New Orleans Second Line


New Orleans Second Line

History and Tradition - Having a second line during your wedding wasn't always the "traditional" second line. Don't get me wrong, the Second Line is a New Orleans tradition in every way, shape, and form,  but it hasn't always been associated with weddings.

Long before the second line became a New Orleans wedding tradition, it was associated with funerals. It was a celebration of life at the moment of death. The earliest second lines date back to slavery when african americans brought their funeral traditions here to South Louisiana. The "main line" or "first line" is made up of the family and the brass band while guests and others followed in the "second line." Much like this scene from Treme, you'd see the band and a hearse and mourners making their way to the cemetery while the tunes of a dirge play in the background. The music is slow and reflective of the event like "Closer Walk to Thee." Then later, after the deceased is interred, the procession leaves the cemetery to a more lively and celebratory feel (as seen on Treme - https://youtu.be/xqwtd46qtPU).  The music will pick up to reflect celebrating the deceased life and the band will play songs like "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Just like the people of New Orleans, the second line mixed and mingled with other cultures and traditions and developed into so much more. Eventually it became noted for the New Orleans' famous Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and Benevolent Societies, which were largely founded as community-based health and funeral insurance co-ops. And then people began to hire second line bands for entertainment as in another scene from Treme. It was so entertaining eventually people wanted it for their weddings, and so became the tradition of the wedding second line.


At a wedding the second line signifies the start of a new beginning of life for the bride and groom. It is truly a celebration! The second line band leads the bridal party and the guests from the church to the reception venue or it may take place at the reception itself. And while your northern guests will probably not know what a second line is or what to do when it starts, they will most definitely remember being a part of one for the rest of their lives!

It is no wonder your guests will love this naturally NOLA tradition, you are literally the main attraction without feeling like you are in the spotlight. At first, they may feel a bit weird or strange, but it is weirdly amazing and crazy awesome! It's a time to relax and be free and listen to the music and dance in the streets with your closest friends and fam and you feel kind of like a rock star! If you're having a destination wedding to New Orleans, it's an absolute must have!


What's that they're carrying? Is that a tissue? And what is with the umbrella? Those date back to the funerals as well. It's hot in New Orleans and the sun is beating down on you. Of course you're going to have an umbrella (or at least that is what common sense tells me and other articles on the internet). It was also a part of fashion at the time to carry an umbrella or "parasol." Today, Second Line Umbrellas reflect the bride and groom's personal style or their favorite school or professional team as they twirl and spin as if to say “laissez les bons temps rouler”! a hankie and start walking and bouncing and twirling and having fun. Today any paper or cloth napkin has been used to wave in the air to allow you to join in and be part of the fun.

The second line is great for transitioning guests to and from the reception site and from the moment it starts it all looks and feels (as it should) like the party has shown up just for you and your guests, however it’s not all hankies, parasols and sweet, sweet dance moves. But, a second line, takes time and planning and even a bit of money. 

Making your Second Line Happen - Are you having a second line? If so, will your DJ play the music as y'all parade around the reception hall or will your band provide a musician or two to guide y'all in the venue or even lead you outside for your exit? How much extra does that cost? Is your second line between the ceremony and reception or is it after the reception or both? Will it be in the street or will it only be on the sidewalks? That's a lot of information and yes you have to know it all when planning for your second line. 

Let's start at the beginning - are you having a second line? If not, no worries, your wedding will still rock. If so, let's keep going :) 

First you will need to think about when and where you will do the second line (and think of a rain plan while you're at it.). Will the second line be inside the reception or outside? If it is outside, will it be in the street or stay on the sidewalks? A second line in the streets of the French Quarter (or really anywhere in the city) requires a permit and a police escort (you really don't want your guests getting hit by any cars).

Check out the City of New Orleans One Stop Permit shop to get the form and instructions on completing it. While they have a lot of improvements regarding the permitting process, the second line permit is still not one you can submit online. You'll have to make your way to the 7th floor of City Hall and talk with Ms. Claire. The parade or second line permit is $50.25 (by cashier check or money order) and you'll also need to eventually pay for a police escort (normally on the day of the event). The city really appreciates it if you schedule this earlier rather than later AND doing so is a huge check off on your to-do list. 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).


Okay, are you going to use some of your reception band or will you have a brass band? And even though they may all share the same name "brass band" they can vary greatly between their styles and their prices.  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. And, if you want them to play for some of your cocktail hour, you'll have to take that into consideration too.

So you're ready for your second line. Do you have your hankies and umbrellas and other miscellaneous items you might want? These are not necessities but they certainly add to the atmosphere and are a little something your guests can take home with them.

All of these items can be personalized who you are and the wedding date and your colors etc. Really, the sky is the limit. You can have everything personalized with monograms, wedding colors, feathers and glitter. It's just a matter of what is your style and what you want to spend :) 

Prices for all of these personalized items varies greatly based on how many and the details you are adding to them. A second line umbrella can start at $25 and then end up being $400 or more depending on what materials are used and how much time it takes. Of course, you already know this, custom designs will definitely be more expensive. Handkerchiefs run anywhere from $10-$40 a dozen, depending on how they are printed or embroidered and which colors are used. If you don't want to spend the money on an umbrella, gather your ladies for a fun night and buy umbrellas and decorate them! And as for the hankies, go ahead and ask your venue if they have cocktail napkins you can use or buy a cheap package. Nobody will mind....they're in a second line! 

Now you're almost there, but let's not forget about the people who cannot or do not want to go for that nice leisurely stroll through the city. You may want to have some pedicabs on standby at the start just in case they're needed. That way, those guests do not feel left out and can still enjoy the second line by following behind in the pedicab. 

