Is Your Love On Lock Down? Love After Lock Up Is Now Casting…

Are you interested in sharing your journey? Are you comfortable on camera? I’ve been contacted by the producers of Love After Lock Up to invite you to apply for their casting call.

What are the requirements? Well, you can be a biracial, LBGT, Interfaith or any combination couple to apply. There is no age limit. 

The show is specifically seeking couples who will see parole within the next 6 months. 

How do you apply? They are open to any and all inmates in a relationship with someone on the outside who currently have an outdate within the next 6 months. 

They have no restrictions on who can apply for the show. If the inmates release date falls outside of the next 6 months you are still encouraged to contact them as release date requirements can always change in the future. They are open to anyone located nationwide. 

The email that you will write to is loveafterlockupcasting@gmail.com. 

Please include a photo of you together as well as photos of you separately. Share your story. How did you meet? Were you friends prior to Lock Up? Did you meet as penpals? Did a family member introduce you? Were you visiting a family member and met your loved one during visitation? How long have you known one another? Do you have children? What are your plans for the future? How does your family feel about your relationship? What are the hurdles of loving an inmate? 

Wishing you the best of luck and if you are asked to do a Skype interview, let’s go over a few details. First, you need a place where there is very little noise. Do not go to Starbucks to Skype. Second, do not wear busy patterns. Wear solid colors and try not to wear white or black as these colors wash you out. 

Look your best. Wear makeup or style your hair. Ideally, your computer camera should be directed from your shoulders to the top of your head. 

Using a phone to Skype distorts the quality of the video. If necessary, borrow a computer from a friend or relative. 

Setting up Skype is free. You will need an email address to set up a Skype account. 

Bring a smile, show your personality. Don’t be nervous. If you need to lift the computer to adjust your camera settings, use books.

Check the sound quality on your computer.

Be on time for your Skype call. Five minutes prior to your expected call you should be online and ready to roll. Production companies operate on timelines. If you cannot honor your commitment to be online due to an unforeseen issue, notify the casting directors and reschedule your interview. 

Reschedules, Rain, Backroads & Setbacks? Texas Weather Can Be Unpredictable…

Driving back from Huntsville this week, rain continued to fall. In Fort Worth though it was a bright sunshine filled day. This morning while planning my drive to TDCJ Cleveland Unit, a Reschedule was warranted due to flooding and road closures. 

The amount of time I spend driving to and from Units in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri often surprises people. I easily drive up to 4K miles a week Tuesday through Friday to Texas Prisons. 

My ongoing arguments with “Navigation Lady” are why when I have my copilot, partner and twin sister riding with me that we use “dueling navigation.” 

A few days ago, as usual, Navigation Lady had me on a dirt road for miles. I have rubber floor mats in all of my SUVs solely because getting stuck in the mud or dirt is a high probability. 

Thankfully, this week, I didn’t need to strip my floors and use the floor mats to gain traction out of another “stuck in the road” incident. Navigation Lady and I continue to go around and around with each other. Ugh. From herds of goats to buzzards and rocks breaking my windshield to deer running out in front of me, I’ve become a road warrior running to Prisons. Cindy has too. 

I’m always asked “are you ever afraid driving alone?” The answer is no. 

The only time in all of these years that I was intimidated about driving to a Unit was during an ice storm. Ironically, I had decided to take a Greyhound bus thinking it would be a safe option. Due to inclement weather, the Greyhound station in Wichita Falls was closed when I finally arrived. My client along with her mother and soon to be mother in law were at the station to pick me up and drive me to Allred Unit. 

Wondering how I would get home, my new friends gave me a ride back to Greyhound in Fort Worth. We had an amazing day together and enjoyed lunch along the way. Yes, my clients are resilient, resourceful and far more than just “clients.” They are mothers and fathers. They are sisters and brothers. On that icy day in February, my bride and both of her moms were also MY HEROES. The mother in law driving wasn’t the least bit intimidated about icy roads either. We laughed and laughed about my first time “hitchin a ride.”

Last year after hitting a deer, I hitched another ride to Michael Unit. Will I do anything to get to a Unit Wedding? Absolutely. But, if road closures prevent you or I from getting to the Unit, it’s best to reschedule. 

Please be aware that many TDCJ Units in the Beaumont, Houston and surrounding areas including Huntsville are experiencing phone problems. 

At this point, there have been no TDCJ evacuations from Units due to flooding. TDCJ regularly posts updates regarding safety and security measures and you can follow them on FB as well as Twitter.

Regarding Hurricanes in Texas… 

In responding to federal emergency response doctrine and, specifically, the National Response Framework (NRF), the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan (State Plan) takes into account the needs of the whole community of citizens likely to be affected by an incident or event that requires a state-level coordinated response.

The State Plan complies with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5) “Management of Domestic Incidents” and Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) “National Preparedness,” the “National Preparedness Goal,” and Texas Executive Order RP40, which mandates the adoption of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the “declared State standard for incident management.”

The State Plan is composed of a Basic Plan, functional annexes, and hazard annexes. 
The State Plan responds to Texas Government Code, Section 418.042, which directs the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to “prepare and keep current a comprehensive state emergency plan.” The plan outlines the “coordination of federal, state, and local emergency management activities.”

Further, this annex sets forth cross-agency coordination responsibilities as agreed to by Emergency Management Council (EMC) agency representatives in response to their mandate, Texas Government Code, Section 418.013, to “assist the division [TDEM] in identifying, mobilizing, and deploying state resources to respond to major emergencies and disasters throughout the state.” 

The State Plan is designed to integrate with other state agency or entity plans and annexes when they are included as subordinate appendices or attachments to the State Plan.

Reschedules due to inclement weather… it’s rare to reschedule a wedding due to weather but it can and does occur. I was due at Cleveland Unit today and due to flooding, we are rescheduling. If we can’t get there, we can’t get you married. 

Reschedules are relatively easy the first time. Two reschedules though can get tricky. Why? Because at two reschedules, the Unit can require us to file a new I60.  

With winter right around the corner and the possibility of icy roads, it’s essential to keep an eye on the weather when planning to travel to the Unit. 

In the event that inclement weather prevents either you or I or us both from making it safely to the Unit, it’s in our best interest to reschedule although I know it’s a setback and you’ve been anxiously looking forward to wedding day. 

I’m mailing out this weeks bridal and groom photos and filing licenses for counties outside of Tarrant, Dallas and Parker via certified priority mail and looking forward to finally getting to Cleveland Unit soon to meet my bride. 

Stay safe and check the weather prior to driving to visits this weekend. Many phone lines have also been affected by the rain. Goree was having phone problems Wednesday as were other Huntsville Units. If you haven’t heard from your loved one, it may be due to the weather affecting the phone lines.

A few Units are short staffed due to the weather affecting employees ability to get to work.

Please call Units and check before driving to the Unit and double check your route for road closures this weekend.

Cindy and I are “all over Texas and Louisiana” in the next two weeks and look forward to meeting all of you very soon. 

Leigh Ann is finally moving into permanent housing from San Diego to Point Mugu, CA next week and looking forward to meeting our California Prison Clients in the coming months.

Cindy and I will be in California several times in the next few months at destination events as well as inmate weddings and as always look forward to returning to our home state. 

Wishing congrats to all of our clients this week and thankful I had time to grab a bite of lunch with my Goree Unit bride, Stephanie this week. If you need a mobile notary, Stephanie is your “go to gal.”I’ve had several inquiries regarding transportation to Units. In the Houston area, AM Transportation can help you. In the Dallas area, my Ellis Unit Client, Naquitua can assist you. 

Regarding Vow Renewals and scheduling of previous clients for rebookings.. please contact me ASAP to confirm availability. We are as excited as you are to celebrate your milestone and can’t wait to see you again! 

TDCJ Jordan Unit Or Bust. Travels Of A Texas Twin. Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham…

Months ago, Ashley had contacted me to marry her at Roach Unit. In July, we were finally on schedule. My client was uncomfortable driving in downtown Fort Worth. Her first visit to the clerks office, her grandfather drove her and I met her. 

Ashleys grandfather is an amazing man. He’s taken on caring for Ashley and her son as well as her cousin living under his roof while caring for his wife suffering with Alzheimer’s. I worry about the stress he has. Meeting him in person, he’s far more resilient than I had expected. A former Marine and retiree of Lockheed Martin, his wife is a retired schoolteacher. Ashley’s grandfather has a full plate. 

Sadly, for Ashley, the Absentee Affidavit had not been Notarized by the notary at the law library. Getting Ashley married wasn’t going to be easy but, I am not one to give up easily. 

