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Wedding singer at daughter’s ceremony was no ordinary entertainer

One day in 1973 our daughter, Nicole, announced that she would like a garden wedding on our backyard patio.


How do you plan a garden wedding, I wondered? I had never before been faced with this problem. What should I do about music, decorations and the reception?


A short while later, we were invited to the wedding dance of a distant cousin. My wife, Jokki, and I never missed the chance to go dancing and we accepted the invitation. There was a small orchestra and one of the entertainers, a saxophone player, so impressed me that at intermission I went up and talked to him.


“Do you suppose the orchestra would play for my daughter’s garden wedding?” I asked.


“I will come and play for your daughter’s wedding,” he said. “Do you have a piano?”


“A baby grand,” I said.



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We agreed to the terms and I gave him the location and date.


On the day of the event the patio was decorated, the food arranged for a reception, and a reverend called.


What if he doesn’t show? I was getting nervous and it was time for the musician, Eugene Jackson, to appear. Would someone have to improvise the music?


I waited out front with a space saved in our driveway. At the last minute, a big white Cadillac came down the street, past our driveway and wheeled into the middle of my neighbor’s driveway. Al, my good friend and neighbor, was invited so it was OK.


The wedding march was played and the ceremony completed with friend Al taking pictures. It was a gala afternoon with food, punch and music. Eugene played all afternoon.


The guests gathered around and nobody wanted to leave while Eugene played almost until sundown. He stood on the piano bench and rendered saxophone solos. He played the baby grand and sang and seemed to enjoy the audience as much as they enjoyed him.


Afterward, I was amazed to find that he was the kid who played Pineapple in some of Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” comedies of the 1920s, playing Farina’s older brother. At age 6 he was dancing for nickels and dimes on the streets of Los Angeles, where he was discovered by Roach. If you are wondering where the nickname came from, Roach looked at his Afro and called him Pineapple.


He went on to star in “Buster Brown” comedies, played Red Foxx’s friend in episodes of “Sanford and Son” and acted in Mary Pickford’s “Little Annie Rooney.” As a grown-up, he starred in many movies and in vaudeville.


At the time I hired him to play at my daughter’s wedding, I was not aware of any of this. Evidently, he was available wherever there was a request for entertainment and he was truly an all-around entertainer who could fit into any venue no matter where or for whom.


He certainly filled the bill at our little ceremony. He presented us with a signed glossy photograph depicting the various phases of his life.


We saw him one more time with our friends, Al and June, at a small club playing piano and singing for the patrons, proving once again that he was available wherever an entertainer was needed and truly one of a kind.


Eugene “Pineapple” Jackson was born in 1916 and died in 2001 at the age of 84.

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04:39 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


The Tale of Samantha Woo

A little, white house off Old Canton Road in Jackson has three large, pink fabric flowers in a row on the porch. A horizontal pathway of stones in varying shades of light brown and gray spans from the driveway to the edge of the house. A mannequin wearing a pale white wedding dress stares out from a large window at passing traffic, and a small sign in the yard says "Woo Couture."


When you enter the building, completed wedding dresses greet you. A dress form wearing pink and lace sits by a table full of beading and sketches.


Fabric swatches, dress sketches and other fashion-design paraphernalia are scattered about the studio.


Woo Couture is the brainchild of Samantha Woo, a wedding-dress designer from Vietnam. Woo's family has been making clothes for generations. She learned much of her craft from her mother, Su Dong, who is still in Vietnam. Her father, Toan Tran, is an artist, and her grandfather, Tin Tran, is a photographer who is most famous for his photos of the First Indochina War.




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Samantha Woo opened Woo Couture at 4750 Old Canton Road in the fall of 2014. There, she designs custom wedding dresses. Photo courtesy Amber Helsel"Growing up in Vietnam, we didn't have a lot of toys," Woo says. "The only toy I had was the scrap of fabric my mom left on the floor. I would make dog clothes and ... make a Barbie doll out of fabrics. I had to be really creative. Growing up (in a) third-world country, I didn't have very much." Woo says that as a child, she was always drawing and sketching.


Though she says her mom made everyday clothes, Woo was fascinated with designing wedding dresses. "I love going to weddings. I love seeing wedding dresses, even when I was younger," she says. "My mother always says that I (was) at every wedding, almost. Even the neighbors'. Somehow I always snuck in."


She came to the United States when she was 13 in 1994. Woo says that 10 years after the Vietnam War, the country was in the midst of a bad economy. Missionaries connected to Catholic Charities of Jackson brought Woo to Mississippi.


