Sunday, March 13, 2016

7 steps to plan your wedding second line

There are quite a few steps involved in planning your second line parade in New Orleans.  Before you get your heart set on one, there are 3 things to consider:
1. The Weather
New Orleans is a rainy city.  There are very few, if any, days of the year that are notoriously rain-free.  If your wedding is set for Winter, Spring, or Summer, you have a higher rain possibility.  Fall is better, but still not guaranteed dry. Your best bet is November or Mid-February, when the weather tends to be mild and breezy.  
2. Your Budget
A true second line consists of the following elements:
•A live brass band (average $700-900 for a 20 min second line)
•3-4 Police Escorts ($100 each)*
•City Permit ($50.25)*
•NOPD administration fee ($25.00)*
*These payments are required to be made with money orders or certified checks, so there's no charging the amounts on your credit card.
•At least one decorated umbrella (average $60-150 ea)
•Second line handkerchiefs (average $20 per dozen customized)
•Pedicabs for those that aren't able to walk ($50 plus tip for each reserved cab)
3. Your Location
If your wedding is in the CBD or in an area that is not populated with crowds, you won't get the full experience you see on Pinterest and The Knot.  The major element of excitement comes from the reaction of an audience, who consists of those locals and tourists who come out of the restaurants and bars of the French Quarter to watch and take your picture as you pass by.  Some may even join in! That's all part of the fun! 

Now that you know the 3 things to consider, and you've decided a second line will work for you, there are 7 steps to take. To make it happen can be daunting, but if you're patient and diligent you'll get it done. Here are the steps in order:
1. Book your band
Simply Google "second line bands" and you'll see many options. 
2. Apply for your permit 
This includes coming up with a route.  Routes must follow the flow of traffic and you can't parade on Bourbon Street after 8pm. 6-8 blocks = 15-20 minutes
The application can be found on the city permit website.  Search for "NOLA One stop" to find the link.
3. Submit your two applications: the Master and the Parade.  Save your application reference number for future communication
4. Order your hankies
There are online resources and local shops that create them with a template that includes a stock or custom logo  and three or four lines of text. 
5. Create or order your umbrella.  
If you're crafty, you can order the plain umbrella online and decorate it yourself.  If not, there are people (like me!) who can make them for you.  My umbrellas start at $60 each.
6. Follow up.
One month before the wedding, when you still don't have your permit or invoice, contact the email address on your confirmationemail or call the city of New Orleans permit office and get a status update.  This is where it can get nerve-wracking. It's not uncommon for you to get a permit and invoice the week of your wedding.  The city is very busy with requests and they will lose track of dates unless you keep on top of the process.
7. Confirm your band
About a month before the wedding, check in with your band and make sure the start time is the same as when you first booked it. Sometimes your plans change and this is one thing you'll forget to communicate. Check in again the week before the wedding just to be sure they have been paid in full or payment has been arranged for the day-of (if you have a planner this is ok, otherwise pay in advance).

And finally, if this all seems a bit overwhelming and the thought of city hall and lengthy applications stresses you out, there's a one-step option.  
1. Send me an email!
I can plan your second line for you! Just drop me a note at

Happy Planning!...