Love WILL Find A Way Ellis, Crain, Ramsey, To Robertson Unit Travels Of A Prison Wedding Officiant…

Last week was chock full of reschedules. It’s essential to arrive early for your prison wedding. Why? Because if you are 20 minutes late, your wedding will be cancelled. Weather can also be a factor to reschedules. Why? Because if we can’t get to the Unit, you can’t get married. 

On September 20th, I was planning to marry my beautiful bride at TDCJ Cleveland Unit. Flooding changed our schedules. No one expects flash floods in Texas but they occur frequently. When flash floods closes highways, its often impossible to get to the Unit as it was on the 20th this month. Tomorrow, I’m headed back to Cleveland Unit to finally marry my clients and looking forward to meeting them. 

Starting my day last Tuesday at 4AM, I headed to my first wedding at Ellis Unit Huntsville, Texas. Melissa was excitedly looking forward to this wedding and had spent the night in Huntsville. I was 3.5 miles from the Unit and getting an early start.

I’m always early by at least 1/2 hour to Units. I overestimate my timelines by at least an hour to factor in stopping for gas or the bathroom.

I have to be on a timeline at all times across the highways and backroads to not only Texas Prisons but also Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana as I’m not geographically limited and if I can drive to the prison rather than flying I do. It’s far less expensive for me to drive. 

I arrived at 8:20AM at Ellis Unit and sent a text to my bride. I had estimated about 15 minutes to slap on my makeup and planned to walk up to the guard tower at 8:40AM to check in for our 9:00AM scheduled ceremony. At 8:45AM, I sent another text growing concerned now that my client was running late. I decided to check in with the guard tower and let the Unit know that I was on site waiting for my client. I was now nervously waiting to be honest with you and concerned. 

At 8:55AM, I called my client again. She was running 10-15 minutes late. The WAS A PROBLEM. TDCJ Units regularly cancel scheduled ceremonies if either the client or the Officiant are 20 minutes or more late.

At 9:17AM, I again called my client who was now on site and in the parking lot. I’m now really nervous about a cancellation. We walk to the guard tower together at 9:18AM to check in and we are asked to wait. I continue to grow more and more concerned. At 9:25AM, the Chaplain comes out to escort us into the screening area. At 9:37AM, the Chaplain tells us both “have a nice day” and walks away from the intake area. At 9:45AM, I walk to the Wardens Office to ask “do we have an escort? The Chaplain has left and I’m uncertain as to who will be escorting us to the inmate.” I begin counting quarters for the Unit photos and stop when the wardens secretary tells me “we won’t have an escort for at least an hour and a half because we are doing a head count.” I stop counting quarters and nearly start crying. Why? Because I don’t have an “hour and a half minimum” to wait on a head count.

I was due at TDCJ Crain Unit at 1:30PM nearly three hours from TDCJ Ellis Unit and my 9AM wedding has been cancelled. I now (warily) must advise my client of the situation.

The wardens secretary walks with me to advise Melissa “if you had been here at 9, we could have whisked him in here but, since you were late, you will need to reschedule.” My client was crushed. Devastated. 

I am going to go over the need for you to be early ONE MORE TIME. If you are late, your wedding ceremony WILL be canceled. Leave a minimum of 30 minutes earlier than necessary to avoid a cancellation. If I arrive and you don’t or you are late and the wedding is cancelled, you will need to rebook and repay for services. 

Trying to comfort my bride while walking he through intake past the guard tower into the parking lot. I now have to run from Ellis to Crain literally hauling a$$. It’s 10:12AM. I’m due in Gatesville at 1:30PM. 

Six months ago, Gary had retained me to officiate his wedding at Crain Unit. Setback after setback later, Gary was finally going to marry Amee! 

Mr Right Or Mr Right Now?  Know Your Worth & Set Boundaries…Choosing A Life Partner Isn’t Easy…

This morning, I had a number of surprise revelations. It’s tough to surprise me. I’m old and wise and I’ve been working with the public for forty years now. I’ve also literally “seen it all” in the wedding and events business. 

