Planning a quinceañera


Nayeli Arredondo

Quinceañeras are celebrations for a girl’s turning 15. Everyone has fun at these parties, but not everyone recognizes the hard work it takes to make this one day perfect. People may think it’s just some celebration that doesn’t involve a lot of work, that you just pick a big puffy dress, get a hall, decorate it, and decide what food to serve and who to invite. But it’s a lot more complex than that.


Step One: Court Of Honor


  The first step in planning a quinceañera is choosing court of honor, which is the guys and girls that participate in the surprise dance. This is more difficult than it sounds because you must make sure everyone will come to every practice, make it on time, and actually participate. Although it is common, not every quinceañera will have both guys and girls; some may have one or the other. Also, the chambelan of honor needs to be chosen, which is your partner for when you do the surprise dance.


Step Two: Theme


   The second step to planning a quinceañera is picking your theme. Some girls have a fairytale theme, or a Paris themed quinceañera, while others like to have a Hispanic theme. But the choice is up to you. Based on your theme you also choose your colors. That will determine what color your dress will be, and what the decorations will look like also.


Step Three: The Dress


   The third step to planning a quinceañera is finding the perfect dress. This has to be one of the most exciting and important steps, and it has to match your theme colors. Most girls like to choose a princess type of dress that’s pink, red, blue, purple, or gold. Or they’ll be traditional and have a white dress. But, you can have any color you want and you can even get a multicolored dress.


Step Four: Venue


   The fourth step to planning a quinceañera is booking your venue. If you wait until the last minute to book a venue, odds are you’re probably going to get a bad one or no venue at all. So, book a venue months in advance. Also, make sure the venue can hold a lot of people and that the dance floor has room for people to dance. Nobody likes a crowded dance floor.


Step Five: Invitations


   The fifth step is figuring out what invitations you want. The invitations tell what your theme is going to be, as well as other information on your quinceañera. For example, if you have a Paris theme, you would want to have something like an Eiffel Tower designed invitation. A lot of girls also like to have their picture on the invitations. Some girls do it in their big dress or they wear a simple dress. Having a nice background is key to a good picture. You could either go to the beach or a picture with nature behind you. Also using a good camera is important and not using your phone.


Step Six: Guest List


    The sixth step is making a guest list. Some quinceañeras are invite only and others choose to have an open invitation but it’s still important to make a guest list. Making a guest list helps determine how many people are going be there, because venues have a capacity of how many people it can hold. And, handing out invitations to your friends and family is always fun and gets people excited about your quinceañera.


Step Seven: Sponsors


   The seventh step in planning a quinceañera is finding you sponsors. Your sponsors help pay for your gifts like your quinceañera ring, necklace, Bible, rosary, pillow, and doll. Or they just help pay for the party. Your sponsors can either be your aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents, friend’s parents or your parents’ friends, but your parents usually choose.


Step Eight: Band/ DJ


   The eighth step is booking your band or DJ. Every party needs music and you can either choose a band or a DJ. If you pick a DJ you’ll need to make a list of songs you want or if you want both you can. Some halls come with their own DJ so you wouldn’t have to worry much about finding one. Always remember to have music people can dance to so they enjoy themselves at your quinceañera.


Step Nine: Outfits


   Step nine is planning on what your damas and chambelanes will wear. It has to match your colors, but make sure the girls don’t have the same color dress as you, because you want to stand out. You could either have a lighter or darker shaded dress for they girls or you can have a completely different color dress for them. For my quinceañera, my colors were gold and light pink. And I had a light pink dress while the girls wore a light gold dress. The boys could either wear a tux or a dress shirt with dress pants and a bowtie and suspenders. There are many outfit choices you can choose from. And always remember your chambelan of honor stands out from the others. What I had my chambelanes wear was a white dress shirt with black dress pants and black and white converse with a light pink bowtie and suspenders. My chambelan wore something similar except he wore all black.


Step Ten: Buying The Dresses


    The tenth step is sizing your dress and your damas’ dresses. You should buy your damas’ dress and your dress a month or two before your quinceañera. This gives you time to resize them if they end up being too small or too big. And if you want to add more sparkles or sequins to the dress you’re able to. If you wait too long to buy the dresses they may not be ready in time for the quinceañera.


