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Second Line New Orleans Wedding

When Should The Wedding Parade Take Place

New Orleans Second Line * New Orleans Wedding

It can vary, Capone explains, but they’re usually done after the ceremony or at the end of the reception. “When done after the ceremony, it is a great way to move everyone from one venue to another or to give your venue time to flip the ceremony space for the reception,” she says. “At the end of the reception, it’s an unparalleled send-off for the newlyweds.”

A Guide To Wedding Second Lines

  • Katie Walenter

In New Orleans, we celebrate nearly every occasion with a second-line parade, some publicly business openings, Carnival balls, the 200th anniversary of the Treme neighborhood and some privately, such as funerals for loved ones.

Second lines also are part of the city’s wedding tradition. The wedding second line celebrates the newlyweds as they embark on a new life together. The main line leading the parade for a wedding is made up of the married couple, the brass band and usually a grand marshal. The second line is the wedding party and any passersby who want to join the celebration.

“To be at the front of the line with the band is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Cherish every single moment of it,” says Sonia Savio, a local wedding photographer who was married in New Orleans in November 2014.

“You are the music, you are the city, you are the spectacle,” Savio says. “It was awesome a singular and incredible experience that will be a favorite memory of ours, not just of the wedding, but of our lifetimes.”

All second lines stem from the African-American tradition of second-lining for private funerals, where brass bands play dirges to accompany the hearse and mourners to the cemetery. After the body’s interment, the band plays celebratory songs in honor of the life of the deceased.

Step1: Decide on the date and parade route for your wedding second line.

Step 2: Obtain a parade permit and hire police escorts.

STEP3: Select a brass band.

Your Second Line: A Helpful Planning Guide

Photos: The Swansons

For many couples, their wedding day is the perfect opportunity to do things they normally dont get to wear that over-the-top outfit, go all out with your décor, star in your own parade! Even if your dream wedding is a bit more subdued, a Second Line parade is a fun addition to any wedding and can actually be practical as well. So as daunting as planning your own parade might seem, this guide will help you get through it without a worry.

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Get The Accessories And Personalize

Most second lines just do with white handkerchiefs and a few parasols, but you can certainly get throws like beads and go-cups. You can personalize those for your second line by custom-printing your initials, for examples, or the date of the event.

These local vendors offer the accessories and/or can custom-design to your specifications:

Or Leave It To The Pros

Second Line Parade Wedding

This option will cost more but it may be worth it to save the time and to skip all the steps to the fun part showing up for your parade. For example, Kinfolk, the local brass band, wont just walk in your parade but will do a full-service parade planning for you: helping you plan the parade route, securing the required permit and three police escorts, and coordinating on site. Theyll also rent the parasols and will help you get customized accessories. You can also add a grand marshal, dancers and even Mardi Gras Indians to your parade.

How much in advance should you book the full-service company? Book your band a year out if you can, or at least six months out, advises Embree. We dont normally book more than 365 days out, he says, but we do a lot of bookings six to eight months out.

Last minutes bookings are OK, too, he says, though not for weddings. Embree says he gets quite a few bookings less than a month in advance, and it could work for bachelorette and bachelor parties.

Timing is essential because so many elements must come together. The biggest frustration is when the client wants to change the details after weve already booked six musicians, three cops, and got them a permit, and now they want to change the time by an hour or 30 minutes, says Embree. Its not always possible.

However you want to get there, walking in a second line parade will be worth it. Its a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, dont pass it up, says Embree .

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The We Want An All Out Parade Couple

If this is the moment youve been living for, there are some really fun additions you can make to your Second Line parade to really take it to the next level. Many bands offer upgrades such as a Grand Marshall or even Mardi Gras Indians to lead your parade. You can also hire an entertainment company to provide dancers, stilt walkers, big head revelers and more. If you really want to make your parade stand out, you can also have throws to toss to the crowds that inevitably form and follow Second Lines. If you do this, keep it simple by tossing regular or customized beads unless you have a coordinator or staffing to help with the logistics of transporting bags of throws. If you throw items, you also have to contract with a company to come behind you for cleanup and you must provide that information to the City as well. You can include cars in the parade, special effects, pyrotechnics or fire jugglers which need additional forms to be submitted, but is a process the One Stop Shop website will walk you through.

