“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…

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey

I’m always concerned when on of my clients sends me a text or DM that reads “there’s something I need to talk to you about. Are you busy?”

I always drop everything to immediately respond to messages like this because I can feel their sense of urgency.

I’m everyone’s mom. I’m always available to my clients seven days a week from 8AM-9PM.

Other vendors who follow me are often surprised that my role by far surpasses planning and officiating a ceremony.

My role expands and extends to that of a friend, counselor, problem solver and patient listener.

Karen had been concerned about what to do after realizing her fiancée was involved with K2. This problem isn’t isolated to Karen. This problem is spreading through prisons. I listened to her concerns and waited for her to express her wide range of emotions and disappointment before responding.

First, I needed to help her understand her own needs. Second, I needed her to establish boundaries. Third, I needed her to reinforce these boundaries. It’s not easy dealing with an addict. Fourth, addicts are expert manipulators and Karen would need to stop sending money. It wouldn’t be easy for her to do this. Why? Because she’s been sending money for a long time. She’s been doing what she can to support an inmate that she plans to marry.

Setting boundaries is often difficult to do. Dealbreakers always are. You need to know what’s “too much” for you. You need to find that line and establish it. I knew the inmate would be angry regarding Karen taking a stand. But my client is my focus not the inmate. I always put my clients needs and issues as my primary concerns. They need reinforcement. They need a sounding board. An unbiased listener. They need me.

The words to an Elvis Presley song immediately came to mind regarding inmates not getting what they wanted and getting upset about it.

You know I’ll be your slave if you ask me to.
But if you don’t behave
I’ll walk right out on you. If you want my love then take my advice and treat me nice.”

We had a lengthy conversation. The following day after much grief, Karen sent me a message that she felt better about her decision although it was a difficult choice. Saying no always is. The person you are saying no to will react in a number of different ways. First, they will often use guilt. Second, they will often use anger. Hold your ground.

I’ve also had numerous clients in a number of states contacting me regarding debt collector calls. When the economy tanks, the collectors come out. Zombie debt and third party lawsuits are real. Respond to collection letters. Call me if you need help writing a verification or validation letter. Respond to a lawsuit by filing an answer. Your answer should be General Denial. Most of these lawsuits are third party debt buyers. They buy the debt then pursue the debt. The debt is often time barred from a lawsuit. To alter this, the collector establishes a new account on your credit report. This effectively re ages a previously time barred debt. I need all of you ESPECIALLY if you have ever had a defaulted debt to be diligent. Check your credit reports. Fight erroneous entries. Freeze your credit. If you don’t know how to respond to a debt lawsuit, contact me but don’t hide from a debt collector. They will find you. Erroneous debt and unscrupulous debt collectors have been around for many years. They use threats and coercion to attempt to bully you into making a payment or an agreement. These will reopen and re age the original debt. Don’t fold. Contact me.

Yet another client contacted me regarding a death row inmate and wanted to know “what’s going to happen?” First, I know you haven’t done this before. Stay calm. Nothing scary is going to happen. I will be by your side at all times inside the Unit. I will walk you through exactly what’s going to happen as well as exactly what you can or cannot do. I will prepare you. We are in this together and you will never be separated from me inside a Unit unless you need to use the restroom.

We have twenty minutes. I encourage you to write your own vows to extend our timeline. Why? My ceremony takes 11-13 minutes. Once finished we are hustled out. I encourage you to write poetry, scripture, vows and even song lyrics to “buy” an additional few minutes inside. Why? We’ve spent months getting to wedding day and I want you to savor every second.

Song lyrics can often be changed or altered easily. Badfingers Day After Day works well. “I remember finding out about you. Every day, my mind is all around you. Looking out from my lonely room, day after day. Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you.”

Or, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together works well too. “Let me say that since, baby, since we’ve been together. Loving you forever is what I need. Let me, be the one you come running to. I’ll never be untrue.”

There are so many song lyrics that perfectly fit an expression of love that can be easily incorporated into a wedding ceremony that the list is endless.

Tuesday morning I had a call regarding “music at the wedding ceremony.” We cannot have music at any wedding ceremony within a detention facility. Whether it’s state, federal, ICE or county. This request comes up rather frequently. Once client at Estes was so determined to have music that she asked me to sing. I’m not a hip hop singer but I did my best. My best brought riotous laughter from the inmate and the correctional officers but if it’s important to you I will try to accommodate your request. Remember though that I’m not Beyoncé.

Bridget sent me a message regarding finding an RV park near Palestine. I immediately thought of my other client, Larissa who manages an RV park and sent her a message to link Bridget and Larissa. Larissa also told me her grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, her father had suffered a heart attack and her beloved aunt whom I had met on wedding day in Beaumont was struggling with blood sugar issues during this pandemic. I was deeply saddened and concerned. Everyone is struggling through this unprecedented and troubling virus. It’s changed the way we live. It’s robbed us of structure, predictability and peace.

Many of my clients are so anxious about this “new normal” that I’ve been asked about coping strategies. Because many of my blog followers might have missed my post on FB, I’m copying and pasting tips for dealing with stress and anxiety during this pandemic below.

From helplessness to hopelessness we are going through something entirely new and foreign to us. This adjustment is a learning curve. Everything changed for us in a short window. Things we took for granted were taken away. Finding peace in a time of crisis can be challenging.

Some individuals are being heavily impacted by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite. Stress affects everyone differently.

Others may find cognitive symptoms to be a greater stressor resulting in difficulties recalling memories, problems with concentration, inability to control negative thoughts, ruminating on the same thoughts, and having trouble seeing any positives.

These anxiety symptoms are the body and mind’s natural response to rapid adaptations in your familial, work, financial, and emotional environments. It is likely that they may get better with time as you adjust to your “new normal,” but you can immediately use the strategies below to help manage anxiety and other difficult feelings.

