BEST PLACE TO FIND A QUINCEAÑERA DRESS Phoenix 2005 - Joyful Events (a.k.a. Wedding Depot)
After we found out about the Latin American tradition of the quinceañera, we really began to feel sorry for Hispanic relatives everywhere. Blame it on the 16th-century Spaniards, or maybe it was those pesky Aztecs, but whoever thought up the idea of marking a 15-year-old girl's passage into womanhood and society with a huge, expensive blowout must have owned all the concessions that catered to this elegant tradition's many requirements. Basically a cross between a debutante's coming-out ball and a Sweet 16 party, the quinceañera celebration, which usually consists of a special Mass, reception and dance, can be likened to an ersatz wedding minus a real groom. The quinceañera herself wears a ball gown with billowy bouffant petticoats and a tiara, and carries a rhinestone-encrusted scepter; she's surrounded by an equally decked-out honor court of damas and chambelanes (up to 14 of each). If the quinceañera's dad is lucky, the whole shebang is underwritten by the kind monetary donations of extended family, godparents and friends. Where to find that perfect ball gown with the billowy bouffant petticoats? Try Joyful Events in Mesa, which carries all the mandatory quinceañera accouterments: the dress, rosary, tiara, scepter, last doll, cake cutter and kneeling pillow (it even carries tux rentals for the male honor court members -- our favorite was a zoot suit, complete with wide-brimmed fedora, two-toned spectator shoes and obligatory long watch chain). The dress choices here seem endless, from your basic fairy princess look to medieval styles that make you resemble a starry-eyed refugee from a Renaissance fair.