From the clerks office and my first in person meeting with Ashley, I contacted the Unit. I also mailed a new Affidavit to the Unit and assured Ashley that I was going to get her a new Affidavit. Ashley left the courthouse crying and concerned. Ashley and I would stay in contact over the next few months on a wild ride of “following the groom.”

A few weeks later, Ashley called to tell me she had a new Affidavit and needed me to drive her back to the clerks office. I drove to Richland Hills and picked her up stopping for a quick lunch in Watauga. 

Once we were at the clerks office, another fiasco would ensue. I’m glad Ashley wasn’t alone at the clerks office that day “waiting for the next shoe to fall” on her wedding plans.

This time, the ID was invalid. I had Ashley call the law library to request the proper TDCJ form of Inmate ID only to learn that the inmate had been “put on a chain.” Glenn was no longer at Roach Unit and Ashley obviously wasn’t going to be marrying him 48 hours later. 

Devastated yet again and confused as to why getting married was becoming so difficult, Ashley had encountered setback after setback. 

A few weeks ago while at another Unit, Ashley sent me a photo of her marriage license. She had finally obtained it with the help from the law librarian at Jordan Unit. I contacted the Unit and scheduled her wedding for 1PM on 09-17-2019. Ashley asked if she could ride with me and we set up plans to leave my home office at 7AM yesterday. 

At 6AM, Ashley sent me a text “I know I’m early but I didn’t want to get lost. I’m a few blocks from your house.” I sent a text back that read “let’s leave early. Meet me in the driveway.” 

My navigation on google was (as usual) running me in circles. I’d never been to Jordan Unit so I had Ashley load the directions into her phone. Past Bridgeport and Allred Unit and even Roach Unit, I drove on. The drive to Jordan much like my drives to Garza Units, McConnell, Stiles, Darrington and other five hour plus one way jaunts can be exhausting. I spent easily 12-15 hours on the road.

Arriving at 12:30PM at Jordan, I checked in with my husband and grabbed Ashley’s marriage license. She was finally going to get married. The glass was a possibility wwe were both aware of but separation is up to the Warden and neither I or Ashley knew for sure if Glenn would be behind glass. 

I checked in with the wardens secretary and waited on a bench with Ashley. The visitation area was bustling with activity. We would wait an hour and a half for the room to finally be announced “clean” before clearing in and escorting into the area.

Jordan Unit has no machine walk through. It’s the only Texas Unit I’ve been inside that doesn’t. The warden advised us that the wedding would be behind glass which dissapointed my client.

Walking up to the phones, I noticed that Glenn had a black eye. I then noticed his infected finger and assumed it was a spider bite. Ashley noticed that Glenn had lost weight. Glenn cannot call Ashley due to a charge. Glenn suffers from seizures. But the black eye was due to his “roomie” punching him over a tattoo gun being found in their cell. Glenn went in as a G1. While in El Paso, Glenn had apparently taken a pill from another inmate for a headache at Sanchez Unit and caught a charge that moved his status from a G1 to a G4. At Jordan Unit, the tattoo gun netted Glenn the black eye and segregation. Glenn is 23 years old. Glenn is in prison for missing his check in on probation. 

Moving through the ceremony via two phones, Glenn and Ashley like anyone else had hoped for a contact visit. But, Prison Weddings follow protocol. 

Ashley and Glenn share a seven year old son. Ashley lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather had taken her son to school yesterday. We pose for photos. I pay for the photos. I borrow a pen to sign the license. I then give Ashley and Glenn a few moments to visit while waiting on the photos to print.Back in my suv, finding gas station near this Unit is a hurdle. Generally, finding a station near a Unit isn’t.

Jordan Unit is literally in the middle of nowhere. I finally locate a broken down gas station in dire need of fresh paint with farmers in overalls being the only customers. Relieved that I didn’t run out of gas, I also buy Ashley chips and a drink before heading to Fort Worth. 

Just outside of Childress, I see a building for a few bridal photos. I pull over and unload items for Ashley. She is thrilled the wedding is finally over. I am too.Ashley sleeps as I drive on several hours while taking calls for Smith, Wallace-Ware, Darrington, Stiles and Coffield. 

It’s 4:45AM when I began writing this blog. I worry about Glenn in segregation. I worry about Ashley, their son and their future together.

I’m in Huntsville today at numerous Units meeting numerous clients excited about getting married. I leave at 6AM to start my day…

It takes HEART not STRENGTH to lift a LOVED ONE back up when they are DOWN…

Loving an inmate requires dedication and perseverance. It’s not an easy path for any of my clients. But, love is stronger than than most people realize. 

Yesterday, a stranger called me who had been following my blogs for years. This person had decided to finally “reach out” in order to point blank ask me “how I became so compassionate towards others?” 

It’s confusing to others how I became the person I am today but, I’m open minded and determined, passionate and perseverant because I haven’t had an easy life. If I had, I might have been a different person but, a hard path didn’t define me or my sister. A difficult childhood empowered us both with strength, courage, tenacity and resilience. 

The truth is that throughout my childhood, Cindy and I as well as our stepsister had very little attention and much less compassion from those who were supposed to love and protect us. Our mother was a heroin addict. Our mother also sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin. 

Cindy and I were 6 years old and at our grandparents house alone with our grandfather while our grandmother and other family members were at another house planning a birthday party for my twin sister and I. Neither of us will ever forget this particular 6th birthday.

Why? Because my grandfather had played the tape recorded conversation with our mother (as he often would over the years) to remind us that no one wanted us before sexually assaulting us. I would stop speaking on my 6th birthday. I would for many years have difficulty speaking. 

People say “children learn what they live.” This is bullshit. Children can and do learn to break the chains. Cindy and I did. We both hate drugs. We both went to great lengths to protect our children and grandchildren from ever being hurt in the same way we had as children ourselves. We were never taught compassion by example. 

Instead, we learned to be compassionate regarding others because we knew lack of compassion by the examples of people who were supposed to love and protect us failing to do so throughout our childhoods. Cindy and I left home at 15. We never looked back. Instead, we looked forward.

Last Friday, my twin sister, Cindy was hospitalized with chest pain. After 16 years of the “carnival of chaos” Cindy’s youngest daughter, Stephaney has pulled us back on over and over again, the end result is that my sister has hypertension. Stephaney is a meth addict. 

Someone told me last year “don’t hate the addict. Hate the drug.” I’m assuming they must have been an addict because I know damn well that anyone who loves an addict would never say anything this stupid to someone who was yet again “Trying To Save Stephaney ONE MORE TIME.” 

The number of times I’ve told my niece “this is the last time” would astound you. The lengths Cindy and I have gone to in order to put her daughter on the right path would amaze you. We absolutely refused to give up. We can no longer go on. Yesterday was Stephaney’s last chance. I fear if she doesn’t choose to change, her choices will destroy our family once and for all. 

My niece and her choices have hurt my own health as well as my sisters. Stephaney’s choices have affected her twin daughters mental health and self esteem. Stephaney is self destructive. Stephaney has consistently backtracked. 

Last weekend after three months of sobriety, Stephaney backtracked again. Sunday, I was in the hospital with chest pain regarding Stephaney’s latest relapse. My sister and I as well as Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna were all (yet again) devastated. 

Yesterday, Stephaney was released from her 18th visit to JPS due to drug induced psychosis. My son had driven my niece to JPS while Cindy was in the ER with me. My daughter in law and son also took over my bookings last Sunday. I’m terrified that Stephaney’s choices will eventually kill my sister or myself. 

I drove my niece to rehab yesterday. I cried as she cried. I mourned the years she had lost with our family. I feared and continue to fear the future of my sisters health issues that Stephaney’s choices have burdened her loved ones with. How do you change an addict? How do you save them? 

People have asked “how did your mom stop being an addict?” She didn’t. High as a kite, a Los Angeles transit bus collided with my mother’s car. The “accident” took 60% of my mother’s cognitive ability and one of her eyes. 

In essence, my mother “forgot” that she was a heroin addict. I pray my niece decides to stop being an addict and chooses to be a part of our family instead….

The Sticky CLM Issue That Can & Will Stop Your Prison Wedding Planning Process…

Last night while texting back to a client I was asked “can a Warden deny the I60?” The answer is yes. But, there must be a valid reason for a Denial. Wardens don’t simply “just say no.”

Let’s go over the primary reason for a Denial. The old CLM issue that most inmates claim “they forgot about.” TDCJ didn’t forget. In fact, whether the inmate went into the system claiming a CLM Status off the bat or years later, filed a CLM Affidavit in order to obtain contact visits, inmate records forwarded this information to the Courts in Huntsville. 