Today’s eye opener was something I’ve yet to encounter so buckle up for yet another bumpy ride ya all because I literally found myself “stuck in the middle of a situation” today with two brides planning to marry the same inmate. I’m also as shocked as you are.

“You’ve seen it all? What do you mean Wendy?” Last year, a brawl at an upscale and elegant wedding in Fort Worth resulted in several arrests. Was I surprised? Absolutely. I was also hurt while trying to separate the brawling groomsmen. 

A few months ago, while signing in at the Duty Desk at Tarrant County Jail with my client, the inmates “baby mama” was waiting to visit this Don Juan herself when overhearing that my client was on site for a visit “with her minister.” 

Could we have known that the “baby mama” was on site with her minister and a Louisiana marriage license? No. Who would? But, after a verbal altercation, my client tore up her marriage license and effectively washed that man right out of her hair and her life. Just when I think I’ve seen everything- I’m consistently surprised by Events that no one could have foreseen! 

Shockingly, THIS weekends round of surprises involved an inmate writing love letters to someone in another state who had contacted me regarding a TDCJ marriage in Texas and another client scheduled to marry the same inmate this month. What the? Stay tuned. 

In August, I had a DM from someone wishing to marry an inmate. This isn’t unusual. I went through the process of advising her what she would need to do from her end to expedite the process in Texas. Why? Texas has a 3 day waiting period. To overcome this inconvenience for my out of state clients, I suggest the  Twogether In Texas Premarital Course that effectively waives the 3 day waiting period while also discounting the cost of the marriage license by $60.

Last night at a client meeting with my November 2nd clients for a backyard wedding, my groom asked about his minister “making a certificate.” I’m going to clarify that no one can “MAKE a certificate” for Twogether In Texas that will be accepted by the the county clerk UNLESS that person is a registered provider WITH Twogether In Texas. 

The Twogether certificate MUST be printed on an authorized Twogether In Texas form. Explaining this to my clients who had been taking Premarital classes through their church minister, it became apparent to me that there is widespread confusion regarding Twogether In Texas. 

Let’s review ONE MORE TIME why Twogether In Texas exists… 




Contact: Stephanie Goodman (512) 424-6951

New Law Promotes Free Marriage Education Classes
Couples Who Complete Courses Can Waive Marriage License Fee, AND Waiting Period..
AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is spreading the word about a new state law, which takes effect Sept. 1, 2008 that encourages couples to attend free marriage education classes before taking the plunge. Couples who complete the skills-based course will pay less for their marriage license. 

House Bill 2685 increases the marriage license fee to $60. However, the fee will be waived for couples who complete an eight-hour premarital class, and those couples can forgo the 72-hour waiting period to get married. Counties may continue to charge up to $12 in local fees for a marriage license. 

HHSC is running a billboard campaign throughout August to raise awareness of the new law and the marriage education classes. The agency also has contracts with community-based organizations that are working to build a network of classes across the state that meet the requirements for the marriage license discount. 

The state’s initiative, called “Twogether in Texas,” promotes free marriage education classes that provide eight hours of training on communication skills, conflict resolution and other elements of a healthy marriage. Couples can find classes in their area by calling 2-1-1. 

Starting Sept. 1, 2008, any couple who complete a class will receive a certificate that they can take to their county clerk when they apply for their marriage license. The certificate is good for one year and serves as proof that the couple is eligible for the discounted marriage license fee. 

For obvious reasons, a clergy not affiliated with Twogether In Texas CANNOT create a certificate. The certificate MUST be on the state approved form. After explaining this to my clients last night, it became apparent that paying the additional $60 is easier and more beneficial than TAKING ANOTHER Premarital Class through an accredited Twogether In Texas provider. I agree although I wish they had asked me about this weeks ago. It would have certainly spared them a lot of time and grief during their wedding planning process.  

Now, back to two people trying to marry the same inmate…. I needed to verify the facts before contacting and obviously upsetting my client who is preparing to marry in less than two weeks. 

Client 1. From August had been alerted to Client 2. How? FB. It’s not just for friends. 

