The Finale

May Trejo-Vasquez finally gets the quince... was it worth it?

April 21, 2021

Waltzing+with+the+chambelanes%2C+May+Trejo-Vasquez+and+her+court+perform+the+second+dance+in+her+quincea%C3%B1era.+Although+everything+played+out+smoothly+in+the+end%2C+Trejo-Vasquez+and+her+court+had+some+problems+performing+the+waltz+in+the+rehearsals+leading+to+the+big+night%2C+due+to+Trejo-Vasquez%E2%80%99s+ball+gown.+%E2%80%9CIt+was+pretty+difficult%2C+the+boys+kept+slipping+on+%5Bthe+dress%5D+in+our+last+practice+but+we+got+it+down%2C%E2%80%9D+Trejo-Vasquez+said.

Courtesy of May Trejo-Vasquez

Waltzing with the chambelanes, May Trejo-Vasquez and her court perform the second dance in her quinceañera. Although everything played out smoothly in the end, Trejo-Vasquez and her court had some problems performing the waltz in the rehearsals leading to the big night, due to Trejo-Vasquez’s ball gown. “It was pretty difficult, the boys kept slipping on [the dress] in our last practice but we got it down,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

The week leading up to the quinceañera was filled with last minute preparations. The Trejo-Vasquez family did not have a planner to make sure they checked all the boxes, but they had some guidance from their cousins and extended family, who have hosted quinces before.

“[The days leading up to the quince] were stressful because we were running errands like everyday day and doing multiple things every day. There was one day where we had to go find masks for the girls, but then we also had to go pick up a money box [to collect gifts from guests], go pick out some flowers; we just had to do multiple things every day,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

The night before the big day, Trejo-Vasquez and her family and friends stayed at the venue, the  Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade in San Antonio, Texas, and slept there that night. They woke up bright and early on the day of the event, March 5.

Once everyone was up and awake, the real preparation commenced. While Trejo-Vasquez got ready, her court made sure they were as ready.

“I got my hair done, and then my friends started showing up around 3 p.m. and they were all just downstairs just practicing the dances while I was getting dressed. They were all so scared because they didn’t want to ruin it for me. My friend Katy got the dances down really easily so they all said ‘if you mess up just look at Katy’,” Trejo-Vasquez said. “There were two songs, and we did three practices that were two hours long, so six hours of practice for six minutes of the ceremony.”

Smiling and making memories, May Trejo-Vasquez and her long-time friend Katy Bendele stand together for the camera during Trejo-Vasquez’s quinceañera. Trejo-Vasquez picked Katy to be in her court because they have been friends for years. “I’ve known her since fifth grade, we met through her mom because she was our teacher and we just started to talk a lot, now we’re like sisters,” Trejo-Vasquez said. (Courtesy of May Trejo-Vasquez)

After Trejo-Vasquez got ready, she went to the main hotel lobby to take pictures with her friends and family. The court opened the doors to let the guests in, where they did the presentation of the quinceañera. 

“My parents walked me in and then they did the shoes and the crown and everything… you’re supposed to change into a pair of heels to signify going from a child to a woman,” Trejo-Vasquez said. “First I had these shoes that kind of looked like Vans, but sparkly, and then I changed into sparkly heels.”

Although most onlookers would have judged the presentation of the quinceañera as perfect and ceremonial, the Trejo-Vasquez family were running around making everything work behind the scenes.

“I think [my parents] were just stressed during the whole presentation because they couldn’t find the flowers so it was kind of a mess for a second. They wanted it to be the perfect day but still be present. There were moments when we would finish something and I didn’t know what to do next so I’d just kinda stand there waiting to be told what happened next. I felt like I was just stressed out,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

Reflecting on the last year of moving, trying to find venues and a dress, the cancellations from COVID-19 and the fight for refunds, and the added bumps in the road from the cold snap in Texas, Trejo-Vasquez is not sure that it was all worth it. 