Step Eleven: Surprise Dance


   The eleventh step is figuring out your surprise dance. Your surprise dance is when you dance with all your damas and chambelanes. You could have any songs you want, and you could have as many songs as you want, either in Spanish or English. Typically, girls like to have a bachata and cumbia song in their surprise dance. You can either have a choreographer organize a dance or you can search up dances online and take inspiration from them. Practicing with your guys and girls is probably the most enjoyable part of having a quinceañera. Having your friends come over to your house, dancing talking at times helps you bond and helps all of your friends become close. Usually, girls don’t want to wear their big dress for this dance and get something they can dance and move better in.


Step Twelve: Father Daughter Dance


   The twelfth step is figuring out what you want to do for your father-daughter dance. This dance comes before all the other dances and is probably the most special dance. Traditionally the father changes your flats into heels which marks you becoming a woman. He has the first dance with you because you have left your childhood behind for adulthood. Choosing a song that is special to you and your dad helps the dance be more emotional to the both of you. If you are unable to dance with your dad, you could always find someone who has been a father figure to you or you could dance with your mom.


Step Thirteen: Waltz


   The thirteenth step is choosing your music and practicing your waltz. This is where you dance with all your chambelanes and it comes before your surprise dance. This is the dance where your chambelanes pick you up and show you off to everyone. This dance is done in your big dress and after the waltz is when you change into your other outfit.


Step Fourteen: Your Speech


   The fourteenth step in planning a quinceañera is preparing your speech. This is where you thank everyone that came, helped put your quinceañera together and your court of honor. This speech should be special and say a lot more than just thank you. You also explain why you wanted this quinceañera and how old you were when you first wanted one. Preparing your speech a few months before helps make it meaningful and not feel rushed.


Step Fifteen: Hair and Makeup


  The fifteenth step is deciding what your hair and makeup will look like. Your makeup should go with your dress and colors. When I had my quinceañera, my eyeshadow was pink and gold because those were my two colors and my lipstick was a light pink. Your hair can be whatever you want. You can either have your hair an updo or have it down but it should also look nice when you have your crown on. Just show a picture of how you want your hair and makeup to your hairdresser.


Step Sixteen: Nails


  The sixteenth step is getting your nails done. Your nails should go with your colors. My nails were light pink with flecks of gold and I had all my damas get the same nail design as each others. Getting your nails done with your damas helps you guys bond even more and helps you relax a little. You should get your nails done a week before your quinceañera.


Step Seventeen: Preparing A Seating Chart


  The seventeenth step in planning a quinceañera is preparing a seating chart. Preparing a seating chart helps family know where to sit and reserves a seat for your parents. You and your court of honor will have your own table, it should be in the front so everyone could see you guys and the table should be decorated. You should always be in the middle and if you want you can decorate your chair so people know it’s your chair.


Step Eighteen: Decorating The Venue


  The eighteenth step in planning a quinceañera is decorating the venue. Having your family and friends help decorate helps you get done quicker. While the adults decorate, usually you and your court practice one last time in the venue so you know where to go and feel a little more comfortable. You can have whatever decorations you want as long as they go with the theme and your colors. It takes a few hours to decorate and make everything perfect.


Step Nineteen: Preparing For The Big Day


  The nineteenth step is preparing for your big day the night before. The night before your quinceañera is pretty stressful. You have to make sure your dress is ready, you’ve showered, you’ve set your alarm and you have to make sure you go to bed early because the next day is going to be a long day.


Step Twenty: The Big Day

  The big day. You have to wake up early and get your hair and makeup done, get into your dress head to the church and then take pictures with your court of honor. Making sure everything goes right is stressful but remember it’s your quinceañera and you’re allowed to have fun. When I had my quinceañera I was worrying too much about the music, the food and making sure my court stayed in their dresses and suits that I forgot it was my big day.


  Having a quinceañera may be a long, stressful and expensive process but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Though I was stressed, the day of my quinceañera was one of the best days of my life, and if I had the chance to do it all over again I would.