Stay up to date with the latest wedding ceremony trends, script writing inspiration, tips and advice for first-time officiants, and news that matters to couples and wedding ministers.

Leading A Quinceañera Is A Lot Like Officiating a Wedding, With A Few Important Differences

Published Tuesday, Apr. 23rd, 2024

Quinceanera dances with her friends during the quince anos party
Photo: Image Source / iStock

7 Tips for Officiating a Quinceañera for Professional Officiants: Yadira Richards offers expert advice for officiants & celebrants leading their first quince años ceremony


All eyes are on the young woman as she walks down the aisle dressed in a stunning white gown, arm-in-arm with her father. She turns to smile at her friends as she reaches the front of the room and takes her place next to the Officiant. 


This scene might sound a lot like a wedding, but it’s actually the opening procession of a modern quinceañera! 


Quinceañeras are the joyful celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, when she transitions from childhood to young adulthood. The cultural tradition originated in Mexico and has roots in ancient Aztec practices. Quinces are now practiced throughout Latin America and the U.S., and have become a $49 billion industry globally.  


Related: Asked to MC a Quinceañera? Professional Officiants Are In Demand For Sweet Fifteen Celebrations


If you’ve been asked to MC a quinceañera, your experience as a wedding officiant will serve you well. Leading a quince años is a lot like performing a wedding, but there are some differences to keep in mind too. 


To help you prepare, AMM reached out to Officiant Yadira Richards, the owner and lead officiant at Marry Us wedding service in Sugar Land, Texas. Yadira has years of experience performing weddings and quinceañeras, and specializes in bilingual and bespoke ceremonies. (Read more about Yadira below!)


Here’s what she had to say. 

(Quotes edited for clarity and length)


A young woman on her 15th birthday poses during her quinceanera celebration, holding a cake and smiling for the photo

Photo: Sirlenys Paut / iStock

7 Tips for Officiating a Quinceañera for Professional Officiants


1. ‘Word of mouth’ is the best marketing


Many officiants are asked to MC their first quince by friends and relatives, or by the friends and relatives of the couples they marry. Focus on forming strong connections with the families you marry, be open to new inquiries, and market your quinceañera services through word of mouth. 


Yadira says her first professional quinceañera was for the family of a bride who she’d recently married. While planning that ceremony, the bride’s mother asked if she also performed quinceañeras: 


“She had one daughter getting married that year, and then the following year, she had a daughter having a quinceañera. And so she's like, ‘I would really love it if you can help us with my other daughter's ceremony as well.’ …Up until that moment, I had never even considered it, it really hadn't even crossed my mind.” 


2. Quinceañeras take a lot of planning (maybe even more than weddings)


Prepare to ask a lot of questions during the consultation and planning process. Because there are so many variations within quinceañera celebrations, and so many different people participating in the ceremony, it’s important to talk to the family in-depth about what they want to include.


Ask questions about the rituals and gifts they want to include, when the ceremony will take place in relation to the reception, whether the ceremony will be bilingual, which friends and relatives will participate, and so on.


Yadira says: “I feel like it is a little bit more work, even, than a wedding ceremony, sometimes… There are more questions that I have to ask, because there are different traditions. There are people presenting certain gifts, and those gifts have a meaning behind [them]. And so I have to get into those questions -- 'Well, will there be somebody presenting this, or this?', 'Do we have any of these other things that are included,' ... All these other things that have become part of the quinceañera tradition.”


Related: Spanish - English Bilingual Wedding Ceremony Script with Love Poem Reading



A mother stands with her daughter at the quince ceremony, photo courtesy of Officiant Yadira Richards

Mother and daughter pose together during the quince celebration, photo courtesy of Officiant Yadira Richards



3. The ceremony might be spiritual, social, or both


By officiating a nontraditional quinceañera, officiants provide an important spiritual and cultural service that’s often outside the reach of traditional churches. That’s because many religious families don’t belong to a traditional church, but still value the spiritual blessings of a quinceañera. And many multicultural, interfaith, or nonreligious families embrace quinces as a way to celebrate a social milestone and honor their Mexican and Latin American roots, with or without a spiritual component.