And so you're set. It's really not that bad, but if you need some help or want someone else to do it for you, It's Your Time Events is offering to do the permitting process for you - $300. This includes our time, planning the route with you, and the permit. Police escorts will be done separate as they are paid separately. Give us a call or shoot us an email and we're happy to work with you on this! No stressing! It's your wedding remember :) 

And PS - your dog can come on the second line too! Check out K9 Second Line! They're great!

Getting to know your vendors....Arte de Vie

Doug and CheyAnne "have a tradition of always taking [their] portrait together when [they] travel, and [they] absolutely had to do it for [their] wedding!"

Wow! I think I met that couple that truly embodies the terms partner and in love and complimentary. Wow! They are just wow! I met Doug through Facebook when I was living in DC. I was still thinking about and working on photography when I saw the PUG Group on Facebook and contacted him. He was so friendly and still is. Now, as a coordinator, I can't wait for the day I get to work with them (which could be sooner rather than later considering one of my brides already booked them!)!

Both photojournalists by trade and romantics at heart, Doug is a tad bit more serious and leans more toward the artistic side. Doug went to Western Kentucky University and then spent years shooting assignments for the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many other publications. His experience and education mean Doug knows how to capture the moments that matter. He's trained for it. He will document your day as the events and the memories unfold.

CheyAnne is more contemporary, spontaneous and has a softer and more carefree side. She received a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University in photojournalism in 2005, spent a year at LSU (Geaux Tigers!), and then took a job in New Orleans at a prestigious portrait studio, where she worked for two years. Between her bubbly personality, educational background and professional portrait experience, she's able to combine true photojournalism with classic portraiture.

Together, I really think they're an awesome pair and compliment each others styles perfectly!

Arte de Vie is a product of both of them. They fell in love while in school for photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. Then, for a while they both had their own businesses (Bradfield Photography and Artisan Style). Finally, over a period of about two to three years they joined forces by not only getting engaged but also by creating Arte de Vie and then getting married (you can see more of their personalities in their wedding trailer by Studio Vieux Carre).

They are a picture of a successful working team and a married couple.

CheyAnne and Doug are very proud of how much their business has grown without any real business experience. To them photography is more than a hobby. Yes, it's something they enjoy, but it's their business. If they could recommend one thing to aspiring photographers, it would be to take the time to master the skills of photography and THEN take the time to learn business skills. Also, don't be afraid to work with others and source out what you cannot do by yourself. Doug and CheyAnne both recognize how much Titus does for them in getting information out, second shooting and just helping when needed.

They are also very proud to hear people actually talk about Arte de Vie. To them, it is a very proud moment when they overhear people say or do the following:
  • gasp in reference to having "Arte de Vie" or 
  • say that they are "awesome" or 
  • say that "Arte de Vie needs to be booked early" or 
  • that they are "they hardest working photographers." 
They take pride in their work and the results of their work and what you think of their work.

In the future, overall as business, CheyAnne and Doug just want to improve on what they already do. They want to provide a higher level of customer service, which will probably mean hiring someone in office to handle customer service, so CheyAnne and Doug can focus on photography aspect. They want to further develop their skills so you get better products. It's all about what CheyAnne says: they want to "keep elevating the name. Keep it classy....timeless." They're not high quantity....recognize them for the quality.

To couples getting married and going through the planning process, from a photographer's perspective and as a previous groom Doug says the following:


  • Choosing your photographer: As far as photography, narrow it down to the top 2-3 photographers you like and then DIVE DEEP into their websites. So you have a full comprehension of how the photographer captures the entire event, not just portraits. Then talk with the photographer so you can get to know your photographer and if your personalities mesh. 
  • Videographer: They also highly recommend videography! Certain things don't translate the same between photography and video. There is sound and movement that a photo just can't capture. 
  • Finally, get a coordinator. Even if it's just week of they highly recommend getting one. Your coordinator will make sure everyone is showing up at the right time to the right place. All those little details you don't need to worry about on your day. They recommend getting one because they want you to have a good wedding day and two so you're not stressed and are relaxed in the pictures. 
Tips from the experts regarding your photoshoots:

  • Engagement session: try to choose a location that has personal meaning because if it has meaning, then you're going to be more comfortable and enjoy the pictures more. Also, make sure your outfits match....style wise. If you're going to be formal, make sure you're both formal. If you're going to be country, make sure you're both country. By themselves they may be great, but individually they may not mesh well in the photographs.
  • Bridal shoot: have a smaller version of your bouquet so your hands aren't empty all the time. Eat before the session. Don't get hung up on staying clean....they do a fabulous job of keeping the dress clean. For your hair and make-up, use the same person you're going to use on your wedding day so you can both be on the same page...this is your trial run. 
  • Wedding day: organization is KEY. Your photographer has a timeline and knows how long it will take to do your pictures throughout the day. If you're organizing your own day, talk to your photographer about this timeline; if you have a coordinator, ensure the coordinator has talked with your photographer about the timeline. Communication is key (again). Finally, don't send your photographer a Pinterest board with 50 pictures you "want." The list means they miss YOUR moments and it stifles their creativity. 
Not only did CheyAnne and Doug have tips for brides and other photographers, they also had a little tip for me (or for others helping with the wedding). When the bride is in the back of the church....after they've made their way from the car etc.....once we fluff the dress, we need to step away from the bride and her father/escort. Let go of the dress and let the photographer capture the moments happening without us in it. Let them have their moment together. Let the picture happen. I can do that. Thanks y'all!

CheyAnne and Doug are not only professionals, but they are truly warm people. This shows in not only their personalities but in their work. Contact Arte de Vie to set up an appointment to discuss your big day!

It's Your Time Events is an event and wedding planning and design firm. For more information regarding It's Your Time Events you can email Erin@ItsYourTimeEvents.com, Like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter