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The Quinceanera or Sweet 16 welcomes an adolescent into maturity with tradition, spirituality and the magic of which fairy tales are made.

High heels and lipstick; a beautiful ball gown; the dreamy rhythm of a waltz. A jeweled crown sparkles in the spotlight as a proud father whirls his daughter out of childhood and into adolescence. Her family and friends applaud; her mother dabs a handkerchief to her eye. Life that night is a fairy tale. She is a real-life princess.

In the tradition of the sweet 15/16, this is the milestone that marks the passage from a young girl to a young woman. For many families the event is not only important for what it celebrates, but it is also the opportunity to display a family's culture.

The sweet 15/16 is like a fairy tale not only for the girl, but also for the parents. Together they plan the party and any religious service that accompany it. The months and sometimes years that lead up to the fiestas include planning and financing, finding the court, ordering the invitations, practicing the dances and more, all of which help to make the day complete.

The elements of this celebration, vary from culture to culture, and even from region within the United States. Generally, though, it often includes these elements:

The Honor Escort. Whether he's called the Escort, Un Caballero, Escorte, or Galan he is always de honor (of honor). The honor escort accompanies the sweet 15/16 throughout the festivities. He is generally a brother, cousin, friend, uncle, or sometimes even her father.

The Court of Honor traditionally includes fourteen girls and fourteen boys, who stand with the sweet 15/16 on her special day. But the sweet 15/16 may choose to have just seven couples, or a court of all boys or all girls, or even just one maid of honor or dama de honor. They are the supporting cast, the friends and family who are nearest to her in age and dearest to her heart. The court may also include flower girls, a lucky charm, a prince and princess, young children dressed similarly to the sweet 15/16 and the honor escort, as symbols of innocence.

The Reception may be organized around a specific theme, such as carousel horses, a French garden, popular movies or a television soap opera and includes:

The Introduction of the court of honor by the master of ceremonies includes the announcement of each person in the court into the banquet hall.

The Presentation of the sweet 15/16 is the big moment when the guest of honor enters the room. The sweet 15/16 traditionally walks in on the arm of her escort to a white peacock chair decorated with ribbons. She is seated until the tiara/crown is placed on her head, and her shoes are changed from flats to heels.

The Vals/Waltz is usually the first dance of the evening. All members of the court perform it with the sweet 15/16 dancing with her father. This dance can be substituted with "Daddy's Little Girl" or "Mi Nina Bonita".

The Group Dance is performed after the waltz and can be any song chosen by the sweet 15/16. (e.g., merengue, swing, jig etc.)

The Thank You may include the parents reading a thank you to the sweet 15/16 and the guests for attending. The sweet 15/16 girl also reads a thank you to family and friends.

The Candle-Lighting ceremony occurs when the sweet 15/16 asks for special people in her life to present themselves and light one of the sixteen candles as she speaks a few words regarding their relationship/friendship. She will call up family, friends, etc., one at a time or in a group until all the candles are lit. As each person comes to light a candle, one song or several songs can be played.

The Dance consists of a PARTYTYME disc jockey providing the music to get people out of their chairs and dancing all evening long. Click here to download PARTYTYME's Sweet 16 Worksheet.
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