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"Marriages come and go," says one dad. "My little girl's only going to turn 15 once." Such is the mentality for some Hispanic parents in the U.S. today, and TLC's new series, "Sweet 15: Quinceañera" will chronicle Miami families as they celebrate their daughters' rite of passage as they turn 15.
Similar to a Sweet 16, a debutante cotillion, or a Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, quinceañeras are often celebrated with a ceremony and a big party for family and friends. Many Hispanic parents with daughters dream about the day their daughter will turn 15 and it's often a celebration given as much importance as a wedding.
The show centers on Bella Quinces, a family business started in Puerto Rico 40 years ago as a bridal and quinceañera shop that relocated to Miami more than 25 years ago. The business has been run by the founders' son, Alexis Fernandez, since 2003 and he's definitely a colorful character in this reality series.
"Americans become more aware of this whole quinceañera culture just because Hispanics are a big part of America," says Fernandez. "It doesn't matter where you come from because everybody loves a good party!"
The show's concept isn't a completely original idea; MTV Tr3s had a popular seven season-long series about wild and crazy quinceañeras, called "Quiero Mis Quinces," that originally aired from 2006–2012, but that show was targeted only at Hispanic viewers. This show aims to introduce more English-speakers and the rest of America to today's modern quinceañera.
From gowns and accessories to invitations, photography and more, the show follows families through the whole process from planning to party. And sometimes, things get slightly out of hand — they'll do everything that the parents want plus whatever crazy things the quinceañera herself dreams up for her special day. Because like Fernandez says, "There are parties, and then there are quinceañeras!"
People from other cultures are intrigued by the quinceañera phenomenon, says Daniela Fernandez of Bella Quinces in an online video for the series. "If you lose your traditions, you lose who you are. You want to be able to keep that alive and be proud of it, hand it down to your kids and make sure they keep it alive."
We'll definitely be tuning in to see how others celebrate this special milestone.
"Sweet 15: Quinceañeras" premieres on TLC November 3 at 10/9 p.m. Central.