When it comes to quinceaneras, the words "gran sacrificio" come to
Miriam Rodriguez's mind. For four generations, her family has gone through great
lengths to celebrate the transition from girl to womanhood.
Rodriguez's mother, Balbina Espino, 93, said she remembers spending two weeks making her own quinceanera dress. She used a few yards of a crisp yellow taffeta that cost her 5 Cuban pesos back in Havana. When Rodriguez was a quinceanera, her family had to barter with friends to avoid party restrictions implemented by Fidel Castro's government. And later in Miami, she worked two jobs, so that when her daughter, Maria Chouza, became a quinceanera, she would able to take her on a cruise.
To follow the family tradition, Chouza, 38, is spending about $15,000 on her daughter Samantha's coming-of-age party, which can generally cost anywhere from $5,500 to $55,000.
"Times have changed," Espino said in Spanish. Rodriguez agreed.
Most quinceaneras dream of being a princess for the night. Ana Calcedo's invitations read: "Once upon a time, a little girl had a dream, to have a beautiful party, where she turned 15." The card was about the size of a restaurant menu. It was padded to look like a thin ivory cushion covered in silk with a navy blue silk ribbon.
There was a choice of feathers, flowers or a sparkly broach for an accent, Calcedo, 16, said. She chose the "fake diamonds" broach, because she "wanted it to be something memorable, like storybook memorable."
Her family paid about $40 per invitation. It was a luxury. The cards usually range from $4.50 to $7.
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Ricardo Lowe, who co-owns Lilian Designs in Coral Gables, Fla., said this type of card is known as the "padded silk folio." It is usually used for weddings and it requires a box.
Luiz Goncalves, co-owner of The Fine Paper Store in Miami Lakes said the quinceanera usually also needs place cards, direction cards and stationary.
"We have a lot of choices. Different types of paper, different calligraphy," Goncalvez said. "The variety is important, because the invitation sets the tone for what is to come."
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LOCATION AND DECOR
Anthony "Tony" Elias said producing the fantasy is in his blood. He grew up watching his family put together special events at their Renaissance ballrooms in Miami, and said quince parties still make him cry.
"We develop connections with our clients," Elias said. "We offer them packages that cover the planning process all the way down to execution. We work on the dinner, decorations, and an elaborate quince stage _ the works _ it's very much like a theatric production."
Renaissance's capacity ranges from 60 to 550 people and can cost from $5,000 with a $1,000 deposit, and $40,000 with a $6,000 deposit.
Creativity is a must. Fantasy Designer's co-owner Maria Molina said she can turn any place into a party, and there are no limits to what money can buy.
"If a millionaire comes and tells me he wants his daughter to descend from the moon; we will make it happen," Molina said in Spanish. "We also work with our clients on how to stay on budget with tricks like using feathers instead of flowers in the center pieces."
Molina's services range from $800 to $10,000 depending on the size of the
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