Sweet 16 Party Traditions

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By Gabriella Mancuso

A sweet 16 is a party a teenage girl has when she turns sixteen years of age. The purpose of having a sweet 16 party is to celebrate the birthday of the person it is being thrown for. It symbolizes leaving childhood behind and becoming a woman. Sweet Sixteens have progressed over time. Through decades and decades of parties the traditions have changed. As well as this new traditions have been created, but there are a few that have withstood the test of time.

Daddy Daughter Dance

The daddy daughter dance has been an original sweet 16 tradition since the beginning. This tradition consist of the father and the birthday girl slow dancing to a song of their choice as everyone else watches. This symbolizes transforming from “daddy’s little girl” to a “woman”.

Tiara Ceremony

During this ceremony the mother of the birthday girl places a tiara or crown upon their head. This portrays the acceptance of the birthday girl into “womanhood”.

Shoe Ceremony

During this ceremony a “father figure”, meaning either the dad, grandfather or Godfather, chance the girls’ shoes into high heels. Typically the birthday girl originally wears flats or sneakers and the transformation into high heels is yet another symbol of now being a woman.

Sixteen Candles

The Sixteen Candle Ceremony is the oldest and most important ceremony for a sweet 16. The birthday girl is presented with 16 separate candles that need to be lit. Each candle is dedicated to a person(s) of choice by the birthday girl. For each person the birthday girl reads a speech she wrote in appreciation of that person. Then, the person accompanies the girl in lighting the candle. At the end the birthday girl blows them all out and makes a wish. Typically, they include a 17 candle for good luck in the future, and in remembrance of all those who couldn’t attend the party.


This tradition is the first one seen by the party attendees. The sweet 16 girl has an extreme, extra and beautiful entrance accompanied by an important boy figure in their life. Usually to their favorite music as a way to get the party started.