Good day everyone! Today’s incredibly informative and interesting post on second line parades in New Orleans is brought to us by Ms. Tey Stiteler. The second line is one of those ‘only in NOLA’ experiences, and one of my personal favorite wedding traditions. Enjoy! ~Julia
By: Tey Stiteler
I’m crazy about second lines! Growing up in Pennsylvania, parades were events that only happened on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. Since moving to New Orleans I’ve learned that parades, or second lines as we call them here, happen for holidays, funerals, weddings and for no reason at all!
Born out of the 19th century Jazz Funeral, the second line parade has evolved into one of New Orleans’s most popular wedding traditions. And it’s no wonder – trailing a brass band and dancing in the streets with your closest friends and fam feels amazing – kind of like you’re the rock star and the #1 fan all at the same time – It’s weird, it’s wonderful and its distinctly New Orleans!
From the outside it all looks and feels (as it should) wonderfully impromptu, however it’s not all hankies, parasols and sweet, sweet dance moves. Those in the know, know that a second line requires careful planning and permits to ensure that it is done correctly and (gasp!) legally. In this post, I’ll give you the parade planning basics including permit costs, escort fees and how to go about choosing a brass band.
First you’ve got to decide where you are second lining. You don’t need to know the route necessarily, however you will need to decide whether you’re taking it to the streets or staying indoors and parading around your venue. There are benefits to both options, however by remaining inside your venue you can avoid the added costs of permitting and police escorts while negating the need for a rain plan.
Speaking of permits and police escorts – a second line in the streets of the French Quarter (or really anywhere in the city) requires both. That being said, the second line is even jazzier when it’s taken outside and into traffic of the French Quarter. Another pro – the second line is great for transitioning guests to and from the reception site.
The easiest way to go about making your shindig legal is by reaching out to the New Orleans Police Department (contact information can be found here). Prior to your parade, you will need to apply and pay for a permit ($50.25) and schedule police escorts. The cost associated with police escorts varies based on the length of the route and size of party but expect to pay $100.00 per officer (groups over fifty usually require three or more officers).
Of course none of this can happen without the third, and perhaps most important element, the brass band. Despite sharing the same genre, New Orleans brass bands can vary dramatically in style and price. Depending on the length of your parade and the duration of your second line, the cost of a brass band can range from $500-$1,500.00. Additionally, you’ll want to factor in a price increase should you want the band to play for your cocktail hour or the duration of your reception.
Photo by Rusty Costanza
Finally, a second line isn’t complete without hankies and parasols. These little details aren’t reaaaaally necessary but they definitely add flair. Parasols are often awesomely decorated to reflect the bride and groom’s styles and personalities and hankies can be anything from a paper napkin to vintage lace!
In the interest of multitasking, these handkerchiefs double as escort cards and programs – genius! Photo by Austin Gros Photography.
Whether it’s high stepping in the streets or twirling around your venue, adding a second line to your reception is kinda like putting a dash of Crystal on your poboy – it’s certain to kick it up a notch!