Due to a FB group moderator, one of the women who had contacted me in August to marry an inmate in Texas was advised that the same inmate that she was planning to marry was SCHEDULED to marry someone else. Guess who was the Officiant? That’s right. Me. FOR BOTH WOMEN TO THE SAME INMATE. I have NO contact with inmates via phone or mail. My clients are “on the outside.” I don’t even meet inmates until wedding day. I have no information other than their name and inmate ID necessary for me to contact to the Unit and verify client status with their loved one and schedule the weddings. 

After reviewing numerous texts and validating the inmate ID number, I was alarmed to realize that whomever the group moderator on FB was that had advised my out of state client that the inmate was engaged to someone else, was in fact correct. To my own shock, I was effectively “caught in a love triangle.” 

After reviewing the numerous documents sent to me via text message, I then contacted my client who HAS a marriage license and a date at the Unit to marry in order to alert her to the other woman. 

The “other woman” had already been attempting to message my client WITH A MARRIAGE LICENSE via FB. I thought it best to contact her myself rather than have her wake up on a Sunday morning with dozens of messages from the other woman. 

Last night, I also had an alarming voice mail left on my phone regarding this “love triangle” situation. 

This morning AND this afternoon, I have spoke to both women and advised them to address and confront the inmate regarding his intentions. He needs to be loyal to one woman. Both women deserve loyalty and honesty. 

Marriage is based on trust. Love is sacrifice but loving an inmate is 99.9 percent more of a sacrifice for the “person on the outside.” How so? They have far more to lose than the person on the inside. They are going to work everyday and raising their children alone. They are paying for expensive phone calls and putting money on the books of the inmate. They are driving to weekend visits and they are effectively making ALL of the sacrifices singlehandedly to make their relationship work. 

Throughout my conversations with both of these women, it became apparent to me that one of them was a pen pal who had been sending money to the inmate and had never met him in person. The inmate had benefitted from this relationship. Dishonesty hurts everyone involved though. 

My other client has known the inmate for years and had visited him at the Unit. The inmate was playing both sides of the fence. I was quickly reminded of the “Coffield Unit Con Man and The Bride That Gave Him The Boot.” 

The inmate isn’t my client. In the Coffield Con Man situation, I refunded my client and agreed wholeheartedly that she was better off without him. In fact, I married her to someone else less than a year later.

In today’s situation that began “boiling over” 48 hours ago, it would be different from Coffield in that one woman refused to let go. I asked “how long have you known him?” She had been exchanging letters, phone calls and sending money for 6 months. She was also shocked and upset that this inmate would be marrying in less than two weeks. Convincing her that stepping back was in her best interest has taken me all day. On my last phone call with her, I told her that the inmate was told to cease all communication by my client planning to marry this month. 

A few minutes ago after a two hour lull while I was on location with another couple, I read a text from her saying “he hadn’t called.” I hope he doesn’t. This inmate needed to choose one woman and stick with that decision. In my opinion, he owed an apology to both women too. This situation has hurt both women and I’m hurt for them. But, I cannot marry two women to one man. 

I had advised my client marrying this month to “put her foot down and confront him. Set boundaries. Make him choose you or cut him loose. Know your worth. No one wants to marry a cheater.” 

I then called my twin sister who was dealing with trust issues regarding her daughter, Stephaney. Addicts are sneaky too. My mother was a heroin addict. My niece has had an ongoing addiction to meth for seventeen years. Steph is back in treatment again. Our entire family is hurt AGAIN. Cindy was working on trust quotes for Pawning Planners Apparel.

“WHEN you TELL a LIE, no MATTER how FAST you RUN, the TRUTH is AT your HEELS, and EVENTUALLY, it will CATCH up WITH you” Amen.

“TRUST is like TOAST, once it’s BURNT, don’t EXPECT anybody ELSE to PUT it ON their PLATE, and SWALLOW it EITHER” God bless us all.

“DISHONESTY is EXPENSIVE, the TRUTH is FREE, don’t CREATE any new DEBT with LIES, that an APOLOGY could never REPAY.”