1. Separate out worries into productive and unproductive actions.

Worries can be turned into productive preparations and cautionary behaviors like taking vitamins, stocking up on essentials and food, refilling medications, and so on. It is equally important to prepare mentally. You can stock up on your favorite reading materials and calming scents like lavender; make time to socialize through phone, video calls, online gaming; and in your downtime engage in a hobby or interest you enjoy.

When you find yourself worrying about something you have no control over and can’t convert into a positive preparation, it is helpful to “shelve” that thought, or let it go completely.

2. Make a visual list of coping skills and keep it readily accessible.

In times like these, you might find your typical ways of coping don’t cut it, and you need even more tools and strategies to turn to. You may also find your mind is overwhelmed with information and new adjustments, so you forget the things that used to come more naturally to you.

First, make a list of the things you do already and have done to manage stress and remain calm. Here are some ideas to get you started: therapy, talking to a friend, exercise, prayer, reading, meditation, yoga, creative activities, positive self-talk, cooking, gardening, journaling, deep breathing, listening to music, household projects, spring cleaning, meditation, puzzles/games, playing with your pets and kids, and doing something nice for someone else.

3. Challenge negative thoughts.

Chronic stress is often the result of negative thought patterns. Individuals who focus on and replay negative thoughts find the experience to be unpleasant, counterproductive, and in some cases resulting in depression. Challenging irrational, negative thoughts can allow you to change them by learning how to examine the validity of the negative thoughts and learn how to interpret situations using a different perspective.

4. Limit your exposure to anxiety-producing news and information.

It is important to stay up to date with new information but it is just as important to make a deliberate choice to read or watch the news. Refreshing your social media feeds throughout the day, or keeping the news on in the background, is overwhelming your senses and your ability to pay attention to other needs for yourself and your family.

Trust that you can get what you need in a few structured and limited times when you check your news sources. It is especially important to limit/monitor the way your children are receiving news about the virus. Stick to reliable sources and perhaps block people temporarily on social media if their reactions are increasing your negativity or anxiety.

5. Practice a daily mindful activity.

The bulk of the fear attached to anxiety comes from the anticipation of a future threat. Many people will catastrophize what is coming and have trouble separating assumptions from facts. Practicing a daily mindful activity places a focus on the now and not the future. This is done by separating feelings from judgments and focusing on things that are true and are occurring now, not what might happen.

Pick one thing you do daily and let your senses attend to that one thing — like brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee. When your mind wanders off, bring it back gently to your activity. A daily meditation practice can also help you be more mindful. Tara Brach and Christopher Germer have wonderful free meditations available online.

There are also many apps to help you start or build upon an existing practice (Headspace, Insight Timer, Buddhify, Calm). Additionally, you can hear my guided meditations for free on Spotify and Google Play (Unwind: Guided Relaxation, by Amy Vigliotti).

6. Talk about it, write about it, let it out.

There is a common misconception that talking about anxiety makes it worse because it encourages people to think about what makes them anxious. The reality, however, is that people who experience anxiety experience it whether they talk about it or not. Research has found that expressing anxious thoughts can help individuals feel as if they are getting those negative thoughts “out of their system” and/or diminish the intensity of their feelings. You can express your thoughts to trusted friends/family, keep a journal, or write them on notes to then be discarded later.

7. Pay attention to positive events.

Picture yourself walking outside on a day where there is a mix of clouds and blue sky. In times of unusual stress, we all have a habit of focusing on the negative—the “clouds”—and missing the blue sky. If we ignore the blue sky, we make things even harder on ourselves.

You want to balance your consumption of “negative” news by reading and attending to positive events. There are always positive things to focus on even in times of great duress. We see fitness instructors giving online free workouts; neighbors lending a hand to elderly individuals; health care workers prioritizing the care of others in a selfless manner. And there are little things we can be grateful for as well: a hot shower, our morning coffee, a smile or text from a friend. If you want to take it a step further, you can be a positive change in your community. Doing something nice for someone else makes us feel good too.

We are all going through something we have never been through before. This pandemic and the uncertainty caused by it are stressful. Whether you are an essential worker or a parent now homeschooling and working, your life has changed to a “new normal.” This new normal is temporary but it is an adjustment. Take time to focus on yourself during this crisis.

Adjusting to and accepting change is different and often difficult for everyone. What works for one person might not work for another. Find a strategy that suits your individual needs. From a long walk to listening to music to visiting a friend to writing a letter to your loved one to buying a candle, what helps you relax is what will work best for you.

Because I haven’t been taking deposits for the past two months and effectively not formally booking new clients, I’ve made adjustments to assist new inquiries who may have had their marriage license expire trying to marry. Deduct $40 from the cost of your second marriage license to help you with expenses. I’m not taking deposits because I believe my clients need to keep their money during these uncertain times. You are single income households. Many of you are single parents. I want you to take care of yourselves as we wait out the reinstatement of visitation.

Booked clients are being mailed checks for 1/2 of the replacement cost of their marriage licenses for two months now. I want everyone to wait to buy that second license until we are sure that we can use it. Be patient as this too shall pass. I will get you married.

As always I’m going to remind everyone not to panic. If you need a friendly ear I’m always available and want you to know that you are not alone. We are all in this together…

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…

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… 

TDCJ Ellis Unit Huntsville, Texas & Hitting The Road…

Just last week I was driving through Houston headed to TDCJ Scott Unit meeting my beautiful bride. The number of miles I burn through on a weekly basis often shocks people. My son had hitched a ride with me to Houston last week. My husband feels better knowing I’m not out on the road alone to Units 5 plus hours one way. Since I’m asked about our other states, I fly beyond Oklahoma and Arkansas. It’s just too much to drive to other states although I have driven to Ohio. For years I drove back and forth to California but driving puts a lot of stress on my timelines. I prefer to fly to other states and have for the past few years. 

Driving to Huntsville one day to turn around and drive past it the next makes for an exhausting 48 hours. 

