Why I Don’t Respond To Shade That Comes From Trees That Don’t Bear Fruit…

We live in an opinionated society but do the opinions of others really have a direct bearing on your life or mine? Probably not. You can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

I choose to ignore “Negative Nancy’s” on a regular basis because their opinions have no impact on my life or my clients. A handful of these haters are my own family members. Don’t be shocked. I’m not. After years of defending my client base at family gatherings I finally decided to cut these toxic people from my life and I’m happier for it.

The holidays are right around the corner. Do I care that I won’t be visiting family members who bring me stress and anxiety? Nope. I’m going to save money this Christmas.

I’m also going to focus on people who matter in my family which gives me a far smaller circle.

Years ago, my aunt started an argument with me regarding officiating LBGT weddings at a holiday get together. Being attacked in front of other family members regarding my belief that love is love angered me. Who was she to “butt in” on my business or my clients? What possessed her to use an opportunity where stress is at an all time high to “tell me what she thinks?”

Good Lord, after all of the money I’ve spent on gifts year after year on my family members without so much as a thank you, I’m out on asking my brother or his wife “if they received my gifts or the money I sent through PayPal?” Is it really that hard to acknowledge someone who went out of their way to send you something every year when you’ve never sent even a birthday card or much less a thank you card?

The truth is that my clients have replaced my ungrateful and opinionated family members.

Yesterday, my twin sister, Cindy told me that while talking to our sister in law, Michelle suggested sending her son to live with Cindy. What the? How convenient to assume that my sister who has been raising her twin granddaughters for 16 years would want another responsibility under her roof? Our brothers son has never had any degree of a relationship with us. He’s an adult and nearly 30 years old. Trying to push her son onto Cindy didn’t play out the way Michelle thought it would.

Years ago, our father and his sister “dumped” their mother onto my twin sister by shirking their responsibility and moving grandma into Cindy’s house for eighteen years. Eighteen years of grandma taking two rooms of Cindy’s home. Not paying any rent. Taking control of the television. Complaining if Cindy went somewhere with me. Manipulative and controlling grandma made Cindy’s life a living hell for 18 years until Cindy finally kicked her out. FINALLY.

Our dad and our aunt were angry for years that Cindy gave grandma the boot. Neither of them were angry enough to open THEIR home for their mother though. They both “had their own lives.” Even after Cindy found an apartment for grandma near her house and for the five years grandma lived after being moved from Cindy’s house my sister was still expected to drive grandma to doctor appointments 2-3 days a week, grocery shop for her and go over to visit while dragging them twins along. Cindy became a prisoner of responsibility that wasn’t hers while raising her twin granddaughters. Our dad didn’t care. Our aunt didn’t care.

After my grandmother died, our father tried to move into Cindy’s house. She had learned to say no by then and did. He then tried to move in with me. I let him have a piece of my mind. “We were homeless at 15. We were eating out of trash cans when the police found us and took us to a shelter. Our first apartment we couldn’t even afford electricity. No one in our entire lives has done anything to help us. Ever. I don’t owe you anything. Cindy doesn’t owe you anything. Our children have had no relationship with you or aunt Shirley. Our grandchildren have had no relationship with you or aunt Shirley. We have raised our children and grandchildren without any involvement from you or our mother. Never a birthday card for us or our children or grandchildren. Never a Christmas gift for us or our children or our grandchildren. The only time we hear from you people is when someone wants something from us. My brother never calls or even bothers to thank us for money and gifts we send to him. We are literally invisible to this family unless someone wants or needs something. This family took advantage of Cindy by dumping grandma on her. She didn’t owe grandma anything. Like the rest of you, grandma never helped us. Never acknowledged our birthday or Christmas either. For our entire lives we have been doing things for this family while this family never once stepped up to help us while raising our children between divorces alone with only each other to depend on. Don’t even try to tell me I owe you. I don’t owe you anything.” I meant it. My dad would NEVER live with Cindy or me. EVER.

Our dad wound up living with our brother and now our brothers wife wants to dump her problem son on my sister? I was outraged that she even suggested this idea. Cindy had heart surgery last November. Cindy is raising her granddaughters. Cindy has her hands full already.

It’s not our fault that our father is living with our brother. You don’t owe parents caring for them in their old age when they never took care of you. Period. Cut Em loose.

Our mother was a heroin addict. She never sent a birthday card or a Christmas card either. We never had birthday parties other than the one disastrous birthday party when Cindy and I were 6 years old. Left alone with our grandfather, we were both sexually assaulted. Our grandmother was angry when she came to pick us up that we were crying. So angry that she told us “you are ungrateful and you will never have another birthday party.” We didn’t. For the next 9 years the abuse continued. No one in our family stopped it. Not our father. Not our aunt. Not our grandmother. No one. We ran away from home at 15 and never looked back.

The fact that Cindy had to take care of a grandmother who never took care of us for 18 years is and always will be so preposterous that my anger as well as hers is still with us today.

My son and his wife moved in with me when their house caught on fire several years ago. This lasted 3 months. At the end of those three months, I told him it was time to leave. A few years later, between homes again, my son wanted to move in with my husband and I a second time. I declined. Why? My son had moved his wife’s cousin and his wife’s cousins son in with them as well as four dogs. I wasn’t about to move four people and four dogs into my home indefinitely. They moved in with my daughter in laws father instead while their house was being built. Was my son angry about this? Most likely but, I work 7 days a week as does my husband and our home is our sanctuary. You don’t owe anyone the luxury of moving into your home at your expense.

Cindy and I have a friend, Britney. Britney threatened to divorce Eddie when Eddie’s mother became too old to care for herself. Eddie was an only child. Eddie put his mother in a nursing home where she died several months later. Eddie went to see her on weekends. Britney was given her suv to take her to doctor appointments and visit. Britney never did. She took the car and neglected to go visit or run Eddie’s mother to doctor appointments. Eddie’s mother died waiting for a visit with her grandchildren and Britney.

You need to choose your battles. There will always be someone somewhere “throwing shade.” To hell with them. If they bring nothing to your life other than misery, they don’t belong in your life. Cut them out of your life and keep them out of your head.

The holidays are a stressful time and while federal facilities have reinstated visitation, TDCJ has yet to reinstate visitation. Abbott says he’s going to reopen Texas but when? As we continue to wait for visitation, the anxiety, stress and depression of not being able to visit loved one’s continues.

Last week I was back at Walls Unit marrying clients I couldn’t marry while the inmate was in TDCJ. I will continue to meet any client who is paroling and get you married. Keep me updated on your loved ones status and if they are chained to another facility let me know so I can update our records.

Focus on the people that really matter. If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic it’s what’s really important to us and what isn’t.

I hope to see all of you very soon and please don’t worry about me going to Fort Worth FMC. Every precaution is being taken to ensure that Cindy and I are healthy and ready to meet you at your prison weddings…

“Take time to make time. Make time to be there.” Little River Band

Juggling my schedule to accommodate clients who have been waiting for Federal prisons to reopen, I had a call Monday from someone wanting to marry “as soon as possible.” Her reason was that her fiancée would be shipping out today to Anderson AFB in Guam.

I took a moment to double check my schedule and suggested meeting me at the Salvation Army in Fort Worth. The location may surprise you so I will explain. Wednesday’s are half off days at the Salvation Army and whenever I have time, I shop for items that women and children at the shelter might need or furniture for those in need.

My niece is moving from Lompoc to Fort Worth next month so I’ve been on the look out for end tables, a love seat and bedroom furniture.

My sister, Tammy is coming with Kori and Fernando who have already rented a house in Saginaw, Texas near my son and his wife.

A bride I had married at Beto Unit a few years ago sent me an email asking if I could reprint and send her wedding photos? After searching Instagram and FB and copying the photos to my phone, I picked up my niece, Stephaney from the group home she’s living at and headed to Walgreens to print the photos while Stephaney waited on me.

My son had called to ask about my schedule and if I would have time to meet him and “look at Oliver’s diaper rash?” I dropped Steph off at work and went back to Walgreens to pick up my brides photos and headed to the post office where I called my son to tell him I was due at Salvation Army at 11 but could meet him later. It was 10:15AM.

At about 10:30 while waiting in line at the post office and getting concerned about the distance from the post office up the Salvation Army, I had a text from my bride asking if we could move our 11 o’clock meeting to 12 so her mother and the grooms mother could attend the wedding. I said “sure, see you then.”

I called my son back to let him know I now had time to meet him earlier as opposed to later. My son asked me to meet him in Lake Worth at 10:45 to take a look at his son, Oliver’s rash so I headed there first.

Oliver had what appears to be a yeast infection so I suggested my son go ahead and take him to the pediatrician. It’s not uncommon for my niece, Leigh Ann or my son to send me photos or FaceTime videos to look at Maddie or Oliver.

Often Maddie has a bump from running into something. She’s a precarious little daredevil that jumps off furniture on a regular basis. Oliver is now eating prepared organic foods and this may be why his little body is reacting to the foods my son and his wife are trying out on him for the first time.

After filling up my sons truck, he headed to the pediatrician.

I rolled out of the QT in Lake Worth and headed to the Salvation Army. I had loaded my suv with furs, fascinators, hats and an assortment of bouquets and bouteniers as well as tiaras for the wedding photos of my couple.

I pulled into Salvation Army and sent a text that I was on site and ran in to look through the store quickly.

At exactly 12PM, three cars pulled in beside me. My couple and both of their moms and I met for the first time in person. I opened my trunk and showed them the treasures I had packed for our short notice wedding ceremony. We couldn’t come up with anywhere we liked in the area so I decided that the Fort Worth courthouse would work well and we caravanned our way from the Salvation Army to the courthouse.

I had typed up a wedding ceremony script for the couple and passed out LV and Chanel face masks from my inventory as my bride wanted one “Covid photo” for a keepsake.

The mothers were so much fun and although it was warm, my bride wore two of my fur stoles for her photo shoot after the ceremony. We had a great time.

I’ve had several calls and emails regarding inmate weddings. Currently, State, ICE and County have not announced when visitation might be reinstated. Federal is leading the way by reinstating non contact visitation no later than October 3, 2020. Please understand that I will be addressing Texas clients first then Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisianna. I’m not going to be addressing California and my other service area states until next year. I expect TDCJ to reinstate visitation within a few months and since I have 57 TDCJ clients who were cancelled in March and April, TDCJ clients will take priority when visitation is reinstated.

My longtime secretary, Virginia is and has been blind in her left eye due to a surgery to correct a cataract. Her cornea slipped and a subsequent year long infection left her permanently blind in her left eye. Her right eye was operated on several months ago and she’s been having problems with that as well so between juggling work and family, I’ve been taking Virginia to specialists in the hopes of getting her “good eye” repaired. Virginia has been with me thirty years and we both appreciate your prayers for healing.

Saturday I’m on site in Mineral Wells at a wedding with a bride who has decided to have her dog give her away. I love pets in weddings as many of you are aware and while this may sound odd to a few people, the brides dog is her best friend.

Last week I was trying to locate 60 chairs and 8 tables for this event since the original vendor cancelled. We have now found tables and chairs for the October 3rd wedding. Thanks so much for all of the vendor suggestions.

One of my TDCJ clients, Vickie tagged me in a Palo Pinto post for a mom trying to find another Officiant after their original Officiant became ill but due to my schedule in Mineral Wells then at Belltower Chapel this Saturday, its impossible for me to squeeze in Palo Pinto so I sent a message to Vickie thanking her for thinking of me but my schedule is so crazy and unpredictable that it’s rare to squeeze in a short notice booking. Wednesday worked because I was scheduled to file marriage licenses in Tarrant County and after the wedding Wednesday, I had my newly married couples jump in my Sahara so we could file their license immediately and get two certified copies. One for the military and the other for my bride to change her name.

