Parasols and umbrellas are as important to a New Orleans wedding as red beans & rice are to Monday. But why? Where did the tradition come from? And what is that second line handkerchief all about? Heck, what’s a second line? I know many of you already know the answers, but for all of you destination brides and your confused family members, I thought a little explaining was in order.
The second line tradition is one of my favorite ‘only in New Orleans’ wedding traditions. After the ceremony a brass band plays celebratory music as the couple, holding his and hers parasols, dance behind. This is called the ‘first line’. All of their wedding guests, (and often times random people in the French Quarter) are invited to dance behind, waving white handkerchiefs in the air, to celebrate the newlyweds. The band leads the entire wedding ensemble to the reception venue. Think of it as your own little personal parade. I mean, what bride doesn’t want that?
The tradition is based on the famous New Orleans jazz funerals, where the band would play somber, slow music to honor the life of the deceased person. A second line of family and friends would form behind twirling umbrellas and parasols (it is New Orleans after all, and HOT practically all the time!). Those who didn’t have a parasol would retrieve a white handkerchief from the breast pocket of a nearby gentleman and twirl it above their head to join the parade.
So next time you go to a New Orleans wedding, and are handed a handkerchief at the ceremony, you’ll know it’s not to dab your tears or blow your nose but to celebrate the couple in a parade afterwards!
Photo by Studio Vieux Carre.
Photo by Meg Photo.
Love the pose, love the parasol! From Wedding Wire.