This week my copilot was my sassy twin sister. Cindy is never without something to say about everything. In fact, yesterday as a belated birthday gift, I had assumed that a relaxing spa day and Swedish massage would be the perfect birthday gift yesterday but Cindy hated the entire experience. 

Cindy “they made me take off my clothes? What’s relaxing about that? I can go to the mall any day of the week and for $5 with my clothes on get a relaxing massage and people watch. Save your money sister and remember that most stuff you don’t like I do and vice versa. Get a massage for yourself because that was far from relaxing for me Pal.” Humph. 

Tuesday morning, I pulled out of Fort Worth towards Huntsville. For two months now, the inmate who had two brides wanting to marry him. One in North Dakota and a devoted pen pal who had been sending money. The other lives in San Antonio and was  a regular visitor to Ellis Unit and this particular inmate. North Dakota had never met the inmate in person.

Warily, I knew that the inmate was (most likely) nervous about finally meeting me in person because in this situation, I knew far more about this tangled web than is traditionally the situation. Brandi (North Dakota) and Valerie (San Antonio) were two people who would (most likely) have never encountered or even heard of each other had they both not been involved with Raul at Ellis Unit. My heart was heavy. I hoped Raul was prepared for the commitment marriage requires.

Driving to Huntsville solo, Elvis played on my car stereo. Love songs and faith played through my mind. Elvis can sing the praises of God like no one before him and no one after him. 

Would Raul break Valerie’s heart and abuse her trust the same way he had Brandi? Was there a future for Raul and Valerie after lock up? Would he be a loyal and faithful husband? All things far beyond my control. I can discuss the setbacks and problems marrying an inmate entails with my clients but I can’t always “talk anyone out of marrying an inmate.” 

Walking up to the tower from the parking area, I saw Valerie. The sun hitting her hair was like a halo. She was so tiny, petite, beautiful and beaming. She immediately hugged me. We’ve been through months of phone calls and texts. This was our first time to meet in person. 

I didn’t talk Valerie out of marrying although I spent several weeks going over the importance of love being based on trust. Valerie loves Raul. Brandi is heartbroken.The moments spent in the visitation area for weddings are somewhat brief. Fifteen to twenty minutes then signing the license before posing for photos and being escorted out. 

Valerie and I had time to discuss her life and her dedication to Raul as we waited for Unit photos to print. She is driven and dedicated. Her mother lives with her. She’s a mother herself working two jobs and doing it all alone. Her brother is also incarcerated and Valerie drives to visit him as well. 

At a young age, Valerie has many responsibilities. I discussed the need for her to set limits with her mother and Raul. She is pulled in far too many directions. 

Leaving the Unit, I found area for photos with Valerie and her friend. It was a chilly morning in Huntsville and my furs came in handy for Valerie and her friend. All too soon, Valerie was headed back to San Antonio. A long drive for a young bride who would be driving back to Ellis this weekend to visit her new husband.

“Families are similar to a pot luck dinner, you don’t have to like everything they bring to the table to appreciate the meal.” 

Cindy Daniel

Love Will Find A Way TDCJ Allred Unit To TDCJ Scott Unit Travels Of A TDCJ Officiant..

A few weeks ago, I met Latonya at the Tarrant County Clerks Office to buy her marriage license. Country clerks are far less familiar with inmate marriage. It is not uncommon for me to redirect a client to another clerks office. This “redirection” isn’t limited to Texas either. Experience matters. I know what to do and how to overcome the unforeseen.

The number one reason for an I60 Request For Marriage to be denied is that the inmate is ALREADY listed as Common Law Married to someone other than my client. To overcome this effective suck punch, I created a Dissolution Agreement that I send out to clients with regularity. 

No one planning to marry an inmate expects to find that the inmate has secrets but, more and more frequently in Texas this continues to be the case. In ALL situations this CLM status wasn’t something any inmate forgot about. Why? Because the inmate filed this paperwork solely to have contact (not conjugal as Texas does not allow these types of visits) visits. No one likes the glass. Not the inmates nor the visitors either. This week alone I’ve mailed 9 Dissolution Agreements out. 

A few weeks ago, I had a voice mail regarding TDCJ Henley Unit. I returned the call en route to conduct a memorial in Dallas. This caller was out of state and had a number of questions. Out of state folks should certainly consider taking a Twogether In Texas Course online. Why? Because Texas has a 3 day waiting period. For many of my Texas clients, a three day waiting period won’t interfere with their employment but most people don’t have three days when traveling from another state to “wait around.” The course is $29 but also discounts the cost of the marriage license by $60 as well as waiving the waiting period. 

The number of calls, emails and texts I review on a daily basis from numerous prospects regarding marrying an inmate in our multi state service area shocks everyone. 

I’ve NEVER advertised AND ALWAYS kept my promises. That’s the secret to Cindy and I creating not one but four unique and successful diverse businesses as a Twin Team.

For clients marrying an inmate, buying the marriage license can be an intimidating and frightening ordeal. I ease the stress by holding their hand through the process. When possible, I even meet my clients on site at the clerks office.A few weeks ago, I not only met but also drove my traditional clients, the Andersons to the clerks office to purchase their marriage license. 

Johnnie had made a successful life after lock up. Sharing his journey from TDCJ Michael to Allred to Ramsey, my client literally turned his life around and married Brenda last weekend at his new home in Fort Worth. Johnnie also owns a cleaning company and if you need the job done right the first time, Johnnie’s Onda Spot is your go to DFW service provider. My job has many roles. Parking and finding the right office can be intimidating to my clients so I ease their burden by either meeting them and walking in to the clerks office or picking them up and driving them myself. 

Allred Unit in Iowa Park is just a few miles outside Wichita Falls. Beyond Allred Unit are my other Units lined right up from Roach to Jordan to Clements. My son laughs because I don’t recall the names of cities I travel to. Instead, I recall the names of the Units.

