Khaki & Jacob

A fall wedding in New Orleans, LA.

About the Wedding

Even just looking through the photos from a New Orleans wedding instantly makes us want to go join the party. So, when Khaki and Jacob sent us their wedding photos, we decided it was time to dig into the deeper meaning behind these wedding party parades known in New Orleans as the second line.

“Historically, the African-American community began second lines as neighborhood celebrations. Today, there are several thousand every year, most for weddings and other special events,” says neworleans.com. While the tradition for these second lines began for private funerals, there is nothing somber about these events, as “the band plays celebratory songs in honor of the life of the deceased,” according to theadvocate.com.

The iconic photos that the idea of a second line calls to mind (and that we tend to see filling our Instagram feed) consist of couples bursting out of the church doors after saying “I do!” trailed by a line of big brass instruments and lots of smiling faces. Typically, after the wedding ceremony concludes, the second line begins, and the wedding party and guests travel with it from the ceremony venue to the reception location. “A wedding second line also can be held after a rehearsal dinner or at the end of the reception. Couples often incorporate a stop at a sentimental location into their second lines — the restaurant of their first date or the site of their engagement, for example,” says theadvocate.com

If your venue is too far from your ceremony, you could use the second line to travel to a pick up location. Or, if your ceremony and reception are taking place in the same venue, use it as an opportunity to get your guests dancing early and maybe enjoy cocktail hour on the go. 

Must-haves for a second line include: a brass band, umbrellas, and handkerchiefs. SuitShop couple Khaki and Jacob led their parade with custom umbrellas and were followed by Kinfolk Brass Band. Traditionally, the group will follow the band, waving handkerchiefs in celebration. These accessories are a great way to further incorporate your wedding colors or other bits of meaning–like your favorite quote, flower, or even prints of your dogs–into your big day.

Things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of including a second line in your wedding celebration: 

  • You will need to obtain a parade permit from the city. 
  • Consider arranging transportation like a pedicab for guests who will have a hard time walking.
  • Decide if you will rent or buy your parasols.
  • If you’re based out of town, consider hiring an experienced local planner to help you coordinate.

Not planning a wedding but still hoping to get in on the second line action? Second lines also take place during the French Quarter Festival, Jazz Fest, Satchmo Summerfest, and even “Sunday afternoons in the French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods. The more participants in the procession the better!” according to neworleans.com. Booking our flights now…

Not only was my wedding tuxedo great, when I had to make a few last-minute changes, SuitShop worked with me to exchange items quickly to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible leading up to the wedding.

Jacob, SuitShop Groom