“After it’s all over I felt really tired because the party didn’t end until 12 in the morning, but then we went back to our hotel room and stayed up all night talking. We had to wake up early the next morning to get on a flight to come back [to St. Louis], so I was just tired,” Trejo-Vasquez said. “It was definitely a feeling of ‘we just did that all for the one night and now it’s over,’ so part of it is a relief but it’s also like ‘wait that’s it?’”

It was definitely a feeling of ‘we just did that all for the one night and now it’s over,’ so part of it is a relief but it’s also like ‘wait that’s it?’”

— May Trejo-Vasquez

As she adjusts to life as a quince, Trejo-Vasquez wonders if the ceremony was worth the time, energy and money her family spent on the event.

“If I had a choice to do this all over again or keep the money I would keep the money. It was great but I just don’t think it was worth how much we spent. Just like one night for that whole year of planning and money was just not worth it,” Trejo-Vasquez.

‘Chilling’ in Texas

Trejo-Vasquez stuck in the cold

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Courtesy of May Trejo-Vasquez

Posing again for the cameraman, freshman May Trejo-Vasquez lays on her dress and flashes a smile. Although the jewelry was just a costume for the photo shoot, that didn’t keep Trejo-Vasquez from feeling like it was finally getting real. “When I did that first photo shoot, that’s really when it started to get real for me because I put on all the makeup and the dress, we’ve taken the pictures so we can’t go back now,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

The cold spell in Texas threw yet another wrench in the plans for the Trejo-Vasquez family. Trejo-Vasquez flew down to San Antonio by herself to stay at her grandma’s house for Valentine’s Day weekend, with hopes of beating the weather and getting some dance practices in, but her plans to come back to St. Louis that Sunday did not follow through. 

“Living in Texas my whole life, it has only snowed once a few years ago but it wasn’t a lot. I was just expecting a little bit of snow and I thought Texas was just overreacting, as they do, about everything. The day after [dance] practice, most of San Antonio’s power was out,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

With all flights grounded, Trejo-Vasquez and her grandmother had to live with their aunt while their power was out.

“I flew down to Texas by myself knowing that the weather was going to be unusual,” Trejo-Vasquez said. “I was pretty upset because the power was inconsistent and Texas was just so unprepared. My family in St. Louis was really anxious and they were constantly checking up on me, while my family in San Antonio were all just feeling as upset as everyone else in the city.” 

As the power came back on and the cold snap ended, Trejo-Vasquez chose to remain in San Antonio until her quince. She attended her classes via Zoom. 

It feels so draining and stressful but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. I just know [the quince is] going to create so many good memories I can hold on to.”

— May Trejo-Vasquez

“This whole situation didn’t change any plans for my quince, except we had to reschedule the food tasting, because they were using their food trucks to deliver food to families who needed it,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

With the cold spell behind them and mask mandates lifted, the Trejo-Vasquez family was full steam ahead for a day that would mean so much. 

“It feels so draining and stressful but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. I just know [the quince is] going to create so many good memories I can hold on to,” Trejo-Vasquez said. 

COVID-19 Conundrum

Trejo-Vasquez postpones the event of a lifetime

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Courtesy of May Trejo-Vasquez

Counting out the steps to the beat, freshman May Trejo-Vasquez and her friends practice the dances for the Quineañera one more time. This was the last of the practices before the big day, and Trejo-Vasquez’s friends who were standing in the ceremony did their part. “All my friends are going to be able to come because most of them are standing in the quince and then the other [friends who are not standing in the ceremony] I’m just inviting, they’re all going to show up,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

With COVID-19 canceling virtually everything, Trejo-Vasquez was left with no choice but to postpone to March 2021. Her quince was held March 6, six months after her 15th birthday. Because of this, she had to plan much of her party remotely.

I was pretty upset just because it wasn’t going to happen on my birthday, and now it’s happening in March so it’s already halfway through the year [and] I’m almost 16, it’s just not really a quince anymore at this point,” Trejo-Vasquez said. 

