A quiñceanera is a time-honored tradition celebrating a young girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood at the age of 15. With cultural roots in Latin America, it’s a celebration that has become widely celebrated across the United States with many similarities to a “sweet sixteen.”
Like with any big celebration, planning a quinceanera that lives up the importance of such a milestone, requires extensive planning and, most importantly, plenty of time to handle important details, like determining a budget, picking a venue, choosing a theme, and finalizing the menu.
Fortunately, with a little direction, an effective timeline and a handy checklist, planning the perfect quinceanera can actually be fun for all involved and lead to a beautifully memorable celebration for the quinceanera and all who attend.
Give yourself plenty of time
Before you select a date, we recommend giving yourself at least twelve months for planning. Similar in scope to a wedding, many details will need to be selected and confirmed prior to making the guest list, finding an officiant, choosing the damas and chambelanes, and so on.
The more time you give yourself to select a venue and book the church, for example, the more flexibility you will have with selecting the perfect date or lock in a lower rate. A quinceanera doesn’t need to be on the exact date of the celebrant’s birthday.
Consider dates that are still closer to that might allow you to lock in a special rate, depending on the season. To ease your search in finding the right venue, visit our Venues page to view a selection of locations we regularly work with and have developed great partnerships with over the years.
Finding the Right Vendors
Once you’ve finalized your budget, selected the date and booked the perfect location, now it’s on to choosing the vendors that will make your event truly stand out. From here and at least ten to eleven months in advance, you’ll want to pick the evening’s entertainment, choose an experienced caterer, book a photographer/videographer, determine a theme or style, and secure any transportation you might need.
While rooted in tradition, many quinceaneras have become much more personal and can include many elements that capture the unique taste and personality of the quinceanera. Keep this in mind when choosing whether to go with a DJ, mariachi quartet, or live band, or when creating the perfect menu.
Showcasing the Perfect Menu
We’ve planned and catered many quinces, and a great menu can be refined and reimagined to reflect any theme or style. To get a few ideas, start by perusing our Formal Corporate/Social Menu or Casual Dinner Menu to find some inspiration. We can also work with you to create something uniquely inspired by your own traditional family recipes.
This is also a good time to start thinking about rentals you might need for your event – like tents for an outdoor setting, chairs and tables, florists, and a baker for the cake. It sounds like a lot to handle, but we have an extensive list of reputable vendors we work with that can make the whole affair easy to handle.
The Magic is in the Details
Now, with about 9 months or so left until the celebration and with some big decisions out of the way, you can move onto the fun stuff, like shopping for a quinceanera dress, picking your escorts and court of honor, ordering invitations, and choosing the outfits for your damas and chambelanes.
This is also a good time to start booking any hotel rooms you might need for out of town guests and hire a dance instructor or choreographer to help prepare for the surprise dance and traditional Quince Waltz, if you decide to go that route.
Finalizing the Guest List
Within three to six months before the big day, you’ll want to have finalized the guest list, touched base with all of the vendors involved to go over all the details, and ensure you have updated addresses for all you plan to invite. This is also a good time to make sure the quinceanera dress fits perfectly and needs no alterations, and that all decorations and party favors have been ordered.
Time will no doubt feel like it’s running faster and you might be worried that you might have missed something. Take a deep breath and go over your checklist again. With many of the major necessities taken care of, you should have plenty of time to take care of the smaller details and start getting excited about the beautiful celebration that is to come.
With about two to three months left, start mailing out those invitations and begin making appointments for makeup, hair and nails. It’s also a good time for the quinceanera to start preparing her speech. Has the quinceanera taken formal photos in her dress yet? What about the music for the Quince Waltz and surprise dance? Start finalizing the playlist for the evening, as well as go over the program/schedule for the event.
Perhaps you’d also like to purchase gifts for the court of honor or for any special attendees. As you get closer and closer to the quinceanera (about one month prior), you’ll want to contact any guests who have yet to respond, prepare a photo request list for your photographer, and review your final food and beverage selections with your caterer.
Preparing for the Big Day
When the day you’ve spent a year or longer planning for finally arrives, be sure to go over the schedule for the day one last time. Review your checklist of items needed for the reception and ceremony and make sure you have everything before you leave for the venue.
If you’ve chosen to work with us, you’ll feel confident knowing that our Event Management team has covered every angle with regard to day-of service and hospitality. Give a big high-five to everyone involved during the planning process and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Now, relax and enjoy the memories that follow!
Relax and Remember Your Checklist
Planning such a big celebration might seem overwhelming at first, but once you begin prioritizing and finalizing important details and scratching things off your list according to your timeline, you’ll be amazed at how much you accomplish with unnecessary stress.
Consider this: a memorable quiñceanera doesn’t have to be about how extravagant it is or how much money you’ve poured into it. It’s really about the tradition itself, the young lady being recognized, and the importance of being surrounded by your closest family and friends.
Even with a reasonable budget and the right planning, you can have a quinceanera that honors the importance of this beautiful tradition while crafting an evening that’s significance will last a lifetime.