I HATE SECRETS. As a child, my grandfather molested not only my twin and I but also our step sister. No one stopped the abuse. No one cared. My grandfather always warned all of us “if you ever tell anyone, you will never see your sisters again.” One day our step sister, Tammy was gone. Our grandfather used this disappearance to instill fear in my sister and I. “If you ever tell, you will disappear just like Tammy.” 

At 25 years old I found Tammy by hiring a private investigator. My grandfather had nothing to do with her disappearance. My mother’s mother had adopted her. Tammy left our hellish childhood and had the normality that Cindy and I wouldn’t find until running away from home at 15. I was pregnant. I lost the baby. No one was happier at our grandfathers funeral than Cindy and I because he would never hurt another little girl again. I HATE SECRETS. I also have my reasons for hating secrets. 

For six years, I was married to a cheater. For six years my ex lied. For six years I doubted my own self worth. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I enough? I walked and kept walking. I prefer to be alone than to be hurt or lied to. I’m no ones victim anymore. I never will be again. 

Marriage is a merger. If you can’t trust your spouse, you are in the wrong marriage. If you are planning a wedding to someone, you are entitled to know their history. You are entitled to honesty. Set boundaries… 

Don’t Be Tardy To Your Prison Wedding. TDCJ Ellis To Crain To Hughes To Cleveland Unit…

Next week I’m seeing my Ellis client again after a reschedule due to her being over twenty minutes late to the Unit. I’m going to once again revisit the importance of arriving at least twenty minutes early. Please give yourself a wide window on wedding day. 

Wedding day apparel falls within the visitor dress code guideline. Err on the side of caution. If you are uncertain regarding your attire, text me a photo to review. No one wants to be handed a cafeteria smock!

I arrived at TDCJ Ellis Unit at 8:20AM for a 9:00AM scheduled ceremony. Upon arrival, I sent a text to Melissa to let her know I was in the Prison parking lot. For those who follow me on FB, I also check in as many times I have no cell signal once on Prison property. I will always be driving one of our black SUVs with a banner on the back window to identify my vehicle. 

Cindy will also be driving a black suv with a banner so if either I or Cindy are officiating your wedding, we will be in a black suv. If my son or his wife are conducting your ceremony, they will be driving a black 4×4 truck. 

Surprisingly, I had a good signal and returned emails while waiting on Melissa. At 8:45AM, I sent another text and walked to the guard tower to announce my arrival. 

I then returned to my suv at 8:55AM to call Melissa. She advised me that she was 10-15 minutes from Ellis. This alarmed me. Why? Because Units give a 20 minute Tardy window before cancelling and effectively rescheduling your ceremony. 

Ellis Unit has an inmate count daily that would cause a scheduling issue. At 9:18AM, Melissa arrived. I met her in the lot and returned to the guard tower. At 9:24AM, Chaplain Jasper arrived to escort us into screening. By 9:36AM, Chaplain Jasper left the screening area. 

At 9:40AM, I went to the wardens secretary to inquire about an escort. At 9:43AM, I was advised that the head count would take 1-2 hours. This WAS A PROBLEM. Why? Because I was due at Crain Unit at 1:30PM. Crain is three hours (on a good day with traffic and road construction) from Ellis Unit.

I had advised the wardens secretary of my afternoon commitment and my inability to wait on site 1-2 hours for a same day reschedule. The wardens secretary walked out to advise my client of why a forced reschedule was warranted. 

Had Melissa arrived at 9AM sharp, the inmate could have had the ceremony before being moved for the 10AM head count. 

It is imperative to arrive early on wedding day. I cannot stress this enough. We have waited weeks or months for this day. Please plan accordingly.

Leaving Ellis and my devastated client, I made the three hour drive to Gatesville, Texas to meet Gary at Crain Unit. Gary had booked services last March. Gary and Amee had been trying to marry for months. 

Naturally, Gary was excited and nervous due to the number of setbacks trying to obtain a marriage license. The problem? Coryell County Clerks Office continually changes their requirements. 

Gary made four trips to Gatesville to buy a marriage license. FOUR. Gary finally purchased a marriage license in Harris County. 

