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28 Affordable Quinceañera Ideas

Isabella Wall, the fairy godmother of quinceañeras, blogs for us every week — here are her best budget tips of all time!

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Tip 1: Limit the Guest List to 50 — You Can Stick to a $2,500 Budget

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Here's a budget plan for 50 guests:
Dress: $250
Accessories: $40
Hair & Makeup: $50
Venue Rental & Equipment Rental: $350
Ceremony Fees: $60
Flowers & Decorations: $150
Food & Beverages: $500 ($10 per person)
Cake: $150
Music: $150
Photography & Videography: $300
Invitations: $100
Limo: $250
Favors: $100

Tip 2: Cut Airfare Costs: Have Your Quince When Relatives are Already in Town.

isabella wall quinceanera budget If you have your quince around a holiday or family reunion time, like Christmas, out-of-state relatives are more likely to be around. This can save them money on transportation, making it easier for them to support your party as madrinas and padrinos.

Tip 3: Pick a Dress You Can Reuse for Prom

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Consider a "convertible" quince dress, which has a detachable skirt, so you can wear the dress without the full skirt to your prom. If the skirt isn't detachable, you can still ask the tailor to shorten the skirt, or attach the bodice to a different skirt. Getting two nights out of one dress practically makes it half the price!

Tip 4: Use Family and Friends as Free Photographers

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget If you can't afford a professional photographer, remind loved ones or members of your court to bring their cameras. Ask everyone to burn you a CD of their digital photos. You'll get pictures from every angle and a great variety of candid shots!

Tip 5: Make Centerpieces from Dollar Store Items

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Buy glass bowls in various shapes and sizes from the dollar store. Fill the bowls halfway with clear water and add floating tea light candles. Or, add roses, carnations, or daisies to float in them. You can color the water with artificial coloring to match your theme. You can also fill the bowls halfway with sand and place tea lights or accessories, like seashells or river stones, inside of them to highlight a theme.

Tip 6: Shop Outlets

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Your mami can save money on her dress by hitting up designer outlet stores. Based on the time of day and season, your mom might be able to pull off a nice pantsuit or separates, like a skirt or pants with a nice top. It might be an outfit she can wear over and over again at the office or to church.

Tip 7: Decorate with Balloons Instead of Flowers

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Balloons are cheaper and just as colorful! Tie balloons to the back of chairs. You can also tie balloon bouquets to colorful shopping bags filled with tissue paper, and use them as centerpieces. Put a surprise gift inside the bag arrangements, and one lucky person at the table can win it.

Tip 8: Have Multiple Cakes Instead of One Big One

isabella wall quinceanera budget Order a small but well-decorated cake that will stand out as a centerpiece on the dessert table. Place it on a cake stand for extra attention. Then, ask your friends and relatives to bake five to 10 smaller cakes in different shapes and flavors.

Tip 9: Serve Hors D'oeuvres Instead of a Sit-Down Dinner

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Hors d'oeuvres are less expensive, especially if served buffet-style. You save money because there is no need for a waiter and people tend to eat more when the food is brought to them, so by going buffet-style, you won't have to order as much.

Tip 10: Decorate with Flowers in Season

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Flowers that are in season at the time of your party will be cheaper. For example, on the southwest coast of the U.S., calla lilies — a flower made famous in Mexican paintings — are always in season, so they're pretty affordable. But on the East Coast, this gorgeous flower doesn't grow naturally and can be very expensive.

Tip 11: Make Every Guest a Photographer

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Another way to ensure you get great photos if you don't hire a professional photographer is to put a disposable camera on each table (check uniquelyquince.com — they cost $7.50 each if you order a bunch). To make sure everyone uses them, ask your court to work the room and strike funny poses with guests.

Tip 12: Travel to Your Family's Native Country

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Some girls choose to go back to their family's native country and party there. It makes you proud of your roots, it can be cheaper because of currency exchange rates, and it's like a homecoming — not just for you, but for the entire family.

Tip 13: Find Sponsors

quincenaera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Open a registry and ask padrinos and madrinas to sponsor certain things for your quinceañera, like the dress, shoes, accessories, cake, limo, flowers, and sound system — anything! The padrinos and madrinas can be relatives or family friends. Write personal notes that say "I would be honored if you would be my padrino and madrina...".