Meaning… based on the CLM Affidavit, the inmate was granted contact visits. Let me clarify for my spies and trolls that a contact visit IS NOT a conjugal visit. A contact visit means there is no glass separating the inmate from the other person. Texas does not allow conjugal visits. 

Last nights client had a fairly unique situation that I’ve yet to encounter and because it’s difficult to surprise me, we will dive in to why TDCJ doesn’t throw away a CLM status EVEN when the inmate is no longer incarcerated. She had filed a CLM Affidavit with another inmate years ago. Because the other inmate had been released, she also assumed that her current fiancées I60 would be Approved if he wasn’t listed as CLM to someone other than her. Yes, this is a Two Fer. The inmate she’s trying to marry is also listed as CLM to someone other than her. Stay tuned. 

In order to abolish the CLM status, a Dissolution Agreement must be notarized and forwarded to inmate records from the law library by the currently incarcerated inmate. On the outside, a Dissolution Agreement must be notarized and sent to Huntsville to quash the record listing the other party as being CLM or Common Law Married to an inmate although the inmate is no longer in the system. 

Before everyone else reading this who happens to have encountered the same problem starts contacting me to send them my Dissolution Agreement, I’m not in the business of solving strangers problems. I provide Dissolution Agreements to MY CLIENTS as a courtesy. 

Certain Units May also require a Texas Marriage or Divorce Verification Sheet. How do you get one? Here’s the link– Texas Vital Statistics Marriage And Divorce Verification.

Rather than argue with strangers regarding the legality of a CLM Affidavit “outside of the system,” I will use this opportunity to educate and enlighten a few people that assume or believe that Common Law Marriage in Texas is “easy to prove.” It isn’t. The Informal Marriage Affidavit exists BECAUSE it isn’t easy to prove Common Law Marriage. 

For all of the numskulls out there contacting me to tell me “you have to get a divorce if you are CLM,” I’ve got a news flash for you, if a legal marriage cannot be proven, a divorce cannot be filed. The REQUIREMENT of an Informal Marriage in Texas is that BOTH Parties are PRESENT to file an Informal Marriage Affidavit. If one person is in prison, obviously they aren’t filing a CLM Affidavit in person.

DECLARATION AND REGISTRATION OF AN INFORMAL MARRIAGE (COMMON LAW)

An informal marriage license can be obtained and recorded by a couple who agree to be married, and after the agreement, they lived together in this state as a couple and represented to others that they were married.

Both parties must be present. An absentee affidavit cannot be used for an informal marriage license.

A person under 18 years of age may not obtain an informal marriage license.

A person may not obtain an informal marriage license if presently married to someone else.

The fee is $36 cash, Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover. 

Now… for everyone wondering how in the heck Informal Marriage Affidavits wound up in Texas Prisons, the widespread misuse of these Affidavits were meant to validate or at the very least verify that the inmate had a relationship other than friendship with the other party. No one likes the glass. No one likes the phones that rarely work and inmates wanted contact visits. In fact, most inmates described this document as a “piece of paper” to the person they wanted to sign it. 

Most of my clients have no idea that the inmate ever filed a CLM with someone other than themselves UNTIL they try going through the Prison Wedding Planning Process. Why? Because the I60 is DENIED based on the inmates status OR the client had signed a CLM Affidavit with another inmate in order to obtain contact visits and didn’t tell the inmate they are attempting to marry because they never assumed that it would come up. 

The CLM Sucker Punch… CLM Affidavits don’t go away on their own. If you have EVER filed a CLM Affidavit, TDCJ has kept it on file. Rather than screaming and crying, calm down. Call me. We will work through undoing the CLM Status. 

For everyone else contacting me to tell me “we are legally married. It’s easy to prove Common Law Marriage in Texas,” I hope you never need to test your theory in probate court. My father lived with Gretta for six years. My father and Gretta filed joint tax returns, shared checking accounts and lived as husband and wife but THEY NEVER FILED AN INFORMAL MARRIAGE AFFIDAVIT TOGETHER. Because they hadn’t, even with a will, my father never won or much less proved Common Law Marriage. 

These Affidavits when filed together by both parties in the clerks office ARE LEGALLY BINDING AND REQUIRE A DIVORCE BOTH IN AND OUTSIDE OF TEXAS. 

The primary difference between Informal and Formal Marriage in Texas is that a Formal Marriage REQUIRES AN OFFICIANT AND CEREMONY. An Informal Marriage Affidavit “skips” the ceremony AND Officiant requirements.

Regarding Married versus Common Law Married Status within TDCJ. These are two different things. Outside of TDCJ, there are two types of marriage licenses. One is an Informal Marriage Affidavit. This must be be filed at the clerks office by both parties to be a legally binding marriage. The main variation of the Informal Marriage License versus the Formal Marriage License is that the cost is less, there is no Officiant and there is no ceremony. 
A Formal Marriage requires a Formal Marriage License, Officiant and both parties present as well as a wedding ceremony taking place. 
The widespread misuse of the Informal Marriage Affidavit fo obtain contact visits within TDCJ is due in part to the ease of which inmates can file this document. 
Many of my clients have no idea a CLM status even exists UNTIL they attempt to marry an inmate and are denied due to a pre existing CLM status with someone other than themselves. Undoing a CLM status is and can be a hurdle. 
Although outside of TDCJ, the Informal Marriage Affidavit is invalid because it wasn’t filed at the clerks office by both parties, TDCJ will make removing the other party a real hassle by insisting on a divorce for a marriage that wasn’t legal. 
If the Informal Marriage wasn’t filed and recorded AT A COUNTY CLERKS OFFICE you cannot file a divorce regarding the union. A legal marriage must exist to file a legal divorce. 
Inmates gain the CLM classification two ways. Either they went into the system proclaiming to be Common Law Married and DID NOT sign a CLM Affidavit or after being in the system, they had their girlfriend sign one proclaiming to consider themselves Common Law Married. This changes the inmates status from Single to CLM. But only within TDCJ. 
Outside of TDCJ, the other party can easily legally marry someone else “on the outside” while the inmate cannot marry anyone else “on the outside” due to the status. Why? Because the Informal Marriage Affidavit WAS NOT FILED IN PERSON BY BOTH PARTIES at the clerks office. This allows the person on the outside to marry anyone not within TDCJ. After release, an inmate can also marry anyone they choose to. However, while incarcerated, that TDCJ CLM status is going to prevent anyone on the outside from marrying an inmate on the inside from anyone other than the party listed as being his or hers Common Law Partner within TDCJ. 
I’ve had many strangers attempt to argue the point as to a CLM affidavit filed within TDCJ “being a legally binding marriage.” Listen, I’ve spent years in courtrooms. YEARS. Prior to Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures, The Pawning Planners and TDCJ Officiant, I owned Defending Debt Lawsuits and sold it to start Texas Twins Events. Don’t attempt to argue law with me. Educate yourself. Buy a family law book for this state. Understand and comprehend marriage law. Study TDCJ policy and procedure. Comprehend the Administrative Directive but don’t attempt to convince me that you know more about marriage law than I do. You don’t. 
You cannot BE living as husband and wife when one of you is incarcerated. Think about it. Living together is a requirement of proclaiming to be CLM. Many of these CLM Affidavits filed by inmates are filed AFTER being incarcerated. How on earth are they living with another party while they are living at a prison? Short answer? They aren’t. They wanted contact visits and realized that by filing a CLM Affidavit with TDCJ they could obtain contact visits. 
Proving a Common Law Marriage is far more difficult than uninformed people believe the process to be OUTSIDE of TDCJ. Why do you think the Informal Marriage Affidavit process and option exist in the first place? You know, if it was “so easy to prove to be Common Law Married.” It isn’t. 
How do you know if your inmate is listed as CLM to someone other than you? You could ask. Or, you could plan your prison wedding and stumble upon this information yourself. It’s devastating I can assure you to be thrown a curve ball that you didn’t see coming. 
The easiest way to undo a CLM status between the inmate and someone else is to have both of them sign and notarize a Dissolution Agreement. What if you don’t know who the other person is? How to contact them? You can try to dissolve the status by having the inmate file a Dissolution Agreement but some Units refuse to notarize this document and suggest the inmate file an Unsworn Declaration instead. Others demand a divorce for a marriage that never occurred. It is a problem. It’s a problem that you will need to overcome prior to being granted permission to marry an inmate. 
What if you the person on the outside signed a CLM Affidavit with another inmate in the TDCJ system and now are trying to marry another inmate? Same scenario. Even if the initial inmate you signed the affidavit with is NO LONGER INCARCERATED, TDCJ records will reflect that you are CLM and therefore not entitled to marry another inmate. 
This widespread misuse of CLM Affidavits is an ongoing problem in Texas. However, outside of TDCJ, these “marriages” are not legally binding and do not prevent anyone being listed as CLM to an inmate from marrying someone not within TDCJ. 
Unraveling this ball of yarn requires patience and dedication. On the side of the inmate, it also requires honesty. Let’s review why they had someone sign that CLM Affidavit to begin with. Contact visits. “It’s just a piece of paper.” It isn’t. TDCJ allowed contact visits based on the Affidavit. 
Now, let’s address this “elephant in the room” with a few Units who denied an I60 Request For Inmate Marriage to couples who were listed as CLM to the same person they were trying to legally marry… back before the Administrative Directive pertaining to inmate marriage was changed to allow inmate marriages, the pre existing status of being CLM blocked a legal marriage. The new Administrative Directive allowed a legal marriage to occur within TDCJ with the SAME parties listed as CLM. My clients contacted me and explained the problem. I involved the Courts and overcame the problem. The Courts like me know the policy and procedure. They are your friends whether you realize it or not when planning your Prison Wedding. 
Knowledge and experience are how and why I overcome hurdles. I have successfully married clients who were previously CLM to each other then later denied the ability to legally marry. That’s right. Over and over again too. A Denial isn’t final but it is the beginning of a process to obtain permission to marry. I have also successfully married couples who unwittingly encountered the “sticky CLM issue” of the inmate being listed as Common Law Married to someone other than them. It took months but… we unraveled the status and finally got them married. 
A CLM status to anyone other than you is frustrating, infuriating and surprising. No one expects it. For inmates who claim that they “can’t remember” either filing this status when going in or signing an affidavit after being incarcerated, I can assure you that they do remember because they gained contact visits by doing so. Honesty is the best policy here. After all, marriage is a merger and marriage must be based on trust. Inmates DO REMEMBER having the ability to hand a contact visit. Ask any inmate how difficult obtaining contact visits is and you will quickly understand why this widespread abuse of CLM Affidavits actually exists to begin with. 
I have “other Officiants” contact me frequently because they have no idea how to solve their clients unexpected problems. It’s not my job to educate them however and I’m rather busy addressing clients from five businesses and venues I’m on staff with. Learning policy and procedure within every state I conduct marriages didn’t happen overnight. Knowing marriage law and understanding prison policy is the one thing that every prison wedding Officiant should know but they don’t. This isn’t a job that only requires you to show up. This is a job that requires you to be educated and informed. This is a job that warrants your time and attention to walk your client through a very confusing and frustrating process. This is a job that requires dedication and experience. I don’t have the time to train others on how to perform their job functions. If you have hired someone who shrugs their shoulders when you encounter a problem, you hired the wrong person. 
For those of you wondering if either you or the inmate are listed as CLM to anyone other than each other, you can contact inmate records and ask or contact the Courts in Huntsville. 
For those of you who believe “proving Common Law Marriage is easy” I hope you never have to stand before a probate judge and attempt to find out how difficult what you believed to be easy is. It isn’t. Informal Marriage Affidavits exist to prove a legal marriage occurred. They also require both parties present at the clerks office. Skipping any part of this requirement does not create a legally binding marriage I can assure you. Filing a CLM Affidavit with TDCJ creates a status but that status is limited to TDCJ and not recognized as legally binding outside of TDCJ. 
For those of you still believing that by signing a CLM Affidavit within TDCJ “created a legally binding marriage,” I’m including the Texas Marriage Verification link for you to check your “legally binding Common Law Marriage Status” yourself because I have neither the time or the patience to argue with someone who isn’t my client and who believes they know or much less understand family law or marriage law contacting me with uninformed information. 
If you believe you are legally married, don’t contact me, verify it yourself. I’m busy addressing my clients and their needs and have no time to debate with uninformed strangers… 