Meeting Gary, I told him that “everyone is nervous. Stay calm. I will be by your side every step of the way.” I meant it.Getting Gary and Amee married took months which is unusual but also proves the dedication, perseverance, determination and resilience my clients exhibit in their quest to marry an inmate. 

Love knows no bounds. Gary had emailed me while I was in New York filming with Cindy and Leigh Ann about “getting a date.” I was already booked at Ellis and checked the distance on my iPhone from Huntsville to Gatesville. I knew it would be tight. 

I left home at 5AM to arrive at Ellis early. Huntsville is 3 hours from my location. Why did I leave FOUR hours early? Road construction. I overprepare. Leaving Gatesville, I pull over to reschedule Melissa at Ellis then call her to ensure she will be available. I “go over” meeting me early at the Texas Prison Museum on 10-08-2019. Why? Because Melissa became lost on her previous wedding date and because I am at 3 Huntsville Units on 10-08. I cannot afford for Melissa to be late again due to my schedule AND because a 3rd reschedule will require a new I60. Her marriage license will expire before the paperwork would be approved. To solve this problem and prevent any issues, I’m driving my client from the Prison museum to the Prison. 

Kanani had previously been scheduled to marry at Cleveland Unit. Due to flooding, her Wedding was rescheduled. As usual, I left an hour earlier than necessary. I always do. Thirty minutes early is thirty minutes late for me. I’m from a military family and I was taught at a young age that “being late is stealing and you cannot replace time.” This sage advice has stuck with me my entire life. 

Driving to Cleveland Unit, I answered calls regarding upcoming bookings at Polunsky, Connally, Garza, Michael, Coffield, Ramsey, Jester, Lewis, Allred and Gurney Units. Texas is my busiest booking state.

I do not text or email when I’m on the road. I answer texts when parked waiting on clients. I answer emails in the evening or early mornings prior to heading to locations. Please call during the week. Please text on weekends as I’m on location weekends and driving during the week. 

I’ve had 14 clients rebook for Vow Renewals due to inmate releases this month. I’m as excited as you are to be planning your wedding your way with family and friends, flowers and all of the fun stuff this time around. 

Kanani and her soon to be mother in law were on site early thank God. PLEASE ARRIVE EARLY ON WEDDING DAY. We walked in together. Her mother in law waited in the lobby.

Walking into the visitation area to greet his soon to be bride, my groom nearly cried with relief that wedding day had finally arrived. Why? Because he had started the process at Beto. He had hoped to marry two weeks prior but flooding caused yet another setback.Kanani and her mother in law followed me just outside the Unit for her bridal photos. 

The trees by Cleveland Unit were a beautiful backdrop. I had packed my suv with a wide variety of options for my new bride. Leaving Cleveland, Texas, I took calls from several clients. I look forward to seeing all of you soon at your prison weddings in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Cindy and I will be in California and can’t wait to see our Cali Clients in December. 

I’ve been contacted by a reporter who wants to hear your Prison Love Stories as well as Love After Lock Up producers. If you’d like to apply for Love After Lock Up, The blog link for requirements can be found by visiting this link- Casting Now- Love After Lock Up.

If you are interested in sharing your story with this amazing and passionate journalist, contact me.

Regarding Vow Renewal Certificates, my California Client was already married. To celebrate her anniversary, she contacted me regarding a Vow Renewal. Prisons do not offer Vow Renewals. 

If you’d like to purchase a Renewal Certificate as an anniversary gift, email me 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regarding Hurricanes in Texas… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainbows In The Dark & Country Roads Taking Me Home. Palo Pinto To Parker County & More Travels Of The Texas Twins….

Starting my day driving out to Palo Pinto County Jail, a call from my husband had me laughing regarding his statement “every song I sing, I sing for you. Everything I do, I do for you.” The statement itself wasn’t humorous but the memory of my Sanders Estes Client asking me to sing at her wedding a few years ago was. Frankly, I’m not a singer and although I’ve got the passion to belt out a line, I don’t have the voice. My husband doesn’t either but his attempts at singing are hilarious nonetheless. 

