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A Guide To The New Orleans Second-Line Wedding Parade

A Guide to the New Orleans Second-Line Wedding Parade

Should you Second-Line? Heck yes, you should!

If you grew up in Northern territory as I did, you may not be familiar with the absolutely wonderful tradition that is the New Orleans Second-Line Parade. People in New Orleans love their parades. They parade for weddings. They parade for funerals. They have massive parades for nearly two months leading up to Mardi Gras (Click here to learn about Carnival). For all of you Yankees out there, here’s a brief history/explanation of the Second-Line parade:

A Very Brief Explanation of The Second Line

The Second-Line parade has a deep history within the city of New Orleans. The Second-Line parade may be performed for a number of celebrations; when performed for weddings, we Second-Line in celebration of the new life the couple is about to embark on. The parade itself is composed of two parts: the “First-Line” and the “Second-Line”. The “First-Line” consists of the traditional New Orleans Brass Band as well as the Bride and Groom. The “Second-Line” consists of family, friends, wedding guests, and any passerby who would like to join in to follow behind the couple. Parade participants walk, dance, wave a handkerchief, or twirl decorative parasols in rhythm to the sound of the brass band as they make their way down the parade route. This, in a small nutshell, is “Second-Lining”.

Photo Courtesy of The French Quarter Wedding Chapel. Photography by Brandon Oneal.
A 2015 Second-Line Wedding. Wedding and all Parade Details Arranged by The French Quarter Wedding Chapel.

Click here for a variety of videos showing Wedding Second-Lines in New Orleans

Doesn’t this sound fantastic? We don’t do anything like this in the cornfields of Ohio where I’m from. If this seems like something that you may be interested in, I encourage you to contact the French Quarter Wedding Chapel to arrange your parade for you. There are many steps to take when organizing a Second-Line which can be overwhelming, especially if you are coming from out of town. Permits must be obtained, police escorts need to be arranged, routes laid out, etc. Let the chapel act as your personal concierge to handle every detail. They will take care of everything, from organizing your parade route, obtaining your permits, hiring a brass band, and even provide the many parade essentials such as handkerchiefs, parasols, cups, and beads. You may find the details of the FQWC Second-Line package here.

Commitment Ceremony Second-Line Parade. Ceremony and Parade arranged by The French Quarter Wedding Chapel.

In addition to handling all of the above-mentioned, the FQWC offers a unique service for Second-Lines: The Traveling Bartender. What does this mean? Essentially, someone from the FQWC travels beside your parade entourage with a rolling train of tubs carrying ice and any alcohol you desire. When your drink is empty, they replace it. Simple as that. They keep the party going and the drinks flowing. For those who may not be familiar with New Orleans, it IS legal to walk through the French Quarter with open containers of alcohol.

Keep in mind that any significant event can inspire a Second-Line Parade. I myself plan on Second-Lining a few years from now when my group of lifelong girlfriends and I turn 40 (gasp!). I mean why not? I’m kind of surprised we made it this far- and that is definitely something to celebrate!

Also, I’m probably going to lie about the age thing when people ask.

Until Next Time,

Brooke Michelle | Contributing Editor for the French Quarter Wedding Chapel

For a Fine-Art Watercolor Print of the French Quarter Wedding Chapel by the Author, Click Here.

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