Yadira says that most of the families she works with are Christian and Catholic, but don’t belong to a local church. They’re grateful for a spiritual service that’s not confined to traditional practices: 


“I find that [the families I work with] are people of faith, but they are not necessarily church goers, per se. They’re not affiliated with a church, and so it is a lot more difficult for them to get a priest, for example, to say ‘yes, I'll do this [quinceañera] for you.’ It becomes too much of a headache. And so they do something similar, some sort of blessing, and not have to worry about that.”


4. Emphasize convenience for friends and family 


An important benefit to a nontraditional quince is the convenience: Friends and relatives don’t need to travel from a church to a second location for a party and reception… because they’re already there! This is a selling point that officiants would be wise to emphasize. 


“Convenience! You don't have people traveling from one church location to a reception location – You can do it all in one! That's a big plus for some people, I think this is [one of the reasons] people have sought me out as an officiant, as opposed to just doing it to the church,” Yadira says.


Related: Right Before You Step on Stage: A Wedding Officiant’s (Very) Last Minute Checklist



A young woman sits in a chair, waiting for the shoe ceremony during her quinceanera. Her friend kneels in front of her with the heels.

Photo: Image Source

5. Start the ceremony about 1 hour after the quince celebration begins


Unlike weddings, quinceañera festivities don’t always have a hard ‘start time,’ and guests may not be expecting a formal ceremony. To keep guests from missing the ritual gift-giving and presentations of the quince, Yadira recommends starting this ceremonial portion about an hour after the gathering begins. This gives friends and relatives time to arrive, find their seats, and get settled.


“I recommend that we do [the ceremony] towards the earlier part of the evening, but not right away,” Yadira says. “A lot of people will not be there, a lot of people might miss it if we do it right at the beginning… About an hour or so into the start of the whole celebration is when I like to come in and do the ceremony. People [are] sitting at their tables, they might have appetizers, they might have drinks. Everybody's starting to celebrate.”


6. Your Introduction sets the tone! 


Many guests don’t expect a formal ceremony during a quinceañera party, so your opening remarks and any ‘housekeeping’ announcements you make are very important. During your introduction, tell your guests about the symbolism and meaning of the ceremony, what to expect, whether photography is allowed, and other details. This will set the tone for the rest of the ceremony and create a welcoming atmosphere. 


Yadira says: “With a wedding ceremony, I think everybody knows what's expected, right? You know that you have to be quiet, that the ceremony’s about to start, that you stand for the bride… Those things are almost expected, most people have attended a wedding. But these [nontraditional quinces] are kind of new, because if you've been to a [traditional] quinceañera, it's usually two different parts – you do the church, and then you do [the party.] 


So I do a little introduction, and I explain to people what we're about to do, so that they can kind of be a little bit more respectful. You know – kind of ‘volume down, pay attention to what we're doing.’ Because, for a lot of people, they don't expect [to attend a ceremony] as part of the party.”


Related: Sweet Non-Denominational Quinceañera Ceremony Script (for Officiants & Celebrants)



7. Quinceañera ceremonies last longer than weddings


There’s no hard and fast rule about how long a typical quinceañera ceremony takes to perform, but it will probably last longer than your average 20-minute wedding ceremony. There are usually several gift-giving rituals and toasts, with multiple friends and relatives participating, which can make the ceremony more elaborate than expected. So make sure you plan ahead before you’re standing in front of the crowd! 


“Quinceañeras take considerably longer than [typical] wedding ceremonies,” Yadira says, “because they have so many presentations of gifts, and you also want to thank all the people that are presenting the gifts… So some of these quinceañeras have been quite elaborate, more elaborate than I would have expected, because they're kind of combining part of what is normally done in the party, with what's normally done at the church.”


Headshot of officiant Yadira Richards of Marry Us Texas

Meet the Expert


Yadira C. Richards
Owner, Lead Officiant, & Certified Premarital Counselor at Marry Us 
Houston, Texas 

“It was kind of like paying it forward, in a sense… I thought, ‘I don't want other couples to go through what I went through.’” 