Trejo-Vasquez was not the only one that was disappointed in the postponement. Her friends and family were not thrilled, however, with COVID-19 it became necessary.

“My parents were pretty upset. My dad was really upset because they were saying they weren’t going to refund us for the venue because of the reschedule and we’d have to pay more if we wanted to reschedule, so we had to fight about that until they gave us the money back. My mom was really stressed out and then my friends were pretty upset, but I mean, it was [COVID-19]. There was nothing we could do about it.”

COVID-19 mandates were lifted in Texas, meaning Trejo-Vasquez’s party will be close to her original plan. She will celebrate in San Antonio, Texas. 

“It’s [going to be] a lot of family, all the way back to my grandparents and their siblings and their kids, just the whole family pretty much. For my friends, I posted the invite on my social media and then whoever shows up, shows up. [I am] just [excited to see] all my old friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while [and] being able to talk to them and catch up with them.”

Inspecting herself in the mirror, freshman May Trejo-Vasquez tries on and chooses her quinceañera dress for the first time. After trying on two dresses where she used to live in Maryland and three in San Antonio, Texas, she just knew this was the showstopper her quince needed. “When I tried [the dress] on I knew it was the one because I didn’t feel the need to try on any other dresses, I was just sure it was the one. I felt shocked because I’ve never seen myself in something so pretty, it just felt unreal,” Trejo-Vasquez said. (Courtesy of May Trejo-Vasquez)

The art of flexibility

Freshman May Trejo-Vasquez’s quinceañera journey

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Courtesy of May Trejo-Vasquez

Sitting on the corner of the garden wall, Trejo-Vasquez sits still once more for the photographer. This photo shoot was taken in November 2020 at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio, Texas, and Trejo-Vasquez decided it was nothing like what she thought a photo shoot was like. “I was expecting it to just be quick and easy with no crowd, but it was the exact opposite,” Trejo-Vasquez said. It was a bit awkward because of how long I would have to hold a pose.”

Between arguing for refunds on cancellations, traveling to San Antonio, Texas and rehearsing with her friends and family, freshman May Trejo-Vasquez has been in crunch mode for the biggest event of her life yet: her quinceañera. Trejo-Vasquez and her family faced multiple bumps in the road the last couple of months, but that has not stopped them from seeing their quinceañera vision through. 

A quinceañera, a coming of age ceremony for 15-year-old girls, signifies the passage of youth to becoming a woman. Traditional Mexican quinceañeras were about teaching the quinceañera her duties and responsibilities to her community, family and her future husband. 

“[A quinceañera is] a Latino-Catholic kind of tradition,” Trejo-Vasquez said. “You don’t have to have the religious aspect of it. For me, it’s just more of a big party because I’m not Catholic. I think it will be a fun day for me and my family.”

After planning her quince for the last year and a half and contending with COVID-19, Trejo-Vasquez is excited for the relief that will come to finally have her quince. Originally scheduled for September, COVID-19 pushed her celebration to March 2021.

“I wasn’t too excited to have a quince, but it was really important to my mom and grandma. My grandma wasn’t able to have a quinceañera for my mom or any of her sisters… since [my mom] didn’t get one, she wanted to make sure her daughter had one. I’m her only daughter so it’s really important to her, but as it gets closer to the event I’m more excited about it,” Trejo-Vasquez said. “I just didn’t like the idea of performing in front of everybody and the idea of having to socialize with everybody,  so I was kinda nervous for it, but then towards the middle [of the preparation process] I was thinking ‘okay it can’t be that bad.’”

Trejo-Vasquez is originally from Texas, where her quince was held. She moved to St. Louis in July, one factor that has made quince-planning challenging. 

“The fact that we live [in St. Louis] makes it hard. We don’t live in Texas, but that’s where we’re having [the quinceañera]. I had to go down to Texas to pick up the dress, to do the cake testing and do dance practices. It’s just a lot of traveling,” Trejo-Vasquez said.

Check back each Wednesday for the latest chapter of Trejo-Vasquez’s story.

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