How To Plan A Second Line

Step 1: Plan your Route

Once you have your ceremony and reception locations set, start planning out your second line route. If your venues are close together, consider using the secondline to move your guests from your ceremony to your reception. Second lines can be as long or short as you’d like but be aware that many guests may not be comfortable walking for too long in wedding attire. Many second line routes are about six to eight blocks long. Also be sure to parade in the same direction of traffic. The parade escorts will close the streets for your festivities, however you may end up having to hire more escorts if you parade “against” traffic on a one-way street.

Step 2: Get your Permit

After choosing your Second Line parade route, you will need to file a permit with the City of New Orleans. The Master Event Application and Supplement C-Parade Form are available online under and must be submitted to One Stop Shop no later than 1 ½ to 2 months prior to the parade date. Permit cost is $200.25.

Have an idea of your route, start and end location and how many people you expect to have parade with you. When completing the Master Event Application, all sections will be No until you get to the Parades section, where you will check the Yes box. Link to more information and application with the City of New Orleans One Stop:

Step 3: Hire a City Mandated Parade Escort
Step 4: Hire a brass band

Here is a list of local bands & DJs.

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Who Should Be A Part Of It

The lineup usually includes a grand marshal, band members, the wedding party, guests, and, of course, the bride and the groom. If you’re worried about older guests or those who are not able-bodied being left out, Capone says that companies like hers always make sure to have a pedicab available for anyone who might need it.

The History And Meaning Of The Wedding Parade

New Orleans Second Line * New Orleans Wedding

This idea of a festive parade dates back to 19th century New Orleans, when the city’s famous “jazz funerals” took on a new, celebratory light. In this practice, known more formally as the “second line,” big brass bands lead partygoers and anyone enjoying the music through the streets to celebrate a major event like a wedding. “Second lines originated from the African-American community,” Samantha Capone explains. “Social aid and pleasure clubs would host parades with the band and club members. Over time, the second line has evolved into its own art form that we use to celebrate marriages, funerals, holidays, and even Saints games. And, yes, funerals are truly a celebration of life here in New Orleans.”

But you don’t have to be in NOLA to have a wedding parade of this magnitude. In fact, it’s popular in other places, too. In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, it’s customary for wedding parties to go through the streets with larger-than-life papier-mâché mojigangas and often, burros carrying papier-mâché flowers and tequila shots.

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Planning Your Second Line

How to book your wedding Second Line

If you are planning on having a second line in the streets of this beautiful city you do need to apply for a permit and hire yourself a brass band! Permits can be acquired through the City of New Orleans using the following link: As for bands, there is not a shortage of those to chose from here in this musically inclined city. These groups can be hired to play for about 20-30 minutes either inside your venue or to walk you from one venue to the next. Some brass band groups include not only the instrumental portion but also work with the feather-adorned Mardi Gras Indians to add an extra bit of culture to your parade! So what are you waiting for?! Grab your personally adorned umbrellas and meet me on the streets of New Orleans.

You will need a permit from the city as well as a police escort for your second line if you plan on parading down the streets of New Orleans. Parade permits are available through the City of New Orleans One Stop department. Here is the link

You will also need to hire police escorts to clear the road and keep you and your guests safe while parading. The escorts will clear traffic so you dont get caught up.

I recommend hiring pedicabs for the elderly or people who may have a hard time walking and keeping up. Then they can sit back, relax and enjoy the parade with everyone else.

What Is A New Orleans Second Line

A New Orleans second line is a popular New Orleans tradition that celebrates life, whether that be the start of a new life for a couple during their wedding or to appreciate the life of a deceased loved one at a funeral.

A New Orleans wedding parade is composed of two sections: a first line and a second line. Leading the wedding parade in the first line is a grand marshal and a brass band. Immediately behind them, also in the first line, are the newlyweds and wedding party holding decorated parasols. The second line follows them, which is made up of the rest of the wedding guests who wave handkerchiefs in the air. A brass band plays upbeat New Orleans jazz music while everyone dances and moves along the parade route from one destination to another, which is typically from the ceremony to the reception venue.

A funeral second line has a similar setup to a wedding second line. The grand marshal and brass band make up the first line with the immediate family and hearse included. Behind them in the second line are other loved ones present to celebrate the deceased’s life.

Dr. Jazz

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And That You Only Have Two Hands

This is something we see all the time. A bride is trying to drink, bustle her dress, and wave her umbrella at the same time, only the problem is that she only has two hands.