An overcast sky and rain meant wet bridal shoots for Latonya and Cassandra which bothered me but I can’t control the weather although I wish I could for my clients.My Coffield Unit bride, Cassandra who was scheduled to marry in Tennessee Colony a few weeks ago and was advised by the Unit that her loved one had “caught a chain” and wasn’t at Coffield 48 hours prior to her wedding which is also emotionally upsetting but, Wednesday afternoon I married Latonya and Cassandra both at Allred Unit. Love always finds a way. 

Inmate transfers continue to be a shocking surprise to clients who have been waiting for months to marry but, we will be following your loved one and marry you at the new Unit. Don’t panic. Stay calm. You will get married. 

Catching a chain is a setback but a minor setback that can and will be overcome. I pass chain buses everyday and worry that the Unit I’m headed to has put my clients loved one on a chain bus passing me on the highway as I head to a Unit. It’s happened before and may happen again.

Unit photos continue to be less than we could hope for but Unit photos are hit and miss at all Texas Units. Buster Cole won the “worst Prison wedding pic” among my clients a few months ago. Why? Let’s take a look. My brides beautiful dress wasn’t visible in the Unit photo at all. To overcome this issue, I studied the photo to try and decide what exactly made her photo so dark? Was it the camera? By the way, I’ve had good news from my first Buster Cole client that they are finally going to live happily ever after and plan a Vow Renewal very soon. They have a real love story with a back story too. All of my clients have fascinating back stories.

I decided that the window was what caused the dark shadowing of my couple and at my next visit to Buster Cole, moved my clients away from the window. 

At my next visit to Buster Cole, I had another unexpected hurdle with the Unit advising my client that her clothes were too tight. 

To overcome this problem, I went out to my suv and grabbed an outfit from my dry cleaning. My client wore my clothes to her wedding which is why they appear a little large. This occurs more than anyone realizes. I come prepared.Leaving the Unit, I found an old building for her bridal photos. I’m always looking for unique locations near Units for photos. 

Many of you have been following the saga of two brides and one groom. This is a pickle. But, my North Dakota pen pal has moved on. We talk daily and I’ve successfully walked her through the heartache of being duped. The other bride intent on marrying at Ellis Unit sent me a text last night about cold feet. The problem? This wedding is scheduled for 11-12-2019 and right around the corner. 

Since I was driving back from TDCJ Scott Unit, I had my son (who had accompanied me on an all day adventure) answering incoming texts. I instructed Robbie to type my concerns and questions via text to Valerie. 

For someone so determined to marry just a few weeks ago, things have turned sour and I wanted to know why. I discussed at length that love is trust to Valerie and that the inmate specifically hid his pen pal relationship from her. 

If I see flags that you don’t, it’s because I’m old and wise and also because long after the glitter from your wedding has settled, the pain of a divorce will remain. I warn you for solid reasons. I’m every clients mother, advisor, cheerleader and occasionally a shoulder to cry on or the first person they call with good news. I wear many hats. 

Apparently, the Ellis inmate and his attitude are the reason my client (the winner of the two woman battle for one man controversy) is having second thoughts. 

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating so here it goes… if an inmate is controlling you from behind bars, things will not improve when they are in the free world. Establish clear boundaries now. Know YOUR WORTH. Put your needs first. If you don’t who will?

This Ellis inmate “played” the pen pal in North Dakota by pretending to love her. He also financially benefitted from being dishonest with and to her. My new friend in North Dakota was crushed. She was also bullied online because she truly believed the inmate had planned to marry her. 

How did North Dakota find out about San Antonio and the inmate who lied? An online forum for prison support. A posted photo was quickly addressed as someone planning to marry that was the very same photo my North Dakota friend had. Raul was “making the rounds.” 

This inmate was also “busted” when someone in a prison group recognized his photo and his name and told my North Dakota client he was marrying someone else from San Antonio. Wow. Like a movie script with too many plot lines, the hits from this scenario just keep coming. 

 “Pressure can burst a pipe, or pressure can make a diamond” 

Tony Dorsett

Prison Groups are tight and loyal. It should be noted that no one wants to get played. No one wants to get hurt. Protect your heart and your pocketbook folks because this pen pal situation gave not only me but also Brandi and Valerie a real eye opener regarding inmate pen pals and unsuspecting women who can be taken easily be taken advantage of by inmates playing not one but many people in the free world. 

Trust is essential to love. If you cannot trust someone how can you love them? I spent a week going over this with both Valerie and Brandi. But, Valerie was determined to marry Raul.

Valerie’s texts regarding “buying her own ring and paying for her own wedding” were accurate. All of my clients marrying an inmate foot the bills. Dedication, perseverance, loyalty and more are required to love an inmate. Financially the burden can be a heavy cross to bear but if an inmate is playing you for money and money is a driving force, WALK AWAY. 

One Gatesville inmate played a man for so much money that the story was featured in D Magazine. Also, after exhausting his income, this senior was found dead at his apartment in Gatesville after a visit from the inmates daughter to his home. His daughters suspected foul play and they were right.

“If you have to BUY someone’s AFFECTION, it’s not LOVE. You are making a PURCHASE. Know the difference.” 

This mornings phone call to one client involved me talking her out of a payday loan to marry an inmate. Payday loan interest amounts can easily range from 500-800% in Texas. Going into debt to marry an inmate is not in YOUR BEST INTEREST. I advised her to push the wedding back until after tax season instead. My advice is frank and always blunt. The inmate isn’t my client either. The “person on the outside doing it all alone” is my client. Protecting them is important to me.

After traveling with me to Allred Unit Wednesday, my son was in my driveway at 4:30AM yesterday to head to Angleton, TX. Generally Cindy is my copilot but one of my twin grandnieces had collapsed at school Tuesday due to an asthma attack that required hospitalization. The twins both have asthma. 

Maryssa (below next to Cindy far right) has stopped breathing entirely on 3 occcasions at school and required hospitalization. Due to Maryssa nearly dying at school the first time, Cindy and I fought for students in Texas to have the right to carry emergency inhalers and won. 

