Rubi’s quinceañera became a sensation on the internet, and it all started with a Facebook invitation gone viral, with over 1.3 million guests responding to the invitation saying they’d be there. We imagine most families’ budgets aren’t cut out for 1.3 million Facebook invitation acceptances, but even if it’s a smaller celebration, we know quinceañeras take extensive planning. That’s why we complied a checklist of all the things you need to factor in, when deciding how to plan a quinceañera.
What is a Quinceañera?
Among Latinos in the United States, quinceañera is the name given to the coming-of-age celebration on a girl’s 15th birthday. The level of preparation for the festivities is similar to a wedding. From a formal dance, to a DJ, and finding the perfect dress, this celebration is a hallmark of Latin American culture from the US to Argentina.
Take a look at our quinceañera planning checklist, but keep in mind, your celebrations don’t necessarily have to include all the elements below. Simply use it as a guide, as many families switch things up depending on their budget, traditions, and preferences.
Quinceañera Planning Checklist
Quinceañera Dress – You can browse different dress styles on websites like Quinceañera Mall. The dress’s color usually matches the party theme decorations, the court of honor’s outfits, as well as the family’s attire for the night. Some families might opt for purchasing two dresses instead of one—a formal one for the choreographed dances and ceremonies and an informal one for dancing afterwards. Another option is purchase a two-in-one dress that has a detachable, long skirt.
Event Hall – Remember that event halls can be booked months or even a year in advance. Use that to your advantage by shopping around for event halls as soon as get you a specific date confirmed. Because people have a greater flexibility to attend events on the weekends, it’s recommended that you host the party on a weekend, even if the birthday girl turns 15 during the work week.
Shoes – Picking out the right shoes can be a pain. We strongly recommend that you make sure the shoes you pick out are comfortable. This is because the quinceañera will spend hours walking and greeting attendees, posing for photos, and maybe even dancing in those shoes. An good option is to bring a second pair of comfortable shoes for her to wear while she isn’t in the spotlight.
Jewelry/ Accessories – Whether the birthday girl wants to wear a tiara, a bracelet, or a special necklace, all that needs to be purchased and ready in advance.
Make-up/ Hair style – How you go about getting make-up and hair done depends on how serious you are about getting the ‘perfect’ look for the quinceañera. Some people leave it all to the day of the celebration, while others test different make-up and hair looks before-hand.
Photo Shoot and Video Recording – You decide how many photos, how many locations, and how much video you want recorded. Photography and videography companies all have their own packages for you to pick from. You’ll want to remember this special day many years from now, and there’s no better way to do so than by taking photos and videos.
Choreographer – The quinceañera dance with the court of honor is one of the most awaited parts of the night. Getting all the steps down can take months of practice, and a typical practice schedule usually consists of at least one day of practice per week, leading up to the quinceañera.
Car or Limo – A quinceañera and her court of honor should all arrive to the party in style, so usually that means hiring a limo, or just using a family member’s large car. Some families opt for not making this a part of the party.
Birthday Cake – When choosing the birthday cake, you can go with an elegant presentation cake or buy a simple, decorated sheet cake. It’s your choice, remember that keeping track of guest count is important because it’ll help you figure out how much cake to buy.
Music – Is hiring a band for live music an option for your family? You can choose DJ services instead (or hire a DJ to play while the band is taking a break). Just make sure to specify with the DJ what songs need to be played for the choreographed dances, as well as what genres of music your guests would like to dance to afterwards.
Decorations – Some quinceañeras pick a specific theme like ‘Hollywood’ or ‘Cowgirl’ for the party. This heavily influences table decorations, ceiling decorations, color schemes, souvenirs/memories, and how the entrance looks.
Quinceañera Godparents List – They say teamwork makes the dream work. This is especially true with appointing godparents. Godparents can help ease the financial load by being assigned to contribute to a specific party element. Close family and friends can be appointed as the godparents for the dress, tiara, shoes, doll, surprise gift, cake, DJ, invitations, and so on.
Invitations – You can order invitations online, buy some at the store, or even design one yourself on a computer (or ask a tech-savvy kid to do it for you). A general rule of thumb is to invite more people than you expect to attend, as not everyone who gets an invite will go the quinceañera.
Personal Dress – While the birthday girl will look spectacular in her outfit, you can’t forget about glamming yourself up, and the rest of your family, too. Families sometimes make the mistake of picking out their outfits at the very last minute, and then end up overwhelmed.
Food & Drink – Typically, families hire a caterer to prepare all the food and transport it to the event hall on the day of the party. This is a convenient option, as it takes a huge stress off of your plate, although you can always gather family and friends to prepare all the food among themselves.
Quinceañera is one of the few Latin American festivities that is celebrated far and wide, regardless of country and region. It's a special day a young girl remembers for the rest of her life. It's worth the effort to make it memorable, and as stress-free as possible. Remember, all the elements above are just guidelines for you to keep in mind as you plan—and try to get godparents to help ease your burden for the big day!