This morning while preparing to drive to Parker County from my East Fort Worth Appraisal Appointment, I was overjoyed to find that the test results for my former bride, Deanna (who located a surrogate several months ago after a failed a IVF attempt) had exciting news that the baby is Trisomy negative which is something she has been worried about. It’s a blessing. Deanna lost DeLilah to Trisomy two years ago. I baptized DeLilah immediately after birth as we had a very short window. Two days later, I conducted the memorial for baby DeLilah.

My son called me. “Mom, you remember helping Angel get her grandson from Crain Unit whole Lexi was in prison?”

How could I forget? There are many babies born in prison. Families of the inmates take on the role and responsibility of raising these children.

My mind went back to the updates of Angel expecting the release of Lexi from prison after 6 months. Angel has been raising her grandson as her own child. He’s a happy baby.

My son asked “mom are you still there?” I skipped a beat anticipating less than happy news from the toms of his voice. ”

Yes. What’s wrong? I saw where Lexi was released last month.”

This wasn’t going to be good news. I could hear it in his voice. “Mom, Lexi was only home for 6 days with Angel and the baby. She’s in Houston now and she’s back on drugs. She’s posting videos on FB. I saw them. Bad videos. Angel is afraid she will come back and try to take the baby from her. Asher is 6 months old. Angel can’t afford an attorney. What can you do to help her?”

Because Angel has had possession of the baby for 6 months, she’s in a position to request custody. Family court in Texas rarely allows pro se litigants though so trying to help Angel locate an attorney to help will be challenging. Like my twin sister, Angel gave up her job to raise her grandson. My sister gave up her job to raise her twin granddaughters 16 years ago.

I was getting dressed to meet a client bartering in East Fort Worth at an Appraisal Appointment through my sister site, The Pawning Planners and Cindy was tied up on Parker County meeting another client at Willow Lake Event Center. I sat my coffee down. Ugh. I thought prison had changed Lexi. I thought the birth of her child and support of her family would force her to straighten up and fly right. I felt a pang in my heart for her mother and her child.

I decided to go grab my Texas Family Law book and review grandparents rights. I was sitting in my office when Angel answered my message to call me. “Asher has his 6 month check up and I’ve got a dentist appointment after that for my youngest daughter. Can I call you.” Me “absolutely. I will do what I can to get you help in obtaining information to protect your grandson from your oldest daughters choices. I’m so sorry she’s back on the streets. Sick really over it. Heartbroken and saddened.”

Angel had called me three years ago. “Can you help me? My daughter is in the streets and I have no idea where she is. I know you are familiar with searching the streets because I follow your updates about your niece. I know you’ve found your niece several times. I’m afraid my daughter is dead.” Angel had sent me recent photos of Lexi. I examined them and printed 2 to keep in my suv.

Amazingly a few days later, I did find Lexi. I found her off Calmont and Camp Bowie. She had dyed her hair. Her clothing was dirty. She had been talking to a group of other people who didn’t respond well to a stranger walking up to the group. I was the stranger.

Lexi didn’t recognize me. I rolled up and said “Lexi, it’s Wendy Wortham. Robert’s mom. Your mom worked with my son years ago. You know me. I’ve met you before. Your mom is worried about you. Can I take you to get something to eat and have you call your mom?”

Reluctantly, Lexi got into my suv. A few of her friends wanted to join her. I’m not stupid and declined having strangers sitting behind me in my suv. “Sorry folks I’m only interested in taking Lexi. Maybe next time.”

She was just obviously on something. “What are you doing in this area? You don’t fit in. You could get hurt. My friends wanted to come with me. “Your friends aren’t my friends and I don’t want strangers in my car. I have a family depending on me. I have clients depending on me and quite frankly I have a husband expecting me to come home tonight so putting your friends in my suv wasn’t ever going to happen.”

I thought about the nearly 16 years my twin sister and I had spent back then trying to find her daughter, Stephaney. It was Hell. We’ve been in dangerous places to drag Steph out and put her back in treatment. We both had late night calls from jails with Steph screaming at us.

We’ve both aged trying to save Steph. No one and I mean absolutely no one understands where we’ve been or what we’ve been through UNLESS they have a loved one with mental illness and addiction issues. Don’t judge people who do whatever they can to try and save a loved one. We don’t need your negativity. We need your understanding.

Normality is the one thing every parent of an addict lacks and desperately wants.

I had driven Lexi to a restaurant. I handed her my phone to call her mom on FB messenger. She didn’t know the phone number to reach her mother. I had offered to take her to women’s haven. I had offered to help her get off the streets. Lexi wanted none of my suggestions. I had tried. God knows I tried to help Lexi. She wanted me to take her back to where I had found her. She wanted cigarettes. I bought them. I feared then Lexi would die in the streets. I recall seeing her wave goodbye in my rear view mirror happily walking back to her group. Lexi had made a decision. She wouldn’t return home to her mother. She wouldn’t accept my offer to get her off the streets either.

Leaving the apartment complex I dropped her off at, I was pulled over. “What are you doing in this area?” It’s true I didn’t fit in.

“My niece, Stephaney is missing. I filed a report. Here’s the number. I’m her aunt. I’ve been trying to find her and another mother reached out and asked if I could look for her daughter, Lexi. I found her but she won’t let me take her to the women’s haven.”

Both officers look at the missing persons report on their computer. One of them walks back to my suv. “This is a dangerous area. You don’t belong here. People who are here want to be here. Go back to the suburbs. Get out of here before you get car jacked or robbed or killed.”

I’ve heard it before. For years. In desperation to find my niece, I’ve heard similar things many times from officers. My sister has too. We just couldn’t give up on Steph. We would find her. Put her in treatment. She would get out again and we would lose her again. I’m crying as I admit how hellish it’s been. How painful. How tragic. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life to save Steph. It was even harder on Cindy. She gave up her life at 40 to raise the twins. She tried over and over to fix Steph but she couldn’t. We couldn’t. My niece has done so many things to hurt our family that my husband won’t allow her in our house. The twins won’t speak to Steph. I recall driving her back from treatment in Oklahoma 6 years ago and flat out telling her “if you don’t straighten up one day your children won’t have anything to do with you. Get your life together.” She didn’t believe me. But I knew that at some point the twins would give up on their mom and I was right.

Two years after finding Lexi, she was arrested and a year later sentenced. Her rap sheet is a mile long.

Lexi was pregnant at her sentencing. During those years of Lexi lost to the streets my niece was in and out of psych wards and treatment centers when she wasn’t back on the streets again. I wouldn’t give up hope for Steph even when Cindy did. I couldn’t. I believed I could save Steph. No one could convince me otherwise not my husband, not my twin. No one. When I wasn’t working I was driving into dangerous areas trying to find Steph. Cindy would call me and say “don’t you go look for her alone.” I would tell my twin, my best friend, my other half “I’m not don’t worry I won’t go look alone.” I would then go look alone driving through the areas I knew homeless people often congregated.

Six months ago, while Steph was still in rehab in Grove, Oklahoma, Angel contacted me again. “Lexi is going to have my grandson while on prison. What can I do to get my grandchild?” Angel picked up Asher exactly 6 months ago. She hoped prison would change Lexi but it didn’t. Angel chose to save her grandchild.

Sixteen years ago, my twin sister saved her twin granddaughters. We both hired an attorney and sought custody of Maryssa and Makenna. If we hadn’t at any time my niece could have stormed in and demanded the twins.

Lexi is in the wind. Angel needs to get legal custody of her grandson. She’s had him in her care for 6 months. Helping Angel to protect her grandson from having Lexi show up and try to take him won’t be easy but it’s necessary.

My niece is now stable. She’s working. She’s living in a group home. She’s focusing on finally getting it together. She was 15 when she became pregnant with twins. I was 15 when Cindy and I ran away from home. I was also pregnant. Unlike Steph or Lexi, Cindy and I lived at the women’s haven. We got our lives together. We escaped the streets, homelessness and poverty. We came from nothing. A heroin addict for a mother and a family who didn’t care about us. We survived. Work became our passion. We had each other.

Cindy and I have raised our children and grandchildren as a team. We have dedicated our lives to being the parents we never had. I believe Angel has done the same thing. Saving her grandson from Lexi’s choices has been difficult financially and emotionally. Angel prays for her daughter to straighten up and fly right while she cares for her grandson.

Like many grandparents, Angel is about to do whatever is necessary to give her grandson the stability he deserves…

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” – Leo Tolstoy

Since mid March my TDCJ Clients have been waiting for visitation to reopen. During this window of uncertainty and the chaos of a pandemic, I have heard over and over “Covid-19 isn’t real” from people who aren’t medically trained. People have plenty of opinions in the midst of a crisis but as is usually the case little or no solutions.

I’ve never been shy about voicing my beliefs and a few days ago while commenting on one of my friends and a former clients post was attacked by someone who thought he knew me based on my skin color.

Traditionally, I would allow such a shallow minded comment to go unobserved. However since we are now not only in the midst of a pandemic but also a worldwide upset and this idiot “assumed I didn’t care about black lives,” I chose to respond.

After all, who was this guy? What led him to believe that he could or should judge me when my friend and I were discussing the possibility of visitation being reinstated?

An angry person misdirecting his anger at me who ironically had no idea that I’m an advocate for not only prison reform but also bail reform AND I believe in the power of peaceful protest.

For the record, I marched in Fort Worth twice and would have attended other marches but couldn’t due to my schedule.

Unlike many marchers who are more interested in filming their presence at these peaceful protest marches, I chose not to check in or film.

Going live on FB effectively “misses” the entire point of the peaceful protest by focusing on their phone rather than the moment, I chose not to post to social media.

Posting or live feeding at an historic event is in my opinion rude. Not everyone wants their photo or video posted to social media.

People videotaping aren’t asking for permission to publish video or photos. Why? They don’t care. Children have been present at “Fort Worth Friendly Black Lives Matter Protests.” Do parents want their children’s photos all over the internet? Likely the answer is no.

Although Fort Worth is the one major city that has remained peaceful in support of Black Lives Matter, why everyone feels the need to video every aspect of the march rather than focusing on why the match exists and what it’s actually about continues to be evident everywhere we turn from social media to news outlets with teens and young adults videoing everything whether it’s peaceful or far from peaceful.

It’s alarming to me that people and opinions seem to always clash while one side judges the other. I didn’t see any clashing or anger in Fort Worth.

Instead I saw mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons and daughters at Fort Worth marches.

I saw Unity within the Community. I saw people from all walks of life.

So for anyone like the person judging me in FB comments that doesn’t know me and assumed that he did by running over to my public FB Page without bothering to get to know me, my beliefs, my background or my passion for all people, I educated him. I enlightened him.

I let him know that the next time he stereotypes someone that he should ask himself why it’s so easy for him to judge others and reevaluate the need or desire to do so. He finally stopped commenting.

I was willing to go on and on. Why? Because I’m educated enough to debate with people who think they know everything who don’t that’s why.

I’m frequently contacted through DM by people trolling to find a target. These keyboard warriors sitting in their parents basements are bullies.

They love to find someone to attack and of upset. I love to respond to them publicly on my FB Page Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham.

Nearly all of my keyboard warrior DM trolls message me through my prison page after midnight.

I’m rarely DM’d by trollers on my other main FB Page, Texas Twins Events/The Pawning Planners but occasionally it happens.

