You’re turning 15 pretty soon and are most likely planning a wonderful party. If you want to begin your birthday celebration with a Quinceanera Mass, though, the rules and regulations of your church or parish must be honored. Abiding by these rules may change the way you plan the rest of your celebration so make time to sit down with your parish priest or representative early. Then bring these 15 crucial questions regarding how your church would like you to see you celebrate your 15th birthday.
1. Reserve the church and check the availability of a priest
You want to do this at least six months before your Quinceanera date. Also, ask if the priest wants to prepare you during the planning process.
2. Ask if you need to be active members of the parish
Most, if not all, parishes require that the Quinceanera is baptized, has had her First Communion, and need submission of the certificates from those sacraments. Your parents may also need to be participating members of the parish before you’re allowed to book a Quinceanera.
3. Regarding preparatory class costs
It’s not uncommon for parishes to require not only that you be a member of that church but also that you take a preparatory class or two. These classes are usually similar to first communion classes, and sometimes there’s a fee, so be sure to ask if the parish requires payment or a donation.
4. Donation or fee for the church
Once your requested date is on the church calendar, more than likely you’ll be expected to pay a fee or donation—and it may well be non-refundable. Check the policy very early on because there are churches that charge as much as $400.
If your church’s fee is high, give some serious consideration to sharing your Quince Mass with another girl or two.
5. Ask if the Mass can be private or must be in a group
Different parishes have different rules. Some will insist that you share the spotlight because they want the focus to be on the liturgy and the blessing. Others have a standard policy to have one Quinceanera Mass for all girls turning 15 in that month. Still other churches will let you have your own private Mass. Make sure to ask well in advance so that you’re not disappointed.
6. Decoration requirements and restrictions
Churches vary as to their requirements. Some will let you decorate the pews while others will not. Some expect you to provide a large flower arrangement or two for the altar. With others, it’s optional. Lastly, some parishes will let you take the decorations with you to use at your reception or home while others require that you leave all flowers in the church after your Quinceanera mass is over.
7. Other decorating rules
Be sure to ask how much time you’ll have for setup and breakdown of the sanctuary decorations. You’ll need to know how early you can get in and how soon you’ll need to have everything out of there—unless you’re required to leave all embellishments in place.
8. Music requirements and restrictions
If you want the church choir or other church musicians to play for your Quince Mass, it’s your responsibility to cover the fee. Also, some churches allow only the church choir to sing during the ceremony while others will let you have musicians of your choice.
If you want a mariachi band to walk you into the church or lead the procession afterward, be sure to ask well in advance because some churches don’t permit such things.
9. Quinceanera rehearsals
More than likely, you’ll have a formal church rehearsal. If so, it’s common for the church to require that everyone who plans to participate in the ceremony be present at the rehearsal or else they can’t take part in the ceremonies within the Mass.
10. Double check clothing restrictions
Some parishes insist that your shoulders be completely covered and not just with a chiffon bolero. Ask if your church requires an opaque jacket or shawl and anything else like gloves. Also, ask if there are dress bodice restrictions.
There may be other limits as well regarding what your court of honor can and cannot wear. For example, certain parishes don’t allow the chambelanes to wear tuxedos, and they might have a requirement for the length of your damas’ skirts.
11. Customized wording
If you want something in your Mass or blessing to be customized, be sure to get permission on three counts:
- Does the church allow customizing at all?
- If so, who needs to approve the changes?
- How early do the changes have to be submitted?
12. Photo and video rules and regulations
So that you’re not disappointed come Quinceanera day, ask ahead of time what restrictions there are regarding photography and video of your Mass. Most of the time whatever is allowed for a wedding will be allowed for Quince, but once in a while, the parish insists that Quinceaneras be less elaborate. Ask these questions and any others you think of:
- Can your entrance into the church and the Mass itself be photographed?
- Can you take formal pictures in the sanctuary?
- Are you allowed to take photos on the church grounds?
- Can you include the priest in the photos?
- If videography is allowed, what are the restrictions?
13. Concerning confetti, rose petals & bubbles.
You might not care one way or the other, but in case you want a sendoff after the Mass, ask in advance what, if anything, your guests are allowed to do. Again, these rules may be the same as for weddings, or they might be discouraged as a way to focus on the spirituality of the day.
14. Special accommodations
If you know that one or more of your guests may need assistance, double check where a wheelchair can be placed so the guest can see the Mass. Also, ask if there’s a handicap ramp for wheelchairs and walkers.
You might have access to a changing room for you and/or your damas so ask to use the bride’s room if there is one.
15. Availability and rate of celebration hall
Many churches would love to have you celebrate your reception in their banquet hall and most charge a fraction of what a regular venue would cost. Unless you have your heart set on a particular place, give some serious consideration to celebrating your entire Quince at your church.
Besides, this may be the perfect way to add a very special touch to your Quinceanera celebration:
Just imagine how cool it would be to have a traditional procession from the sanctuary to the church hall with you, your court, and all your friends and family led by a mariachi band!
If nothing else, by having your reception in the church hall, for sure you won’t have any parking problems, nobody will get lost on the way to the reception, and you can save a bundle on that pricey limousine!
If you’re curious as to exactly why your church or parish may make a big deal out emphasizing the sacred part of your Quinceanera, read this article and find out what makes a Quince so spiritual: http://qbydavinci.com/blog/exploring-your-quinceanera-part-1-a-sacred-blessing/
And just in case you’re trying to pull your Quinceanera celebration together at the last minute, check out our blog for tips to make it all happen without going crazy: http://qbydavinci.com/blog/your-ultimate-planning-guide-for-the-last-minute-quinceanera/