Tip 14: Find Alternative Venues

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Instead of renting a ballroom in a hotel or fancy restaurant, save money by hosting the party at home or in a public place, such as at a beach, park, or historical site. Recreation halls, such as those owned by the VFW or American Legion, can also be cheaper to rent. They just need your decorating magic to look fabulous!

Tip 15: Play Your Own Music

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Don't have a DJ? Start making a list of your favorite songs now (check out MisQuince's playlist) and burn CDs closer to your big day. Rent some speakers and equipment, if needed. At the party, hit the play button and get dancing!

Tip 16: Turn Your Quince Playlist into Inexpensive Favors

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Favors, like those little frames or boxes of candy, can be expensive when you add them all up. Burn copies of a CD with the music played at your quince. Make custom labels and cases with your name and quince date. They'll hardly break the bank!

Tip 17: Invite Your Relatives to Make Your Favors

isabella wall isabella budget Get your tías and abuelas together to make your favors. Get a glue gun and some supplies from the local craft store (like ribbons and silk flowers), and you can also handmake traditional items like your kneeling pillow and guest book.

Tip 18: Serve Homemade, Traditional Food

quincenaera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Create a menu of your family members' favorite homemade dishes. Use colorful plastic plates and napkins, and serve the food in pretty baskets decorated with ribbons in your quince color.

Tip 19: Do Your Own Hair and Makeup

isabella wall quinceanera budget Have a madrina of hair and makeup — a fashionable aunt or big sister — who can style you, instead of a professional at a salon.

Tip 20: Print Invitations at Home

isabella wall quinceanera budget Printing your invitations at home can save you money. Printable invitations are sold in packs of 10. Save on response cards by having guests RSVP by phone. Try the "Silver Tiara with Rhinestone" cards, both pretty and playful, sold at hallmark.com, $15 for 10.

Tip 21: Order in Bulk

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget When you order your invitations, remember it's cheaper to order in bulk, rather than reordering a few invitations later.

Tip 22: Send a Paperless Invitation

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Instead of a pricey paper invitation, send your guests a CD slideshow that they can pop into their computer. Paste your favorite photos onto PowerPoint slides and upload your favorite music. Write the event details on the last slide. You can order a 50-pack of Memorex 52x CD-R Discs and CD Labels from bestbuy.com for only $21.

Tip 23: Customize Your Candles

isabella wall quinceanera budget Get tall, plain velones or veladoras without any printing on it (they're like the candles people light for the saints). Use your computer to change a color photograph to sepia (brownish-white) and paste it around the candle. You can touch up the picture with sparkles on the jewelry or add color to the lips. Then, get a ring of silk flowers, to match your color, to put around the candle.

Tip 24: Make Inexpensive Centerpieces with Picture Frames

quincenaera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Make copies of your favorite prints at the store or from your own printer and put them in the frames. Place them in the middle of each table. You could have 14 or 15 tables each displaying photos from a different year of your life.

Tip 25: Get a Facial at Home

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Make your own scrub by mixing some oatmeal and honey together. Paste it on your face and let it dry for a bit. Right before it dries completely, gently rub it into your skin so it removes dry, dead skin cells. Rinse and apply an SPF facial moisturizer.

Tip 26: Do an Outdoor Mexican Theme

quinceanera, isabella wall quinceanera budget Find a public park with fountains and arches in your area, and then get a permit from the city to have your party there. Serve a variety of Mexican food and virgin margaritas, and add lots of colorful balloons, napkins, plates, and tablecloths.

Tip 27: Show Your Dominican Pride

quinceanera tips, dress quinceanera budget Find a park and get a permit from the city. Use the colors of la bandera dominicana — red, white, and blue — for your decoration or dress. For food, serve traditional rice and beans. Make fabulous hors d'oeuvres with plantains. Serve virgin versions of alcoholic drinks and the popular Dominican beverage morir soñando, the sweet orange juice-milk beverage whose name literally means "to die in a dream."

Tip 28: Inexpensive Decorating Idea — Chair Covers

isabella wall quinceanera budget If you don't use flowers or balloons to decorate, another option is chair covers, which are easy to make with color fabrics and a glue gun. Use giant bows made out of chiffon, tulle, wide ribbon, or a combination of these. Save extra and avoid overdoing it by putting chair decorations on every other chair.
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