Why? Because the person contacting me “doesn’t believe inmates should have the right to marry.”

Or “I don’t believe in LBGT Marriage. I’m strongly opposed.” WHO CARES?! I don’t care. My clients don’t care. Grow up and get a life buddy.

Stop looking for something to be upset about. Stop seeking someone to unload on. I’m busy. Keep your opinions. They are YOUR luggage and YOUR trip.

Still other people want to advise me of “their stand regarding bail or prison reform” through DM’s. Hmm. You can’t silence me buddy. No one can.

There are people sitting in jail who haven’t been convicted of a crime.

These people are incarcerated SOLELY because they are too poor to post a bond. Is that justice? Is that fair? Should poverty define freedom?

If you believe being poor should factor into being just or fair then you have more issues than common sense can remedy.

Time is one thing we can’t ever regain. Time is a priceless commodity. Life is precious.

As we continue to wait for visitation to be reinstated within all of my service area states, I want to once again state for the record I believe in the power of peaceful protests. I believe in speaking for those whose voices cannot be heard.

Social injustice affects everyone. I should also add that I believe there are good police. I’m also aware that there are bad police. I don’t judge any group of people on the actions of one. I never have.

I judge people based on how they treat me. How their actions affect others.

I was sent a photo posted of an officiant who was racist a few days ago. An officiant who backtracked by posting an apology. Yes, I’ve been it. Everyone can stop sending it to me as I was well aware prior to her post of her dim views and position.

I’m also well aware of other officiants who continue to point out that I’m “LBGT Friendly.”

Guess what? If you are on ANY Wendy Wortham website and don’t recognize or realize that I’m VERY public regarding my beliefs and position, you are either blind or illiterate. I can’t solve stupidity. No one can.

What I can do is be who I am. Take it or leave it.

Don’t pretend to be who you aren’t. Your racist rant was well publicized. You know what bothers me the most is when people like you get caught with your pants down and then backtrack with some half ass apology for your own behavior. You posted something that offended everyone. In the midst of a pandemic. In the midst of social injustice. In the midst of people being unemployed for two months with job loss or wage cuts. Keep your insignificant and phony apology.

As for anyone else running around screaming “Wendy Wortham performs gay marriages” you should know ALL of my websites publicly reflect my affiliation with the LBGT community. The word gay is a slur. Stop using it. Grow up and stop gossiping.

Maybe if you’d spend more time on cultivating your business and catering to your clients rather than running around condemning others you might actually have clients. Boom.

I’m well aware that there are racist bigots running around and I’m well aware that there are trolls trying to stir the chili.

What you need to know and understand though is that someone somewhere is always going to be on the other side.

I have a number of clients waiting on paperwork or dates across Texas.

Due to the visitation ban, when we are able to move forward, there is a very strong possibility that I will have stacked clients at numerous Units.

A stacked day means I have 2-8 clients at the same unit on the same day. Please arrive 15 minutes early on wedding day.

Remember to bring your state issued ID and marriage license.

Handwritten vows should be handed to me prior to shakedown. I will hand them back after clearing.

I look forward to seeing all of you very soon at your prison weddings.

As for the bail bondsmen who continue to wish I wouldn’t post accurate truths about the nature of their industry though they can get over themselves…

What If? Why Not? What For? When Love Isn’t Enough…

Reading text messages from my Michael Unit Bride, Bridget, it became apparent that salvaging a marriage she had wanted so badly wasn’t going to work. Why? Her husband was making financial demands of sending $500 here or $700 there or he would be the victim of gang violence? Guilt is often a form of coercion and manipulation. Was Bridget aware of this? Perhaps not but I was about to enlighten her.

Bridget met her future husband in middle school. They hadn’t seen each other in thirty years. How did they reconnect? Her future husbands mother put Bridget in touch with her son.

At the time Bridget contacted me about marrying at Michael Unit, she was excited and thrilled to have found love. They hadn’t seen one another in person for thirty years. Their only correspondence was by mail or phone. I was a bit concerned about the fact that Bridget hadn’t had a visit and mentioned this to her but she wanted the emotional surprise and delight of seeing each other on wedding day.

I rolled into the parking lot at Michael in one of our Santa Fe suvs that day. I sent a text to Bridget and met her in the parking lot. We walked into the shakedown area.

For the record, I remember each moment I finally meet my clients marrying an inmate in person. Why? Because my traditional clients have always met me in person long before wedding day.

Clients marrying an inmate talk, text and email. We have a virtual relationship long before an in person meeting.

As we waited for our escort at Michael Unit, Bridget gave me the details of how this love story came about. It was romantic and filled with precious memories of their childhood. I loved the dynamics of “love finding a way.”

I never ask why an inmate is incarcerated. Often though my clients share this information on their own. Bridgets soon to be husband had a 55 year sentence. This alarmed me. Why? Because 55 years is a very long time.

While it’s true I have many clients who marry a lifer or death row inmate, I wondered with a sentence that heavy and a virtual courtship if Bridget could make this marriage work? After all, Bridget had children and grandchildren. The expenses of being a prison wife are many. Money on the books of an inmate, expensive phone calls, long drives to the Unit and lonely nights and holidays are hard on the person on the outside.

I recalled another client at Stiles who had been on the outside not once but twice for an inmate who claimed he wanted a fresh start only to wind up back in prison. My bride had called me after he was again back in the system. She needed an ear to listen. She needed a way to vent her frustration at loving someone who chose to go back to his old ways. He was released last month. Will he fly straight? Only time will tell but his beautiful wife won’t be around for a third stint. Everyone has limits.

My Wynn Unit bride contacted me about a divorce two months ago. My Ellis Unit client contacted me about a divorce while Cindy and I were in California.

Now Bridget is contacting me about a divorce. This is alarming. Why? All of these clients are in Texas. Not other service area states but only in Texas? Why the trend?

I sent Bridget information to self file her divorce. She’s in Dallas County. The clerks offices and courts are closed. Her husband continues to accuse her of being unfaithful. This type of tactic is a form of control. Generally it’s used to put the victim on the defensive. Why? To rattle their cage. To force them into being defensive. Manipulative people use emotion to bend or break someone. Bridget’s husband claimed the gang going after him was going after him for drugs. How did he obtain drugs in prison? Why did he consistently accuse her of being unfaithful. Why did he use guilt to attempt to coerce her into sending hundreds of dollars she didn’t have to send? Control.

Let’s go back to a client a few years ago who told me the inmate wanted her to send risqué photos of herself to him. She was uncomfortable about this and said so. The inmate became infuriated about her refusal. He then accused her of being unfaithful. He then demanded she send half of her income to him “to create a nest egg for our future.”

When I heard these red flags flying, I advised her to cut him off entirely. Stop taking his calls. Stop sending money. Stop being manipulated. Why? She has 3 children. She works two jobs. The last thing she needs are upsetting phone calls and accusations along with monetary demands. She cancelled plans to marry this con artist and found love on the outside.

Let’s go back to the two brides and one groom “scenario.” It’s tough to shock me but that catastrophe did. On the one hand I had someone in North Dakota wanting to marry someone in TDCJ. On the other hand I had someone in San Antonio wanting to marry the SAME INMATE.

How did I know it was the same inmate? The Unit, the inmates ID number and the inmates name perfectly matched. It was the same person. This Don Juan had a lot of time on his hands. He also had not one but two women sending him money in exchange for him sending these two women identical love letters. North Dakota sent me videos of the love letters to prove it was the same inmate she also sent copies of the envelopes. San Antonio sent me copies of the letters too. I advised both of these women to dump the flim flam man.

For weeks I continued to lay out all of the reasons this unethical scoundrel wasn’t marriage material. San Antonio demanded he “choose” between the two brides. She also decided to go ahead and marry him. He was paroled two weeks after the marriage.

While Cindy and I were in California he also hit the young lady who had offered her heart and her home to this abusive con man.

There are a number of names for scoundrels. Let’s review them… Charleton, Fraudster, Dastard, Scallywag, Bagabond, Hooligan, Grifter, Swindler, Rat, Villain, & Rogue to name a few. I’m going to add Insincere and Treacherous.

For the “prisoner attempting polygamy” all of the above references fit what he had been doing to not one but TWO WOMEN.

Betrayed by her husband, the bride that decided to marry the emotionally unfaithful con man who had prayed and played two women at the same time (that we knew of since there could have been more) she sent me a message on FB for her help filing a divorce. Cindy and I were in Oceanside. I asked what had happened? She told me he had struck her. That was enough information for me and certainly too much for her. Two weeks out of the joint and physically abusive only added to the emotional abuse this inmate had put her through. She’s divorced now and happy I might add. Well rid of a snake that crawled into her life and begrudgingly slithered out of it.

Bridget like all of my clients is worthy of true love. True love doesn’t have a price tag or demands. True love is freely given and freely received.

“When Kindness Is Consistent It Becomes Constant.” Cindy Daniel

Bridget like all of my clients deserves to find love and have love. Sadly, she married someone unworthy of her. Together we will fix that by obtaining a divorce and freeing the chains that bound her to someone hellbent on taking advantage of her…

Prisons, People, Phobias & Fears. Why I’m Not Afraid To Be A Prison Wedding Planner & Officiant…

I answer a lot of questions. Questions from people who disagree with inmate marriage. Questions from people wanting to marry an inmate. Questions from media about whether the Coronavirus will affect me in the future.

For the record, when I walk into the Unit with my client or alone to meet my client or clients in the shakedown area, fear isn’t part of my day.

As a prison wedding officiant, my role is and always will be to remain calm and ensure that my clients wedding day is as pleasant and memorable as possible.

I was at Beto Unit on March 10. A month ago, it was business at usual at Beto. I visited with Chaplain Strange. We waited for my clients fiancée to arrive in the visitation area with an escort.

I’m never in general population with inmates at any Unit in any State, Federal or ICE Detention Facility.

The number of people my client and I are with at a wedding can range from 2 correctional officers to 1 and the Unit Chaplain or several correctional officers based on the day or whether the visitation area is being used for training.

It’s not uncommon for the visitation area to be “in use” on wedding day at many Units. When this occurs, my client an I are often redirected to either another room or we wait for the visitation area to clear.

Generally other than my client and their fiancée, one officer and the chaplain, we are alone.

Prison weddings are remarkably intimate. There are very few people present. Often I have more than one client at the same Unit on the same day. Certain Units will allow all of my clients and I to enter together while other Units only allow me to enter with 1 client at a time while the others wait for me to finish my ceremony then return to the shakedown area with my next client.

I’m often asked “how can you do so many Units in the same day?” This works in Texas and other states based on timing and distance from one Unit to the next. It’s not always possible to pull off a multi Unit day but it happens with frequency the past three years for me. Why? I’m the most sought after prison officiant in the United States. Why? Because I make every clients wedding as special as they are. It’s important to me. From creating a massive inventory of bouquets, tiaras, stylish hats and more to crafting an individual and unique ceremony script for each client, weddings are Life Events to me and a one time shot to get everything as close to perfect as I can under extraordinary circumstances.

“Your twin sister and your niece are also prison officiants. Your son and daughter in law officiate are county jails and BOP facilities. Do you see moving your son and daughter in law into state ceremonies?” For now, my son and his wife are on a paternity leave and generally I’m able to cover all of my clients by stacking Units.

“The visitation ban has affected your booking schedule. Will you be overwhelmed when visitation is reinstated with reschedules?” To a certain extent the answer is yes. My March clients were canceled and will be scheduled first. Bookings in Texas State Facilities are often scheduled on either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Mondays and Fridays are rare. They can happen but not on a regular basis.