Yadira Richards officiated her first wedding in November of 2012 after becoming ordained with AMM, and started her business, Marry Us, soon after. She’s married hundreds of happy couples in the years since, and has the glowing reviews to prove it! 


Yadira was called to the role of officiant through personal experience: Her own wedding plans fell through suddenly when her now-husband was scheduled for deployment. The couple was married in a quick courthouse ceremony instead, pronounced married by a rushed and overworked clerk. The courthouse was so busy that day that the clerk was double-booked! Yadira took her vows standing next to strangers in an unexpected double wedding. 


It was not what the newlyweds had planned, and Yadira felt called in that moment to start Marry Us. She knew that she could offer couples a sweet alternative to the courthouse and make their day special – no matter the circumstances. 


“I thought, ‘this is something I can do. This is a good alternative that I can offer other people in situations like myself, that don't want to do something as impersonal as a courthouse wedding.’ And so, I did. I've always loved writing, and my background is in communications, so it just really aligned with what I like to do. 


At first, I started [officiating] for other military couples and friends. And then the word kind of started spreading and more couples contacted me. 


And I feel like it was kind of like paying it forward, in a sense… I thought, ‘I don't want other couples to go through what I went through. And I know, for military families in particular, a lot of couples do have to [marry] really quickly that way. So, that's how I got started. And now here I am, 12 years later.”


Officiant Yadira Richards performs an outdoor wedding ceremony for bride and groom

Yadira performs a stunning outdoor wedding ceremony, photo courtesy of the Officiant


With a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing and extensive experience as a bilingual communications writer and public speaker, Yadira knew she had the right skills to serve her community and succeed as a professional officiant. 


These days, Yadira’s business is thriving. She’s become a first-choice officiant for bilingual and bespoke ceremonies in the region, and has a great passion and love for the work that she does. She’s married hundreds of happy couples, helping them create memories that will last a lifetime.


Marry Us now employs multiple officiants and offers a variety of services, including custom wedding ceremonies, premarital counseling (certified through Twogether in Texas), commitment ceremonies and vow renewals, and even quinceañeras. The team serves couples and families throughout the Greater Houston, McAllen, and El Paso areas.


Click the links below to connect with Yadira and Marry Us online: 


Marry Us


Wedding Wire / Instagram / Facebook / The Knot



What is a Quinceañera? 

In traditional quince celebrations, the day begins with a religious service or Catholic Mass, in which the young woman receives a special blessing from a pastor or priest and recommits to her Christian faith. 

The service is followed by a lavish party at home which includes many ceremonial aspects, including a series of unique rituals and gifts, food and drink, and many happy toasts and speeches for the honoree. 

Some modern quinces skip the religious ceremony and head straight for the party. These fiestas de quince años can look a lot like a wedding! But unlike a wedding, there are no legal aspects to a quinceañera. The officiant serves as a ‘Master of Ceremonies,’ or MC for short, guiding the honoree and her family through each ritual. 

At the start of the celebration, the honoree’s father walks her to the front, where she’s joined by members of her Court of Honor. The officiant kicks things off with a few words on the importance of the day, introduces each ritual, coordinates toasts and guest participation, and makes sure the ceremonial aspects of the quince go smoothly. A boisterous reception follows, with drinks, dancing, and hours of family fun.   

For a detailed quinceañera outline and explanation, check out: 

Sweet Non-Denominational Quinceañera Ceremony Script (for Officiants & Celebrants)

A young girl dances with a friend during her quinceanera celebration

Photo: moodboard / Adobe Stock

Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

How To Officiate By State

Will You Marry Us? Gift Package

Who Will Officiate Your Wedding?

Choose Your Officiant with our "Will You Marry Us?" Gift Package.

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

Our premiere package contains everyting you need to officiate like a pro.

The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

It's finally here! Timeless scripts and heartfelt vow inspiration to bring life to your ceremony.

Professional Wedding Officiant Certification Course

Learn from the Pros to Officiate with Confidence!

Wedding Officiant Training

Wedding Officiant Training

Everything you need to know to officiate.

Read our sample wedding ceremony scripts online

Sample Wedding Ceremony Scripts

Need inspiration? Check out our free ceremony scripts!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!


Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!