On a side note, we also fought for parents to choose whether or not to separate multiples in school and Twin Laws were established. Why did we care? We were separated ourselves and knew how traumatic being forcibly separated by school administrators was to multiples. 

Driving through the rain, my son noticed my phone never stops ringing. My son works three jobs and has for many years. He works as a driver for his father at Mr G’s Carpets as well as handling directional advertising for my husband at Mc Bee Homes and for me at Texas Twins Events and TDCJ Officiants. Robert also performs inmate weddings at county jails. Cindy does as well and also performs prison weddings when not traveling with me to Prisons or meeting clients or flipping items together. Cindy and I are almost always together.

Five hours after leaving Fort Worth yesterday, Robbie and I arrived at TDCJ Wayne Scott Unit. My beautiful bride was wearing a 50’s styled dress that I loved! It’s always exciting to finally meet my clients in person. Marcella’s family was waiting for her at the hotel so we followed her back and began unloading items for her bridal photo shoot. My son had a little trouble with my longest veil and the wind lol. People are always surprised at just how many miles I log in a week. Cindy’s Husband is a truck driver who often compares his miles per week with me lol. Steve wins week after week. Steve has been a truck driver 50 plus years. My husband has been a builder 50 plus years.

Cindy and I are celebrating our 55th birthday this weekend because we are working on our birthday this year (as usual). 

Next Tuesday we are at Huntsville Units. Wednesday, we finally meet a filmmaker I’ve been talking to an emailing the past year regarding a documentary about prison relationships and marriage. Elena will fly into Hobby while I’m inside Ramsey Unit with Shenequil and join us for bridal photos following the wedding. 

Wallace-Ware Unit To What’s Next With My Ellis Unit Client, The Inmate & The Pen Pal…

It’s been two weeks of running here, there and everywhere while fielding calls and being positive for one young lady in North Dakota who was swindled by a poison pen bearing inmate at TDCJ Ellis Unit playing her for his own gain. 

In all honesty, I was hoping the other woman STILL actually planning to marry him would have second thoughts. She doesn’t. Blindsided because North Dakota realized she was being played by the inmate, she’s taking it in stride. In fact, the woman the inmate planned to marry and used the pen pal to obtain the necessary paperwork planned to marry next Tuesday. Due to a Lock Down though, this wedding is now on hold and we can only hope that during this period, everyone involved has time to heal from a very unexpected ordeal.

Why the actual fiancée isn’t holding the inmate accountable for his con or doubting his trust after confronting him about North Dakota I have no idea. The pen pal was a pawn and cast aside after months of sending money. 

The inmate had been writing love letters and was also on numerous pen pal forums soliciting new victims who might fall for and believe his sappy scripts of loving them madly. Such scenarios leave victims. Brandi shared these love letters with me as well as the actual fiancé. 

Brandi has been sending four hundred dollars a month to this inmate and believed that he was planning to marry her.

The inmate was also using Brandi to obtain information from me as to how to go about planning and executing a Prison wedding. 

Brandi contacted me in August. I advised her to download an absentee affidavit for Walker county where the inmate is located. 

I didn’t hear back from Brandi until someone on a prison page recognized the inmates name and that he was marrying someone from San Antonio AND that I was the Officiant for not only Brandi but also Valerie. What the? Yep, Brandi hadn’t booked services though which was why I had no idea of the inmates name or that she was planning to marry the same inmate my other client was. 

Such shocking things as this are rare but for the inmate writing pen pals who only care about themselves, the possibility of these widespread script writing prison con artists may be far more common than anyone (especially me) had ever previously thought possible. Let’s face it folks, inmates have a lot of time on their hands. 

Several months ago, a Dutch filmmaker contacted me regarding pen pals from Europe to Texas Death Row Inmates. I didn’t have any pen pal clients from abroad but have kept in contact with her and posted several inquiries on my pages. It’s very rare for me to marry a pen pal. How do I know? My clients share far more information than anyone realizes with me. Brandi and the fiancé didn’t. Hence my surprise. I’m wary of pen pal love stories. 

Traditionally, pen pal marriages of my clients are between United States based males marrying female inmates located at Gatesville, Texas Units. 

For the weeks I’ve spent talking to Brandi while trying to give her insight and advice, it’s become a battle between two women over one man and if it were me, I would drop him like a hot potato but, one woman is hellbent on marrying this inmate. 

Valerie and Brandi have both been contacting me about each other daily for two weeks now. They have also both changed their last names to the inmates last name on social media. The shocking tit for tat went even further when family of the inmate began targeting Brandi who was already a victim of a con game that led her to believe the inmate loved her. I advised Valerie to stop this online bullying immediately after reviewing screenshots sent to me by Brandi. Bullying is never okay. Bullying someone who has already been victimized is despicable. I want this to stop and I’m intolerant of bullies. I’ve become a friend to Brandi. She needs a friend. 

Yesterday while coordinating with a journalist traveling to DFW to interview me and accompany myself and my twin sister to four Units on 10-22-2019, Brandi sent me a text regarding the inmate still being on several pen pal sites. This was alarming because like Brandi I was certain that Valerie should know this information in an effort to prevent yet another “incident” of two women and more drama. There could very well be more than two women involved in the Don Juan due to his numerous pen pal accounts. 

Due to two weeks of vicious online attacks and bullying by the inmates family against Brandi who was already victimized by the inmate, Brandi was once again suicidal. Her last text to me read “she can have him. The real Mrs Fuentes wins.” I was shocked and alarmed and with a client when the text came through. 

I immediately contacted suicide prevention to do a welfare check after being unable to reach Brandi following that very alarming text message. She is now doing okay and knows that she can contact me at any time. 

Bullying hurts everyone. Bullying someone who has been played and had their trust abused is something I cannot and will not tolerate. I advised Valerie to tell everyone concerned to cease messaging Brandi immediately and that if something happened to Brandi due to this bullying that criminal penalties would result. 