“SOME people WANT to TIE you DOWN, and EXPECT you, to PAY for the ROPE”

For over a year now, I’ve had surprise emails, texts and phone calls regarding “a date at a Unit for a wedding” with people who are trying to tie me down and expecting me to provide the rope. For “anyone out there” shocked about the blatant honesty of the “rope statement,” it should be noted that this isn’t my first rodeo. 

“WE don’t have a date if you didn’t bother to check my schedule before argreeing to a date offered to you by the Unit Chaplain.” 

Scheduling of Texas Prison Weddings generally occurs 10-14 days prior to the event. Nearly ALL Texas Units use Tuesday and Thursday as their primary dates. Whether it’s the first and fourth Thursday or second and third Tuesday, you should realize that over 100 Units in Texas use the same or similar dates. 

Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are prime time booking dates. PLEASE contact me to validate availability before emailing or texting me “WE have a date.” 

You were given a date and you assumed my availability. There is a difference. There is also a possibility that I’m already scheduled  hours away at ANOTHER UNIT ON THE SAME DAY. Communication is key and subsequently essential to my schedule.

When Cindy and I started Texas Twins Events, our goal was to give others the Dream Event that Cindy and I had never had. We wanted to create affordable options and we have. 

We have NEVER ADVERTISED. EVER. Our businesses were built on dedication and referrals from happy clients. 

Texas Twins Events was the FIRST people over profit based endeavor in the events industry. My idea to help the people no one else in this industry wanted to help have a Dream Event was based entirely on personal experience. How so? Neither Cindy or I could afford the flowers, cakes, vendors and other “fun stuff” for our own weddings years ago. My Officiant charged $450 for the wedding ceremony alone. Fees for Officiants should be affordable. 

Cindy and I both knew that affordable options were non existent. We also set out to change that. Not everyone has parents to foot the bill and we didn’t either. We became the people we had never met in an industry where prior to Texas Twins Events, the “Average Joe” had previously been forced to marry at the JP due entirely to lack of finances. 

After starting Texas Twins Events, the Average Joe called the Texas Twins instead. 

We helped anyone. We welcomed anyone and we did it at prices people could afford. There’s a reason for our success in the event business and the reason is that NOT EVERYONE has tens of thousands of dollars to throw at a Life Event. 

The majority of consumers live paycheck to paycheck. Many don’t even own a credit card. A few folks coming to us had no money at all. How could we help anyone? Even folks with no money? The Texas Twins yet again found a solution. 

Six years ago, Cindy and I merged Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to CREATE a barter option, The Pawning Planners. AGAIN, this was a FIRST.

Cindy and I are PIONEERS in the events industry. “We had effectively created a window than no one else in this industry realized existed. Cindy and I came from poverty. We knew we weren’t alone. We recognized that others had limited incomes. We fought to find a solution for them that we never found for ourselves when planning our own weddings years ago. We pitched our tents and welcomed anyone from any background.” 

I will never forget a production company executive in LA telling me “you girls are great! You have huge personalities and I love the Prison wedding angle BUT no one is really interested in helping poor people and prison weddings are controversial.” 

Hmm. Controversial. He called us. He then told us that our journey, our clients and our story weren’t “jazzy enough.” Save the fabricated storylines and frankenbiting. We don’t NEED a show. Production companies contact us frequently and have for years. The problem? Their idea and our reality are completely different. Also, unless it’s a docureality format, we have no interest. Controversial? To who? Scripted “reality TV” is controversial and it’s also not real. A group of writers sitting around a table came up with characters and personalities and then found people willing to fit their mold. I can assure you that Cindy and I are not going to fit into anyone’s mold or fabricated concept. My twin is loud, unfiltered and hilarious. She is a comedian. I’m not. I’m quiet, reflective, and organized. We are Compensating Personality Twins. Two halves literally make a whole. 

I’ve worked as a commercial and print actress but if you want me to act don’t expect me to read a script regarding my businesses or my life. There isn’t a script for a day in the life of the Texas Twins. People are unpredictable. We’ve met thousands of people over the years and can assure you that scripting their story would be impossible. 

It is tough to surprise me anymore and yet it continues to happen from production companies. “Wendy I’m casting a prison based show and need to find the talent.” Wait. What? You want me to do your job for you?! “Wendy you and Cindy would be great for TV. We need you to do over the top events though.” Really? No thanks. 

Did we realize that there were so many others out there seeking affordable options? No. But, we knew there had to be at least a few people. In fact, there were thousands. We are now national regarding inmate weddings.

Nearly three years ago, we AGAIN rebranded and expanded to offer Prison wedding services. No one including my husband or even my twin sister or even I could have guessed that inmate Officiant services would become our primary booking source? 

