How to Plan A Modern Quinces

Planning a Sweet 15 can be as involved as a wedding. We’ve created this guide, which includes everything from updates to some beloved traditions, to help you plot out each step. ¡Feliz quince años!

The Dress  

“For a versatile style, try an A-line frock, or a mini dress with a detachable full-length tulle skirt; you can remove it after the formalities,” says Stella Inserra, owner of Simply Dazzling Events in New York City. Want to see your girl in a poofy princess dress? Schedule a wardrobe change halfway through! Alternatively, the quinceañera can wear playful accessories. Mari Escamilla, 21, from Oxnard, Calif., wore a dress with purple satin-covered Converse. “I wanted to be comfortable,” she says.

The Court

Mix things up by including younger family members in the court. “It adds a bit of whimsy and the guests enjoy it,” says Lizz Smoak, an Albuquerque, N.M.–based event planner. Or shake up the dynamic by going with girls only. “I just had 14 damas,” Escamilla says. “I didn’t want to deal with the male teenage attitude—showing up late, not paying attention, flirting and distracting the girls.” You can also choose nontraditional outfits. Inserra suggests assigning a color and letting your court pick their own clothes.

The Ceremony

The church Mass is a staple for any quinceañera, so coordinate a special entrance to the church or the reception to add a modern spin. “Forget the horse and carriage, stretch limo or Rolls-Royce; I’ve had quinceañeras arrive in Hummers, Ferraris, hot-air balloons and even Cleopatra’s throne, carried by buff, scantily clad boys!” Smoak says.

The Venues

“More quinceañeras are choosing venues that follow the wedding market,” Smoak says. “Bed and breakfasts, estate homes, castles, cruise ships, country clubs and resorts are among the trends we’re seeing.” Opting for modern decor can update the party as well. “Put a modern spin on the typical venue by using lounge furniture and cocktail tables covered in decorative linen. Or use colored lighting and a stencil of the birthday girl’s name to spotlight the dance floor,” Inserra suggests.

The Dance

“Dances have typically been waltzes and ballroom numbers, but these days hip-hop is just as accepted and far more entertaining,” Smoak says. Inserra suggests choreographing the first half of the dance as a traditional waltz, then transitioning into a modern routine, or going all the way and creating a group or solo number suitable for a (tasteful) music video. That’s what Iliana Ramirez, 18, from El Paso, Texas, did. Her court dance had a mix of Mexican rap and hip-hop songs, and she added a surprise routine with her two older brothers.