For people unaware of this, bullying anyone into suicide is usually documented and easily obtainable by authorities. Brandi had screenshot these messages to me. I in turn sent them to Valerie and told her flat out to stop anyone doing this to cease doing it immediately.

Brandi told me that “I was the mother she had never had.” Brandi deserves someone worthy of her. The inmate and his poison pen need to stop making broken promises. 

This morning after responding to an email from Elena regarding her documentary about pen pals and death row inmates, my Coffield Unit client, Cassandra called me about her fiancée catching a chain out of Coffield. We had been scheduled to have their wedding at Coffield 10-22-2019 @9:30AM. Cassandra and I will now be following the groom. Who knows where this wedding will wind up? 

My beautiful bride, Tiffany met me at Wallace Unit last week. For months trying to undo a CLM status was preventing the wedding from taking place. HOWEVER, the inmate was 17 when he went into the system and by law underage. Tiffany fought for this marriage and deserved to at least hold her Fiancee’s hand but lost the ability due to a charge involving a cell phone photo that he and numerous other inmates happened to be in moved the inmate to a G5 status which effectively put him behind glass. 

Tiffany was devastated about this as anyone planning to hold their loved ones hand would be. She also asked the warden to make an exception. The warden declined to make an exception. Further, I was told that the Unit camera wasn’t working which prevented Tiffany from having wedding photos. 

Weddings are Life Events and due to circumstances beyond Tiffany’s control, her wedding ceremony wasn’t what she had planned. Her bridal shoot was though! Her mother and the grooms family were waiting for her near Wallace Unit and our caravan headed to Colorado City Park together.

Unloading items I had packed in my suv for the photo shoot, it quickly became apparent  that Tiffany’s mom and the children were really going to enjoy playing dress up!Headed back to DFW, I stopped at Parker County Jail to meet a client and catch up my emails and text messages. My Ramsey Unit bride is finally going to marry in November. Cindy’s performing a ceremony in Jacksboro at Lindsey State Jail. 

This weekend I’m back on location with traditional clients and Vow Renewals and preparing for a memorial graveside ceremony in Dallas next weekend. 

Monday I’m in Dallas for a bridal photo shoot with my Holliday Unit Client, Leantrinette at Omni Hotel. 

Tuesday, Cindy and I hit the ground running for four Prisons in three cities in one day.

Can’t wait to see all of you very soon at your Prison Wedding, Vow Renewal, Babtism or other Dream Event. For our California clients, we will see ya all in December.. Leigh Ann has finally moved into her new townhome and is ready to get to work and meet ya all too… 

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 wendy@texastwinsevents.com 

LeBlanc Unit To Dallas County To Hobby Unit & More Adventures With The Texas Twins…

Over a month ago, my client had called regarding a denial on her I60 because she was listed as Common Law Married on TDCJ records. The problem with this particular denial on the I60 was that the Warden was unaware that the new policy and updated Administrative Directive Pertaining To Inmate Marriage allows even a CLM status inmate the right to a legal wedding ceremony. The hitch? Only the same person that they are listed as being Common Law Married to in inmate records QUALIFY to legally marry in a Texas Prison.  The name of the parties MUST MATCH the name listed as CLM in inmate records. Tricky right? It’s confusing too. However, understanding the actual reason for the Denial on an I60 is key to either correcting the issue OR overcoming it. 

The inmate CANNOT marry someone else while listed as CLM to someone else. It’s a mess but so many people have filed this CLM affidavit it would literally make your head swim. All of them thought “they were just signing a piece of paper.” 

“A CLM to someone else situation” requires far more undoing. A corrective Affidavit is where you will start the unraveling process with inmate records. I can’t begin to tell you how many times a crying and hysterical client has called me about a denial for marriage based entirely on a CLM status filed by the inmate to “someone else” years ago. It’s actually a regular occurrence. Daily, Weekly, Monthly. 

However, if an inmate is “claiming they don’t recall filing this document” they are lying. They also filed this document in order to obtain contact visits with “the other woman.” 

For those assuming this issue only happens with female clients, it doesn’t. In fact, two years ago, my Crain Unit client called me days before an Approved ceremony to tell me “the Warden changed the approved date and denied the wedding ceremony. I’ve already paid for travel and everything.” I asked “why?” As usual. The shocking answer was a jolt since we had already gone through the I60 process for 7 weeks and had a date at the Unit to marry. My client further explained this weird turn of events to me by saying ” apparently my fiancée had listed herself as CLM to another inmate prior to her own incarceration.” WOW. This hasn’t happened before but my client was older and didn’t “want any trouble. I just want to get married.” The solution? Due to my client living in North Carolina and his fiancée being paroled within a few months, I met them at the Walls Unit and married them in Huntsville. Problem solved. 

This particular I60 denial at LeBlanc “because the couple were already listed as CLM” was “completely new to me.” I had yet to encounter such a denial with similar circumstances for any other client “because the couple were already listed as CLM and therefore considered married to each other.” The problem of my client and her fiancé BEING NOT LEGALLY MARRIED was obviously frustrating to my client who had called me while on location with my other clients at Main Event. I went outside to take her call and assure her that I would do everything within my power to get her married. 

My first “job duty” would be to further research the Administrative Directive Pertaining To Inmate Marriage AGAIN since I had not noticed anything regarding being listed as CLM to each other being a reason to deny the I60 Request For Inmate Marriage at a TDCJ Facility. 

Knowing the procedures and policies within TDCJ is a very important asset for me especially when overcoming an obstacle such as a denial to the I60 based on the sole reason that “TDCJ inmate records already listed the couple as common law married.” 

As shocking as this may sound, my first encounter with this “already CLM status and therefore not authorized to marry” TDCJ issue impeding the approval on an I60 would actually occur again at Gib Lewis Unit less than a month later. True story. What the? 