Prison weddings NOW compromise 85-90% of all Texas Twins Events bookings in numerous states. Upon release, previous Prison wedding clients rebook Vow Renewal Ceremonies. Repeat bookings Wendy? Absolutely! 

“Traditional” Event bookings literally became the minority rather than the majority of our bookings. We prefer real people. We prefer amazing love stories. We don’t need fluff or “over the top drama driven Divas.” THEY BELONG ON TV. Going nuts over minor details? Check. From bouncing checks to bawdy demands, if we never booked another “big event” Cindy and I wouldn’t miss it one bit. We have been there and done that for years with “affluent folks” who want it all but never want to pay for it. I turn down “traditional bookings and inquiries” on a regular basis. Daily, weekly, monthly. I no longer work as a planner for an Officiants pay either. Rich folks often “thought my entire staff came at the price of an Officiant fee.” Give me an Average Joe any day of the week! At least they are reasonable AND pay their fees. I’ve never had so much trouble getting paid as I have with “over the top” bookings. EVER. These clients are the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered. How so? I could go on and on here. After all, for years prior to prison weddings, someone would book for an Officiant then add on two photographers, set up and tear down and then balk when I issued a new contract AND a new bid. One “client” even handed my twin sister and apron to serve food? I can’t make this shit up. You don’t hire a singer and get a band. I turned my back to the choir of people contacting me and CHOSE to focus on the congregation of people who were worthy of working with instead. WHAT A RELIEF. Clients don’t interview Cindy and I anymore. We interview THEM. 

Prison Wedding Scheduling has become incredibly complicated due to a number of people putting either my name, Leigh Ann’s name or Cindy’s name on Texas I60 Request for Inmate Marriage Forms WITHOUT  retaining our services. This is a very real issue. 

UNLESS you have followed our booking process YOU are NOT a client. I refuse to advertise in order to limit bookings because we are already juggling too many booked clients and addressing new inquiries on a daily basis. 

I limit and cut off new bookings mid month every month to keep flexibility in Texas. Why? Because each Unit has only 2 days per month for a wedding ceremony available. 

Last night while walking to my gate with Cindy to return to Texas from New York, a text from Gary regarding being scheduled on September 24th came through. I was already scheduled at Ellis on the same day.

I emailed Ellis Unit to move the date and accommodate Crain Unit and Gary at 2PM. 

This morning, Gary sent another text that read “they’ve moved us up to September 10th @2PM.” What the? 

 ALARMED– I sent a text back that read “I am at 3 Units in Tennessee Colony on September 10th and confirmed these weddings with the Unit! I CANNOT MOVE CONFIRMED DATES. Tennessee Colony is three hours from Gatesville. I cannot be in Tennessee Colony and Gatesville at the same time. 

Gary sent a text that read “well that’s the date the Chaplain gave.” I called Crain. The inmate had moved the date NOT the Chaplain. I advised the Chaplain that I was already scheduled at Tennessee Colony Units and had been for weeks. Therefore, I could not and would not be at Crain when I was on schedule at Beto and Michael. 

Attention TDCJ Clients… The I60 leaves the law library to inmate records. It then leaves inmate records to Huntsville. It then leaves Huntsville to the Unit Warden. It then leaves the Warden to the Chaplain to schedule. You MUST contact me to check availability on the dates. No exceptions!

I then called Gary again to advise him that the inmate and not the Chaplain had moved the date AND I’m going to use this example with Gary to educate anyone else assuming they know my schedule that they don’t. 

Without a TDCJ Approved Officiant on site- I can assure you that your wedding WILL NOT take place. 

If an inmate isn’t having my client contact me FIRST to check my SCHEDULE you have CHOICES. First, I will refund you and wish you well if you want or expect me to cancel an EXISTING and confirmed date in order to accommodate your own. 

Secondly, if you have not paid your deposit, your date will not be confirmed. If I am unavailable because you assumed that you “knew my schedule better than I do,”  you will need to file a new I60 with Cindy as your Officiant. I cannot be in two places AT THE SAME time.

Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Clients PLEASE CONTACT ME PRIOR to choosing a date. I cannot stress this enough. Get THREE POSSIBLE DATES then call me to check availability. 

I’m juggling up to 20 Texas clients each and every month. Texas unlike my other states only has 2 available days for each unit each month. Many of these dates are the same dates as other units. 

Whether it’s every other Tuesday or Thursday which are primary booking dates or another day of the week, I can assure you that I will not move a confirmed date at ANY UNIT to accommodate you because you failed to check your day with me first. 

If Cindy and I are BOTH BOOKED at existing Units in Texas and unavailable, Leigh Ann can  fly to Texas for your TDCJ wedding but be advised that booking with Leigh Ann will incur additional travel fees. 

STOP CONTACTING me saying “we have a date” without validating the date with me first. I hate surprises. 

If you fail to contact me and check availability of or if you listed my name on an I60 without bothering to follow booking procedures, I will be forced to contact the Unit myself and cancel the date if you haven’t followed my REQUIREMENT for booking procedures and paid your deposit. 

If you are a booked client and HAVE followed my REQUIRED booking procedures, the date that “you assumed that I had available in Texas on my books” MAY or MAY NOT be available on my calendar. ASK before agreeing to a date. If you don’t run a date by me first, you are running the risk of a forced reschedule. You are doing so at your own risk. Call me. Text me. Email me. Whatever you do communicate with me.

We can easily alleviate scheduling conflicts by CONTACTING ME FIRST. GET MORE THAN ONE DATE OPTION and if you aren’t a booked client, STOP using my name and credentials to obtain a date behind my back and assume I will show up. I won’t. 

What I will do though  is contact the Unit and explain why and how you were Approved by pulling my name off the internet. Nearly ALL TDCJ Units NOW REQUIRE verification from me due to the consistent misuse of my credentials from strangers who are NOT clients pulling my name off the internet. 

“We are different. We are passionate. We are dedicated. People forget words and remember actions. We are versatile. We are open minded. We are also remembered for our dedication.”

Today’s blog will outline why I insist on my booking policies being followed. I live on timelines and deadlines. Cindy does too? A free day? We haven’t had one in years.

I assume a great deal of risk each and every time I leave my location. I could be in a car accident, my windshield could be broken, my car could break down in the middle of nowhere. If I’m taking on all of the responsibilities of getting to your Unit, you must be taking on the responsibility of booking me first. 

Who goes to Walmart and leaves with bags without paying? You don’t fill up your tank without paying for gas. No one in the Prison wedding industry drives 10-18 hours a day to provide a service without compensation. If there is an Approved, Certified or Accredited “volunteer” Prison Officiant out there, I’m wholly and entirely unaware of them. 

The Unit Chaplain cannot and will not conduct a ceremony in Texas or many other states. Obtaining an Officiant is a requirement for your Prison wedding. 

Last week, I reviewed yet another email that ludicrously stated “I just need you to conduct my ceremony. It won’t take more than 30 minutes.” Let’s review this. The Unit is hours from my location. HOURS. I cannot snap my fingers and arrive on site. I spend $1000 every 9 months on tires alone. 

I don’t risk a flat or blow out on the road. My vehicle is an investment. Without it, I obviously cannot be where I need to be. I don’t skimp on necessary components of my job description. 

The time “inside a Unit” is entirely up in the air. We don’t rush the Unit. We wait. We could wait up to 3 hours at ONE UNIT and I have. “Thirty minutes” minimizes what is required of me to such great lengths that  each and every time I see this statement, I am shocked that anyone assumes that what I do “only requires thirty minutes.” 

From having my vehicle serviced to loading my car to getting my affairs at home in order or consulting with other clients, time is the only thing in my entire life that I have far too little of. I can’t buy time. I must use my time wisely. 

Certain people must stop confusing ignorance with righteousness. Let’s review righteousness for people unaware of the term. I’m honest, I’m dedicated, I’m reliable. In this industry, experience, reliability, honesty and integrity don’t come free. If I’m dropping everything in my life to accommodate your needs, I expect you to put some skin in the game. I.E. Pay your deposit. Sign your contract. 

Run possible dates by me PRIOR to agreeing to a DATE with a Unit Chaplain. 

Certain individuals are shaking my tree without being willing to eat the fruit that falls. Arrogance speaks without forethought. 

If you are assuming that you are more important than my other clients who have adhered to my booking requirements, without retaining my services, you aren’t my first priority. 

My booked clients are and always will be my first priority. Don’t assume that I have free time on my schedule. I don’t. 

