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How to Plan a Quinceañera Party

Three Methods:Arranging the LogisticsCouples, Costumes, and ChoreographyInvitations and Decorations

A Quinceañera is a girl's 15th birthday party to mark her passage into womanhood. It is often called a Quince Años or Quince – and the term "Quinceañera" can also apply to the birthday girl. It is a Hispanic tradition that hails from Mexico and Central America. Make the most of it: many girls dream of this party, and they remember Quinceañeras as some of the best nights of their lives. Read on for tips and guidelines on how to have a fun and meaningful Quinceañera.

Method 1
Arranging the Logistics

  1. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 1
    Get permission. Discuss the idea of a Quinceañera with your parent(s) or legal guardian. You will need their approval, and you may need to plan out a budget for the party’s finances. Try to start planning your Quinceañera (or Quince, for short) as far as 6 months or a year in advance – make sure that you have enough time to take care of all the social and budgetary logistics.[1]
  2. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 2
    Set a budget for the party. This is completely dependent on how much your family has available to spend on a Quinceañera. If you have plenty of disposable income, and the birthday girl wants a blowout, feel free to plan a huge, festive party. If you're strapped for cash, there is nothing wrong with a simple, homey party. Consider whether your family will need to plan a Quinceañera for any other girls within the next few years; if so, make sure that you don't blow all of your savings on the first party![2]
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    Choose a date for the party. Many girls plan their Quinceañera around the time of their birthday. Consider the pros and cons of a certain time or season: will people be in town? Will you be able to have your party outside? Will any other holidays, vacations, or obligations conflict with your party? Your friends will probably not be able to attend if they are out of town or otherwise occupied.[3]
    • If your birthday is on a weekday, consider planning your Quince the Saturday before or after your birthday. It is common to plan a Quince on a Saturday.[4]
  4. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 4
    Decide whether you want to hold a church ceremony. It is traditional (but optional) to have a ceremony or Mass at church before the actual party. This is called the Misa de acción de gracias: the mass of giving thanks for the end of childhood.[5] Consider the following parts of the tradition:
    • The festejada, the birthday girl, sits at the foot of the altar. She is wearing a formal pink or white dress. Her godparents give her gifts – often jewelry to wear with the dress.
    • The festejada is surrounded by her damas (maids of honor) and chambelanes (escorts). These are usually siblings, relatives, or family friends. They are arranged by age to signify the phases through which the festejada has passed
    • The mass is a thoughtful ritual, much like baptism, which welcomes the festejada to adulthood. The mass celebrates the challenges and joys that face the festejada as an adult.
    • After the mass, the festejada leaves flowers for the Virgen de Guadalupe. Her female friends and relatives hand out bolos—memorabilia—to everyone attending the mass.
  5. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 5
    Choose a location for your Quince. You can rent out a space, set up in a park, or even just host the party at home. Consider using a reception hall – similar to the buildings used for weddings, anniversary parties, and sweet sixteens. Work out your price range for the reception hall, and cross-check your guest list with how many people the hall can accommodate. If you are planning the party yourself, ask your parents for help with budgeting and arranging a venue.
    • If you want a more modern and intimate party, consider going out for a fancy dinner with a few good friends, then hosting a slumber party afterward. This way, the party is truly just about the birthday girl and her friends.
    • If you want to involve the whole family and community, it may be more important to honor the church portion of the tradition. Consider having the reception (after-church party) at a large, convenient venue like a park or a reception hall. If your house is big enough, you can just host the party there.[6]
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    Set the start and end times for your party. If you are having a church ceremony, consider starting your Quinceañera in the late morning and continuing through the afternoon/evening; if not, feel free to start the party in the afternoon or the evening. It can be hard to set an ending time: once the party starts, it may be so fun that you never want it to end. In fact, many Quinceañeras do not have a designated end time – the duration of the party depends on a variety of things, including: how long the church ceremony takes, what time people leave the party, what time the cake is cut, and how early the party starts. Keep these things in mind as you choose your party’s time and date!

