The Quince Project: How the tradition is changing and how to save

Quincenera dress (KFOX14)

It's a foreign tradition turned billion-dollar industry here in the United States. Coming of age celebrations are common in all cultures but in Latin American cultures the celebration is called a quinceañera.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 82 percent of El Pasoans are Latinos, making this tradition a big business.

“We have one at least every weekend,” said Sally Saucedo, an event coordinator at Grace Gardens Event Center.

Her job to make sure every quinceañera is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We try to be a one-stop-shop so they aren’t having to worry about the different vendors and they worry if their cake showed up on time or if their flowers arrived in one piece,” Saucedo said.

Many venues are trying the same one-stop shop approach especially now that quinceañeras are more extravagant.

“Everything came out just like I planned it, just like I imagined it,” said Victoria Rivera.

Rivera, a 15-year-old Coronado High School freshman, celebrated her quinceañera earlier this month.

"We talked to a lot of different people about different stuff like the doughnut bar, the candy bar, the photo booth and stuff like that, so it was really fun planning,” said Rivera.

The constant additions and trends like the different photo booths and snack bars make the quinces of today much different than 20 or even 10 years ago.

Saucedo said social media has a lot to do with it.

"Because kids are on Facebook, Snapchat, they got their Snapchat filters, they have all of those social media outlets, Instagram, so it's like they want to top the last quinceañera that they were invited to," Saucedo said.

Along with all of the extras, one other thing that has changed is the fashion.

Renee Martinez, manager at La Popular, an event dress shop at Bassett Place, said the trends in dresses have changed over time.

"They want to sparkle that day. They want to be the queen of the night,” said Martinez.

Instead of the traditional white ball gown, girls are now opting for a colorful dress. The most popular in the past two years has been rose gold.

The dress isn’t the only tradition that has changed. In the Catholic religion it is customary for a quinceañera to have a church service.

>>Ruben Escandon, who is in the business of ministry, said quinceañeras are now some of his biggest clients, second to weddings. Filling a void left by the Catholic Church in recent years.<<

“It varies on a monthly basis. I may have six to 10 maybe, and it just varies and I get busy oftentimes during Lent when the church doesn't do quinceañeras,” said Escandon.

The quinceañera is not considered a sacrament in the Catholic Church, meaning it can be hard to find a parish that will hold a Mass.

Old and new traditions included experts say the cost has now become bigger than the party.

“Quinceañeras now are very close to the wedding expenditures that people make. The average wedding in El Paso County is about $15,000 to $20,000,” said Escandon.

When it comes to saving money, experts say it can be as easy as cutting back and planning ahead.

"A lot of people nowadays are saving money and they are maybe not going as extravagant on table décor, they are doing some floral, but they are doing candles with their centerpieces,” said Saucedo.

“Also, with the dinner maybe just serving close family and friends versus all of your guests."

They also say to take advantage of payment plans and layaway options.

There are also ways to save and even score free stuff for your quince by attending expos along with looking into different promotional offers.

La Popular is giving away a dress to one lucky girl in the community through a raffle. Free tickets can be picked up at the store, which is in Bassett Place. The dress will be given away Saturday, July 28, at 4 p.m. during the store's annual fashion show.

In the end, this billion-dollar industry is all about one thing.

"At the end of the day when they are older and they have their grandkids they are going to be like, 'Yeah I remember.' I want this to be a very beautiful experience for them," said Martinez

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