Here’s one we’ll discuss. Latin American people celebrate the 15th birthday of a young lady. It’s her coming of age. Like Jewish tradition when a young man of 13 enters the community thorough a ceremony called a Bar Mitzvah. For young Jewish girls, it’s called a Bat Mitzvah.

Like Weddings, both societies celebrate from the old days the entry of the young man or lady into the circle of adults in their society with expectations of them performing as adults and leaving childhood behind. And the extreme to which they will go is about as diverse as a Wedding depending on their financial plateau. 

I know of two photographers who have covered some very expensive twenty-four thousand dollar Quinceañera parties and I have seen and attending Bat Mitzvahs which have exceeded that. And they got into them because they’re Wedding business dropped off.  

One in particular spent a year learning the Spanish Language on Rosetta Stone and has a Spanish speaking second shooter who helped build a year-round business. Not just wedding seasons, last time I checked there is no baby season, like June weddings, kids pop out 24/7/365.
Now think of the opportunities here in photographing a Quiceneras. 

Let’s explore what it is and how we adapt. To avoid confusion another similar term is "Quinceaños". This refers to the birthday of the celebrant. Break it up into Quince (15) Anos (Years). Quiceneras refers to the celebrant.

QUICENERAS ( feminine form of "fifteen-year-old"), also called fiesta de quinceaños, fiesta de Quiceneras, quinceaños or simply quince, is the celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of people from Latin America. This birthday is celebrated differently from any other as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. The celebration, however, varies significantly across countries, with celebrations in some countries taking on, for example, more religious overtones than in others.

In Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking country, the same celebration is called festa de debutantes, baile de debutantes or festa de quinze anos. In the French Caribbean and French Guiana, it is called fête des quinze ans.

In the United States the tradition of La Quiceneras, also known as the XV, has been adopted primarily in cities with an extensive Hispanic population. The planning for the quinceañera starts 6 to 18 months in advance. The ceremony and venue determine the date of the event. The parents of the quinceañera will look for sponsors (or padrinos) to help with the expense associated with the event.  After securing the venue for the reception and the church for the ceremony, a musical group (El grupo) and a photographer must also be reserved. In New York, there are boutiques that specialize in renting the chamberlains for the event.

  • Gap filler - Adding Quiceneras to your Wedding days that are open or on days you normally don’t do Weddings like Friday evenings and Sundays.
  • No stranger in Church - The services at the Church generally are shorter and sweet, sometimes without a Mass and less restrictive on flash. Priests generally keep it that way, like a Baptismal. Of course, we do have exceptions and you know you are in trouble when he starts off with the Reading of the Gospels of Everybody and Last year’s Unabridged Version of the Phone book.
  • New Territory - Another critical point is opening new territory. Kids have friends at other schools both public and secular. Kids have cousins and they will be at the party. In some ways, there are more opportunities here than at a Wedding and less hassles.
  • No Time Limits - The young lady has friends and guaranteed they might have a birthday coming up within a two-year span for several reasons such as age difference. Girls are more flexible than the guys as to friends age and some of the girls may or may not be Latino. That’s another point, if they don’t have Quince Ano’s Party then they sure will have a Sweet Sixteen, so that adds a year and more possibilities and or Bar(T) Mitzvahs.
  • Again, there is no season based on the sexual habits of 350,000,000 people in the US.  We have deducted that kids are born year-round and there is no season.  No rushes during June and November.
  • Whereas the Spanish ceremony is rooted in the Church, the Sweet Sixteen is rooted in popularity and usually that can work for you. The popular gal has a lot of friends and followers, and the not so popular gal is trying to break into the scheme of things.

Today’s celebrations embrace religious customs, and the virtues of family and social responsibility. The Quinceañera tradition celebrates the young girl (la Quinceañera), and recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity. The customs highlight God, family, friends, music, food, and dance.  Interestingly, many families today are merging their Hispanic and American heritages by choosing to celebrate a Sweet Sixteen. Sweet Fifteen or Sweet Sixteen they can be money makers but you have to work for them.

For their Sweet 16 party, the families do the full-blown quinceañera traditions - the religious ceremony, the reception, the tiara with the number 16, and more. We encourage families to select the customs that have special meaning to them and to add to the customs as they wish. That is what makes the celebration unique and very special.

  • In the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American traditions, the custom can be referred to as a Quince (XV) Años, a quinces, a Quinceañera, a Quinceañera or a Fiesta Rosa.
  • The Quinceañera celebration traditionally begins with a religious ceremony. A Reception is held in the home or a banquet hall. The festivities include food and music, and in most, a choreographed waltz or dance performed by the Quinceañera and her Court.
  • It is traditional for the Quiceneras to choose special friends to participate in what is called the Court of Honor. Usually, these young people are her closest friends, her brothers, sisters, cousins - the special people in her life with whom she wants to share the spotlight. The Quiceneras Court of Honor can be comprised of all young girls (called Dama), all young men (called Chambelán or Escorte or Galán) or a combination of both.
  • The Quiceneras traditionally wears a ball gown, with her Court dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Guests usually receive small tokens, cápias and cerámicas, to commemorate the celebration.