A CLM status within TDCJ is not a legally recognized marriage by the state of Texas. I also contacted Access To Courts after a lengthy conversation with the Chaplain at LeBlanc explaining this unique situation. The Chaplain was argumentative. I don’t argue. I don’t have time to argue.

Thankfully, the previous I60 Denial “based on an existing CLM status” was changed by the Warden to an Approval status and the wedding date was scheduled within a week.

I don’t give up easily as all my clients know and Larissa was thrilled to meet Cindy and I at LeBlanc on wedding day. 

When your job during the week is to officiate inmate weddings at Prisons, “your job” requires knowledge and conflict resolution as well. Education is paramount in the Prison wedding planning process. 

Occasionally, one of my clients will call me so upset that I’m forced to calm them down before fully comprehending the situation. 

Now and then, I’ve also talked a few clients out of marrying based on their feelings of being “pressured into marrying an inmate.” I listen far more than anyone realizes. 

Listening also is the real “key” to none of my Prison clients divorcing to date. I know many of you “have heard” all inmate weddings end in divorce. They don’t. I prefer to talk someone out of marrying an inmate than to have them go through with a wedding and subsequent divorce “down the road.” 

Planning a Prison wedding is a very lengthy process. You are going to be jumping through hoops and relying heavily on me to make it happen. This isn’t something anyone goes into with their eyes wide shut. This is something only someone determined to marry would even consider doing I can assure you. 

My clients call me often about unexpected issues they face in their marriage after marrying QUITE frequently. Remember, I’m everyone’s mother. 

This week my Bridgeport Unit bride told me she was considering a divorce. Alarmed, I asked “why?” Apparently, the inmate hadn’t made parole. Also, the inmate wasn’t valuing the sacrifices his new bride was making in order to accommodate his needs. My clients do time too. The time they do is “ON the outside by pulling their wagon alone.”

After advising my Bridgeport client about how to address and explain her feelings to the inmate “who had assumed that her working two jobs in order to put money on his books and pay for expensive phone calls or even drive several hours and rent a hotel to visit” was exasperating, lonely and expensive, I told her to point out these sacrifices made solely for his benefit. Communication is key to conflict resolution. 

My clients always call me when there’s a problem and even when there isn’t just to catch up. My clients are my friends. 

What many people don’t know is that my allegiance is to my client at all times. My relationship and friendship is with my clients. It’s a confusing discussion to others who assume the inmate is my client. They aren’t. The person in the free world is. 

I’m asked questions frequently about my job. What you are hiring when you hire me is a “go to gal.” Whether the clerk is giving your client a hard time or the Unit is denying your I60 or even if the inmate is listed as CLM to someone other than you or even you in this particular clients situation, listed as CLM to you, you need someone educated about TDCJ policy and procedure. You need someone reliable you can count on to address your concerns and “that someone” is me. 

Many wonder why and even how “I know so much about the process?” The answer is that I’ve spent years learning, comprehending and understanding the policy and procedure process within any state I conduct and officiate inmate weddings. 

Arriving at LeBlanc Unit, I parked beside Larissa and her aunt. I love it when my clients bring friends and family to join them in their photo shoot after the ceremony. 

Guests aren’t allowed at most Unit Weddings in Texas with Sanders Estes being the exception. I know many other states allow guests but, we always follow procedure and policy. The Warden has the final say on guests and unless the Warden allows guests, they cannot attend your ceremony. Media is a special exception to the guest rule. Media must be authorized to enter the Unit and follow protocol. 

While waiting in the lobby on Larissas soon to be husband to be escorted into the visitation area, Larissa and I attempted to dry off as a downpour hit just as we were entering the Unit. Luckily, I had packed two multi color umbrellas “just in case.”The bride and groom had incorporated the Vows of Ruth into their ceremony and I loved their creative input. 

Incorporating elements into your ceremony keeps it fresh and unique. The couple were thrilled to finally make it to wedding day after the hurdles of getting approved. I was (as usual) thrilled for them. Wedding Day regardless of where it takes place is a Life Event. 

Larissa had contacted me about the Beaumont Botanic Gardens near the unit and asked if we could do her bridal photos there. I loved the idea and Cindy captured some really great shots with Larissa and her aunt. 

If you’ve seen an amazing location for your bridal or groom photos, just let me know. Cindy and I will follow you there after the wedding. We love new places and backdrops.I’ve added several veils to our rolling inventory to keep photo shoots fun and loved the photo Cindy took of Larissa in my latest addition to our inventory. Cindy’s fascinators are always a hit with clients. We had a great day in Beaumont with two great ladies before hitting the road back to Fort Worth.

Yesterday, I took a call from my Ellis Unit bride, Naquitia about needing photos for her twin daughter’s fourth birthday. Of course we were all in. Cindy and I headed over to meet Naquitia and the twins before driving to Deep Ellum for the photo shoot. I can’t wait to finally marry Naquitia at Ellis and for all my Ellis Unit clients waiting on dates, my Holliday Unit bride, Leantrinette found a great photo location in Huntsville that you are going to love. Check it out on my FB Page, Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham.

Oddly enough, I had an early morning phone call from my Gib Lewis Unit client crying because her I60 was denied. The situation was remarkably similar to Larissa at LeBlanc Unit. EXPERIENCE MATTERS. I solved “the I60 Denial” and remarkably “similar issue” at Gib Lewis Unit and will be marrying my clients August 14, 2019. My job isn’t to simply show up and conduct a ceremony. My job is to solve problems, address concerns, alleviate confusion and walk clients through the very difficult and time consuming task of marrying an inmate. 

Sunday evening, my team is meeting Leantrinette, my TDCJ Holliday Unit client in Dallas for a surprise birthday party for her mom. Cindy and I will be handling party planning and photography for Leantrinette and her family. 

I’m at Hobby Unit tomorrow with my beautiful brides and really looking forward to meeting everyone. It’s another busy weekend rolling up on us and we hope all of our clients and families are staying cool in this Texas heat.

