I recently went to Houston for my niece’s quinceañera — or rather, her sweet 16, since she waited a year to have the party. My niece is half Mexican on her mom’s side, and that, combined with the fact that she lives in Latina-rich Houston, influenced her desire to celebrate this cultural tradition.

Throughout the events leading up to the party, and at the party I kept remarking at all the parallels to a wedding. My niece wore a fantabulous pink dress, and had her court of guys and gals to support her, much like bridesmaids and groomsmen. The planning might have surpassed that of a wedding, judging by all the looks of exhaustion on the faces of all her family members who had worked so hard for the months leading up to the party.

The Dress

My niece is not a girly-girl. I’ve never seen her in a dress. She hates to smile for photos. She doesn’t wear makeup. But she had a blast trying on a new look. I loved the fact that underneath all those layers of pink tulle, she was wearing pink Converse shoes!

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The Court

Oh, to be 16 again. Or not. My niece chose her closest friends, along with her brother, to represent her. That meant wearing fancy clothes and performing a really cool dance.

 

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The Family

We don’t get down to Houston much, though I’ve gotten to see my niece every summer for the past few years. It was good to spend time with my brother, as well as see her family. And of course, having my mom down from Arkansas was fun!

 

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The Food

What party is complete without great food? It was BYOB (thank Buddha) and an aunt made a fabulous pasta spread. But the cakes were ogle-worthy:

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You only turn 15 — er, 16 — once, and I’m glad we got to celebrate my niece’s special day.