“How do you map out your day on the road?” I usually start in Tennessee Colony on a Tuesday or Thursday as most Units in Palestine (Beto, Powledge, Gurney) schedule on both days as do Michael and Coffield. Generally I’m in the Tennessee Colony/Palestine area very early in the morning. I then move to Huntsville Units. Frequently, I can also move to Polunsky by evening as they schedule after 5:30PM.

“How many miles do you drive a week as a traveling prison officiant?” In Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, I drive and can easily drive up to 3k miles a week. I fly to other states in order to save time.

“Are you concerned about traveling with Covid-19 being widespread at this time?” To a certain extent a bit but I’m a germaphobic and have always sanitized my area on the plane when I fly as does Cindy.

“Will you be nervous when the visitation ban is lifted and you return to visiting 1-4 prisons on the same day again?” I will follow my same protocol of washing and sanitizing my hands prior to walking into a Unit as well and be aware of everything I touch. I go through 2 gates to enter most Units and these are the same gates that staff and visitors use so I’m well aware of the number of hands touching the gates. I will no longer shake hands in greeting my clients fiancees or the staff at Units to limit what I touch and with whom.

“You don’t bring your own pen into Units? How do you sign marriage licenses?” A pen can be used as a weapon and I’ve always borrowed a pen from the chaplain or an officer in the visitation area. Like the gates though, I will be washing and sanitizing my hands after using a pen on site.

“I’ve read that a small number of clients from your other businesses and venues you are on staff at are alarmed regarding your other clients. How do you address someone who realizes that you officiate LBGT unions or prison weddings?” Well, it’s complicated and rare for another client to express concerns regarding my other clients but it has occurred and may occur again in the future. I cut them loose. I move on. I must focus on my congregation. That congregation being the majority rather than the minority of my client’s. I’ve learned over my lifetime that negativity regarding my diverse client bases is viewed as “the choir.” I turn my back on the choir an focus on the congregation. If someone is concerned about my other clients and people that they will never meet or much less share their event date with then that’s “THEIR luggage and THEIR trip” not mine. I cut them loose and wish them luck. I’m not going to change who I am or who I help based on opinions of others.

“THERE Is No ENTRANCE For KNOWLEDGE In A CLOSED Mind.” Cindy Daniel

“Did you see yourself walking into prisons to conduct wedding ceremonies when you decided to start an event business?” No but I was open to anything as was my twin sister. We wanted to make life event’s affordable to anyone anywhere and we have.

Texas Twins Events was the first people over profit based event endeavor for my twin sister and I. Two years in we recognized and realized that a handful of clients couldn’t afford even low cost options. To solve this problem, we merged Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create a barter option, The Pawning Planners. We were never trying to “be like everyone else.” That market was saturated.

What we wanted to do and have accomplished was to be the people we would like to meet…

Homebound And Feeling Down? You Aren’t Alone…

My entire adult life has been built around structure. I’ve always had a schedule. I don’t anymore.

My “new normal” consists of going outside to take out the trash these days and making a run for it if one of my neighbors happens to be doing the same thing at the same time or meeting clients and staying in my suv. It’s odd to not walk into a venue or a unit. It’s odd to change so much so quickly.

Social distancing has affected anyone who takes this virus seriously. For others who don’t, they eventually do when their job shuts down or their city is locked down by a safety in place order.

Due to the number of requests for drive by ceremonies, I’ve updated my site pages… Texas Twins Events I cannot and will not “just sign a license.” I will conduct a ceremony regardless of how brief PRIOR to signing your license.

Changes to how, where and when people are now getting married by car are shocking but occurring with regularity during this virus window.

Suddenly being stuck at home and unprepared for the possibility has caught a number of folks with their pants down. People who didn’t know how to cook are learning. People with limited food at home are “winging it” with wild recipes of items they have on hand.

I miss seeing my grandson the past 2 weeks. I miss my clients, my structure, my predictability and my family. I miss the way things “used to be.” But, this is temporary. Self quarantine protects all of us. It’s inconvenient but it’s essential.

My twin sister summed up this unexpected virus to me while I was sadly calling 9 clients last week to advise them that their event had been cancelled.

These clients had been scheduled at 4 TDCJ Units, 2 FBOP facilities 1 ICE Detention Center and 1 county jail and were excitedly looking forward to a wedding they had waited months to have.

Cindy summed up the situation better than I could have (as usual).

“YOU will no longer FEAR the STORM, once you’ve SURVIVED the DROUGHT”

Cindy literally has a flair for iconic and memorable quotes that I’ve never had.

Yesterday, I reviewed a DM from a Linda who wanted to know if I “had heard about Harvey Weinstein?” I follow prison news and legal news closely and ironically had told my husband weeks ago “they are taking him to Bellevue.” Matthew wanted to know the outcome of a very public and sensational trial. I had tuned in at odd times to follow this trial.

While awaiting sentencing, Weinstein was kept at Rikers.

Rikers Island is among the world’s largest jails – it is perched on a 413 acre island between Queens and the Bronx and holds about 7,000 inmates, down from more than 20,000 at its peak in the 1990s.

The majority (85%) of detainees at Rikers Island are pretrial defendants, either held on bail or remanded in custody. The rest of the population have been convicted and are serving short sentences.

As early as February, Bellevue had reported cases of Coronavirus. But the main story that most of us will remember is the death of Kobe not the outbreak of a virus sweeping through New York.

Obviously, Weinstein wasn’t sick during the trial or showing signs of illness.

How do I know? From catching glimpses of the trial. No one was coughing or showing signs of difficulty breathing. That trial was charged with emotion but without visible signs of illness.

Meanwhile at Bellevue, more cases surfaced not only there but at other hospitals as well.

Because Weinstein had suffered a mild heart attack, he was sent to Bellevue for an angioplasty procedure.

There weren’t any reports of Coronavirus at Rikers until after Weinstein having that angioplasty. Think about it.

My observation of the widespread and unheard of transmissions of the Coronavirus at Rikers took me a moment to try and understand why or how the virus had come to get into Rikers.

Was it a guard? A weekend visitor? Or was it Weinstein returning to custody from Bellevue? Could his nurse or treatment team at Bellevue have inadvertently transferred the virus to Weinstein it was it a hard surface that Weinstein came in contact with? Hospitals are riddled with germs as are prisons.

Many posts regarding Weinstein becoming infected with the Coronavirus run from “he deserved it” to “that’s great.” Focus on where he’s been and who has been around him ya all.

What these folks are missing here is the number of people who have been within 6 feet of Weinstein.

Regardless of your feelings about HIM what about THEM?

Attorneys, correctional officers, hospital staff, I could go on and on here. Reporters within close proximity are and have been equally “exposed.”

Someone else had commented on yet another post regarding Rikers being overrun by the virus. Another “who cares?” Well, for people this narrow minded and unconcerned about inmates, it should be noted that the inmates family care.

The correctional officers and their families care too.

Do these people posting hateful comments realize the number of people who work within the criminal justice system prior to making idiotic public remarks? No. Because they don’t love an inmate or an officer. They don’t care about inmates. But there are millions of people who do care about inmates.

There are families who care about a loved one working at a facility overrun with a deadly virus too.

Prisons have millions of visitors on weekends throughout the U.S. But if we look at where this virus is running rampantly through the criminal justice system, it isn’t affecting any state as much as New York. Why? Rikers and Bellevue? The airport? A city that’s a literal hub for international travel? Public transportation? Cabs? Ubers? Drivers from the network? Hotels? Airplanes?

Could it be because Weinstein literally “brought the Coronavirus into Rikers from Bellevue? It is a possibility. Or was an officer already infected and transporting Weinstein from court to Rikers or from Bellevue to Rikers? Was he already infected during the trial? He didn’t appear to be but if the incubation period is two weeks the possibility of him being ill at some point are possible.

Rikers is now releasing inmates at an alarming pace. Were these other inmates exposed? We may never know but the possibility exists.

Other correctional facilities are following Rikers lead. They too want to thin the numbers of inmates. This has never occurred within the criminal justice system before. TDCJ will not follow the lead of others and neither is CDCR although many are pressuring early releases. CDCR may very well start releasing older inmates or inmates with health issues due to the number of people pressuring them to do so but pressure won’t affect TDCJ. This is Texas and Texas is being proactive rather than reactive.

Ironically, the Fort Worth PD announced publicly that they won’t arrest Class C suspects. They don’t want to bring anything into the jails. But does this announcement encourage criminal behavior? Maybe. In Texas, most citizens are armed and in a position to protect their home and property. Texans are preparers by nature. Most know how to hunt and fish. Parents and grandparents teach kids gun safety at a young age. I was one of those kids. My uncle handed me a rifle at about ten years old. I don’t like guns and never have but I know how to use one and my husband has taken me to driving ranges for years to keep me aware of the possibility of one day needing to use a gun to protect myself. I hope that day never comes.

How did the virus get to Bellevue? A woman returning from abroad flew into Newark and then went to Bellevue. Did Bellevue already have the virus? Maybe. Was it a possibility? Absolutely.

