Sweet Sixteen

A sweet sixteen is a coming of age party celebrating a teenager’s 16th birthday, mainly celebrated in the United States and Canada. As the name suggests, the celebration takes place on a teenager’s sixteenth birthday, and is celebrated across all genders. While some families throw large, lavish celebrations, others choose to celebrate the birthday as if it were a normal occurrence. This event can be formal, casual, or semi-formal.

Take a look at some of the traditions and ideas of a sweet 16:

A sweet sixteen is a coming of age party celebrating a girl’s 16th birthday


    1. Shoe ceremony:  This ceremony symbolizes the transition from a teenage girl into womanhood. Traditionally the birthday girl wears flat shoes that are exchanged into heels by the father or a significant male figure.
    2. Tiara ceremony: The mother or a significant female figure approaches the birthday girl with a tiara symbolizing the transition into adulthood. The tiara is carried on a decorative pillow and then placed on top of the girl’s head.
    3. Father-daughter dance: Traditionally is the first dance of the night. The girl and father dance to a meaningful song which usually the parents choose with a strong message of love. Nowadays girls also include mother-daughter dance as dedication for the mother. 
    4. Candle-lighting ceremony: Traditionally 16 candles are given to family members and friends. During the ceremony each person says a few words with a positive message prior to lighting the candle. Though the birthday girl can choose who she wants as part of the ceremony, the below list is the traditional way of selecting the participants: 
      1. The first candle is for the girl’s parents.
      2. The second candle is for the siblings. (If there are no siblings, then this candle can represent the grandparents.)
      3. Candles 3, 4, 5 and 6 are for the rest of the family members.
      4. Candles 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 are for friends.
      5. Candle 15 is for the girl’s best friend or friends.
      6. The 16th candle is for the boyfriend or a very close male friend.
      7. Some add a 17th candle which represents good luck
LeVenue Sweet 16 wall flower model