A young girl’s 15th birthday, called the Quinceañera, celebrates the transition from a child to a young woman. The event begins with a religious ceremony and is followed by a party with family and friends. Historically, the becoming-of-age-tradition, akin to a bat mitzvah, Sweet Sixteen, or debutante ball, was most celebrated in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries. Women displayed their purity and readiness for marriage when they turn 15. The party signals that she is now eligible to marry.
Today, Latin American girls across the United States celebrate their Quinceañeras with extravagant birthday parties with budgets that rival weddings. An average Quinceañera celebration ranges from $15,000-20,000; the Quinceañera has become a thriving $400 million industry for event planners, specialized retailers, makeup artists and hair stylists, caterers and bakers, D.J.s and photographers. For this momentous day, families hire professional Quinceañera Photographers to capture the event in photos and videos. If you are a young girl planning your Quinceañera, you will want to include these top moments in your Quinceañera Photography Album.
You spent many hours with your event planner designing the perfect inspiration for your Quinceañera invitation. Ask your photographer to highlight the color theme of the event by taking several artistic shots of the invitation. These photos will set the tone for the event, and you can use them to introduce the moments that follow in your album.
Hair and Makeup
Fantastic hair and makeup are particularly important for your Quince. You should book your stylists to begin preparations for at least three hours before the beginning of the event. Also, you may choose to go to a salon or have the hair stylists and makeup artists come to your house or event space. Lastly, you may want to include your Damas, also called Ladies in Waiting, in the process. Your Quinceañera photographer can capture the magic of hair and makeup.
You looked for months to find the perfect Quinceañera dress, so be sure to ask your photographer to capture lots of shots. Be it strapless, off-the-shoulder, or halter, your full-length ball gown makes you feel like a princess. Other important accessories include your sparkling crown or tiara. Your necklace and bold earrings may match the color of your gown or highlight a birthstone. The Quinceañera is the first occasion that a young girl wears high heels and dances with a man. (That being said, you may want to bring a pair of flats to wear as the evening progresses and you end up dancing for hours.) Your gown symbolizes femininity, and your tiara or crown gives you morality.
You have selected flowers for your bouquet to match your dress and the color theme for your special day. Your photographer can take some artsy photos of the flowers in vases, as well as you posing with your Court. Perhaps your bouquet has flowers that convey special meaning, such as the Calla Lily (purity and passion), the daisy (innocence and purity), the hydrangea (emotion and understanding), the peony (romance and prosperity), the rose (love and passion), the sunflower (adoration and loyalty), or the tulip (love and confidence).
Photos with the Court: Damas and Chambelánes
Most young women invite 14 female friends or relatives to act as Damas (Maids of Honor) and an equivalent number of males as Chambelánes (Chamberlains), symbolizing the first 14 years of her young life. After the Church mass, you give away a doll or stuffed animal to a younger relative, a symbolic gesture showing that you are moving from childhood to adulthood. You want your photographer to capture both candid shots as well as some posed shots of the group before you all get into your stretch limo or SUV to take you to the venue.
When you arrive at the event space, ask your entourage to assemble for some group photos in front of the building or in a nearby park or garden. Catching the perfect group shot of your Damas and Chambelánes will be a memorable keepsake for your Quinceañera photo album. Then, once you are ready to enter the party, your photographer can shoot the group as it processes into the ballroom. Your hundreds of guests applaud as you arrive with your companions and take your seat on your throne. The banquet hall displays flowers, balloons, and decorations in the same colors as your dress and bouquet; ask your photographer to highlight this color theme in the photographs.
As the orchestra starts playing, you open the party with the first dance, usually a traditional waltz with your father. This dance is a great opportunity for your photographer to get shots of your ball gown flowing across the dance floor and your tiara sparkling under the lights. There are also sweet images of family and friends smiling to put in your album.
Favorite Song Dance
After the first dance, the D.J. plays your favorite modern, pop music song. This change of tone signals the crowd that they, too, can dance. Your family and friends join you on the dance floor where there are lots of candid photos of their enjoyment. Invite your Quinceañera photographer to take pictures of different people as the dancing continues throughout the evening.
All this dancing has created quite an appetite among you and your guests, so the caterers begin serving dinner. You may choose a buffet or a sit-down dinner. The buffet option is more casual and allows people to circulate freely across the event space. A sit-down dinner is more formal, and your guests will be seated at assigned tables. With either option, throughout the dinner, you visit each table of guests with your Quinceañera photographer to capture group portraits.
When dinner finishes, servers pass decorative champagne flutes for the celebratory toast. Historically, this first glass of wine signified an initiation into adulthood. Today, you may be fortunate to have a sip of champagne with your parents’ permission or perhaps you enjoy a glass of ginger ale or sparkling apple juice. Typically, your father gives the toast, although you could also invite a relative or close older family friend to offer a few congratulatory words.
Custom bakers have toiled for days to create your multi-tiered birthday cake. The marzipan flowers on the cake are in the same color theme as your dress and bouquet. Be sure to record your cutting of the cake in the film as your guests sing the Las Mañanitas to you. The cake signals the end of a magical celebration. As the evening draws to a close, you take photographs with your departing guests. You feel like a princess.
Not only does the Quinceañera stand out as an important milestone in the maturity of a young girl, but it also acts as a symbol of family status and recognition. Your Quinceañera Photographer is an important participant in the event; he or she will record the day, so you can savor the important moments for years to come in your custom-made photo album.
What are some our favorite memories from your quinceanera? Share with us in the comments below. Need tips to shoot love photography? Check out our previous article