Celebrated in many Hispanic cultures, a quinceanera is a rite of passage to celebrate a young girl’s 15th birthday. These celebrations are usually made as elaborate as the family’s fortunes can accommodate, and sometimes they can be as elaborate as wedding ceremonies and even cost as much as same. Traditionally, the quinceanera is a transition to womanhood. It is a ceremony where the girl in question vows to protect her virginity until marriage and also affirms her devotion to God.

The celebration usually begins with a catholic mass where the priest says a prayer for the girls and their family. The ‘quince girl’ attends the special Mass in which she ceremonially reaffirms her dedication to God and receives a blessing from the priest. She often carries a book of prayer. During the ceremony, the quince girl commits herself to protecting her virginity and spiritual devotion. Of course things have changed a bit these days.

Before exiting the church, she leaves a bouquet of flowers at the altar or near a statue of the Virgin Mary. And as she transitions from childhood to woman, she symbolically gives away a porcelain doll to a younger girl. The girl in question wears a fairy tale gown — floor length, with satin, lace, sparkles, and a tiara. The gown alone can cost hundreds or even thousands.

But the finery doesn’t stop with the quince girl. She must also have 14 damas, or girl attendants, to symbolize the past 14 years of her life. And 15 chambelans (male attendants in tuxedos) to accompany the girls. Afterward, the Sweet 15 reception gets underway, and it can get very fancy and very expensive.

The fiesta typically, like many weddings, involves some traditional, choreographed dance sequences. And there maybe various rituals celebrating the girls’ heritage as well as her birthday, as it usually falls within the same period. In fact, some girl ensure that their quinceanera ceremony falls exactly on their 15th birthday.

The Quinceanera is similar to traditional debutante dances and “coming out’ ceremonies common in some parts of the US and Europe. They serve as young Hispanic girls’ official entrance into society and womanhood. The family may spend a great deal of money to solidify the quince girl’s position in society and eventual marriage.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Quinceanera?

The quinceanera is traditionally an eleborate event, and many families like to pull out all the stops to ensure they get a flamboyant affair. If you are wondering how much it will cost you to have a quinceanera, we will present you some factors that can help you make an educated estimate.

  1. The ceremony venue and reception

Just like a wedding ceremony, the venue of the reception is one of the things that take up the bulk of the planning dollars. The cost of space rental could be affected by additional services such as catering, linens, decor, security, cleaning and sometimes even cutting the cake. Expect to pay at least $700 (just for the space) and up to $2,500 if not more for an outstanding venue with large capacity. Saturdays will always be the most expensive day, so you have to keep this in mind.

If you really want to cut down on this expense, you should decide to have your Quince on a weekday or Sunday and consider sharing your mass so you can split the cost with another Quinceanera.

2. The Guest list

The next thing you have to think about is the number to people to grace the occasion. Sure, your guest list can easily be composed of 100 guests however this does not mean you will order 100 invitations since those are mostly delivered per family rather than per individual. Do consider the number of people invited if aside from your invites you’re planning on sending “Save the Dates”.

Each guest you invite will cost you money whether it is due to invitations, sitting arrangements, dinner and cake servings, to mention a few.

3. Catering Services

Another big budget for your quinceanera is food. If you’re having your Quince at a venue you may be offered a catering option, or you could hire an outside catering vendor. The cost of catering usually depends on the cuisine style and the number of plates.

Venue catering options usually start at $30 and can go up to $60 per plate while an outside catering vendor might charge you between $8 and up to $25, again, depending on the menu. Food trucks are becoming popular and their rates vary, but they are usually easier on the pocket.

Besides catering you could also consider a dessert table with cupcakes, macaroons and sweet treats, each piece ranges $1-$3.75 each.

4. The quinceanera dress

The dress is one of the main things that attract a lot of attention at a quinceanera. It is no wonder girls and their mothers are so particular about the dress. The price you pay for your Quince gown has a lot to do with the fabric, style and designer. Once a designer launched his/her latest collection, expect the one prior to be less expensive. Dresses can start at $400 if purchased during clearance season or belongs to a not-so-new collection, and can go up to $1500 or more, depending on the popularity of the designer.

5. Photo and Video coverage

You will want to remember the day’s event for a long time, so photo and video coverage are necessary. The price varies according to the package you choose, it could be only digital photos, or digital plus number of prints and even video. This service can cost you anything from $800 to $3,000.

If you do not want to spend so much on this service, you can have someone take pictures for you should know that they won’t look as good as professionally done ones.

