The rituals and ceremonies vary greatly from country to country and family to family. They all have evolved greatly over the years, but still represent the time-honored values of love, honor and family.
Traditional Quinceanera dresses are formal, long ball gowns with full, princess-like skirts. Some modern Quinceanera celebrations are less formal and Quinces even wear short dresses. Sparkles, frills and glamour are all consistent parts of a Quinceanera dress.
Quinces often wear or are presented with tiaras, necklacess, scepters or rings. Rings represent a marriage to God and family; necklace with a cross represents Catholocism and a devout Catholic. A scepter shows she now has authrority.
Traditionally, girls start the Quinceanera festivities in flat shoes and end the party in heels to represent the transformation into womanhood. If you plan on using this custom, make sure the dress is hemmed appropriately for both sets of shoes.
If you are looking for a Quinceanera theme, here are some popular ideas to consider:
- Pink Princess: Many Quinces looking for a fairytale party opt for a pink princess Quinceanera theme. With lots of pink decorations and, of course, a pink dessert table, this theme has a storybook quality. Consider adding horse and carriage decorations and centerpieces, a pink chocolate fountain and glass slippers to add to the magical princess theme.
- Masquerade: A masquerade Quinceanera is a popular theme with many Quinces, especially those who love bold jewel tones. Guests or the court can be invited to bring and wear masks for a mysterious effect at the party. Decorations with masks, beads, candles, balloons and streamers will all coordinate perfectly with a masquerade Quinceanera party.
- Peacock: Many Quinces who want an elegant alternative to pink pick a peacock-themed Quinceanera. There are lots of ways to integrate this beautiful theme into the festivities: feathers (inexpensive when purchased in bulk!), turquoise and blue tonal dishes and decorations, gold accents and and an elegant peacock cake.
- Butterfly: Butterflies symbolize transformation, making it a perfect theme for a Quinceanera. Any color works for this theme, especially orange, yellow and purple. Consider making a tree with paper butterflies for your guests to sign or releasing butterflies at a garden Quinceanera party.
- Tiffany Blue: This popular Quinceanera theme is easy to pull off using custom Tiffany Quinceanera invitations, a Tiffany box cake and centerpieces, as well as a Tiffancy blue candy bar.
Quinceanera Party Food
The menu at a quinceanera often reflects the guest of honor’s favorite foods. Buffet-style serving keeps the costs down. Much like at a wedding, the cake is the star element of a Quinceanera, oftentimes featuring elaborate decoration and tiara or jewel toppers.
Quinceanera Gift Ideas
If you’re asking what gift is appropriate for a quinceanera? Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Picture frame
- Gift Cards
- Handwritten card with life advice
- Collectibles (porcelain dolls and glass figurienes)
- Music CDs
- Help with costs of party
- Concert tickets
- Movie tickets
It’s important that the Quinceanera invitations reflect the type of celebration you’re hosting and generates excitement for the event. Select an invitation that reflects the color and style of your party. If it’s a big, fabulous affair, don’t hesitate creating a fancy party invitation. There are also great online vendors that can provide cheap Quinceanera invitations to help keep costs down.
Another cost-saving tip is to know the number of Quinceanera invitations you would like to send out when your order. It’s less expensive to order 25 extra invitations during your initial order rather than reordering them at the last minute with rush charges. Also, remember to customize the invitation to include all the necessary information for guests. Consider using booklet or trifold Quinceaneara invitations if you need to provide information in both English and Spanish.
If you would like guests to respond with the number of people attending, consider adding a response card with an envelope. Invitation companies such as Invite Shop offer response cards to match all their Quinceanera invitations.
Decorations and Favors
Centerpieces will tie all the tables together with a consistent theme and make a dramatic appearance. Feathers are a great, trendy additional and are fairly inexpensive when purchased in bulk. Also consider displaying your favors (that match the theme, of course!) as a decoration themselves.
What are your favorite ideas for a spectacular Quinceanera?