Try to shorten or bustle your dress in advance so that you have a hand free for your umbrella, and another one free for your geaux cup which is what we call plastic containers that allow you to bring your cocktail out into the streets.

Second Lines For Weddings

Brian K Crain

As it is a celebration, second-lines are a popular tradition among New Orleans weddings. It signifies the beginning of a new life together. Usually, the second line brings the wedding guests and bridal party from the ceremony to the reception. The newlyweds lead the procession, umbrellas in hand, while the wedding party and guests follow the band with handkerchiefs. For more information on how to have a second line at your wedding, visit our wedding page here.

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Learn About The Tradition And Its Meaning

The ceremony is over and it’s time to celebrate. Oftentimes, couples kick off a night of celebration by exiting to an exciting, personal recessional song and having guests shower them with rose petals, rice, lavender, or even bubbles. But that party only lasts for the walk down the aisle, and maybe down the steps or out the door of your ceremony venue. So, why not continue the festivities with a wedding parade?

The We Want Something Fun But Also Logistically Helpful Couple

Most couples doing Second Lines in New Orleans fall into this category. You may need a way to move your guests from one location to another, or if youre doing it all in one location, you may just need to get guests out of the venue for a while so your vendors can flip the space . This option does require permitting and police escorts but isnt something that should be overwhelming. The City of New Orleans has made the process streamlined through their One Stop Shop website at Most parades will just need to fill out the Master Application along with Supplement C. This will give you a permit for rolling street closures and allow your walking parade, as long as you arent throwing items to the general public. Carrying your own drinks, guests wearing beads or waving hankies, etc. is all still permissible with just these two forms.

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Favorite Thing About The Wedding:

Its hard to pick one, so well list a few. Our casual barbecue the night before really set the tone. Having our family and friends come together to celebrate in a different city felt special. We will always remember the laughs and tears from the wedding vows, our three favorite girls in their flower crowns, watching everyone turn up at the end of the night and our amazing photographer who helped keep everything on track.

The Second Line Parade

New Orleans Wedding Second line parades: Kinfolk Brass Band

One of the most popular traditions during New Orleans weddings is the famous Second Line. At a wedding if signifies the start of a new beginning of life for the bride and groom. The Second Line Band leads the bridal party and the guests from the church to the reception venue or it may take place at the reception itself. A Second Line has two parts. The first line is usually a brass band and the ones being honored, the bride and groom. The newly married couple leads the Second Line holding uniquely decorated umbrellas or parasols. All of there guest who want to join in the celebration make up the Second Line. They form a line behind the band and the newly married couple, dancing and strutting to the lively music with handkerchiefs or cocktail napkins!

Allow us to assist in contacting hotels, venues and vendors for your group accommodations of 10 or more. We can help make planning simpler and your dream wedding in New Orleans a reality.

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And Finally To Have Fun

Dont lose sight that this is about your special day and having a once-in-a-lifetime moment with your new spouse and friends and family! Enjoy it! There are no hard rules about second lining, so feel free to mingle throughout the crowd, stop in front of historic sites for a photo, dance with strangers, you get it

The tradition of a second line is the couple are up front and center, the brass band behind them and the guests are the Second Line after the band. Umbrellas that show off your personality are best, but ultimately this is about you and how you want to celebrate your special day!

Any Good Bride Knows That You Need To Accessorize

Youll need a second line umbrella for you and your groom , as well as umbrellas for your wedding party. Ideally youll also bring handkerchiefs for everyone else to shake and swing to the music, as that is a huge part of the tradition.

You can also add boas and masks for your guests, so that they really get into the fun, and of course you need the right footwear!

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The Accessories & Details

If you want printed Second Line hankies or umbrellas, many local companies such as Backyard Printing can help you personalize them. One way I love to incorporate the something borrowed wedding tradition in a New Orleans way is to borrow your umbrellas from a friend or family member, as many people buy them but then never have the chance to reuse them. Personalized plastic cups for your guests drinks, personalized beads and many other fun options can also add to the fun while acting as favors for your guests. Just keep in mind that glass containers are not allowed on the streets.

My final piece of advice is a reminder not to overlook a very important question: What else is happening in the city on the same day? Make sure to check a local event calendar such as for information on other events, parades, marathons or festivals that might be happening on the same day in your area of town. A conflicting event could result in having to adjust your wedding day schedule or having your application denied if another event is already on the books.

Follow these easy instructions and advice, andlaissez le bon temps rouler!

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