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Planning a Quinceanera or Sweet 16 Ceremony in New York?

While much time is focused on planning the quinceanera party, dress and court, it is equally–if not more–essential to plan the church aspect of your big day.

The quinceanera mass will take place before the party, and is meant to celebrate a young girl becoming a young lady, and introduce her as such to the community.  Here is a simple breakdown of a quinceanera mass:

  •  Damas and Chambelanes will enter into the church by walking down the aisle toward the alter, and they will proceed to the first row (remain standing)
  • With all guests standing, the quinceanera will be escorted to the alter by her parents

From this point, the Pastor/Priest/Reverend will be leading the ceremony, as in a typical mass. The quinceanera ceremony will be held in English, Spanish, or a combination of both. Guests will be welcomed, hymns will be sang and Bible verses will be read. Some hymns will be sung by all the guests, and some will likely be sung by your vocalist.  Holy communion will be offered. So, the mass generally has all of the components of a typical service. However, more components can be added to the service:

  •  Presentation and blessing of quinceanera gifts offered by the Padrinos de Quinceanera, may be a cross, rosary, bible, and/or jewelry. These items are blessed by the officiant
  • The quinceanera sits at an honor seat near the altar. She is accompanied by her parents at some points, and her padrinos de quinceanera at others
  • “Crowning” of the quinceanera by her padrinos or parents, with a tiara placed on her head
  • Offering of a real flower bouquet to the alter of the Virgin Mary. The quinceanera will kneel for prayer after the bouquet has been placed down. Note: this is not the quinceanera’s actual bouquet, but a separate bouquet that is specifically for this purpose and left at the alter
  •  The officiant will encourage the quinceanera to make God a part of her life, recognize the importance of her family, and be selfless and an example for the community
  • The quinceanera will read a prayer of thanks before the congregation

A beautiful outline for a quinceanera that I came across is located here: Christian Quinceanera Ceremony

The first step in actually planning the ceremony is choosing a church and officiant. There will be a fee associated with the mass and the officiant. Example: for the quinceanera we had, there was a $150 fee to use the church, and the officiant asked us for a “donation”. There was also a fee for the two vocalists we used.

Once you have selected an officiant and church, you will want to work with the officiant to plan out how the ceremony will flow and what aspects will be included. You can also plan who will be the vocalist (the officiant may have some helpful suggestions), or maybe you will have a mariachi band at your ceremony. Work with them to select the hymns and songs that will be performed at your event.

At the end of the ceremony, the officiant will introduce the quinceanera to the community, and there will be a round of applause to commence the service and congratulate the quinceanera on making her quince anos.

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