Method 2
Couples, Costumes, and Choreography

  1. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 7
    Choose an escort. The "escort" is a boy whose job is to escort the birthday girl—the festejada—throughout her night. Ask a friend, or someone that you fancy – whichever makes you feel most comfortable.
  2. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 8
    Consider the Court of Honor. The Court of Honor traditionally comprises 15 couples, including the birthday girl and her escort. The Court is made up of the birthday girl's closest friends, her brothers, sisters, and cousins – the important people in her life with whom she wants to share the spotlight. These friends will pair off into couples for several choreographed dances throughout the Quinceañera, as well as a surprise dance. The Quinceañera's Court of Honor can be comprised of all girls (called Dama), all boys (called Chambelán, Escorte, or Galán) or a combination of both.
    • If you plan on having the couples, you will need to ensure that everyone’s parents approve. Make sure that the members of the Court are not busy that weekend; make sure that they will be able to attend most of the dance rehearsals.
    • Make it clear that the couples will be paying for the cost of their own dress/suit, shoes, jewelry, etc. However, it is customary to give every individual person who makes up the couples a small present to thank them for helping you in your Quinceañera.
  3. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 9
    Feel free to have fewer than 15 couples, or to forego the couple traditional altogether. The birthday girl should feel at ease with the proceedings. If you are uncomfortable with arranging couples and choreographing dances, you absolutely do not need to do it. Perhaps you want a smaller, more intimate party; perhaps you just want to choose another theme, like a pool party, a bowling party, or a beach party. Try to balance tradition with what you actually want.[7]
  4. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 10
    Choreograph and practice the dances. It is traditional for the 15 couples to rehearse two or three dances. Start practicing at least two months before the Quinceañera. Consider hiring someone from a local dance studio to help you learn the routine for the first four to six weeks. After that, you and the other fourteen couples will be practicing the dances on your own.[8]
    • There is also traditionally a father and daughter dance. If a father is not present, consider sharing this dance with your godfather, grandfather, uncle, older brother – whoever is the most important male authority figure in your life. Feel free to skip this dance if it doesn't make sense for your situation.
    • Practice the dance in heels, if you will be wearing heels at the Quinceañera. Dancing in heels is very different than dancing in regular shoes.
  5. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 11
    Consider the outfits for the fourteen couples and the birthday girl. The Quinceanera traditionally wears a ballgown. The couples of the Court dress in tuxedos and gowns. If the ceremony has religious overtones, the birthday girl often wears or receives a few of the following accessories for her ceremony: a tiara, a cross or medal, a bible and rosary, and a scepter.[9] Different cultures have different traditions – for instance, in Puerto Rico, the birthday girl wears a white dress, similar to a wedding dress.[10] Depending on where you live, you may need to buy the dress for the birthday girl as early as six months in advance; it may take a while to make all of the necessary adjustments.
    • Take down everyone’s measurements, heights, sizes and shoe sizes – this way, you can rent or buy all of the outfits together to ensure that they match.
  6. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 12
    Hire a photographer! If you want pictures of the event, it may be worth your money to splurge on professional photos. This party may be a day that you remember for years to come, so consider whether you want more professional photos than a smartphone camera can take.

