Complete Guide to Quinceanera Traditions

The celebration of quinceañeras has been around for centuries. This coming-of-age event has existed since the age of the Mayans and the Aztecs. There are many different quinceanera traditions that make our culture the most unique, wonderful community.

There are certain rituals that have stuck around throughout the years, and are still incorporated in today’s quinces. We want to share the meaning behind each of these amazing quinceanera traditions!

Padrinos and Madrinas

In Hispanic tradition, padrinos and madrinas are almost always used when planning a big life event. This is one of the many things that sets quinceañeras apart from other coming-of-age events and is an amazing part of Hispanic culture.

Many people ask what are padrinos and it’s pretty simple: they’re the close friends and family that come together to help put on the event, whether by lending a hand or helping contribute money, and ultimately make the 15 year old’s dream come true.

You can find a list of our top quinceañera gifts that are typically gifted by padrinos, here!

Quinceañera Dress

The quinceanera dress plays a huge part of this coming-of-age celebration. The dresses are typically extravagant and huge, which signifies the transition into adulthood.

Most dresses are ball gown dresses, and traditionally they are white. The reason for this is it symbolizes purity. Of course, nowadays you see girls with all different dress colors and designs, often depending on what theme they choose, which we absolutely love seeing!  

light Pink quinceanera dress
Credit: sdlphotography_

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The Court

Traditionally, the quinceañera court is made up of 15 chambelanes (one of them being the Chambelan de Honor) and 14 damas. Many people also opt for just seven chambelanes and seven damas, which makes the full court add to 15 (including the quinceañera).

Nowadays, though, you can choose however many people you want in your court! You can also choose to have a male-only court or a female-only court. It’s really up to you and how many people you would love to be there with you and be a big part of this celebration.

Red and Black Quinceanera Court
Credit: Taken by Raven

Make sure your court is dressed in style, here are some of our favorite picks!


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Quinceañera Ceremony

For those who are a part of Catholic or other religious communities, having a mass is probably one of the most important quinceanera traditions. Some only have a mass, which is the part of the event that dedicates the young woman to God.

Quinceanera Ceremony
Credit: lucysphotos1735

The meaning behind having a mass for your quinceanera signifies that you will always have God throughout life’s journey, especially during the transition from little girl to a young lady. It’s a reminder that God will always be with you, throughout your life. Here is a list of traditional items to include in your ceremony:

  • Quinceañera Crown/Corona
    • The crown represents that the quinceañera is a daughter of God. It is usually given to wear before the ceremony, so the priest/father can bless it!
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  • Quinceañera Bracelet/Ring
    • The quinceañera bracelet and ring both symbolize the infinite circle of love that God has for you.
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  • Quinceañera Earrings
    • The earrings remind the quinceañera to always keep her ears open to the word of God.
  • Quinceañera Bible/Rosary
    • The Bible and Rosary are a few of the first things given before the mass. The father typically blesses both before entering the church. These items symbolize how the quinceanera should always remember the word of God in her life.
  • Quinceañera Scepter
    • The scepter signifies that the quinceanera now has greater responsibilities in life. She is now entering a new phase in her life, where she has to step it up and become a responsible young woman in her community and life.
  • Natural Flowers for Virgin Mary
    • After Mass, the quinceanera will leave the bouquet at the altar as an offering to The Virgin Mary. Her parents will approach her when she is at the altar, and stand behind her, also giving thanks for their now grown-up daughter.
  • Quinceañera Kneeling Pillow
    • There will be times during the ceremony where the quinceañera will have to kneel, which is where the pillow comes in handy. You may have it embellished and decorated as you wish.

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Do you need to figure out how all of these traditions will play out at the quince ceremony? Check out our planning guide where it details the order of events at your quinceañera here.


The reception has many quinceanera traditions that will make you shed a couple tears (can you please pass the tissues?!). Try incorporating some of these traditions into your quinceanera!

