Even though she has known most of her life that she wanted to celebrate with a quinceañera, Evana said that as the date drew nearer, “it hits you harder.”
Among the myriad details to attend to were the guest list, cake design, as well as choosing an appropriate theme and the perfect shoes, Evana said. Just finding the right dress took about three months of scouring the Internet, she said.
“I was on a mission,” said Evana, a Central Union High School freshman who just celebrated her Mardi Gras-themed quinceañera Saturday.
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Evana’s mother, Socorro Acosta, said she had started saving for the event about a year ago. Acosta said she had a harried experience preparing for her eldest daughter Krystal’s quinceañera three years ago after her daughter belatedly decided that she wanted to have a quinceañera after initially declining.
With six months’ time to prepare for that quinceañera, Acosta said she was worried she wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. Luckily, a Christmas-day outing to the Golden Acorn Casino with a little spending money netted $5,000 in winnings, all of which went to cover Krystal’s quinceañera’s costs.
As an adolescent herself, Acosta admits that she didn’t particularly want to have one either, on account of “time and money,” but was told by her mother she had to have one simply because it’s a “tradition.”
“If my mom and dad could have one each for five girls,” Acosta said, “then (both my daughters) should have one as well.”
Currently holding down two jobs, Acosta calculated that she had spent about $8,000 for Evana’s quinceañera, with the reception at Cheval Farms costing more than half of that.
“It’s a lot of planning for just one night,” Acosta said. “But we go to the extreme to make our children happy.”
For Hispanics, quinceañeras have their origins in Aztec and Mayan cultures. They have served to mark a female adolescent’s coming of age into womanhood, and serve to reaffirm faith and family as they transition into adult roles and sexual maturity. They also can typically run anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.
Calexico resident Lupe Abril said she started saving for her daughter Aiza’s quinceañera in earnest about two years prior. Describing her daughter as a “good kid” who had always wanted to have a quinceañera, Abril said she found herself unprepared when the time came to start making all the arrangements for the event.
An experienced event planner herself, Abril hired help in logistical matters, while family helped defray costs as well, she said.
Family members offered to share the cost of the reception hall and the dress, Abril said. Her brother and cousins offered to pick up the tab for the beer supply, which had slipped Abril’s mind during the run-up to her daughter’s big day.
“(Beer) was the last thing on my mind,” Abril said. “But it was the first thing on their minds.”
While using real flowers for floral decorations no doubt added to overall costs, Abril said she was able to save on other items such as invitations that were printed at Staples with paper that was purchased in Mexicali. The final price tag came out to about $8,000 to $9,000, Abril said.
While young people seem to be spending less on party dresses lately, customers are still spending an average of $480 for a quinceañera dress, said Blanca’s Bridal sales representative Liliana Hernandez. She said that the price for a dress typically ranges from $300 to $700. Dress sales at the El Centro business haven’t seen a considerable drop on account of the poor economy.
“People are just more careful how they spend their money,” Hernandez said.
About 40 percent of business receipts are generated by quinceañeras, Hernandez said, adding that many customers come from Mexicali and Yuma as well.