  • No one took this Coronavirus seriously until they were forced to do so. Including me. I viewed this virus as I did the flu which affects and kills people every year.
  • I’m OCD and to people around me known as a germ freak. Those months spent volunteering at the nursing home taught me to be aware of germs and the transmission of germs. I’ve never forgotten what I learned about sterilization at that nursing home.
  • Why? At 15 years old I was volunteering at a nursing home for a health class to attempt to go into the nursing profession.
  • At a very young age, I learned about germs. Nurses and personnel warned me about infection and transmission.
  • Although I chose another path in my career, I’ve never forgotten how fragile seniors are and how easily germs can spread through a nursing home. Prisons are equally vulnerable as are hospitals.
  • I began officiating inmate weddings in California years ago prior to other states including Texas, I followed the same stringent guidelines about sanitizing my hands prior to entering and after leaving a Unit.
  • I also had advised my PCP that I would be going into prisons and needed booster immunizations in order to protect my clients, the facility staff, myself and the inmates.
  • When my twin sister, Cindy and niece, Leigh Ann began officiating inmate ceremonies, they followed the same regimen of doing whatever they could to stay healthy and immunized. Why? Because the importance of being vigilant is to protect not only ourselves but also those around us.
  • I had an inquisitive phone call about a post on my FB page, Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham after posting my observations regarding Rikers. It was a reporter. She had read my post regarding Rikers and Bellevue.
  • Why no one else saw or noticed the same things I did I have no idea. I love a mystery. I love trying to figure out what happened or will happen. With the Coronavirus, no one could have anticipated what has happened. No one.
  • While the media reported that Weinstein “tested positive,” what they didn’t do was attempt to find out how.
  • My self imposed isolation began last Monday. I’ve continued to stay in touch with clients, Units and my family. I’ve officiated two drive through funerals. Shocking yes but I’ve also had a flood of people contacting me because their “other officiant” effectively bailed on them.
  • Fear flops two ways. While vendors are upset about cancellations, customers are now getting cancelled by their vendor? This trend during wedding season has never occurred before.
  • BUT I can’t save everyone. I have to put my booked clients first which is why I’m not taking on new or short notice bookings. Why? Because I currently have a month of rescheduled events already. These clients are my priority.
  • “You must turn your back on the choir to focus on the congregation.”
  • My twin sister famously told me this at a wedding years ago. The couple were the congregation. Their families were the choir. Cindy and her iconic quotes are honest, raw and real.
  • Anyone contacting me with a full plate of clients awaiting reschedules is effectively the choir. I have an existing congregation.
  • The reporter contacting me wanted a Zoom conference. I prefer Skype and use it frequently for production companies and media interviews. Nonetheless and anyhow, I downloaded Zoom and attempted to “fix myself up.” What do I mean by that folks? Well my quarantine clothing consists of daytime pajamas and nighttime pajamas which obviously aren’t appropriate for a video conference call.
  • My husband asked “why are you putting on makeup? You aren’t going anywhere are you?”
  • The safety of officiating ceremonies from my car and limiting my interaction with mourners, clients and guests is and will be odd. Mobile weddings and funerals are unheard of but fast becoming a reality. Social distancing is a learning curve.
  • I miss the intimacy of hugging clients to celebrate their wedding or posing for wedding photos. I miss the intimacy of shaking hands and sharing my sorrow at a memorial. I can currently no longer perform baptisms. Social distancing and stringent guidelines to protect the transmission of this virus have literally changed the way I live.
  • All of my clients are upset about changes. From visitation revocation to rescheduled events, no one is happy about the current changes set forth to prevent the transmission of this virus. We are all “adapting.” We have no choice.
  • Rikers and Wende now have the Coronavirus.
  • Cindy and I had flown into Newark last August to film with Mel Robbins. Cindy and Wendy both sanitized our entire areas on the plane with antibacterial wipes while fellow passengers stared at us. Cindy and Wendy fly a lot and learned years ago that every time we got off a plane we got sick. We changed that by being OCD. We no longer get sick flying and the reason we dont is over precaution.
  • Leigh Ann had flown into JFK. Our travel coordinator couldn’t put us at the same airport which wasn’t an issue as the driver for Leigh Ann took her to the same hotel our driver did.
  • Our first night in New York would be the first time my twin had chest pains. It would be our first inkling of a problem too. Irony has many faces.
  • On one hand, we had a set of Texas Twins who have never not honored a commit in their lives. On the other hand, my sister had a health issue that had surfaced. Cindy wouldn’t go to the hospital in New York because “we must be on the set. I will go to a doctor back home.”
  • Leaving New York at Newark Airport, I as usual had antibacterial wipes. In fact, every time we got into a car with our driver, I wiped down the areas. My sister was having chest pains. I went and bought a bottle of aspirin and bottle of water. I was terrified Cindy would have a heart attack returning to DFW. But, she didn’t and she didn’t because I bought those aspirin.
  • Back in DFW, my twin was diagnosed with angina. I was determined to find out why.
  • Admitted and discharged from Harris with this cryptic diagnosis. I demanded a prescription for nitroglycerin. Why? Because I had researched angina.
  • In a matter of days the nitroglycerin would save my sister from a major heart attack. In a matter of months, my sister would undergo an angioplasty just like Weinstein. But the nitroglycerin and aspirin while waiting on a referral for a cardiologist are why my sister survived.
  • We were waiting on that referral while Cindy was a passenger in my suv running from Unit to Unit across Texas and driving her daughter, Stephaney to treatment in Oklahoma.
  • The stress of “another inpatient stint” for Stephaney didn’t help Cindys stress level or angina discomfort.
  • I took Cindy to Harris in Willow Park and my twin was finally transferred to the Heart Ward for an angioplasty. The referral from our PCP came while she was at Harris still recovering.
  • You can imagine after going through all of this to get my sister proper treatment why I wondered how Weinstein “got right in” and “got that angioplasty.”
  • For people on the outside, getting a cardiologist and getting an angioplasty are far more difficult. Why do you think there are so many heart attacks in America?
  • A number of people are saying “Weinstein got what he deserved.” But, what about the personnel at the Unit? What about other inmates? What about the visitors to Rikers? What about the families of personnel and visitors? This isn’t so much about Weinstein as it is throwing a rock in the pond. The rock leaves ripples.
  • As Units across the country consider releasing inmates, Rikers is releasing more than anyone else.
  • Are these inmates infected? Who knows but they are out and they are out after being exposed. Think about it.
  • Wende now has two cases with one of them being Weinstein. Will there be others at Wende? Are there already?
  • Weinstein will be housed in Wende for his entire classification process, a Department of Corrections spokesperson said.
  • “There is no standard time frame for this process, as it varies based on the individual’s programmatic, medical and other needs,” the rep said.

  • How many correctional officers have been within 6 feet of Weinstein? How many people have been near him? It’s a question that may never be answered but needs to be considered….
  • On The Inside Looking Out. Green Bay To Marlin To McClennan County To Mercado To Belltower To Omni…

    I spend 3-5 days a week inside state and federal prisons as well as county jails, venues, military bases, backyards and other locations. I am the busiest Inmate Officiant in the United States. I’m also not limited to Texas. I’m licensed and certified to conduct inmate ceremonies in numerous states. 

    What I’m not is “available to anyone.” I’m picky. I regularly turn down “traditional requests.” Why? I can and if it isn’t fun for me I’m not interested. I’m on staff at numerous venues and for years now the only traditional clients I’ve had were booked from a venue I am on staff at or repeat bookings. 

    Frequently people “who found me on the internet” contact me. These people are neither prospects or interested in retaining services. These people are production companies, reporters or even others “who saw how successful I am and want me to teach them how to do what I’ve done or educate them regarding what I “do or who I do it for.” 

    I’m not in the education industry. I’m an entrepreneur and expert in the prison weddings industry. If you’d like me to educate you, hire me as a consultant. If you’d like me to create competition I don’t have move along. 

    I’m out of the demanding diva business. Instead, I focus on helping people who are thankful and appreciative. I can assure you none of my traditional clients send Christmas cards or check on my sister. 

    My clients marrying an inmate are honest, real, raw, passionate and down to earth. I prefer working with them. I prefer driving down the road listening to music on another adventure. I don’t prefer working with divas. Thanks anyway. 

    I don’t work for money anymore I work for fun. However, I’m not a volunteer and my time, experience and knowledge are valuable. I know my worth. 

    Standing inside a prison with my clients gazing at razor wire glistening like diamonds in the sun, I’m often on the inside looking out. Literally. 

    A few months ago, I married a client on the outside who had been inside for twenty years. Johnny had been to three TDCJ Units. I knew all three. I’ve been to them many times over the years. Johnny is a success story. He is an amazing husband and good friend too. 

    Johnny was beginning life after lock up. I met Johnny and Brenda and drove them to the clerks office to buy their license. My team and I loaned the flowers and set up their backyard for the wedding. On February 3rd I had first met David at the Tarrant County Clerks Office. He was nervous about buying the license. Most of my clients are. 

    Since I was filing licenses from my weekend of weddings, I told David to meet me at 9:30AM. David like all of my clients was excited and nervous. 

    The clerks office can be intimidating but Tarrant County is one of the friendliest clerks offices in Texas. The number of times I’ve met clients at Tarrant, Dallas and Parker County Clerks Office’s surprises people. But I’m by far more than “just an Officiant.” My role is that of an advisor, a hand holder, the mother of the bride and often in such cases as David, a mother figure walking him through a complicated process. 

    Today at Marlin Unit, David married his best friend. Their joy was evident. I’m performing their Vow Renewal in just a few months in Fort Worth. I love happy endings. 

    I get things done. I have a jam packed schedule and I’ve never advertised. Each and every ceremony is custom created for my clients. Their ceremonies are as special as they are. 

    I am detail oriented and OCD. I’m a list maker, task taker, pioneer and trailblazer. David like all of my clients had “heard about me.” My reputation is my calling card. He knew he could entrust me with the complicated process of getting him married and he was right.

    This morning as I headed to Green Bay Unit for an 8:30AM wedding, I took a call from someone who had listed my name on paperwork at Allred but HAD NOT HIRED ME. For weeks now, phone calls from this someone who thinks I’m going to alter my schedule to accommodate her needs without following my booking procedures has been stressful. I don’t need stress in my life. I enjoy what I do and I don’t have to work. I certainly don’t work for anyone who hasn’t bothered to hire me. 

    I cannot stress this point enough.., if you haven’t hired me I will not be conducting your ceremony. 

    Due to the workload of a Unit often spending weeks to process the I60, Allred Unit will now call me to verify client status. I advised the caller today of my tight schedule and why attempting to schedule herself on February 19th at Allred wouldn’t work. I’ve had this discussion before with her regarding February 5th when she failed to hire me and also failed to show up. I don’t have time to play games with anyone. Pay me don’t play me. 

    My patience with this young lady as well as the Chaplains patience at Allred Unit have been with paper thin. I CANNOT and WILL NOT commit to anyone who has not committed to me. Arguing with her after learning she had called Allred and attempted to put herself on my schedule February 19th when I obviously don’t have time since I’m at Roach on the same day was an escapade in Futility. My schedule is tight. 

    On Wednesday after consistently telling the two people who used my name without hiring me to send money or stop contacting me, I posted the following update to enlighten anyone unaware that Cole to Allred or Allred to Roach or Cole to Hodge or Hodge to Ferguson are an all day affair of driving for me and why I will not commit to anyone who isn’t a booked client to clarify… 

    Attention TDCJ Allred Unit Clients, after a lengthy conversation with Chaplain Redwine and due to my schedule which often has me at other Units on the same day (Roach, Cole and Goree specifically), the Unit will NOW CALL ME rather than you to schedule. Why? Because a number of people have been using my name and credentials without hiring me to obtain a date at Allred Unit. 

    Each couple has 20 minutes. My schedule is TIGHT. I allow for 20 minutes per couple in each Unit. I must factor time inside the Unit as well as travel in order to address additional clients on the same day. 

    I can’t just “add someone” because I’m on site. That’s not fair to my existing clients and certainly won’t work with my schedule. 

    On February 19th I have a confirmed client and only one confirmed client at Allred. Why only one? Because this client was initially booked on 02-05 but didn’t have her marriage license so we rescheduled. After rescheduling at Allred, another client was Approved at Roach. Because of this and the distance between Units, I knew that I only had time for one wedding at Allred before heading to Roach.  

    Because I am also at Roach Unit on 02-19, I must leave Allred no later than 12:15PM in order to be at Roach by 2:30PM . Roach is 106 miles from Allred. 

    Adding another client at Allred would effectively add another 20 minute ceremony at Allred. Because of the timeline I have I’m not adding anyone else on February 19th onto my schedule. I know my limitations and know who I have on my roster at Allred. If you aren’t on my roster though you aren’t a booked client and will need to book services. You will roll to March too. I have zero flexibility for any other weddings on the 19th at Allred. 

    Since I have discussed this “time crunch” issue regarding several units on the same date at length with Chaplain Redwine, we are working together in order to make your Dream Event a reality at Allred Unit. 

    Timing is critical for me. I’m never late and I never rush my clients. Whether I’m moving from Cole to Allred or Allred to Roach or Hodge to Goree since all of these Units use Wednesday’s, my schedule is carefully planned and mapped out. 

    While Ferguson is also a Wednesday Unit, I rarely (if ever) schedule another Unit on a Ferguson Wednesday day. Why? Because Ferguson schedules at 1PM and after. Unless the other Unit is Goree, the possibility of moving from Allred, Cole or Roach to Ferguson on the same day isn’t even a remote possibility. Goree and Ferguson are close enough to be a possibility and schedule on Wednesday’s as well. 

    The distance from Cole to Ferguson is approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. The distance from Allred to Ferguson is approximately 4 hours and 22 minutes. The distance from Roach to Ferguson is approximately 5 hours and 43 minutes. The distance from Cole to Ferguson is approximately 3 hours and 19 minutes. The distance from Ferguson to Goree is approximately 30 minutes which makes a shift from Ferguson to Goree even possible on the same date. 

