4 Traditions That Are Included in a Quinceañera Celebration
You’ve been to at least one quinceañera, right? You went to the church ceremony, saw how beautiful the reception was decorated and saw the quinceañera dance. And you‘ve probability thought it was simple and fun to plan and organize a quinceañera, right? Well, it’s not. It can be stressful and sometimes you just want to call off the whole thing! And I know this because I had one, and my two younger sisters as well.
Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s fun planning a quince, when you know what to expect. My quince was like a test trail for my mom. Since I was the first one, we were basically winging it. And once my sisters’ quince came around, we knew exactly what do to and how we wanted the celebration to go.
How is a Quinceañera celebrated?
There is a very general tradition on how a quinceañera is celebrated and plan. First there is a church ceremony, then a pre-party photography session and finally la fiesta, which includes the traditional ceremony. Remember, that celebrating a quince is a day to be grateful and to celebrate a life. Just keep that in mind as I explain the four traditions that are commonly included in quinceañera celebration.
#1 - Quinceañera Church Ceremony
A quince celebration begins with a religious ceremony. The Mass can be held at your church or at the reception. This is where you both, mom and quinceañera, give thanks to God for the fifteen years you had. It’s a time to be grateful for everything and everyone you have beside you. Be thankful for the chambelanes, for the pardrinos, for your family and for a glorious day to celebrate your quinceaños. Also, during the Mass, the Pastor/Father will give a reading dedicated to the quinceañera. It’s a time for the quinceañera to reaffirm her dedication to God and to receive a blessing.
#2 - Quinceañera Photography Session
After the Mass, the quinceañera, chambelanes, damas, and friends will go to a local park with a quince photographer for a pre-party photo session. The main reason for this photo session is to get breath-taking pictures of the quinceañera, as if she was going to be featured in a magazine. Plus, get photos with the chambelanes, damas and friends. I believe this is where the quinceañera has more fun. She gets to be goofy with her friends, take fun and silly pictures with her chambelanes. Overall, “se suelta mas,” in other words, this when the photographer really captures the quinceañera personality.
#3 - Quinceañera Reception
Once the photo session is over, the quinceañera and her court head over to the reception. The reception is where the family celebrates a life. Basically, es donde la fiesta va estar – where the quince party is at! When it comes to decorating the reception is to awe your guest, the goal is to get a color scheme that complements the quince dress or the theme. (My sister has a Masquerade Quinceañera Theme and her color scheme was maroon, gold and white.)
Before the traditional ceremony begins, the guest will eat dinner and take photos with the quinceañera. This is a time to chat, catch up with family who traveled long way to be with you, admire the quinceañera, and take selfies with the family!
#4 - Quinceañera Traditional Ceremony
After everyone has arrived, ate and taken a picture with the quinceañera, the sequence of choreographed dances begin – the traditional quinceañera ceremony. This consist of el Valz, the father and daughter dance, baile con los padrinos, a toast, cutting the cake and a surprise dance.
El valz has a specific structure as well. There can be one choreographed waltz, or three. It all depends on how you want to plan it. Here’s an idea on how can be structured in three:
La Entrada: First is la entrada – the entrance. This is when the quinceañera and her court (chambelanes and dama) are introduced.
El Valz: Once they’ve been introduced, they’ll dance el valz- the waltz. El valz is the main important one. The quinceañera is honored within the song and is celebrating her quinceaños– her fifteen years. The song can describe how she is feeling and/or the expectations she has for her future.
La Salida: Once the quinceañera and her court are done dancing el valz, they'll exit – la salida. They can simply walk off the dance floor or have another choreographed waltz thanking the guest, la family, for coming and watching them dance.
Baile Sopresa: Another choreographed dance you’ll see in most quinceañera is a baile sorpresa – a surprise dance. This is not part of the “traditional” choreographed dances, but it has become a norm for all quinceañera. This is where the quinceañera can have fun and choose a cumbia, banda, bachata, salsa, pop, and any other genre song to dance to. This can be a choreographed dance with her siblings, her friends, the chambelanes, las damas, or with you, dear parent.
Father and Daughter Dance
The father and daughter dance is the one that gets me teared up. It self-explanatory. The dad dances with her little princess. The song is from Dad dedicated to the daughter. But before la quinceañera dances with her dad, Dad will change her shoes. The quinceañera will be wearing flats or tennis shoes, and the father will change the shoes to heels – in Spanish is called, El cambio de zapatillas. Symbolically, is means that her little girl is now a becoming a young lady.
Baile con los Padrinos
El baile con los padrinos is a dance dedicated to all the godparents that helped and supported you and the quinceañera with planning, booking, and organizing the celebration.
El brindis is a toast from you, dear parent, to your daughter, the chambelanes, godparents and to the guest. You dedicate a few words to your daughter, you thank the chambelenas for their time and for making a great day for her daughter, and you thank the godparents for helping you make this day possible. And above all, you thank the guest for coming to celebrate your daughters quinceaños.
Let’s not forget about the cake! Just like any other birthday, there’s a cake. After the toast, the quinceañera will go and cut the cake. The whole family will sing Happy Birthday to her.
Once everything is done, el baile comienza! The DJ, banda or groupo start playing music and EVERYONE is on the dance floor. The dance can keep going until 1am. At this point, it's all about having fun and dancing with the quinceañera until the night is over.
Planning Out the Fiesta de Quinceaños
Now do you want to attend a quinceañera? You might be thinking it’s like planning a wedding, which it is. The only difference in a quinceañera is that the celebration is for a young lady, it’s a family tradition, and the celebration is for ONE family.
As you’re planning your daughter’s quince, you want to outline how you want the entire day to look like. Also, plan how you want the traditional ceremony to go. Do you want the father and dance before el valz? Do you want to give the toast after the surprise dance? Sit down with your husband and daughter and talk about it. Remember, you want your guest to have fun and you want to be grateful.
Go and plan the quince of the year! Comment below if you have any questions or concerns.
Personal Note from the Author
Can I take the opportunity to introduce myself? I’ve recently started blogging and I wanted to say two things: Hola, bienvenios! Hello & welcome! My name is Janet and I’m a quinceañera photographer who loves photographing family traditions and help you enjoy a great time with your family. Most weekends you’ll find me at the movie theaters or at the mall. I’d be honored to connect with you.