Method 3
Invitations and Decorations

  1. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 13
    Prepare la ultima muñeca. La ultima muñeca is traditionally the last doll that a girl receives. The doll is usually made from porcelain and designed to look like the Quinceañera – although you can use any material that is convenient. You can commission the doll from a store, or you can ask someone in the family to hand-make it. After turning fifteen, so the tradition goes, the birthday girl will be too old to play with dolls anymore. As part of the ritual, she passes the doll on to a sister or other younger family member.[11]
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    Cover the decorations and music. Consider giving your Quinceañera a theme such as "masquerade" or "renaissance"; in this case, choose decorations to match that theme. Even if your party is not specifically themed, make sure that the decorations do not clash with the colors of the dresses and outfits. Decorations can be as simple as table center decorations, and as extravagant as balloons, streamers, and lights.
    • Choose music according to personal taste, but avoid music with profanity or cursing if there will be young children and elderly people at the party. Consider hiring a DJ to play music, announce the birthday girl’s entrance, and generally keep the party lively.
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    Plan out the food and drinks. If you are planning your own Quinceañera party, ask your parents for help with arranging traditional and appropriate refreshments. The food can include anything that you like, although a more formal celebration will nod to traditional by preparing classic cultural delicacies. Your parents may be very useful for knowing what is commonly served, what will be popular, what the right portions are, etc. Ask your parents about whether or not alcoholic drinks will be served.
    • Consider the dietary needs of your guests. Make a list of special diets: take into account whether anyone is vegetarian or vegan; allergic to anything; diabetic; or forbidden from certain foods for religious reasons.
  4. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 16
    Send out the invitations. Your invitations can be traditional or modern so long as you include the who, what, when, where, and why of the party. Consider including a schedule of the night; the names of the fourteen couples, as well as the names of the godparents and other people who helped make the party possible; and a few words dedicated to someone dearly departed. Make or order the invitations 3-4 months ahead of the actual party date. The quicker you have those cards in hand, the quicker the outer envelope can be addressed. Send out invitations six-eight weeks before the Quinceañera (to those close by) and around ten weeks (for those guests not so close by).
    • Keep the invitations consistent: try to make or order all of the stationary from the same place, around the same time.
    • Invitations now often consist of pictures of the birthday girl, sometimes in her Quinceañera dress. Consider taking these photos, but do not feel the need to conform to the norm.
  5. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 17
    Send a reply card with each invitation. Reply cards usually include a box or space where each guest can indicate how many people they are bringing. It is considered rude to set a "due date" for the return of the reply card. If you want to reduce paper waste or you feel that a reply card is too much work, simply write “RSVP to [your phone number or email address]” at the end of the invitation.
  6. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 18
    Send thank you notes after the party. The birthday girl should write the notes by hand. To add a fun twist, send a picture card including a memorable picture from the Quinceañera. Send out thank you notes within a month after the Quinceañera – any longer may seem rude or unappreciative.
  7. Image titled Plan a Quinceañera Party Step 19
    Have fun! This is your day to shine! Whatever happens on the day of the Quinceañera, don't let it distract you from having a fantastic fifteenth birthday party.


  • Smile and have fun! Remember, it's your party. This is an important day, so make the best out of it!
  • Start planning a year in advance. A long planning period can help reduce stress and pressure.
  • Save up money, if need be. If you have difficulties with money, you can always start saving one or two years in advance.
  • Don't just let your parents pay for everything. If you have close family members that are willing to help, ask them for a few things that you need to make your night unforgettable. Consider borrowing or renting things instead of buying them.
  • To save up more money it is better to buy the things that you want to use to make the decorations and have someone help you with them. You can also hand-make the small party gifts – they don’t need to be expensive.
  • Don't forget about transportation for the Quinceañera and the Court of Honor. You'll need a way to get to and from Mass, home, and the banquet hall or party area.
  • Go with what you like – it's your day. Don't let people take advantage of your party.
  • Set up your court (of 14 couples) in advance. Make sure that your court is able and willing to attend. If you are very committed to having certain people on your court, you may need to plan your party around guest availability.
  • If you dont have enough money, pray to your GOD, those are like close family friends or family members who can pay for certain things.


  • Consider setting up a "bouncer". If you don’t want anyone to crash your party, ask someone to hang out at the entrance and ask for invitations.
  • Make sure that there are no problems between friends or family members. If there is a dispute going on between two of your guests, you don't want it to ruin your night.
  • Enlist the help of your parents, friends, and other family members. Planning a Quinceañera is a huge project, and you'll be much less stressed-out if you aren't doing it alone.
  • If you will have alcoholic drinks at the Quince, make sure that you have someone responsible— a bartender or an 21+ relative—on hand to ask for IDs.

Article Info

Categories: Birthdays | Theme Parties