    I know the exact distance between Units because I have to. While it’s possible to move from Tennessee Colony to Huntsville to Livingston, it’s not always possible to move from a Unit outside the distance of 2 hours to another Unit without careful planning. 

    Only once have I moved from Huntsville to Gatesville on the same day. Why? Because the distance is nearly 3 hours. I prefer Units be within 2 hours on the same day to give me some degree of flexibility. Moving from Allred to Cole or Cole to Allred or even Cole to Roach is far and beyond two hours which is why I would never book Allred, Cole and Roach on the same date. It’s humanly impossible. 

    Subsequently, I would never book Allred and Ferguson or Goree or even Hodge on the same date. The distance from Hodge to Allred is approximately 4 hours and 19 minutes. 

    I prefer to book Hodge when I’m scheduled at a Huntsville Unit. Why? Because I can easily move from Rusk to Huntsville. Approximate distance between Rusk and Huntsville? One hour and thirty nine minutes. 

    For a few years now in Texas, I’ve had Units and even people I’ve talked to that didn’t book services call me “about a date.” If someone or the Unit is calling me “about a date” and I don’t recognize the name, the person isn’t my client. This is a real problem and it continues to happen. 

    To correct this continuing issue of people listing me on I60’s without bothering to book me, Units are working with me to stop working on paperwork for a wedding that isn’t going to happen. 

    Last year, Hodge Unit called me “about a date with my client.” I didn’t have anyone on my books for Hodge and advised the Chaplain of this fact. The Chaplain at Hodge Unit gave me the contact information of this person and I called her. She had expected me to officiate her wedding without hiring me and was surprised to hear that “I wasn’t in any way obligated to drive 3 hours one way simply because she found my name on the internet.” After a phone call with her and carefully explaining why “I wouldn’t volunteer to drive 6 hours round trip at my own expense because she found my name on the internet and used it on the I60” I called the Unit and cancelled. 

    For anyone unaware of this, an Approved I60 with my name on it for someone who hasn’t hired me is a problem for them because I can cancel the wedding. Using my name and not bothering to book me doesn’t obligate me in any form to show up hours away. Why? Because I have booked clients that followed procedure expecting me on site at their wedding and if I’m not on site there won’t be a wedding. 

    If you aren’t my client, don’t expect me to drop everything and volunteer. I drive 1500-3k miles a week. I’m busy. I’m driving to meet clients who actually HIRED ME. 
    Further, I cannot and will not “move another client” who has followed my booking procedure and has been waiting for 1-3 months aside just because “someone else” who hasn’t followed booking procedures expects me to do so. 

    Don’t ASSUME my schedule or my availability. Don’t assume that you are more important than someone else. Everyone waits. If you are holding a contract and haven’t returned it, I can assure you that calling me about a date isn’t going to go well. I know exactly how many clients are on my books each and every month. Many roll over during the waiting process. Meaning that as well as roll over clients I have new clients each month. 

    At any given time I have up to 30 clients waiting on dates. I limit new bookings in order to be available. I never overbook myself. This is to ensure my availability. 
    My priority is the booked client. My priority is getting to my next Unit in time. My priority is keeping my promises. I ALWAYS KEEP MY PROMISES. 

    What my priority isn’t is accommodating someone or even several someone’s who were aware of my being on site at a Unit and expecting me to simply “add them into my schedule as a courtesy.”This isn’t how my booking procedure or my schedule work. 

    Let’s review how and what create a client relationship one more time. 1. I mail you a contract. 2. The contract outlined the terms of the deal and requires a deposit. 3. When a client returns the contract we create a client file and return a receipt and signed contract to the client. If you are returning a contract without a deposit, the contract requires a deposit. Because this has occurred in the past I’m going to go over why we hold a contract and wait on the deposit prior to creating a client file, I cannot commit to someone who isn’t committing to me. 

    My contracts are very specific and require a booking deposit. 
    Expecting me to officiate your wedding simply because you are aware I will be on site is not only line jumping but also arrogant. 

    My booked clients and my schedule are my PRIORITIES. 

    If you are NOT ON MY BOOKS YOU ARE NOT ON MY SCHEDULE. 

    If you have not returned your contract AND your deposit, you are not a booked client and not my responsibility. I cannot be clearer about this. 

    I do not advertise. I do not book more clients than I can address and I regularly bump new inquiries for bookings to the following month in order to ensure availability for my existing clients. 
    Many TDCJ Units are now requiring the last 4 digits of my drivers license number to limit people pulling my name and then using my credentials to obtain a date for marriage at a Unit. This has to stop. It creates work for the Unit and surprise phone calls for me. I don’t like surprises and Units don’t either. Without an Approved Officiant on site there won’t be a wedding. 

    The paperwork on a Units end to process an I60 is time consuming. Because of this, processing paperwork for a wedding that isn’t obviously going to happen without an Officiant, Texas Units will now requesting information about me that isn’t listed anywhere on the internet or having me contact to confirm. If you are not my client, I will advise the Unit of this and “your date” will be cancelled. 

    While driving to meet my client at Ferguson Unit, one of the people who had listed me on the I60 at Allred but not bothered hiring me at Allred called me. Driving along I prepared to go over why and how rescheduling on the 19th weren’t going to work for her. 

    She has now had three weeks to actually book services and still hasn’t bothered to do so. 

    While she’s holding that contract though my schedule continues to book up with actual clients effectively bumping her opportunity to actually book services AND obtain a date with me. 

    Since this bride had been on the schedule 02-05 as Chaplain Redwine has added her knowing I had four other clients on the same day. Chaplain Allred was unaware I was also at Cole on the same day. 

    She had bothered to call Allred to cancel 02-05 but didn’t bother contacting me regarding this matter as she assumed my availability and somehow assumed she didn’t need to book services either. 

    I confirm bookings at Units. Why? Because my schedule requires planning that’s why. First, this bride doesn’t book or retain services THEN assumes she can reschedule her wedding and my schedule without retaining me? What the? Now you are catching on as to why obtaining your Officiant and services is and should be a priority. Without following procedure, I can assure you that no one else is going to officiate your ceremony either. 

    Frankly on 02-05 I had “timed to the second” my actual booked clients at Allred and the drive time necessary to get to the Unit along with icy roads. 

    The timing was critical as I had not only clients at Allred but also clients at Cole on 02-05. I could not be LATE to either Unit. I am NEVER late. 

    I advised her of all of the reasons that assuming she could just show up and I would have time to address her although she had made no commitment to me wouldn’t work on 02-05 OR on 02-19 AND she still hadn’t booked me EITHER. 

    On 03-04 I’m at Cole and Roach. I advised her that she would need to actually booked me for a secondary date in March and that 03-04 wasn’t an option either as I don’t have time for Cole, Allred and Roach on the same day. I’m being serious. Cole to Allred is 3 hours. Allred to Roach is 2 hours. 

    Pertaining to my actual clients at Allred, the arrival time at Allred is going to be changed after 02-16-2020 to 10:30 check in for 11AM ceremonies after 02-19-2020.

    Outside of the McClennan County Jail waiting on my clients, Allred Non Client called me AGAIN. She had sent another text that read “Chaplain Dooley won’t believe me. You have to call him.” Why would I? She still hadn’t booked me and quite frankly I don’t want to be a nervous wreck adding another client at Allred on a really tight scheduling day.

    I don’t have to do anything for someone who hasn’t hired me going behind my back and attempting to piggyback my tight schedule. 

    Because I had 41 text messages by the time I walked out of Marlin today, I had my Apple play app read text messages as I drove towards Waco. It’s easier to talk text and drive and safer. 

    Persistently pesky non client continues to disrupt my day again today. What she didn’t do was send money. I had ignored her latest text. Why? Because at 10:44AM this morning I had already told her to wire money. I meant it. Chaplain Redwine and Dooley are well aware she hasn’t hired me. How? I told them. 

    I would not call the Unit an add her onto my burdensome schedule UNTIL she paid my fee in full. By the time she left the text while I was in Marlin Unit, she had finally realized that she couldn’t simply add herself to my schedule. Yet she refuses to send money? She’s a waste of my time. I know it, The Unit knows it and I’m guessing she knows it too.

    She has consistently refused to follow protocol. NOW she was texting me? On a 7 Client day? My contracts require payment in full SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO THE EVENT DATE.

    Either you are serious about marrying an inmate or you aren’t but I can assure you that I’m not going to cut a booked clients event short or risk running late because someone who has consistently failed to follow my protocol assumes they are entitled. They aren’t. 

    You are either a booked client or you aren’t and if you aren’t, you are not on my schedule. PERIOD. 

    Due to the consistent misuse of my credentials by people pulling my name off the internet, Units are now requiring me to contact and verify client status.

    I’m leaving Mercado Event Center to head to Belltower Chapel before heading to Omni Hotel for a midnight wedding. I have another full weekend of events. What I don’t have is time to deal with people who cannot or will not follow my protocol. My time is valuable. I don’t waste time on people who aren’t worthy of my time or my attention…

    Attitude, Aptitude And Experience Are Keys To Success.

    This morning while preparing to fly from LAX to DFW, a call from Waco, Texas came in. The caller was planning to marry at TDCJ Robertson Unit. I take calls 7 days a week from 6AM to 9PM. Robertson is slow to or process paperwork. A few of my TDCJ Units are. How do I know? I have 7 clients waiting on paperwork or dates at Robertson and others waiting months at a handful of Units. Lock Downs stop paperwork. Patience in the planning process is a must. 

    The Certified Offender ID takes weeks and occasionally months to come in. Once it does, a copy takes an additional few weeks. It’s time consuming to wait on paperwork. Occasionally for my clients, it’s frustrating too. 

    Planning your Prison Wedding requires paperwork and if you’ve never done this before, someone patient to lay out the process. I’m that person. 

    While McClennan County will allow you to purchase a marriage license with a certified birth certificate and Absentee Affidavit, there are a number of counties who require the TDCJ Certified Inmate ID. Obtaining this ID can take weeks to months. Know this “going in.” 

    For many clients, it’s by far easier to obtain a certified birth certificate but if you can’t, the long wait on an ID in Texas begins. Buckle up and be patient. 

    You can go to ANY clerks office in Texas to buy a marriage license. Remember though that you cannot buy a marriage license in Texas without both parties being present UNLESS you have a notarized absentee affidavit explaining the absence of the other party. 

    The absentee affidavit is critical to getting that license. While the option of an inmate ID or birth certificate exist there are no options regarding the absentee affidavit. 

    A few clerks offices require the ID, Absentee Affidavit and Certified Birth Certificate. This is why having options to go to another clerks office are important. 

    For a number of folks who think that ANYONE can officiate a Prison Wedding, it should be noted that only a handful of people actually can. That person must be authorized to walk into a Unit. That person should also know and follow all rules of procedure. That person should be reliable, honest and transparent. That person should also have a stellar track record. That person is me. 

    Because the planning process can easily take 4-6 weeks in Texas, there are rolling clients on my books at any given time. Because of this, I limit new bookings and I don’t advertise. I am sought after for inmate Officiant services more than anyone else in this industry. Why? Because I care and because I know what I’m doing. I also know the ins and outs. 

    A few people were surprised that LBGT prison weddings aren’t uncommon. Others offended about my diverse clients. Some of these people voice their opinions to me. Opinions are not my luggage and not my trip. 

