AUSTIN (KXAN) — After two years of COVID-spurred cancellations and postponements, Austin-area quinceañera planners and vendors are working to keep up with demands following a surge in rescheduled or upcoming celebrations.

Quinceañeras are Hispanic and Latino celebrations of a girl’s 15th birthday, signifying her journey from childhood into womanhood.

On Sunday, Austin businesses Quince Expos and Ricky’s Events hosted a quinceañera expo in north Austin to help connect families with dressmakers, entertainers, caterers, deejays and other local vendors. It was the first expo the two held so far this year, with another planned in Kyle in October.

Traditionally, families are advised to begin planning for a quinceañera a year in advance; now, businesses are recommending a two-year planning period. It’s a welcomed change after two years of cancellations and postponements, said Jason Rubio, owner of Quince Expos.

“It was just a huge boom starting about six, eight months ago, and we’ve just struggled to keep up,” he said. “But it’s a great problem to have — we were happy to have that problem. We were just amazed. We have events almost seven days a week now.”

Despite the relief that comes with more event requests, Ricky’s Events owner Ricky Lopez-Galindo said there are complexities that come with that demand, particularly in getting dresses — a cornerstone of quinceañeras — to the families.

“There’s not enough people working to produce the dresses or there’s not enough material to produce the dresses. Normally before, we’d have a lot of dresses, but now it’s taking about 10 to 12 months for us to be able to place an order to receive the dresses,” he said. “I think now we’re at two years in planning something like this.”

And that demand isn’t slowing down. While both Rubio and Lopez-Galindo also work on events besides quinceañeras, they said they wanted to use this expo as an opportunity to connect with and support a growing Hispanic and Latino community in Central Texas.

Currently, nearly 33% of Travis County residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. A 2019 quinceañera report found the average celebration costs $21,781 and includes 212 guests, per Forbes.

“There’s not a lot of events that are catered toward the Latino market and Hispanic culture,” Rubio said, adding: “And so, you know, being such a large population, we wondered, ‘why not?'”

Lopez-Galindo added the fact both businesses are still standing is a testament to all the families who’ve entrusted him and Rubio with making these milestone celebrations a reality.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people that do this kind of job maybe didn’t make it [out of COVID]. We ended up planning very well to stay above that water,” he said. “The water has gone down to where we’re able now to be able to provide free services or give out raffles at the expo to people because, without them, we wouldn’t have a business. And they’re the ones that kept us above the water until we were able to come back out.”