Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a second-line?

In New Orleans African-American funeral tradition, the brass band plays a dirge for the processional, following the hearse, and preceding the mourners. For the recessional, the band performs upbeat, “second-line” music, celebrating the life of the deceased. Today, the second-line has evolved to encompass almost any celebratory occasion here in New Orleans, including memorials, birthdays, weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and even corporate gatherings.

2. When is it an appropriate time to second-line?

Any celebratory occasion is the right time for a second-line. For weddings, some couples choose to second-line immediately after the wedding for the recessional, leading guests to the reception. If the wedding and the second-line are in the same venue, the second-line may give the vendors an opportunity to “flip the room.” Other couples wait to second-line at the end of the reception (which encourages guests to move out of the venue and to the next destination). The timing depends on the specific needs of your event. There is no wrong time to second-line.

3. How long does a second-line last?

A second-line typically lasts about 20 minutes. Wedding second-lines are usually about 4-6 blocks long. Other parties may choose a route a bit longer, 7-10 blocks long. The maximum the city will allow is a 12 block route (not recommended.)

4. Who leads the second-line?

Traditionally in New Orleans culture, our Grand Marshal leads the parade as an integral part of the celebration. In a wedding second line, our Grand Marshal may usher the bride and groom to lead the parade, followed by the band, then the guests.

5. How can elderly or disabled guests enjoy the second-line?

We recommend hiring Pedi-cab drivers for anyone who may not be able to make the walk. We are happy to make the reservation for you. One Pedi-cab can comfortably hold two people. It is recommended that any passenger needing extra care have a designated chaperone nearby to assit in getting in and out of the cab.

6. What if it rains?

“It never rains on our parade!” Second lines are rain or shine events, and we have had many magical parades in the rain. The weather in New Orleans is unpredictable and changes quickly, so we typically do not change the event details based on the forecast. Game-time decisions are made, and we do our best to accomodate our clients requests. The City must cancel a parade in the event of a tornado warning or state of emergency..

7. I have a small group. Do I still need a parade permit and police escorts?

Yes, the City of New Orleans requires a parade permit and police escorts in order to parade in the street. Legally, there is no second lining down the sidewalks.

8. Is it customary to tip the band?

Tips are, as we say, “lagniappe.” They are appreciated, but not expected.

For weddings, it’s customary to tip the band $20-$25 per musician. This should be handed in an envelope to the coordinator.

9. Can I request songs for the band to play?

For second line sets, it’s best to let the band play songs from their repertoire unless your song request falls into the second line genre. For longer bookings, one hour or more, the band may take song requests. The rate for special requests outside of the band’s repertoire may incur an additional fee for rehearsal time.

10. Can we make stops along the parade route?

The police escorts ensure that the parade continues to flow, start-to-finish, without pause. However, if a couple wants to stop in the street briefly to snap a photo, taking no more than a minute, that is perfectly acceptable. Stopping the party along the way to get a fresh round of drinks, or any other stop lasting longer than a brief moment is NOT allowed by NOPD.

11. How do we pick a route for the parade?

Planning a parade has many idiosyncrasies, which is why it’s best to work with a professional to help you plan the right route. Please keep in mind that the parade must go in the direction of traffic (most streets in the French Quarter are one-way). There is no second lining through Jackson Square, except for weddings departing St. Louis Cathedral.12. What about parasols, handkerchiefs, and other second-line accessories?