    If you are hiring a Prison Wedding Officiant, their role involves far more than just showing up. They should be holding your hand throughout a confusing planning process too. I do. My clients are important to me.What can you wear? From pantsuits to skirts and dresses to slacks, wear what’s within the guideline and what you feel comfortable in. You can wear ornamental headpieces but we must clear the Unit. You may be asked to remove hairpieces to enter the Unit. Don’t panic I will help you redress after clearing into the Unit. Who files the license? You can but I prefer to. Why? Because a license must be filed within 30 days of me signing it. I file licenses three days a week in person or by certified mail. I’m OCD. If you forget to file your license, we can request a duplicate or amend the license but it’s a lot of trouble. It’s easier for me to file it for you and I’m happy to do so.Why do you need a certified copy? The Unit and Inmate Records require a filed copy of your marriage license. While a copy is a few dollars cheaper it isn’t a legal copy. Please request a certified copy and mail it to the attention of inmate records at your Loved Ones Unit.

    Why are some Unit photos better than others? Each Unit is different. One Unit has better equipment or a more skilled Correctional Officer taking photos. 

    You offer free photos with your extensive inventory as a courtesy. Why? Because weddings are Life Events. I want my clients to have the flowers, the furs, the tiaras, the fascinators, the signs and fun they deserve on wedding day. I want them to have an opportunity to celebrate their marriage.My clients are warriors. They make their love story last. They endure. They persevere. They overcome all obstacles placed in their path. They are the strongest people I have ever met… 

    “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” Rikki Rogers

    Last night a rather surprising text regarding wearing a costume to a TDCJ Wedding came through. While I would love for everyone to wear whatever they want, it’s something that neither you or I can “choose.” 

    Let’s review attire on wedding day once more time ya all. Shoulders must be covered. Dress lengths must be within 3″ from the middle of your knee. While costumes are not directly addressed on TDCJ’s site, I have never encountered a situation where wearing a costume would be deemed “appropriate.” 

    Why? Because we are at a prison and we don’t make the rules. Under TDCJ’s visitation dress code guidelines, there is a note that the Unit Captain has the final say. Why is this important? Because even if you are or feel you are within the dress code, the Captain can and will hand you a cafeteria smock if he feels you are dressed out of code. 

    Each state has a visitation dress code. Certain states such as Texas allow sandals and flip flops while other states don’t. 

    What to remember on wedding day at your Unit Wedding is that the majority of all of our service area states follow visitation guidelines pertaining to your attire on wedding day. what this means is that certain Units have “Allowed” wedding dresses as long as they are within the code. 

    Certain Units will not allow wedding dresses. The Unit decides not us. 
    On more than one occasion in Texas, my brides have been so closely scrutinized regarding dress lengths and cleavage that it’s best to bring an additional change of clothing “just in case.” Why? Because if someone at the Unit finds fault with what you are wearing, the Unit can insist on a cafeteria smock to enter the Unit. 

    Clothing for my male clients has never been an issue. Perhaps because dress lengths vary and low cut shirts and blouses can be deemed “too revealing,” the reasons I address your clothing being an important aspect of our visit to the Unit is to protect you from being handed a cafeteria smock on wedding day. 

    No one wants to walk into a Unit wearing a full length long sleeved button front cafeteria smock. 

    If you have doubts or wish to have a second opinion about your wedding day wear, please feel free to text me photos.

    TDCJ Visitation Dress Code Guidelines… 
    Visitors are encouraged to dress conservatively.
    Sandals, flip-flops, and open-toe shoes may be worn.
    Clothing that is tight fitting, revealing, or made with see-through fabrics shall not be allowed.
    Sleeveless shirts and dresses are allowed, but must cover the shoulders.
    Shorts and skirts no shorter than three inches above the middle of the knee while standing, capri pants, or long pants are allowed.
    Length is not restricted for pre-adolescent boys and girls, generally ages 10 and younger.

    Clothing with pictures or language that may be considered profane or offensive by current public standards shall not be allowed.

    Note: The duty warden shall make the final decision on whether clothing is appropriate. READ THIS LAST SENTENCE AGAIN. 

    Even if you are within visitation dress code, IF A DUTY WARDEN deems your attire “inappropriate,” they can and will hand you a cafeteria smock. If you refuse to wear this item, your wedding will be canceled. 

    My first encounter with the “dreaded cafeteria smock” being handed to a client was at TDCJ Torres Unit. My client initially refused to wear the smock. After a visit from the Warden in the shakedown area and a lengthy discussion from me after driving 5.5 hours to the Unit though, my client in fact did wear the garment. Otherwise, her wedding would have been canceled. Remember the Warden signs off on the I60 Request For Inmate Marriage. The Warden can and does CONTROL who CAN marry at their Unit. I strongly discourage arguing with staff at ANY Unit state or federal that I conduct ceremonies at. Your behavior is outlined in my contract. 

    My second encounter was at TDCJ Allred Unit. My client had sent a text of the dress she planned to wear to me BUT it was of a model and not her. My client was taller than the model and due to this issue her dress length and the “cut” of the dress wasn’t within 3″ of the middle of her knee. There’s a reason I ask for photos of you in the dress rather than a photo you found online. Allred Unit IS THE REASON. The photo of the model had the dress length hitting BELOW the knee rather than above it. Although her shoulders were covered and no cleavage was visible, the cut on the front portion left a 4-6″ visibility of her knee. Because I had nothing for her to change into, being handed a cafeteria smock literally upset her to such an extent that I had to assist her walking to the visitation area. 

    Clothing near misses? I’ve had a few. At TDCJ Holliday Unit, I pulled my brides tank under her tee shirt up in the front and down in the back to prevent her from needing a smock. 

    At TDCJ Polunsky Unit, my brides dress was within code in the front and out of code on the back. Why? Hips shortened the length in the back. Even after pulling the slip in the back down for the Duty Guard, the dress was still not within the 3″ guideline. Luckily, my bride had a long sweater that she retrieved to wear into the Unit. Otherwise, she would have been wearing the cafeteria smock. 

    While “pushing the limits” regarding the dress code has consistently backfired for a few people that were unaware of a Duty Captain having the final call on clothing, you should know that they have the power, custody and control to decide whether what you are wearing is “acceptable” or not. 

    Let’s review how and why I encourage you to send me photos of you wearing the outfit and not a photo of the outfit you found online. A model could be shorter than you. A model could be less buxom than you. A model can have a lack of hips that make the dress appear longer in the back. I need to see a photo of you wearing the outfit to check the length, the cleavage and the back of the dress as well as the fit to ensure it isn’t too tight or revealing. 

    At Buster Cole Unit, my bride was told her pants were too tight and revealing. Luckily, I had been to the cleaners and had clothes that would work in my suv. Otherwise my bride would have worn a cafeteria smock. 

    If your pants are too tight or too revealing, even pants can be outside the code. 

    I’m going to once again revisit that regarding your relationship with an inmate that YOU ARE IN CHARGE not the inmate. Continued correspondence from clients who feel the “inmate is controlling them from the inside” are alarming. Know your worth. Know your value. You are doing it all on the outside and you are doing it alone. 

    Leaving Belltower Chapel yesterday, a text from an unfamiliar number regarding “needing a divorce ASAP” came through. Because of this and because my client and not the inmate are my priority, I sent a link for a Pro Se (self filed) Divorce in Texas. 

    Based on your income, you may qualify for an “Indigent Filing.” What is this and how does it work? Certain instances and situations qualify for a waiver on filing fees. Remember that if you are self filing your own divorce that you are expected to follow the Texas Family Code. If you need the link from the Texas Bar Association, here it is Pro Se Divorce Handbook Texas Bar Association.

    Choosing whether to represent yourself or hire an attorney is a personal decision. Understand though that you will need to follow the Texas Code by filing in the county you reside in. 

    I’m at county jails and clerks offices today and available by phone, text, email and DM on FB and Instagram social sites. I do not respond to DM’s on Twitter due to spam and my burdened schedule. 

    Hello Again Houston. Huntsville to Ramsey Unit And Meeting Elena In Person…

    Leaving WorthamWorkd at 4:30AM to head to Ramsey I Unit, I had been coordinating with Elena who was landing at Hobby to arrange a meeting with her while Cindy and I were in the Houston area. Ramsey I Unit is about twenty minutes outside of Houston near Stringfellow Unit which was previously Ramsey II Unit. It’s unusual for  TDCJ Unit to have a number behind the name. 

    Darrington, Terrell, Stringfellow and Ramsey I are located within close proximity of one another. In fact, Ramsey I, Terrell and Stringfellow are within 5 minutes of one another similar to Michael and Coffield within 15-20 minutes of Beto, Gurney and Powledge Units in Tennessee Colony. 

    Powledge, Beto, Coffield, Gurney, and Michael work in cooperation: Feedmill and Grain Storage, Farm Shop, Cow/Calf Operation, Poultry Laying Operation, Swine Farrowing/ Nursery/Finishing Operations, Pork Processing Plant, Security Horses, Security Pack Canines, Edible and Field Crops, and Unit Garden.

    There are many cities in Texas that feature clusters of Units within close proximity of one another. Gatesville as well as Huntsville, Rosharon and Tennessee Colony have numerous Units within minutes of one another. 

    Last month, I had a wedding at Ellis Unit in Huntsville in the morning and another at Crain Unit in the afternoon. Huntsville to Gatesville is a haul. Two hours and forty six minutes from one another (based on traffic) makes for a very long day. Gatesville Units house predominantly females although Hughes Unit (also in Gatesville) houses men. 

    Because I must “estimate the time inside each unit” as well as the distance between them when stacking unit weddings the same day, a wide berth of at least an hour “inside” is required. Factors that can cause a delay are waiting on the Chaplain or our escort as well as waiting on the inmate to be located. Because of timelines, it’s best to have your loved one request a lay in the day prior to your scheduled inmate wedding. 

    My first conversation with Elena was approximately a year ago. I had been returning from Huntsville Units with Cindy when Elena called me regarding inmate marriages. This isn’t unusual as I’m frequently contacted by reporters, production companies and networks regarding my unique client bases. 

    Inmate Officiant services are available in many states although Texas is my “busiest booking” state. I’m not geographically limited to one state. Neither are Cindy or my niece, Leigh Ann. We cover numerous states.

    Elena is not only a journalist but also an award winning documentary filmmaker. She had called while in Houston doing research for her film project and we’ve stayed in touch over the past year. Elena was looking for Dutch women marrying death row inmates in Texas. She is passionate about this project and has found two women to date. One is living in Arizona and married to her inmate while the other is living in the Netherlands and unmarried.

    It had been hoped that Elena could visit Polunsky Unit as she had heard that Wednesday’s are media days at Polunsky. But, in order to get media access, you must go through TDCJ as a journalist who travelled with me a few weeks ago to several TDCJ Units did to obtain access and clearance. 

    During my two days with Ella, she had hoped to visit all of my scheduled Unit weddings but TDCJ wouldn’t give Ella access to all 4 of my Units but did give her the option of choosing one Unit to witness me officiating a marriage. Ella chose Polunsky. Getting into Polunsky requires being on the list. 

    TDCJ Unit weddings are scheduled between 9AM and 4PM. TDCJ Unit weddings do not take place on weekends as the visitation area is in use by visitors. Weddings at Polunsky take place after 5PM. 

    Because Polunsky schedules weddings after 5PM, I was able to schedule Coffield Unit at 9:30AM, Michael Unit at 11:30AM, Holliday Unit at 2PM and Polunsky Unit at 5:30PM on the same day. Three cities and four Units in ONE DAY is a long day. Ella was in my suv for 14 hours from Fort Worth to Tennessee Colony to Huntsville to Livingston to Fort Worth. A day in my life always involves driving, careful planning and orchestrating. I’m OCD and constantly aware of distance and time. I have to be. 

