GALLERY: Dance of a lifetime at a Quinceañera

Karen Vela Lima puts her shoes back on after taking them off to rehearse one of the dances that she and her court will perform during the party. One of the biggest parts of the event was Karen’s dress. “[Finding the dress] was very stressful. We went to Louisville, Russellville, Nashville and a lot of different places just to find it,” Vela Lima said. “I was really happy when I finally found it. I was like, ‘This is the one.’”

Kendall Warner

In the Hispanic community, the 15th birthday celebration, called the fiesta de quince años, is arguably one of the most important days in a girl’s life. This cultural celebration symbolizes the transition from childhood to womanhood.

“It means that I’m a girl coming of age and I’m not the little girl that I used to be,” Karen Vela Lima said. “I’m becoming a woman now.”

After four months of planning, the big day finally arrived for Karen Vela Lima.

“I felt really sad because I didn’t want the day to be over,” Vela Lima said. “But at the same time, I was really excited and happy because the day finally came.”

Her Quinceañera started with a traditional church ceremony.

“My family, we are Christian, so we want to give thanks to God before anything,” Vela Lima said. “We wanted to give him thanks for letting us have that day.”

The ceremony was followed by a party that ran into the night, filled with dancing, and family and friends who traveled from all over to attend the celebration.