Character becomes questionable when certain individuals expect others to accommodate their needs rather than those who were already standing in line when they happened to stroll up or contact me. 

Cindy, my twin sister creates iconic quotes for Pawning Planners Apparel on a daily basis. These quotes are based on real life situations. 

Here are a few truthful insights. “Without common sense, your wealth today can become your poverty tomorrow.” There aren’t any rest areas on the road to success. I don’t take short cuts. 

“Don’t expect to cherry pick a withered branch from a barren tree. People’s generosity eventually runs out. Gratitude is the difference between appreciation and a sense of entitlement.”

Now, let’s address production companies….if you are contacting me or my twin sister for casting, “we don’t hand over our paychecks to people who didn’t earn the income.” Don’t expect us to do your job for you. 

Also, investigative journalists and casting producers wishing to disrupt my day and address your needs, your sense of urgency is YOUR luggage and not OUR trip. We are busy addressing OUR CLIENTS NEEDS. “Even baggage handlers expect a tip.” 

I am paid consultant with GLG. From marketing to consumer merchandise to luxury cars and even warranties, I get paid to share my knowledge with industry leaders.

People constantly ask me “how did you come up with this idea and make it work without ever advertising? Tell me how I can do what you did.” Hmm, hey buddy, why would create competition that doesn’t exist? Answer? I won’t and don’t. 

BUY OUR book. It’s going to be chock full of surprises, twists, drama, real life people, stories and adventures. No one could fabricate a journey like ours in a million years. 

“We had an idea. A concept to create a business to help people no one else would. Others thought we were crazy. No one cared enough to help low to middle income families have a Life Event. What we wanted and strived be to do for others had never been done before. Effectively, we took coal and squeezed into a diamond. We became the people we had never met. Along the way, we met amazing families. We had inspiring adventures and the time to spend together that our former careers had taken from us. Our success is literally an amazing story.”

Truth beats the shit out of scripted “faux reality” any day of the week. Our story is genuine, riveting and real. But no one told us how to succeed. Most people laughed. We do the laughing now. 

If you aren’t passionate, driven and determined I can assure you that you don’t have the stamina to be me. Cindy and I make a helluva team. We are scrappy and resourceful but most of all– we HAVE NEVER BEEN LAZY. Lazy people might get lucky now and then but luck doesn’t last. Perseverance does.

I am also an expert in the wedding industry and the most knowledgeable Prison wedding Officiant you will ever encounter. I know Prison policy and procedure within each and every state I conduct ceremonies within. No, I didn’t “wake up one” day with this knowledge. Instead, I educated myself and continue to educate myself at my own expense. If you need something from me, get your checkbook out. My time isn’t free. I get paid to talk and people listen. I don’t get paid to listen to people pitching me. Networks do. Go pitch them. Schedule a meeting. 

“We just need to talk to you about an idea or concept.” We are BUSY. Email and schedule your Skype or conference call at OUR CONVENIENCE. “Don’t EXPECT me to EDUCATE you, WITH my EXPERTISE, without PAYING the TUITION.” 

“If you want the honey from the hive, don’t complain about the stings that come with it. Getting what you want is painful. WITHOUT RISK, DEDICATION AND PASSION, you will never begin and without perseverance you will never finish.”

Cindy Daniel

 

Comments, Questions & Concerns? Why Prison Weddings Open A Window Of Opinions From Others That Needs To Be Closed…

Late last night, someone who apparently was searching hashtags for prison weddings found me on FB and Instagram. First off, I’d like to express that if “you don’t believe that inmates should have the right to marry,” I am confused as to why you are specifically searching for people marrying an inmate? Are you bored? Nonetheless and anyhow, Donna, this blog is for you. 

Donna, I’m going to address your concerns although I strongly disagree with your opinions regarding inmate marriage because apparently, you felt strongly enough about your opinion to message me. 

First though, I’m going to express how offended I was for my clients regarding your observation of downplaying their dedication by describing their love story as “Jailbirds turned lovebirds.” 

This description is so narrow minded and one sided that I would best describe it as outrageous. It doesn’t even begin to adequately describe the relationships of my clients or their partners. 

Your assumption that most of my clients were pen pals is also far from true. The majority of my clients knew the inmate years prior to incarceration. This is a fact and believe it or not, something my clients choose to share with me. I don’t ask why their loved one is incarcerated either. 

On the flip side of the same coin, I don’t ask my traditional clients from Texas Twins Events or The Pawning Planners or ANY Client booking me through a venue I’m affiliated with if “they or their soon to be spouse has ever committed a crime and if so what it was?” No vendor would ask a question like this and I certainly won’t either. I don’t screen anyone. I’m in the people business. I help people. 

A large percentage of the people my staff and I are helping have no one else to help them. Why? Because they are judged by other vendors and effectively “screened.”

I have several clients that went to school together and even lived in the same town or on the same street. Many were lovebirds as teens and young adults long before lock up. 

I would like to point out statistics first to educate you regarding the number of people incarcerated in the United States who either personally know or have a relative in prison. Cornell University surveyed a representative sample of more than 4000 people. 

The resulting report shows that one in seven adults has had an immediate family member incarcerated for more than one year, and one in 34 has had a loved one incarcerated for 10 years or more.

One in four American adults has had a sibling incarcerated. One in five has had a parent sent to jail or prison. One in eight has had a child incarcerated.

Today, 6.5 million adults have an immediate family member currently in jail or prison.

These are staggering numbers but the above numbers were from 2018. You had stated that “I don’t believe that there are people out there wanting to marry an inmate and if there are, they have reasons other than love for choosing to do so. Prison marriage is a fad. A trend. A plea for attention.” 

This belief and statement is so wildly inaccurate that you should know that as far back as 1996, Prison Weddings were occurring in California. These weddings were not taking place because they were “trendy.” They were taking place because someone was willing to give up their life and commit themselves to someone else who was incarcerated. 

Someone loved someone else SO MUCH that even though they had very little to bring to the marriage, their heart was in the right place. Their belief that love knows no bounds led them to the decision to marry an inmate.

Prison marriage isn’t new or unique and is far from being a trend. Prison marriage REQUIRES COMMITMENT! Prison marriage isn’t for the meek. To be married to an inmate is a difficult path. You raise your children alone. You pay your bills alone. You do everything alone. It’s a very heavy cross to bear to love an inmate and commit your life to loving an inmate by marrying one. People who do not make this decision lightly. They go in with their eyes wide open. How do I know? I have met them. 

Among prison psychologists, it’s widely accepted that marriages between people who had close relationships beforehand are more likely to endure than those between people who met while one was behind bars.

“The marriages that begin in any situation where the woman is sort of aware of the person the inmate is prior to incarceration tend to last,” said Ronald Browne, a former prison psychologist at the U.S. penitentiary in Lompoc and now in private practice in Santa Maria.

The couples I have married “on the inside” have gone through a very lengthy process in order to be legally married. It isn’t something they decided to do on a whim. 

A Prison wedding is one of the very few joyous things that occur “inside” a Prison. While you and others may feel that your opinion has an impact on my clients, their choices or even their families, I can assure you that you are incorrect. 

Getting married is an act of hope. Prison marriages may be the most vivid demonstrations of this because they are undertaken in the most restrictive circumstances and hold for the husband and wife only diminished prospects for togetherness.

Prison marriage may not be for everyone but, love surpasses all things. You may not understand this but, love knows no bounds including the separation and loneliness that anyone who loves an inmate experiences. The dedication of driving every weekend to visit. The phone calls, the letters and the love locked down. 

My clients are the most determined and resilient individuals I’ve ever met or ever will meet planning to marry someone else. Marriage is a merger. It’s a commitment for anyone entering into a marriage.

On the “outside,” my couples and often my brides in particular want the perfect dress, the perfect venue, the perfect cake. 

On the “inside,” my clients cannot have these things. They must carefully choose their clothing. They must remove their shoes and belts. They must follow stringent guidelines. 

In effect, a marriage to an inmate is far more about the other person than the frivolities of couples marrying outside of a prison. 

Donna, since you apparently assume that “all prison weddings END in divorce,” I’m going to educate you with the truth and advise you that your opinion is a myth. None of my clients have filed for divorce and I’ve married many, many people inside prisons. 

On the outside though, three of my couples over the years have divorced. They had everything my Prison Weddings Clients didn’t but they still couldn’t make their marriage work. 

Marriage is give and take. Marriage to an inmate is mostly give for my clients because they are pulling the wagon alone doing time on the outside while the inmate does time on the inside. 

Only a very strong and dedicated individual can overcome all odds and make their marriage last. My clients are very strong individuals. They are passionate and perseverant. 

