Planning A New Orleans Second Line


^^My poor dress! It spent 7 months at the dry cleaners and still looks like the streets of New Orleans. If anyone has any advice on getting NOLA street sludge out of a wedding dress, PLEASE let a girl know!

^^Everyone came outside to join in the celebration! It was amazing!

While I loved EVERY minute of our wedding day, I'd be lying if I didn't say that our second line parade wasn't the absolute highlight. When we decided to have our wedding in New Orleans, a traditional second line was a must. For those who aren't familiar with this amazing New Orleans tradition, it is a bass band parade that was traditionally part of a funeral, but are now commonly seen in wedding celebrations. The "first line" consists of the hosts (bride and groom), while the "second line" is made up of all who join in the celebration through the streets. Baxter and I were so excited about our parade, but when it came time to planning it, we were super overwhelmed! After months of research and advice from our amazing wedding planner, Christie, the parade went off without a hitch! I decided to combine all the info I found that helped us plan the second line in hopes of helping the next overwhelmed New Orleans bride! If you have any tips or tricks to add, I would love to hear them!!

1. Planning the route

We used our second line as a transition from the reception to the Frenchman Street for the afterparty. With many venues having strict closing times, this was a perfect way to guarantee that everyone would be out by a certain time. We had considered doing the second line between the ceremony and reception, but I am so glad we decided to do it after. So, when planning the route, we started with our destination in mind. We knew we needed to get from the Old Ursuline Convent to Frenchmen street, but which streets should we take?! I wanted the route to be scenic, not too long, and not too confusing. The total distance of the parade was 0.4 miles and took us about 30 minutes.

2. Picking the band

Such an important part! I don't know how many youtube videos I watched of brass bands to find the right ones for our parade. We chose the Kinfolk Brass Band and couldn't have been happier. These guys set the tone for the whole second line. As soon as they showed up to the reception, game over. Looking back at pictures and video, you can watch the whole room of faces light up as soon as they started playing. They were PERFECT.

3. Getting the city permit

This part was daunting, not gonna lie. Start by going to the city of New Orleans parade/race permit website page. For a second line parade, you will need to fill out the Master Application and Supplement C ( I attached a copy of the above map to provide the route details required for the application). Our wedding was March 10th, and Mardi Gras that year was February 13th. My wedding planner advised me to submit my application to the city the Monday after Mardi Gras so it wouldn't get mixed up in all the Mardi Gras parade planning. I had a confirmation within a week of mailing the application! Once approved, I was given a link to pay the parade permit fee online ($100.25).

4. Police escorts

Because the streets are blocked off for the parade, police escorts are needed. The city will decide how many escorts your need based on how many guests you will have joining the second line. I received an email about 1 week before the event with an invoice ($397.92) and confirmation from the City of New Orleans. Even though I knew this email would come only about a week before the wedding, I was really nervous that I would be without the escorts! This was probably one of the most nerve wracking parts of wedding planning for me. But it all worked out!

5. Umbrellas for the bride and groom

What's a second line without fancy umbrellas?! I kept going back and forth between making, renting, and buying umbrellas. There were so many options on Etsy, great ideas on Pinterest, but when I stumbled upon Bella Umbrella I fell in love with their vintage collection. Baxter and I arrived to New Orleans on Wednesday before our Saturday wedding and stopped by the Bella Umbrella shop to pick out our umbrellas. I could have spent hours in there looking at their beautiful pieces! They were so nice to work with, renting saved us a ton, and returning the umbrellas was easy as pie! Highly recommend checking them out!

6. Handkerchiefs

Another staple in a New Orleans second line are the handkerchiefs carried by the guests. I decided to make these and I love how they turned out. I ordered a few yards of plain white fabric on amazon and had a personalized stamp made that matched our invites. I cut the fabric into squares, serged the edges (if you do not have a serger, you can skip this step), and used a fabric ink stamp pad to stamp a corner on each one. It only took me a few hours one evening and they made for a perfect little wedding favor!

If you have never seen a second line, my dad captured it on his 360 camera! Here is a link to a shortened 5 minute version and here is a link to the whole parade.

RIP my beautiful wedding gown

Photography: Madison Hope

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