The Honor Escort: Generally a brother, cousin, friend, an uncle or even the father of the quinceañera. The Honor Escort accompanies the quinceañera throughout the ceremony and festivities.
The Court of Honor: Although traditionally it has been fourteen girls and fourteen boys (representing a year of the quinceañera's life), seven couples is more common today. The Court of Honor supports the quinceañera by standing with her during the ceremony. They consist of friends and family closest to her age and dearest to her heart. Sometimes the court includes flower girls who sprinkle the quinceañera's path with flower petals.
Sponsors (also known as Padrinos): This custom is a blend of Mexican-American tradition. It is designed to spread the economic burden of the party among the extended family and close family friends. Each sponsor donates cash or buys a specific element of the celebration, such as drinks,cake, napkins, flowers, etc. as a present to the quinceañera.
Religious Celebration: A church service, mass or simple blessing. In each country it is different. For example, in Cuba families do not have a church service; Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Central Americans almost always have a church service. Puerto Rican quinceañeras traditionally have a blessing of all the accessories (rosary, shoes, Bible, prayer book, etc.) during the reception. After this blessing, the mother of the quinceañera places a crown on the her head and her father changes her shoes from flats to heels, signifying the change from childhood to young womanhood.
Reception: Generally following the ceremony, this is the main party with food, drink and music. It can be arranged around a particular theme, such as Cinderella, Hollywood, Flowers, Colors, or any favorite thing of the quinceañera. The reception almost always includes the following:
• The Introduction of the Court of Honor: Each name of the Court of Honor is announced as they enter into the reception. This is similar to the announcement of a bridal party at a wedding and is generally done by the Master or Mistress of Ceremony, DJ, or bandleader.
• The Presentation of the Quinceañera: In some cultures this is a very dramatic, almost theatrical moment. In Puerto Rico, the girls walk in on the arm of their Honor Escort to a white peacock chair, where she sits and is crowned and her shoes are changed from flats heels. One Mexican American quinceañera made her arrival on an oversized star which was lowered from the ceiling to the stage.
• The Waltz: One of the highlights of the reception, this is a very special moment, and is usually practiced months preceding the actual day of the quinceañera. In most cultures, the quinceañera starts dancing (usually to a waltz) with her father. She continues to dance with her father into the second song as her Honor escort dances with her mother. Halfway through the second song, they switch so her escort is dancing with her and her mother is dancing with her father. On the third song, the Court of Honor joins in.
• The Toast: The father generally leads the toast, but it can be done by the master or mistress of ceremony, bandleader or Honor Escort.