My Estes client had wanted music and music isn’t allowed at inmate weddings. To overcome this issue, she had asked me to sing the song for her. Always willing to give any request my best shot, I agreed to do so. Mid song at the Unit though, my bride turned and said “Miss Wendy, I really appreciate you trying to sing the song and all but it’s okay to just say the words instead.” I did lol. 

There are performers out there who really can’t sing but are so outrageous and animated that most people overlook their pitfalls. When it comes to singing, I’m animated but I’m not a singer. Like many of my friends who are drag performers though, I can lip sync and give a helluva performance but without music, my skills are limited to my talent as a singer. On the rare occasions that I have belted out lines, it was because the DJ either didn’t have the entrance music or the CD wouldn’t play. In such cases, I ask the guests to join me in singing whatever the song may be. With my back up, my singing skills or lack of them are barely noticeable. Why? Because there is strength in numbers that’s why. I’m not singing alone because the wedding guests are singing with me. 

One interviewer asked me “how would you describe your experiences as a Prison wedding Officiant?” This was an odd question because the majority of my “experiences” with a client are outside of the prison in the weeks and months of establishing a relationship with my clients. The inmate isn’t the client. The person on the outside is. Prison Weddings are Rainbows In The Dark. Prisons are dark places. Weddings are and always will be a joyous occasion for me regardless of where they take place. Searching my experiences with an army of amazing and determined prison wives and husbands who have chosen to marry an inmate, the best way I can describe my experiences is by first establishing a relationship with my client and then by holding their hand through a confusing and lengthy process before finally meeting on wedding day. My staff and I rarely spend more than an hour “inside” a Unit with clients. We frequently spend several hours driving to and from the Unit to meet our clients however. 

This morning my Estelle Unit client had sent me a text regarding the “Chaplain being evasive about the date.” My job is to be a hand holder. A problem solver. To solve this problem, I called the Unit and confirmed the date and time myself with the Chaplain. It’s always easier and speedier for me to contact the Unit than it is to wait for the Unit to contact me. #ProblemSolved. 

August 22nd is completely booked. Please do not tell any Unit that this date will work for you and I. It won’t. My schedule at Texas Prisons is booked 2-3 weeks out. 

If your Unit is within 2 hours of a confirmed booking at another Unit, I can perform my confirmed booking in the morning or afternoon and accommodate hours in the morning or afternoon. The secondary Unit must be within 2 hours of my currently booked and confirmed Unit. Certain Units and cities offer a degree of flexibility due to the number of Units nearby in Huntsville, Gatesville and Tennessee Colony. 

The busiest and most popular Texas days for a Prison wedding are Tuesday and Thursday. Be aware that Tuesday and Thursday are always booked first and don’t simply assume that I “can squeeze you in.” Double bookings or more than one Unit in any given day are subject to my availability and discretion. 

Bouncing from one Unit to the next takes a large degree of planning. For years now, I’ve performed 2 and on rare occasions even 3 weddings on the same day but…it’s stressful and exhausting. I prefer to “max” myself at 2 weddings per day whenever possible. I can do up to 6 weddings and the same Unit and I have which is far less stressful than moving to another location to perform another ceremony at a secondary Unit. 

This afternoon on a call to Leigh Ann after seeing 2 messages from California regarding prison weddings, yet another argument ensued about how “stressful” walking into a prison is for my niece. 

Cindy and I have been “footing the bills” for our adult children all of their lives and it’s not an easy decision to tell my niece to suck it up but, it is a conversation that I was forced to have with her because I cannot fly back and forth to California to perform prison weddings when my mainstay of bookings is in Texas and surrounding states. I have people contacting me for Prison Weddings in California. I have a niece that bought a new car against the wishes of her mother and I and I have a niece who is a shopaholic that loves living the fine life. On a seamans salary with a young child and eventually being stationed at Point Mugu, Leigh Ann must take on gigs in order to pay her bills. 

