$15K party for a 15-year-old: Behind the quinceañera celebration

Turning 15 for a young Latina is a big deal. The milestone is celebrated with a quinceañera — and many Latino families go all out.

Los Angeles Quinceañera Expo at Pomona Fairplex on August 19 (Photo: Quinceañera magazine)

“The quinceañera is a celebration that is symbolic of the transition of a girl from childhood to womanhood,” the director of Quinceañera magazine, Norma Capitanachi, tells Yahoo. It’s such an important celebration that some Latino families start party planning a year in advance, and save up for the lavish event from the moment their daughters are born. When it comes to a quinceañera, the only rule is: Spare no expense.

Just how big does this party budget get? Some fiestas are done at home for a budget of $2,000 to $4,000, but according to Capitanachi, a dream quince can run anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000.


Since quinceañeras can be as expensive, elaborate, and stressful as a wedding, Capitanachi and Quinceañera magazine launched the “Quinceañera Expo,” a one-stop shopping experience designed to help you plan the big day. The expos take place in 18 cities across the United States. From Los Angeles to Chicago, future quinceañeras and their families can get up close and personal with more than 80 vendors who can help you find a cake, design invitations, and even give you inspiration for your venue. The highlight of the event, though, is the fashion show — because it’s not a quince until you find that perfect dress!

Los Angeles Quinceañera Expo August 19, 2018 at Pomona Fairplex (photo: Quinceañera magazine)

Thirty models show off the latest designs to an audience eager to check out all the hottest quinceañera trends. “The girls want to feel like a princess,” Capitanachi says. “In Latino culture, the look is very important, and everyone looks the best they can for this kind of celebration.” Not even the royal family could keep up with these one-of-a-kind ball gowns.

Los Angeles Quinceañera Expo August 19, 2018 at Pomona Fairplex (Photo: Quinceañera magazine)

When it comes to a quinceañera dress, bigger is truly better. A gown can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,000, with some going as high as $5,000. Along with the tradition of a princess dress, many celebrations include a tiara ceremony, where mom and dad place the dazzling headpiece on their daughter as if she were royalty. Another popular tradition is the “changing of the shoes,” where the quinceañera switches from flat footwear to high heels, symbolizing the transition from girlhood to womanhood.

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