"They took interest in me because I was so curious about Western people," she says. "I would always follow (the missionaries). They just kind of checked me out and saw how I was." Woo says she was the last Vietnamese child the organization sponsored.


The missionaries brought her to Jackson, where she was adopted and lived with different families as she grew up. "Everybody I met has always been my family," she says. "I was in America—a strange land—with nobody, but now everybody is my family." She is closest to foster family the Caseys, whom she lived with for about four years.


Woo graduated from Murrah High School in 2001. She went to Belhaven University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and political science in 2005. She studied fashion design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and received her master's degree in fine art from Mississippi College in 2013. She married her husband, Dr. Mack Woo, a physician at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, in 2008. The couple has two boys: Samuel, 4, and Matthew, 2.


When she was growing up in the U.S., Woo didn't know many people and learning English as her second language wasn't easy. Embroidery, beadwork and other types of handwork were her escape, though she didn't consider it as a career possibility until after she graduated from Belhaven.


About 10 years after leaving Vietnam, she went home to see her mother. After seeing her making clothes, Woo began missing doing that. Over the next few years, she picked it back up and then stopped, and picked it back up again, though she never stopped sketching and designing.


Her first insight into the world of wedding dress design was when she designed five dresses for her own wedding.


She and her husband bought the building off Old Canton Road, with the intention of it eventually becoming her studio, about three years ago. However, Woo Couture didn't open until fall of 2014.


Though she says she has created her own collections, Woo loves doing custom designs for brides. She does a consultation, and then sketches a few designs. Once the bride picks a design, Woo can spend 50 to 60 hours making a dress, and that time doesn't include beading, embroidery or other detail work. Though she pulls her inspirations from the likes of Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, Woo says her clients are the biggest inspirations.


"I think (the clients) are the ones that design the gown," she says. "I just put it into life." Besides wedding dresses, Woo Couture can do anything from flower girl dresses to mother-of-the-bride dresses.


Woo says her love of wedding-dress design comes from her love of fairytales, and through her designs, she ensures that each bride gets the wedding she wants.


"The wedding is something special and something intimate, and your dress can be the same thing," she says.


"The one thing special about us is that it will fit you."

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07:45 Publié dans wedding | Tags : weddings | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


4 Under-the-Radar Places to Make Your Wedding Album Online

As part of my budget-friendly, non-waitress-salary wedding, I choose to not use a photographer with a package that included an album. If I could go back, would I have made the same decision? Unsure. I've honestly struggled with finding a site to make my own wedding album online and have had some mixed experiences with the company I used (MyPublisher, FYI, and we can talk about that on another day).

There are a lot more sites than I'd expected—I'd only heard of the big guys like Shutterfly and Snapfish. I'm about as laid-back as they come, but I figure that my wedding album is likely to be the only one I really care about, both in terms of how it looks and how it holds up over time. If you're like me and searching for a spot that gets all the factors just right, consider these guys I've just discovered via searching and studying message board comments from that chattiest of group: brides.

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Milk. For minimalists who want something classic, crisp, and devoid of flowery details. The most inexpensive style I see is just $45, which makes this a definition option if you're tight for cash, and the site's beautifully laid out. Get more info here.

Blurb. Likewise, this site is fresh and simple to navigate, and all the books look really clean (a.k.a. there's not a whole bunch of wedding clip art cluttering pages). The most unique feature I've spotted is that you can play with media; the below example is from a baby book, not a wedding, but gives you an idea of how you could incorporate notes, cards, or anything other scrapbook-type of items you saved.

Adoramapix. I read a few enthusiastic reviews for this one, and it's worth checking out, especially if you want a premade layout that's specifically for weddings. If the clean and simple look I referenced above isn't your things, consider this site to get your fill of bright colors and space for quotes or captions. Get more infohere.

BrideBox. If too many options sends you into a tailspin, check out this one. There are three main options and each has an accompanying video to see what the pages look like, how they turn, etc. (um, this is genius). The prices are on the high end of what I've seen, but I like that there's a satisfaction-guaranteed promise, a huge plus if you're shelling out a fair amount of money. Get more info here.

Have any of you guys made your own albums online and found a site or company you loved?

Like I said, I'm easygoing (example: I didn't freak out when my photographer missed our ceremony). Still, I'm just not quite happy with what I have right now. Part of me thinks I'm crazy for wanting to try another site, but part of me also thinks, Hey, you only get one wedding album.

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04:32 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)