    Polunsky houses death row inmates in Texas. Polunsky was named after Allan B. Polunsky, a former chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice who is now the chairman of the Public Safety Commission, the governing board of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    Polunsky houses Texas’s “supermax” units and is notable for being the location of Texas’s death row for men (executions, though, are conducted at the Huntsville Unit in Huntsville).
    Due to the timeline and requirements to visit Polunsky, Elena was unable to visit the Unit this trip. An inmate must also agree to an interview or media access. 

    Media access inquiries must go through TDCJ. In order to obtain access, you will need the inmates name and ID number as well as consent from the inmate and TDCJ. 

    Since I’m always asked about gaining access to Units, I’m attaching the following information from TDCJ Communications. 

    Media Policies and Guidelines for Offender Interviews:

    Reporters wishing to interview offenders incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) should submit their request in writing, by fax or e-mail to Jeremy Desel, Director of Communications, at (936) 437-6055 or jeremy.desel@tdcj.texas.gov.
    All requests must be submitted on the news organization’s letterhead, and should include the reporter’s name and contact information, including an e-mail address. The request should also include the offender’s name and other identifying information (date of birth, TDCJ number, etc.) when known.
    Interviews with general population offenders may be scheduled any weekday during regular business hours with the permission of the unit warden.
    Request for interviews must be submitted at least three working days prior to the date of the reporter’s desired visit. Reporters will have one hour to interview an individual offender. A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for camera crews to set up equipment. This set-up time is not considered part of the hour granted to the reporter.
    Interviews with men on Death Row are conducted on Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m. Requests for these interviews must be submitted no later than noon on Monday prior to the desired Wednesday visit.
    Reporters will have one hour to interview an individual offender on Men’s Death Row. A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for camera crews to set up equipment. This set-up time is not considered part of the hour granted to the reporter.
    Interviews with women on Death Row are conducted on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Requests for these interviews must be submitted no later than noon on the Monday prior to the desired Tuesday visit.
    Reporters will have one hour to interview an individual offender on Women’s Death Row. A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for camera crews to set up equipment. This set-up time is not considered part of the hour granted to the reporter.
    All interviews will take place in the unit’s regular visitation area. No other photos or video footage may be taken in or outside the unit unless specified by a Communications Officer, or the unit warden.
    Crews are limited to no more than three people. Each crewmember must have a valid driver license, passport or other official form of photo identification in order to enter a unit.
    Reporters are not allowed to take the following items with them into TDCJ units:

    Cellular phones
    Tablets

    Laptops

    Cash

    Tobacco products or lighters

    Purses or briefcases

    Pocketknives, fingernail clippers, or similar items.

    The following items are allowed in the reporter’s possession: recording devices, wireless microphones, notepads, writing instruments and camera equipment.
    It is recommended that reporters arrive at the unit at least 30 minutes before their scheduled interview time.
    Everyone entering the unit will be subjected to a pat-down security search.
    Conservative dress is encouraged for all visitors. Clothing that is tight fitting, revealing, or made with see-through fabrics is not allowed. Sleeveless shirts and dresses are allowed, but must cover the shoulders. Dresses or skirts should be no shorter than three (3) inches above the middle of the knee. It is also preferred that reporters and their crew members not wear white.
    Reporters are generally allowed to interview individual offenders once every 90 days. Exceptions may be made by the Director of Communications if there is a major status change in the offender’s case.
    Attorneys, families, spiritual advisors, and other individuals on an offender’s personal visitation list are not permitted to be present during media interviews, nor are reporters able to accompany any of these individuals on their personal visits.
    Media representatives may not be listed on an offender’s visitation list if they wish to be recognized as media by the Communications Department. Any journalist who is placed on an offender’s personal visitation list will not be allowed to visit that offender as a media representative. The organization affiliated with the reporter placed on the offender’s personal visitation list will also not be able to visit the offender.
    Failure to adhere to the agency’s media policies and/or guidelines may result in removal from the unit. Such failure may also jeopardize the organization’s ability to conduct future interviews at TDCJ facilities.

    Questions about TDCJ’s media policies may be directed to the Communications Department at (936) 437-6052.
    At the time Elena initially contacted me, I didn’t know of anyone from the Netherlands and had no one from Europe on my client roster. But, I posted on my FB and Instagram pages in search of ladies for Elena’s project just the same in the event that there were ladies who would reach out to Elena. 

    Several months ago, while en route to TDCJ Wynn Unit, a call from a Germany number came through. It was a daughter who wanted assistance getting her mother married to an inmate at Wynn. 

    Since I was driving there, I found this to be ironic. Calling about Wynn Unit while headed to Wynn Unit that is. The more I listened though, the flags started flying. The problem? The mother didn’t speak English and the inmate didn’t speak German. 

    Heads up for anyone wondering why this would be a problem… marriages of convenience are strictly forbidden in the United States and constitute marriage fraud. 

    Marriage fraud is a felony. If you cannot communicate with your partner, I can assure you that neither I or anyone else on my staff will conduct a marriage ceremony. 

    I’m marrying a deaf inmate to a deaf client in a few weeks at Estelle Unit but they can communicate and understand each other. They can also understand my marriage ceremony. 

    The daughter wanting help marrying her mother to an inmate DID speak English. But, she didn’t want to help her mother because she is already married to an inmate at another Unit and “busy with her own life.” I found this statement odd and alarming. The daughter could have traveled to Walker County or assisted her mother with the process but chose not to. Why? She was too busy? She wanted someone to help her mother get a marriage license I.E. me and also to marry her to an inmate at Wynn Unit but the fact that her mother couldn’t communicate with the inmate was a huge red flag. This problem would be a hurdle. 

    I spoke to this young lady of my concerns and drove at the same time explaining why and how the communication aspect would be difficult. After all, I don’t speak German. The daughter speaks English. The daughter didn’t want to get involved. Hmm. I am more than a little familiar with marriage law. I advise people on a regular basis of why marriages of convenience are not in their best interest AND a crime.

    The daughter wanted to drop her mother in my lap but this situation needed an immigration attorney first and foremost. I am blunt. This hot potato situation needed a hot minute. How was her mother going to file for a marriage license when they are only available in English and Spanish? I had a wide array of questions pertaining to the problems and the daughter “not wanting to get involved” really bothered me. It’s her mother. Why wouldn’t she want to get involved or help her? After going over all of the reasons this request wasn’t simple, I never heard from the daughter again.

    Marriage Fraud is a crime… ICE Marriage Fraud Brochure. Whether the inmate is unaware of the penalties associated with marrying an illegal Alien who is trying to obtain citizenship or not, if you call me with suspicious reasons or intentions, I’m going to advise you of what a marriage of convenience is and suggest you seek an attorney.

    The inmate is not my client. The person in the free world is. But if I cannot communicate with you, you are not a client. I will not conduct a marriage ceremony via electronic device. 

    Both parties marrying at a prison with me officiating (whether one is behind glass or not) can both hear and understand me AND are standing within 3-5 feet in front of me. 

    I do not perform proxy marriages and personally feel such marriage ceremonies are as far removed from “traditional” as you could possibly get. 

    Yesterday morning, someone stopped me at the Parker County Jail to advise me of their belief that “people only marry inmates to obtain conjugal visits.” Ignorance speaks without forethought. Texas does not allow conjugal visits. The states with conjugal visits are California, Connecticut, New York and Washington.

    I’m well aware there are are other states and even other countries that allow such visits but can assure you that none of my clients are marrying an inmate solely to benefit from a conjugal visit. For those unaware of what a conjugal visit is, here’s the Wikipedia link… Wikipedia Conjugal Visits.

    I follow the letter of the law pertaining to marriage ceremonies and am well versed on family law and marriage law. There are those who aren’t but I’m not one of them. People going online to officiate marriages that have no idea of the burden their role carries need to educate themselves. 

    Proxy Marriage is no longer an option within TDCJ. Both parties must be present and coherent. There must be a valid marriage license. No someone cannot get a marriage license for you. You must do that yourself. There cannot be two absent parties. An absentee affidavit is only available for one party. The absent party AKA the inmate who is unable to appear in person. 

    Other states require the inmate to incur the expense of being transported to the clerks office while Texas eases the financial burden by allowing Absentee Affidavits in place of the person appearing at the clerks office. 

    Communication is vital to marriage. If you cannot communicate with your partner and you happen to be here on a Visa, your marriage will be closely scrutinized. Why would you want marry someone you cannot communicate with? 

    For the past year, I’ve not found any European women marrying death row inmates other than the one call from the daughter wanting someone to help marry her mother to an inmate at Wynn. I don’t speak German which is obviously a problem as well. TDCJ does have hearing impaired translators.

    Marrying a death row inmate or “lifer” is a heavy burden. They will never come home. They will never see parole. There is no happy ending or Vow Renewal long after lock up. Only a very driven person could take on such a complicated relationship. I’ve met several. They accept what they cannot change. Their relationship is based on letters, phone calls and visits. They will never hold hands or touch. They will forever be separated by bullet proof glass. 

    Since Cindy and I were on site at Ramsey meeting Shenequil, I sent an email to Elena letting her know our timeline. Shenequil and I waited in the lobby at Ramsey for our escort to the visitation area while Cindy waited in my suv fielding phone calls and emails. 

    This wedding was a reschedule and I was excited to finally meet my bride and client in person. We sat and waited on her groom and his escort together. 

    As he walked into the room, I decided to use a painted wall for the backdrop and moved tables and chairs to clear an area for the ceremony. 

    Shenequil told me that she hoped to have her husband home for Christmas. He’s hopeful too. As we drove out from the Unit, searching for an area for photos our drive brought us to city hall. 

    Cindy and I began unloading our inventory for some colorful and fun photos while visiting with my new bride. I love learning more about my amazing clients. 

    Shenequil had a long drive back to Henderson and Cindy and I were headed to finally meet Elena. I chose Taste Of Texas which was about 20 minutes from Hobby and 38 minutes from our location in Angleton.

    We had never been to this restaurant but liked the name. Festively decorated for the holidays, Cindy, Elena and I all enjoyed a meal at Taste Of Texas and a great visit together. 

    Elena told us about the book, Death Row Dollies and her interest in women choosing to marry Death Row inmates. She had travelled to Arizona prior to Texas to meet a model who had married an inmate and was running a successful business from home. We also discussed another lady from the Netherlands who has had a seven year relationship with an inmate at Polunsky Unit. I offered to officiate the wedding. 

    Elena told us about her family and asked about our own. We are very close and very open. Elena’s mother suffered with mental illness. Our mother struggled with addiction and bad choices. Elena’s mom jumped off a building our mom sold us for $50 each on our 6th birthday. All of us became the mothers we had never known. 

    Hardships can define you or empower you to be stronger, more driven, more determined and more resilient. Hardship teaches compassion and wisdom. 

    Elena’s project will put the unique and often misunderstood stigma of prison love stories into perspective. Shining a positive light on those who love an inmate is a challenge mainly because widestream media chooses to muddy the water rather than portray these men and women who love an inmate as the warriors they truly are. They do it all and they do it alone on the outside. The live on one income. The raise their children alone. They run to answer expensive phone calls from inmates. They make their love last through extreme circumstances. Their passion and commitment are remarkable.

    We look forward to seeing Elena again in the Spring as she begins filming Unconditional Love.