Long after lock up, these clients call me to schedule a Vow Renewal. That’s right. A celebration with the dress, the cakes, the music and the family who couldn’t attend their inmate wedding. 

For these clients, celebrating freedom of their spouse, the celebration isn’t about impressing others with over the top extravagance. The celebration is of love that endured through a very difficult window. A marriage that made it through the rain and the pain that will finally see a rainbow to begin their life together. No more expensive phone calls, long drives to the Unit on the weekend to stand in line and screen in, no more running to the phone every time it rings to keep from missing a call they’ve waited all day to receive. 

Vow Renewals for my former prison couples are to celebrate my couples freedom, endurance and dedication to one another. They made it through the rain, the loneliness, the pain and the despair. They survived love locked down and their journey together at last is something so exciting that I cannot even begin to put into words the joy of a Vow Renewal after lock up. You wouldn’t understand. 

Donna, what you should understand though is that none of my clients are seeking your acceptance of their choices. None of my clients feel the need or have the desire to explain their decision to you. 

I’m a sucker for a fantastic love story. I’m also a firm believer in second chances and I will go to my grave stating that love is love regardless of who people choose to love or whether or not others accept their choices… 

What To Expect, What To Wear And Why The Waiting Is The Hardest Part…

Yesterday at Estelle Unit, my bride Kelly was as upset as I was about waiting over two hours for her wedding but, we cannot control the amount of time we spend waiting on an inmate. 

Many things factor into the timeline of waiting on the inmate or the Unit. What are they? Well, yesterday, the count of the inmates that is usually finished at 1:30 wasn’t completed until 2:30. Good thing Kelly and I had good company. Each other I mean lol. We spent our time waiting on the groom talking about life and her job as well as her love story and really enjoyed having the time to spend together. By the time we were ready to meet her groom, Kelly was nervous, excited and joyous. I loved that they had both taken the time to write their own vows making their ceremony emotional and memorable. I bought three Unit photos and as we waited for them to print, watched thunder clouds rolling outside of the Unit. I was hoping rain wouldn’t ruin her bridal photo shoot I had planned after the wedding. 

Since Kelly wanted to run the marriage license to the Walker County Clerks Office in Huntsville, I followed Kelly only to learn that the clerk closed at 4:30PM rather than 5PM and we were a few minutes too late. No problem, I mailed the license priority mail this morning from Bonham, Texas. Congrats beautiful Kelly. 

While juggling phone calls and returning text messages and following Kelly after leaving Estelle Unit, I was also talking to a production assistant trying to orchestrate flying to NYC Tuesday after my wedding at San Saba Unit. 

Since it’s well known that I never reschedule a Prison wedding, finding the nearest airport from San Saba was Waco although American Airlines flies out of Waco to NYC. The distance from San Saba to Waco Regional Airport is 2 hours. The distance from San Saba to DFW is 3 hours. I’m hoping we can get in and out of San Saba Tuesday and planning to arrive at 9AM in the hopes of getting in a bit early. 

At this rate, Cindy and I will fly out of either DFW or Waco Regional Tuesday and return to Fort Worth Friday. 

This morning, I left early to Buster Cole due to the constant traffic issues in Dallas, I left 45 minutes sooner than necessary and needed every bit of it in order to arrive at 10:30AM for my 11AM wedding. My other Kelly at Buster Cole Unit looked adorable in white flared pants and a lace top. Sadly, the Unit didn’t approve of her wedding outfit so back to my suv for a button front shirt and Kelly’s car for a pair of jeans. Back inside the Unit, we anxiously awaited the arrival of the groom with the Chaplain. 

Kelly and her groom had also written their vows and were thrilled to finally be marrying. After signing the license and getting our Unit photos, I followed Kelly to a gas station before setting out to find a unique building for her photo shoot. 

There was an abandoned gas station I spotted just a few miles from the gas station Bonham that worked well. It was a hot day but Kelly was a good sport and tried a few different tiaras and bouquets while we both tried to stay cool.I’m off to Hutchins Unit tomorrow then Tennessee Colony and wish all of our clients much love and joy ?

Sunday Morning Surprises, Event Set Ups, & Security Alarms In Saginaw. Sagas & Setbacks…

At 3:47AM this morning, the alarm company called my husband regarding one of the model homes in Saginaw. With model homes in several cities, the alarm company is now a regular caller. There goes another good nights sleep at WorthamWorld. 

My husband assumed that “one of the subcontractors must have been in the model home last night because there wasn’t a forced entry.” On a Saturday night past midnight? In a model home? Why would a subcontractor be at a model home at that hour? Hmm. My detective skills on this mystery would come up off base but, I gave it a shot as my husband explained the alarm company telling him “the garage and front door are open.” Alarmed, he hightailed it on over to Saginaw. 

The same development that all year long has had too much rain continuing to slow down the building process. Every weather report of rain literally “hits Saginaw.” 

Here’s my guess on the latest alarm company call, they were either drinking or using the model home for a tryst? A secret meeting? A date night? 

My husband didn’t like any of my ideas or wild guesses and instead went looking for a more “appropriate answer” to the mystery. 

At 8AM this morning, Matthew drove over to Saginaw to put his own detective skills to work while assuring me that none of the contractors or subcontractors would be snooping around a model home. 

Apparently, the salesperson had not secured the garage which apparently slid open during the evening and effectively also set off the alarm. 

My theories on how the alarm was set off this time were (apparently) far more exotic.  In defense though, these late night alarm company calls have been coming in for years now. 

My husbands job can be an interesting mix now and then. A few weeks ago, another builder came by offering to hire his subcontractors while on the job! I found this to be wildly shocking. Apparently, competing homebuilders will do anything to find good help days. WOW. 

I’m going to address a few questions regarding Vow Renewals in this blog for clients trying to find creative ways to budget. First, there’s no requirement for elaborate centerpieces. In fact, you can get creative by renting large or tall candlabras and simply adding a bit of foliage that will drop down from the top tiers. You can use silk or fresh foliage to create the same effect. No candles allowed? No problem, use electric candles. Simplicity can still be elegant. For clients wishing to borrow centerpieces, I generally keep 19-24 centerpieces in stock. 

Centerpieces I have in stock are multi color and no, I can’t “cover 37-52 tables.” What I can do is suggest mixing your own centerpieces with what I’m loaning to you.

Try “mixing in” money trees or even photos of the couple on the surrounding tables. Going tall on all of the tables can and does pose problems for photographers and videographers.

Meanwhile…when I had booked my Grapevine Botanic Garden Bride a month ago, I had also asked “do you need to borrow floral designs?” 

At the time, she only needed one bouquet for herself and a boutenier for her groom. No bridesmaids. No groomsmen. Last night, seven days before her wedding, this changed. She now has a maid of honor and a bridesmaid as well as a best man and a groomsmen as well as the groom. 

For all of my dedicated readers, if you are planning to borrow my inventory for your upcoming Vow Renewal, it’s critical you ask what I have in inventory PRIOR to assuming that I have everything you need. I work seven days a week and cannot “whip something up on short notice and at my OWN expense.” 

I keep one full set of bouquets and bouteniers in stock each year but I do not keep full sets of all of my bouquets for wedding parties. My bride wanted the pink multi which I had a coordinating bridesmaids bouquet and two coordinating bouteniers of. 

Changing the number of bouquets and bouteniers a week prior to the wedding would normally be impossible without changing to my full set of red, white and black. Why? Because my bride wasn’t booking me as a florist she was booking me as an Officiant. 

I am the only Officiant and planner in this industry who has created an inventory to loan clients. That’s right. I said LOAN. My clients BORROW my inventory at no cost to them as a courtesy. 

However, if you want to choose your colors or expect me to create new designs in your colors or more bouquets or bouteniers because I don’t have the number you need in stock, this isn’t a free request. 

It’s time consuming to create floral designs. It’s also expensive. My Grapevine bride “got lucky.” How so? Because last week my Darrington bride asked if I had two bouquets for her sisters that would be traveling with her to her Prison wedding that would coordinate with my pink multi. 

Since I only had one coordinating bouquet, I checked my floral baskets and found that I didn’t have enough silk flowers to create a 3rd coordinating bouquet and “started fresh” on two more bouquets that would work with the pink multi last Tuesday. 

The 2 finished bouquets will work with the pink multi well. I had a few additional flowers so I made 2 coordinating bouteniers. 

Because I had created two more bouquets, I could accommodate the “add on” bouquets and bouteniers for Grapevine next weekend. If I hadn’t, the only option would be for my bride to either “switch” to the red multi or to provide her own floral designs at her own expense. 

