Planning Your New Orleans Second Line
Whether from the ceremony to the reception location or to wrap up the night of celebration, a second line with brass band in tow is a New Orleans tradition that most local couples include in their Big Day. Though the traditional second line did not start as a wedding activity, and often can be seen any weekend throughout the French Quarter and in nearby neighborhoods, in addition to its roots in the Black community’s jazz funerals, the practice now also symbolizes the new beginning and new life for the newlywed couple.
Though anyone can add this lagniappe into their Big Day, securing a second line does require specific steps to ensure the safety of all those involved. Making sure you cross all your t’s and dot your I’s when it comes to your mini parade will ensure you pull off the second line of your wedding dreams.
Below is a summary of the six steps outlined by New Orleans & Company for planning your wedding day second line:
STEP 1: PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Is your reception venue a few blocks from your church or ceremony location? That’s the perfect opportunity to implement a second line. You don’t want your guests walking a mile – especially the ones wearing heels – but you also need enough space for the full effect. NewOrleans.com says that many second line routes are about six to eight blocks. They also point out to be sure, when planning your route, that you are walking in the same direction as the traffic, not against it.
STEP 2: GET YOUR PERMIT
Though many people just start dancing on the streets of New Orleans, if you want an organized second line with the band and taking up the entire street, you must get a permit with the City of New Orleans. Those wanting to hold a second line must submit the “Master Event Application” and the “Supplement C-Parade Form” (both available at www.nola.gov/onestop) no later than two months prior to the parade date. Additionally, the permit costs $200.25.
NewOrleans.com says to 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” (including additional questions) 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: Click here
STEP 3: HIRE A CITY MANDATED PARADE ESCORT
In order to close off the street to traffic during your second line parade, escorts are required. Once your permit is received, the New Orleans Police Department’s Special Events Division will be notified and contact the couple. The escort includes a minimum of here officers with cost starting at $384.98 for up to 300 people. Each additional officer is $116 and would be required for groups larger than 300 people.
STEP 4: HIRE A BRASS BAND
Arguably the most exciting part of the second line process is hiring the brass band. Luckily, New Orleans has no shortage, so finding the perfect fit for your wedding should be fun and easy. It’s suggested to start the research process when you start your permit paperwork. Bands, lead by three to six band members, are priced based on how many musicians are present, but NewOrleans.com says can range between $500 and $1500.
Here is a NewOrleans.com list of local bands & DJs.
STEP 5 And 6 (OPTIONAL)
Steps 5 and 6 include fun extras to your wedding second line. Mardi Gras Indian groups can also be hired to walk in your second line and add a special flair to the walking group. Additionally, it is said that no second line is complete without umbrellas and handkerchiefs. The couple is set apart by holding custom umbrellas as they walk at the head of the second line, but your guests can join in with monogrammed or screen-printed handkerchiefs design specially for your Big Day. There are many local print shops around the city that are more than capable of adding that special touch.
Here is a list of NewOrleans.com local print shops & favor stores.