For nearly four years, Leigh Ann moved home while Alex was stationed abroad and didn’t pay rent or buy groceries. Her mother and I paid all of her expenses while she shopped, got her nails and hair professionally done and then decided months prior to moving to California to buy a new car? 

How do you teach your adult children about entitlement? How do you teach them to supplement their income by working gigs and figuring it out? The conversation with Leigh Ann was less than friendly because quite frankly, if I have to travel to California to perform these weddings myself, I’m assuredly not going to pay Leigh Ann while I’m performing the work myself. 

Conversations with Leigh Ann regarding money are consistently infuriating for not only I but also her mother. We love Leigh Ann but at some point educating her about caviar wishes on a beer budget are in order here. 

Her husband, Alex is studying to take a test that will increase their income however, the possibility that he won’t pass the test exists. I asked Leigh Ann “what are you going to do if Alex doesn’t pass?” It’s a valid question. Alex is shouldering all of the responsibility. 

I’m highly concerned about teaching Leigh Ann to budget or to work to supplement her income. I cannot book a gig in California unless I’m certain that Leigh Ann is going to show up. Cindy and I discussed this at length. “We could stack them and rent two cars then spread out and get everyone covered” Cindy suggested. 

Cindy is effectively “simplifying” our schedules because we are already booked in California with other events. I can’t be everywhere and Cindy can’t either. 

Will Leigh Ann overcome her fear of entering a prison without having a panic attack? Only time will tell. Leigh Ann can certainly book beach weddings as an Officiant and photography. She’s a very experienced photographer and has a portfolio. 

What will I do if my niece doesn’t want to continue performing prison weddings? Cindy and I will have to travel to other states as we do in Texas to perform them ourselves. 

Today Leigh Ann is upset with me but, when she realizes that her mother and I won’t continue to cover her expenses, reality is going to bite. 

Meanwhile, my son had called yesterday while leaving New Boston and heading to Chocktaw Casino to meet a couple who had met there and wanted to marry in a parking lot. I literally have no down time. Cindy listened as I explained that my son’s wife birthday party must be moved to Monday as there isn’t any way I can squeeze it in on Sunday. 

My son is acting very overprotective about his wife’s pregnancy and he’s also been pretty cranky lately. Last month he turned down a wedding at Tarrant County and told me “I’m not comfortable there. It’s difficult to park and a real hassle.” Hmm, working and travel are a hassle? Picking and choosing Units? I could go on and on here. 

Attempting to educate our adult children about finances is a never ending saga. I don’t have a money tree dropping bills every morning and no one else does either. Cindy and I are both overwhelmed with trying to keep our families happy while our families continue to want more, more, more. 

This afternoon in Parker County, my niece Stephaney told me “I’m bored. I hate staying at home. I want to go have fun.” What the? Go have fun? Fun costs money. 

For several months now, Cindy has been buying Stephaney’s cigarettes and gave her a credit card “for emergencies” when we are on the road. Those “emergencies” have included taking friends to lunch or dinner and buying cocktails. 

In one week alone, Stephaney charged over $300 for “emergencies.” As usual, Cindy told me “we eat at fast food restaurants, I never buy anything for myself. I color my own hair. I wear the same clothes and I cannot for the life of me get any help from anyone in my own house. The twins stay in their rooms unless they want something. Stephaney is bored and spending money like water. I bend over backwards trying to accommodate everyone putting my own needs last and now we are looking at the twins wanting cars and paying for drivers ed while Steph complains about not having a car. These people think we are rich. How do I tell her to stop charging this card up?” 

This was a problem. Cindy never tells me problems until they are so big that they begin to weigh on her. 

My twin is soft. She’s easy. I’m far more challenging when it comes to our adult children. Cindy and I walked into Whataburger to order a chicken salad while looking over the latest $300 plus charges to that “emergency credit card.” 

