Sarah Crail | Paola's Quinceañera

Paola's Quinceañera

April 20, 2016

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Paola's eight escorts or "Chambelanes" were passing the time playing Jenga and occasionally raiding the girls with Nerf guns.











After photographing some storytelling candids, I then took some of the details shots (Paola's dress and accessories, her Bible, her doll, and the several pairs of shoes she would wear throughout the day). 






















Afterwards I photographed Paola getting into her dress. Getting the corset laced up turned out to be trickier than planned and her father, Valente eventually came to the rescue! Before long, the limo arrived to take the young people to the church. 

The mass was held at St. Anthony's Catholic Church, and the ceremony began with the "Damas" and "Chambelanes" entering in the same fashion as a wedding processional.



The priest interpreted himself, giving the mass in both Spanish and English. Paola was presented with some special jewelry and everyone took communion.































After the mass, we spent a good bit of time photographing friends and family groupings with Paola. The boys passed the time playing with a Rubic's cube and Snapchatting.


































Once the pictures at the church were finished, we went to the War Memorial to take portraits of Paola and her court. That day was quite cold and very gusty so outdoor pictures were rather challenging. We had lots of laughs as the wind whipped everyone's dresses and hair all over. At one point we were photographing in front of a fountain when a gust of wind suddenly sprayed the kids with icy water. 




Cameron found the globe of a street lamp that had fallen over and decided to try it on for size. We then went up the steps of the War Memorial hoping to get some nice shots in front of the gold doors. The wind was so strong, that it was work to stand upright! Paola's dress blew up over her head a couple of times resulting in a few hilarious captures!







Thankfully, the War Memorial staff took pity on us and let us inside for a few pictures. The shots we took in the upper room of the War Memorial were the most stunning shots of the day!




After portraits, I headed over to Sleep Inn & Suites where the party was to take place, and the party bus took Paola, her friends, and their chaperon (Carolina) for a quick Taco Bell run before arriving at the hotel. During a little bit of down time I photographed Paola's ring, her tiara, and shoes again, along with her doll, the cake, and some of the reception decor. To kick off the party, the students were announced and entered the reception hall (again, similar to wedding fashion). The dinner was served buffet style and the hotel staff provided excellent service headed up by Caterin Banegas the Events Manager.












































Some of the traditional elements of the party included Paola giving her doll to a younger girl in her family. She also recieved her tiara from her sister, and her father Valente changed her shoes from her flats to heels.





















After the changing of the shoes, Paola danced her first waltz with her dad. Her Chambelan of honor then waltzed with her.






































Afterwards Paola and her court presented a couple of choreographed dances and then Paola's parents recognized and toasted those who had contributed to the success of the celebration. Once all the formalities were over, the open dancing began. There were the typical dances that are popular at weddings and also the salsa, merengue, and bachata. (I personally loved to hear the latin music!)








































































About an hour or so in, a live band arrived and kicked the party up a few notches (and a bunch of decibals!) La Banda Real Conkistadora put on a tremendous show (note to self, take ear plugs to next quinceanera)! The dance floor filled up and everyone had a great time! 































It seemed to be another tradition to wear out the quinceanera by dancing with all the men now that she is "of age." A couple of times the band started into a fast dance and Paola was passed from fellow to fellow who delighted to twirl her into dizziness while the band played a song that seemed to get faster and faster and never come to an end. Everyone cheered, laughed, and whooped while her dad, brothers, and the other guys kept the marathon dance going. She finally got a little break, but before long, they repeated the whole thing all over again! Whew! And Paola was such a good sport about it! I enjoyed the day immensely and look forward to the next opportunity to photograph a quinceanera. Kudos to Valente and Elizabeth for a tremendous day and for allowing me to participate through photography! My very best wishes to the lovely Quinceañera! Paola, you are a star!

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