6. Music and sundry entertainment

Here is where it gets a lot more interesting because you can decide to pick what you like for entertainment. When it comes to music, the obvious options are between:

A DJ who usually charges hourly or per event from as low as $180 and up to $500, more with lighting show and dance floor.

A Mariachi or banda, starting at $200 per hour (usually depends on the number of members).

A live band up to $700-$1500 for the night.

A popular portion of the entertainment factor at most Quinceaneras seems to be the rental of a photo booth. This type of service will cost you according to the amount of hours and prints you want. They range between $500- $1500.

7. Decorations and Party Planner Services

If your budget allows for it, consider hiring a party coordinator but be ready to pay at least $150 for each hour he or she assists with your Quinceanera’s logistics. Another cost to keep in mind is the delivery charge some rental services add.

You should also know that you can pay as low as $99 for a DIY backdrop. You can order this online. Party planning businesses who will come and do the setup and pick up after party could cost you up to $1000.

Balloons sculptures range between $75-$149 up to $500 for a whole setup while photo props cost between $10-$30 per piece.

8. The Quince Cake

The cake is also another attraction so you have to take care to get a good one. A Quinceanera cake can cost between $250 and $600, price is subject to change based on the number of guests. Buttercream tends to be less expensive than fondant.

An additional expense to consider when it comes to this matter, is the cake tasting which goes between $35-$50, three to five servings. Lastly, you will also pay for delivery, set up and even cutting which could sum up to $100, some venues offer this service, feel free to ask.

If you want to save money on your cake, request a fake cake with a real top layer and buy 2 separate real cake sheets, keep them hidden in the kitchen prior to serving. Once you take the typical cutting the cake picture, take the fake cake back to the kitchen and serve your guests from the less expensive cake sheets.

9. The Invitations

Traditional printed invitations go anywhere from $2.75 to $8 per invitation. Individual price depends on how detailed the design is and whether you’re using a special fabric. Etsy.com has several artists offering instant digital designs which you can print and turn into invitations, the cost is $15 but you will have to pay the additional amount for prints and envelopes.

You can choose to leave out the traditional print invitations and go digital! Also, make sure to order them on time so you don’t have to pay extra for a faster service.

10. Hair and Makeup

This is pretty much the most popular Quinceanera combo, as they usually go together. The usual rate is $130-$200 just for the quince girl in question although hairstylist and makeup artists usually offer discount deals if you book for your whole court or maybe your mom and madrina.

Having a Quinceanera is without a doubt expensive, whether you’re planning on inviting only 50 guests and using your backyard as venue to save up, it takes money to make it happen. Your Quinceanera can cost you up to $10,000 if you choose to pull out all the stops. But you can also get a good ceremony for $5,000 and below.

How to pay for a quinceañera

The best way to pay for a quinceanera depends on the family’s resources and the size of the fiesta. You may be able to charge the costs on a credit card and pay it off quickly. Your extended family, as is the tradition for many, may contribute substantially.

Credit cards are certainly the most convenient and fast way to deal with the cost of a quinceañera. But far from the cheapest. You may be able to charge your costs to a rewards card, or open a zero interest card to get an interest free period.

But unless you can clear that balance quickly, a personal loan may be the best way to pay for a quinceañera. And if your expenses are going to run into thousands or even tens of thousands, a personal loan may be the best payment option.

If you are planning a very, very expensive fiesta, pulling out all the stops and going into tens of thousands of debt or even more, home equity might be your best bet. A home equity loan takes longer to set up, there are mortgage-related costs, and your repayment can take decades. And if you fail to repay as agreed, you put your home at risk of foreclosure.

But a loan secured by your home does usually offer the lowest interest rates. Few financial experts will recommend taking on that level of debt for a party that lasts one day. But if it’s important to your culture, you’re set in spending that kind of money and don’t mind financing it — and you have home equity to borrow against — that can be your best option.

For a quinceañera with costs falling in the average range ($5,000 to $20,000), a personal loan may well be the best way to pay. You can get a fixed interest rate and payment, and choose the term that makes your repayment affordable for you. Generally one to five years, but they do run as long as ten years for some programs.

How to plan a Quinceanera on a budget

Quinceañera is a big day for Latina girls. This rite of passage takes place during girls’ 15th birthday (quince años in Spanish), and it symbolizes the time she leaves childhood behind to enter womanhood. Quince is a beautiful and expensive coming-of-age tradition. While some parents can afford an over-the-top Quinceañera party for their teenage daughters, many others struggle to keep the party low-budget.

