With the city having the motto Laissez les bons temps rouler (“Let the good times roll!”), it’s no surprise that the “second line” tradition belongs to New Orleans, a town rich with celebration.
The line stems from African-American jazz funerals, where a brass band played and paraded to honor the life of the deceased while loved ones followed the band, dancing to add to the spirit and celebration of the procession. Weddings with a NOLA connection have flipped this tradition on its head, using a second line parade to signify the beginning of new life for the bride and groom. A second line usually takes place between the ceremony and reception, with the newly married couple leading the way and holding decorated parasols while the band and wedding party follow right behind. In a genius display of double-duty programs, we’ve seen couples print their order of service on white handkerchiefs, then encourage guests to twirl them in the air once the second line sets off. Though second lines begin with just invited guests, they often attract passerbys to join the fun–perfect for a wedding in the South, where there’s always enough joy to go around.