Rolling into another full week of prison weddings, an inquiry from North Carolina came in. Demetria- We don’t currently service North Carolina but this may change over the next year. 

Expanding our services to other states works like this… We stack clients in states outside of Texas and marry numerous couples on the same day in major cities of other states. The reason for this is to reduce travel expenses to one client. 

If we are traveling to Oklahoma, Arkansas or Louisiana (all states within close proximity to Texas), we have a bit more flexibility to keep costs low by driving rather than flying. 

If the Unit is in a state that requires flying, we wait until we have a minimum of 3-5 clients wishing to marry in the state outside of our standard service areas. 

I am hoping this explanation clarifies why our other clients in states beyond driving distance from Texas wait on their ceremonies. They are stacked with other clients in the same cities or close proximity in order to limit travel and expenses.

Many institutions in other states and have different policies and procedures which vary. Certain states including Texas allow the use of an Absentee Affidavit while other states require that the inmate cover expenses of transportation to the clerks office to purchase a marriage license in person. 

Many states only allow inmate marriage once or twice a year while other states require a 3 month premarital course. In Texas, prison weddings are scheduled two days per month at TDCJ Units. 

Due to scheduling and our existing staff, Texas is and always will be our busiest Prison wedding booking state. 

However, due to requests and inquiries from states outside of Texas, our service area has expanded and continued to expand to other states. 

Availability is key to addressing new requests and bookings outside our standard service area. If you are willing to wait until we book more clients in your area as our other states do, we can make accommodations once we have enough clients to make the trip worthwhile. 

I do not currently have a vendor in North Carolina that I’m familiar enough with to refer you to because I’m cautious with referrals. If I don’t know someone’s track history or work ethics, I DO NOT REFER THEM to others. My reasons for this are that there are people out there taking advantage of single income families and I’m well aware of the issues people wishing to marry an inmate face on a single income. 

The last thing anyone planning to marry an inmate needs is to be taken advantage of. Be cautious. Ask questions. Get a contract. I’m well aware of someone else servicing Arkansas that refuses to help you through the paperwork process. 

A Prison wedding planner should be assisting you through this complicated process and if they aren’t and simply planning to show up, you need to factor their contributions accordingly and ask yourself if they are worth your investment? What’s their track record? Will they show up on wedding day? Can you trust them to be on time? 

Anyone planning to marry an inmate is entitled to have their questions addressed and answered. If your Officiant is saying “I don’t know” or “that’s not my job” is that really the person you want to entrust your Life Event with? 

Weddings are Life Events regardless of where they take place. You deserve to have your questions answered and your concerns addressed. 

I’m going to once again revisit and define how borrowing my inventory works. Over the years, I’ve had to explain to clients borrowing my inventory “you cannot throw or keep my floral designs” again and again. Throwing them damages them. Also, the person catching them wants to keep them. 

I don’t have a “Flower Fairy” gifting me with new inventory. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and countless hours creating my inventory. 

Please be considerate of my investment and efforts put in place solely for your benefit. 

If you want custom designs or colors, Cindy and I no longer sell designs or take custom orders. You will need to hire a florist to accommodate requests for items we do not have in stock. If you aren’t a client, I do not and will not consider loaning my property to you. Loaned items are solely for booked clients and at my discretion. 

Loaned inventory is a courtesy to our booked clients. I didn’t go to the trouble or the expense of creating my inventory in order to loan it to strangers booking with another vendor. Instead, I created an inventory for my own clients to borrow. Loaned inventory is what I have in stock. Custom colors or custom designs are custom orders that clients will need to provide at their own expense.

Wendy M Wortham

Meanwhile In Fort Worth And Memoirs Of A Monster In Law? Timelines, Deadlines & Whining…

My son and my nieces would tell you “we have two moms” and, they would mean it. Cindy and I have been tag teaming our adult children and grandchildren for thirty four years now. Does the “peanut gallery of people” compromising our family appreciate the luxury of two moms and two MiMi’s? Not always. In fact, last night, my daughter in law had a fit because “you posted that we were expecting before I did on FB? What were you thinking?” Okay, here’s what I was thinking… I was thinking that surely my son and his wife had already shared this news to be honest with you and I was planning a baby shower for them but, in this family, someone is always being accused of overstepping their bounds around here. 

This “incident” carried over to dinner with my husband last night. While advising Matthew that Cindy and I had planned to fly to NY for two days of filming, I “squeezed” the FB post into the conversation. My husband who is all too aware that Cindy and I are the “bank” for our adult children and grandchildren quickly took over the conversation by interjecting “who is going to be buying everything? You and Cindy assume that Steve and I have no idea how much money you two spend on your adult children and grandchildren but I’ve got news for you, we have a few clues. Maddy has never worn the same outfit twice. The twins haven’t either. Steve and I sit back and watch you two enable everyone while wondering when you plan to push these birds out of the nest.”

In defense of Cindy or I being “enablers,” it should be noted that we are the mothers we never had. The grandmothers we never knew. Are we overdoing it? Maybe. But we didn’t want our adult children of grandchildren “going without.” Matthew and Steve don’t have any children or grandchildren of their own. What they DO HAVE are two meddling wives and mothers who “stepped it up a notch” being MiMi’s to Maryssa, Makenna and Madyson. Are we “too involved?” Absolutely. 

Matthew has had a helluva time with the rain this year slowing down the homebuilding process. He had spent yesterday viewing lots and trying to “come up with Anniversary ideas for me.” I don’t need an anniversary celebration. Hell, for fifteen years neither of us knew the actual date of our wedding until two years ago when I requested a copy of our marriage license. True story. Matthew thought it was September 23rd Wendy thought it was September 15th. 

Back to the FB post that my daughter in law, son, nieces and twin grandnieces thought was “out of line.” Leigh Ann claims Cindy and I announced her pregnancy before she did. I don’t remember doing this but, maybe we did. What is everyone waiting on anyhow? Christmas? 

My husband thinks I’m a control freak. Cindy’s husband thinks she is a meddler. Are we too involved with our adult children? After all, Cindy and I work seven days a week. How involved can we be when we are out on the road? Humph. 

Today is my daughter in law’s birthday. As usual, Cindy and I have planned to surprise her with gifts at work then take our families to dinner Monday because I’m working all weekend and everyday next week. Do I mention the now deleted FB announcement? I’m on the fence here. 

Today, I’m meeting the couple who may or may not be getting married. Why? Because the groom had an affair. The bride found out from grabbing his cell phone while he was in the restroom. The bride had planned to read these sext messages at the altar. I suggested not doing this in front of families and friends. I also suggested counseling. Will this wedding happen? I have no idea. 

People are unpredictable. Our adult children and even our grandchildren are unpredictable. Clients are unpredictabile. Weddings are a wild ride. Life is a circus. 

My son and I argue frequently about Stephanie’s pregnancy. Robbie doesn’t understand the changes his wife is going through. Prior to the FB post, I had told my son “your wife needs attention and support.” Did I plan on redirecting the attention to myself regarding announcing their pregnancy? No but I stand accused. Inlaws and Outlaws. In-laws are the wonderful additions to your life marriage brings. Outlaws are the in-laws perpetually stirring the chili. 

I’m not a monster in law, I’m a magician trying to solve everyone else’s problems and patch my family full of fighting in-laws together. It’s a tough job but I’m a boss lady Hellbent on getting the job done in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Quite frankly, juggling work and my family isn’t for the meek or the weak. I may be unfiltered but, I’m also a realist, the go to gal and the mom that gets things done. 

Leigh Ann and her mother in law SHOULD have a fantastic relationship but they don’t. Why? Because Leigh Ann thinks that Janet is “too involved.” Too involved from Florida? What the? 

My niece, Stephaney thinks that her relationship with my son was lost when he married Stephanie. 

Getting my family to “get along” is an ongoing escapade. For two years after filming our television pilot, Pawning Planners, Robert and his wife, Stephanie traveled with me to “traditional” events. An event in Dallas changed things. Stephanie had too many photos on her SD card from a weekend of weddings. Robert was trying to delete photos from the previous weekend and inadvertently deleted photos from the event we were on site at. A loud argument in front of 200 guests ensued between them. I sent my son and his wife to their suv “until they could cool off  or apologize.” 

The following weekend, I took Leigh Ann to handle photography. The “switch” was due to my son and his wife arguing on location. 

Leigh Ann is now in California. Cindy handles photography. Robert and Stephanie book their own clients and I’m a monster in law? This is going to be a long weekend…