Sitting down to wait on our salads, I fell Cindy “here we are eating at Whataburger while I look at charges from Chili’s, On The Boarder and other “nicer than we are eating at” restaurants. What the? Your husband is eating at truck stops and we are either packing our lunches or hitting convenient spots to grab a bite on the run while Steph is out parting because she’s bored sitting at home? You cook, you clean, you pick up after the entire household and the last thing you need to be doing is handing out a credit card to someone who doesn’t work and has no plans to start. Steph needs to start pitching in and helping you. She’s never paid rent. She’s made plenty of mistakes. She wants another car because she’s went through 4 in 4 years AND NOW the twins each want their own car? Teach these people to fish. Let them go find a job and save up to buy a car while buying gas and insurance. Teach them to be thankful for what they have and what we go through to make sure they have it. Cut WAY back and the next time someone tells you they are bored, hand em a broom and tell em to start cleaning. We work our butts off. Our husbands work their butts off. We have given these people everything we never had and it’s still not enough. Start saying no before the stress of shouldering all of these monkeys kills you.” 

Over our $6 lunches, I also added “none of them appreciate all of the cars we’ve bought, all of the repairs we’ve paid for or anything we’ve given or provided that no one gave us. Fifteen years old and on our own, we figured it out. We had no one. They have both of us.” 

My son has a new truck and a new custom home. Leigh Ann and Alex are moving to a beautiful two story townhome and spending two months in a Marine Hotel in San Diego while spending their free time shopping and enjoying the beach with Maddy. 

Our kids live well but they live well because Cindy and I cover the overdrawn checking account here or there or we send money via Paypal and all of our children and grandchildren know that we will fix whatever because we are the fixers. 

But, one day my husband and Cindy’s husband will retire. One day this gravy train is going to stop rolling and when it does, I’m very concerned about our adult children and their expectations colliding. 

I’ve been trying to “ween” my family for ten years now. Since I turned 45 years old and realized that giving my son a credit card was a mistake. I had quickly realized that my son and his friends were having a grand old time at my expense. 

I’m “tougher” than Cindy and my sons question after months of living the high life were ended with him questioning me  “why are you taking my credit card?” HIS credit card? What the? 

Parents, do yourselves a favor and DO NOT GIVE your kids a credit card. Make them go to work and get their own credit cards. Make them pay the bill. Teach them to fish. 

Cindy has time to teach Steph to fish by taking that credit card back. Man, if our husbands had any real clue what we spend on our children and grandchildren, they would FLIP OUT. They have no children or grandchildren. Why these two have stuck around with our circus of a family I have no idea. Unconditional love must surpass everything is the only answer I can find to my consistent question of why my husband still comes home to “chaos central” around here. There’s always something going on. ALWAYS. 

Steve wishes he was home every night? Cindy wishes she was on the road 5-6 days a week and AWAY from home. You get the point. 

Cindy and I are literally all over the place the next few weeks and who knows what September holds as Prison Weddings in Texas aren’t scheduled until 7-10 days prior to the wedding. I was recently asked “what’s your schedule in October” by someone wanting to film in October. I can give you my weekend schedule but my weekdays go in 2 week intervals since I’m not notified of scheduling until 2 weeks prior to the event. 

My traditional bookings and Vow Renewals on evenings and weekends are scheduled years in advance but if you want me to tell you what Units I will be at in October, I have no idea until mid September in Texas. 

Other states only allow prison weddings once a year, twice a year, every three months and so on. Texas weddings are either on Tuesday, Weds, Thursday or Friday the 1st and 3rd weeks or the 2nd and fourth weeks. You may go a week doing nothing then the next week working Tuesday through Friday. Scheduling prison weddings is unpredictable and chaotic because the Officiant doesn’t control the scheduling. The Chaplain calls with dates but finding a date that works with my existing schedule is challenging. Often, I must choose the 2nd and rarely 3rd date options. 

I’m hoping that Leigh Ann adjusts in California and becomes bolder about walking into a prison. I’m also hoping my son and his wife learn patience with this pregnancy and Cindy learns to limit her generosity. I’m hoping that the twins starting school next Thursday flows smoothly and I’m hoping that eventually Stephaney decides to go back to work and buys her own car but, expecting Cindy and I to pay for everything for the rest of our lives isn’t going to continue to happen. We are trying to teach our children and grandchildren to be independent and it’s not an easy conversation or conversion…