Sweet 15 – Creating a Beautiful, Meaningful, Festive Celebration!
A Quinceañera is the Hispanic tradition of celebrating a young girl’s coming of age – her 15th birthday. Party Idea Pros offers lots of basic planning advice, theme ideas, and recommended supplies, but up until now, we definitely slacked off in guidance on the most important aspect the quinceanera tradition – the ceremony. And as we learn more and more about this beautiful tradition, we realize that we need to develop some new celebration packages to fit the occasion. In the meantime, be sure to check out the some of the more popular birthday party theme ideas and then modify them with a few quinceanera specific touches.
Quinceanera Theme Ideas
Butterfly | Everything Sweet | Classic Elegance | Garden Delights | Happy Birthday | Hollywood | Orange (or any color) Outburst | Melodies of Life | Smiles! | Sparkling Nights | Tea Party | Winter Wonderland | Colorful Zebra (Jungle) | Serene Seaside (Surf's Up) | Princess Party (princess theme decor kits and invitations)
The Quinceanera Tradition — A Quick Overview
The Meaning of a QUINCEANERA
courtesy of myfifteen.com
The Quinceañera tradition dates back more than 600 years to when the Aztec and Mayan cultures celebrated when a young girl became eligible to marry, have children, and take on the responsibilities of a woman in the community. Eventually, the tradition was influenced by the Spaniards, and a Catholic connection emerged. More recently, non-Catholic churches have also begun to offer religious ceremonies for Quinceañeras. While the religious ceremony is a vital part of the Quinceañera for many Latino families, today some choose to have a reception only.
For those that celebrate in the church first, the ceremony comprises a very important part of the event. The church ceremony, and all of the preparation leading up to it, can provide a wonderful opportunity for the Quinceañera’s priest or minister to discuss with her the growing responsibilities she takes on as a woman of faith. The ceremony serves to remind her of her devotion to God, and it includes a rededication of her baptismal vows.
Many of the traditional gifts presented to the quinceañera by her parents and her padrinos (Godparents) at her church ceremony are symbols of faith. The tiara placed on her head signifies her standing as a princess in the eyes of God. The quinceañera earrings remind her to listen to God’s word. The bracelet represents the unbroken nature of God’s love: it is unceasing. The scepter represents her acceptance of the responsibilities of being a woman. She also receives a patron saint medal, rosary, or quinceañera Bible to remind her of her foundation in faith. These items represent her tools for navigating through life as a woman of faith.
(See below for more detailed explanations and product recommendations)
So Who's Who …
The Quinceanera (the 15 year old honoree)
The Padrinos (the Godparents)
Court of Honor (14 young people: her closest friends, siblings, and cousins)
- Dama (the young girls in the Court of Honor)
- Chambelan, Escorte, Galan (the young men in the Court of Honor)
Generally, quinceanera attire is formal. The Quinceanera often wears a white or pink cinderella style ball gown. The Damas, like bridesmaids, all wear identical dresses, usually a color complimenting the quinceanera's dress. The Chambelanes rent tuxedos and wear ties or bow ties matching the damas' dresses. More on dresses later!
And now for everything Quinceanera …
The Bible is an important gift for every quinceañera. It is the basis of the quinceañera's faith and is a place for her to turn to for advice and companionship throughout her adult life. Many of these Bibles come in sets that also include matching guest books, photo albums, kneeling & tiara pillows. More colors & styles available!
The Rosary is central in the Catholic faith, and is often presented on this occasion to assist the quinceañera with her prayers. In addition to or in place of the rosary, the quinceañera may receive a patron saint medal to wear as a reminder of the importance of her faith and religious tradition in her life.
The Bracelet and The Ring
A bracelet is a symbol of God's unending love. The parents or the padrinos may present a bracelet to the quinceañera. While the bracelet may be of any style. Many popular choices include something with a charm, a Christian Symbol, a simple bangle, or a special quinceañera bracelet with a “15” charm or symbol.
The Ring serves much the same purpose as the bracelet, it symbolizes God's unending love. The quinceañera may receive one or both of these items and sometimes the ring and bracelet will be part of a matching set.
The Tiara (or corona) symbolizes that the quinceañera is a princess in the eyes of God. A tiara usually replaces a simple headpiece that the quinceañera wears into the ceremony. She may receive her corona at the church ceremony, or during the reception. Your priest or minister can help you determine which events should occur in the church ceremony, and which are reserved for the reception.
The scepter represents the quinceanera's acceptance of the responsibilities of being a woman.
Last Doll (Muneca)
The last doll is another traditional symbol that embodies a great deal of meaning. The last doll, or ultima muñeca, represents the leaving behind of her childhood and the toys of a young girl, in exchange for more grown-up responsibilities and interests. A last doll can be given by the padrinos or the parents.
The earrings serve to remind the young woman to keep her ears tuned to the word of God. They may be presented by the padrinos or the parents. If presented at the church ceremony, the priest or minister will bless them along with the other gifts. The earrings can be in any style and are usually something very special for the young woman.
The Quinceanera Waltz
courtesy of Uniquely Quince
This is a dance that is practiced for months before the official Quinceañera celebration. It begins with a special dance between the Quinceañera and her father to music that she has chosen with her parents. When the father-daughter dance is complete, the Quinceañera dances with her Chambelán escort. At the conclusion of this dance, all of the Chambelán and Damas join in and dance a choreographed piece. This is one of the highlights of the event so it is necessary that it be performed well. Music like “A Ritmo de Bals” and “Sobre las Olas” is traditionally used, but the Quinceañera and her parents may select other music.
The dance symbolizes the transfer of the young lady from childhood to adulthood. After the dance, she has the freedom to dance with other young men.
The quinceañera begins her ceremony in flat heels, symbolic of her childhood. Usually during the reception, her father will kneel at her feet as she sits in a special chair. He will remove the low heeled shoes of her childhood and replace them with her first high heeled shoes. It is typically from this point forward that she is allowed to wear high heeled shoes.
I have to admit, choosing the dress is my favorite aspect of the whole planning process. Every year we turn to Seventeen Magazine's Quinceaera Guide for inspiration. And then turn to House of Brides when we actually want to purchase our dress!
Bright Quinceanera Dresses
White Quinceanera Dresses
Pretty in Pastels
House of Brides has an extensive collection of Quinceanera dresses.
Integrate Culture into Your Celebration!
As we tweeted, “Today more than ever we need to take pride in & celebrate our traditions, culture & heritage! So how fabulous would it be to create an all LulaFlora Quinceanera celebration, from invitations to party favors to papel picado to table numbers. We are #obsessed!
Choosing your invitation is the equivalent of the title of a paper … it sets the tone for the entire party! Party Idea Pros' celebration theme packages each have beautiful invitations suggestions, absolutely appropriate for any Quinceanera celebration. However, if you prefer invitations specifically designed for Quinceaneras, here are a few of our favorites.
We love everything Minted but are especially enamored with their selection of Quinceanera invitations!
Handmade WOW Invitations
Don't Forget the Stamp
Quinceanera Party Favors
Quinceanera Cake Toppers
Quinceanera Paper Goods
For a more casual celebration…
If you are hosting a huge bash (i.e. your entire town is invited) paper goods might be your easiest option. But convenience doesn't have to be tacky — this buttercup floral and butterfly pattern is the perfect mixture of chic and elegance. In fact, create your entire theme around these pieces from your invitation to your dress. I love it!
Quinceanera Decorations & Centerpieces
Make the Night Last a Year
Don’t let this memorable day fade away with the setting sun. The next day, when all is still fresh, log onto Mixbook to create photo books, memory calendars, and even photo thank you notes.