Is it possible to have a Quince party without breaking the bank? The answer is yes! From choosing a dress to decorating the venue, there are a lot of ways to cut down expenses. Planning a customized, delightful and affordable Quince celebration is totally possible with these awesome money-saving tips.

  • Start preparing on time

It’s never too early to start planning your Quince party. The suggested time for planning is 9-12 months prior, but it doesn’t hurt starting even sooner than that. This way you will be able to have a Quinceañera on a budget by getting your funds in order and having time enough to plan for unexpected expenses.

  • Get a level-headed budget

Finding the balance between your dream Quince celebration and how much your family can really afford is essential. Is there a significant difference between what you want to spend and what you can actually afford? If so, brainstorm a plan to raise money—you can have craft sales or offer babysitting, pet sitting or writing services to earn extra cash.

  • Your dress for less

It’s a common misconception that you have to spend a lot of money on your Quince dress to look stunning The truth is, you can find the perfect dress for much less than you think. How?

Look for deals online: There are a lot of good options online that cost less than brick-and-mortar retail store. Don’t forget to look for coupons.

Explore secondhand options: Many girls don’t keep their dresses after their Quinceañera. Look for gently used secondhand dresses on places like Craigslist. Once you have picked your Quince dress, visit a seamstress to make your dress an original by removing or adding elements to it.

  • Create a playlist for your party

Music is definitely a must at a Quince party. Hiring a DJ is expensive—try making your own playlist instead! Or if one of your friends or family members is in a band, ask them to play at the party.

  • Turn your friends into photographers

Assign some friends the task of taking pictures, especially of important events like the Quinceañera entrance, the father-daughter dance and the group shots. Many of your guests will post pictures on Instagram, so create a hashtag for the event.

  • Start looking out for deals

Don’t limit yourself to the brick-and-mortar store options as those may not even be enough to serve your needs. Research online for deals on dresses, decorations, hair and makeup, flowers and anything else you will need. Buying online can help you save time and money.

  • Reach out

Unarguably, you cannot do this on your own. You need help. Ask friends and family to help with preparing food and decorating, so you don’t have to hire as many people. Do you have a relative or close friend who is very crafty or good with makeup? Ask them for help so you can save on decorations or skip an appointment with the salon. You can also ask them to finance some of your expenses by buying a gift card to save on your makeup.

Another good way to save is by asking around to see if anyone has a big backyard where you can celebrate the party. No, don’t balk at this idea, you never know what you can get if you are only willing to ask.

  • Do as much as you can by yourself

There’s a lot of stuff you can do yourself that can save you some serious cash. From invitations to decor or party favors, you can save when you put your crafty skills to work.

  • Avoid Saturdays

Avoid renting a venue on a Saturday or a holiday weekend as venues rates will be higher. Rent a venue for less on Friday or Sunday, or try a weekday for the best deal.

  • Never be caught unawares

You have to know all you will need for your big day down to the tee. Create a list with everything required: dress, venue, hair, makeup, music, etc. Download a free digital Quinceañera Planner to keep you organized so you don’t miss anything important.

  • Look for all-inclusive venues

When looking for a reception hall, prioritize those that include more elements in the final price. If they provide linens, candles or any other decoration, that’s something you can cross off your spending list. Do they have a garden? Even better! Natural flowers and trees are the best decoration.

  • Reduce the number of guests

More guests means more spending. Limiting your party to close relatives and friends is a good way to save.

  • Send online invitations

Save money on paper and postage by sending invites online through websites like Evite. Create your own invites and send them online.

  • Rent decorations or DIY

Instead of buying expensive decorations, rent from a vendor or, even better, make your own. Gather together your crafty friends and relatives and have fun making handmade items. You can find inspiration on websites like Pinterest or by watching YouTube tutorials.

  • Serve a buffet instead of a sit-down meal

Cut down on expenses by having a buffet filled with appetizers and finger food. Besides, this is an easy way to serve and eat.

  • Substitute cake for personalized cupcakes

Quince cakes today can cost hundreds of dollars. Skip the cakes and buy cupcakes in bulk for lower prices.

What really matters…

Spending tons of cash does not necessarily make for the best Quinceañera. A party on a tight budget can be as amazing and memorable as an expensive one. Don’t forget that sharing your special day with family and friends is the most important element of a Quince celebration.

When planning a Quince, you must prioritize your wishlist in order to distribute the budget accordingly. Is wearing an amazing dress your top priority? Will inviting all of your friends and relatives make you the happiest? Are you totally into good food and nice decorations? Before you start planning, decide which aspect of a Quinceanera is the most important to you and the one you are willing to spend more on.

Ajaero Tony Martins