  • Food
    • Is it really a quinceañera if there is no food? Although you may have something in  mind already on what you and your guests will eat at your reception, it’s also good to know some of the traditional foods that are traditionally served.
      • Mole y Arroz
      • Picadillo
      • Sopa
      • Menudo or Pozole
      • Cabrito
      • Tortillas
  • Crowning of the Quinceañera
    • If there is no ceremony, the quinceanera may be crowned when the cambio de zapatillas, or, changing of the shoes, happens at the reception (see below).
  • Candle Lighting
    • One way to show your gratitude towards all the loved ones with you that day is to do a candle lighting ceremony. Typically the quinceanera picks 15 people who have helped her throughout her life. She then gives each of those special people a lighted candle. She then blows out all the candles after she gives a candle to the last person.
  • Regalo Sorpresa/Surprise Gift
    • The surprise gift has become a super popular quinceanera tradition in recent years. One of the friends or family members surprises the quinceanera with a big box full of gifts and surprises that often takes a while to open.
  • Ultima Muñeca/Last Doll
    • The ultima muñeca tradition symbolizes how childhood is ending. The father gives the quinceañera her “last doll” and then she’ll often gift it to a younger sister or other girl to show how she is transitioning to adulthood and becoming a young lady.
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  • Cambio de Zapatillas
    • Typically the father of the quinceanera will remove his daughter’s flats or shoes, and replace them with a pair of heels. This signifies that she is now old enough to wear heels!
  • El Brindis
    • The toasts and speeches are usually done before all the other quince traditions at the reception. The parents will give a toast to everyone and thank them for being with them on this special day. The padrinos and madrinas can also speak at this time and say some moving words to the star of the party. Finally, the quinceañera herself may also give thanks to all her guests! Don’t forget the copas!
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  • Cake Cutting
    • What’s a party without cake!? QUEREMOS PASTEL, PASTEL, PASTEL!

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  • Recuerdos de Quinceañera
    • Party Favors are essential to a party like this. You want to give your guests a small keepsake memory that they can have forever to remember the amazing fiesta.
  • Wooden Virgen de Guadalupe Keychains (Set of 12)

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  • Wooden “Mis Quince Años” Horseshoe Favors with Bow (Set of 12)

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  • Personalized Foil Tags Quinceanera

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Do you need to figure out how all of these traditions will play out at the quince reception? Check out our planning guide where it details the order of events at your quinceañera here.


  • Father-Daughter Dance
    • The father-daughter dance is the first dance of the night and is a way for the father to introduce his daughter as a new woman to all the guests. It also represents that the quinceanera’s father is the first man in her life.
    • If you do not have a father-like figure in your life, you can dance with your mother, your tios, padrinos, or anyone in your life that has had an impact on you – this moment should be shared with someone special to you, not specifically your father.
  • Vals de los Damas/Chambelanes/The Waltz
    • After the father-daughter dance, the father usually hands off the quinceanera to the chambelan de honor. (Now, she is allowed to dance with other men!) Then the court Waltz begins. This dance can be done with just chambelanes, just damas, or both!
  • Baile Sopresa/Surprise Dance
    • Nowadays, having a surprise dance is one of the most common quinceanera traditions. You can have a DJ mix up your favorite songs together and come up with a cool choreographed dance! But make sure you practice so you nail it on your big day!
  • Vals de los Padrinos
    • There are some instances where the Quinceanera opens up the dance floor for her and her padrinos to dance together. This is the perfect time to personally thank your padrinos for being with you on such an important day.


  • Mariachi
    • Typically a mariachi is hired to play in the morning, to wake up the quinceanera on her big day! They typically play “Las Mañanitas”, which is a great way to wake up!
  • Banda/DJ/Grupo
    • Traditionally, there is almost always some sort of musical performance at a quince reception. This is a day to celebrate, and music is always a significant part of any celebration.
  • Hora Loca
    • The “Hora Loca” is becoming one of the more popular quinceanera traditions. This is the time where the music is blasting, and everyone is on the dance floor having fun. It’s literally just an hour of crazy partying! This is a great way to start the party and to get everyone on the floor! Hora Loca can include things like glow sticks, silly string, props, LED robots, dancers and entertainers.

These are tons of the amazing quinceanera traditions, but ultimately remember that your quince is your day. You can do whatever you want and however you want it!

Are we missing a tradition? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear more unique traditions that are special to you!


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