A few of you have contacted me about being out of town because Cindy and I travel so much to other states. Have no fear dear friends as Wendy and Cindy regularly fly back and forth out of DFW or Meacham Field and can easily be back in Fort Worth within 48 hours. It’s not uncommon for me to travel to Oklahoma or Arkansas and even Louisiana or California within the same week. Cindy and I are seasoned destination event specialists who can be in one state one day and yet another state within 24 hours.  

The Texas Twins Travel and from California to Texas or Texas to California, its all in a days work so no worries. We are here when you need us… 

County Clerks, Ellis Unit, & Ferguson Unit My Role Requires Determination, Dedication & Hours Of Driving…

For months now, getting Amanda a date to marry at Ellis has been a hurdle. Many of my clients encounter clerks who are opinionated and far less than helpful when they realize my client is marrying an inmate. 

One clerk in Eastland actually had the audacity to ask Amanda “why would you want to marry an inmate?” A clerk in Abilene told Amanda that “marrying an inmate was illegal.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. However, I don’t have time to educate clerks and my clients don’t have patience either. If you work at a clerks office and have an attitude, find a new job. 

These people are supposed to understand their job but don’t. If your job is to issue marriage licenses, you are being paid to do so. There’s a reason I send my clients away from county clerks who are obviously untrained and the reason continues to be upsetting for clients. The reason is that being challenged by a clerk who doesn’t know the law or has an attitude when trying to buy a marriage license is the last thing anyone needs. 

Opinions of clerks issuing licenses to the public should be censured and yet they aren’t. The tragedy of both arrogance and ignorance in county clerks offices continues. No one buying a marriage license should be forced to endure “the opinions of a clerk.” Your role is to serve the public.

Clerks aren’t the only people impeding the prison wedding planning process. Last month, Chaplain Jasper informed Amanda fiancé of a date to marry at Ellis Unit. The problem was the Chaplain didn’t bother to notify me or check my schedule. I was already scheduled at a confirmed date at Coffield and Michael Units on the date given to the inmate. 

Obviously I cannot be in two places two hours from each other at the same time. I juggle new inquiries and bookings with existing clients on a daily basis. 

If I’ve bumped your request for an Officiant  to the following month when you were trying to book with me, it was entirely due to my schedule for existing clients. I do not and will not book more than 15 new clients in Texas per month. Why? Because rotating clients awaiting dates take first priority. 

This new trend of Chaplains “notifying the inmate” rather than my client or myself requires me to call the Unit to reschedule when I’m already booked at another Unit on the date in question which I did but this situation would become a fiasco entirely due to the Chaplain. It would also require me to put on my Boss Boots to get Amanda married. Buckle up for yet another bumpy ride and why hiring an Officiant involves far more than the Officiant “bothering to show up” ya all. 

On June 18, 2019 at 9:07AM after calling Chaplain Jasper to explain that I couldn’t be in Tennessee Colony and Huntsville AT THE SAME TIME ON THE SAME DAY and requested that the Chaplain move my Ellis clients to the afternoon which would have given me time to move from Tennessee Colony to Huntsville within about two hours of moving from Coffield to Michael Unit to Ellis. 

Tennessee Colony is two hours from Ellis Unit. The Chaplain told that “an afternoon scheduling won’t work and you will need to move the date.” Ugh. I verbally changed the date to July 9th at 1PM on the phone with Chaplain Jasper and subsequently (as requested by him) also sent an email confirming July 9, 2019 at 1PM. It’s not unusual for me to confirm a date by email to a Unit. In fact, I prefer to do so. 

For those of you unaware of this, I log all phone calls, text messages and emails. I’m OCD. I don’t forget anybody and certainly don’t make mistakes regarding wedding day. Weddings are Life Events. These emails would prove important. Stay tuned. 

On July 9th at 7:48AM, an email from Chaplain Jasper regarding Amanda’s wedding a few hours later came in. Alarmed, I called the Unit and couldn’t locate Chaplain Jasper. What the? On wedding day? 

I also called Amanda who had left home hours ago to drive to Ellis Unit. I THEN DECIDED to drive to Ellis anyway. Why? Why not? This wedding was a confirmed date. Amanda had been planning this day for nearly a month. 

Amanda had also tried to buy her marriage license to but encountered dipshit clerks who didn’t know how to perform their jobs. Amanda had been through the ringer and I wasn’t about to let an email cancelling a confirmed date at Ellis ON WEDDING DAY have me throwing in the towel with my client on the road. In fact, to overcome the marriage license issue, Amanda was going to Huntsville to buy her license an hour prior to meeting me at Ellis. I had sent her the online link to Twogether In Texas. Luckily, Amanda had taken the course. 

For clients and readers unaware of the many “providers” of this course and how they aren’t correctly performing their role, I’m going to jump right in and elaborate as to why I lobbied the online option. First off, as a provider you are supposed to be teaching the 8 hour course not mailing the materials. Secondly, many of these “providers” are failing to provide the certificate which is why consumers are paying you in the first place. As a provider or instructor, this system wasn’t put in place to pad your pockets. It was put in place for premarital education. Because of the misuse of this program, the online option has been available for two years because folks like me argued the fact that providers were not instructing the course and instead selling materials they were provided for free to others. Take the online course. Skip the third party who isn’t teaching the course. What a racket! My Hodge Unit bride paid yet another “other officiant” and never received her certificate. Just go online. I will send you the link myself.  

Throughout my three hour drive to Huntsville, I checked my email. Nothing from Chaplain Jasper. I also checked on Amanda who had bought her marriage license with no issues in Walker County. 

I arrived thirty minutes early to Ellis Unit and returned calls while waiting on Amanda. I had no idea if my barnstorming theory of dressing up and showing up on wedding day would work but I knew this… Amanda had taken a day off that she wouldn’t be able to do again for some time and we needed to do everything possible to attempt to get married on July 9th. You will never get a yes unless you ask for it and we were about to do just that. 

At 12:30PM, Amanda parked beside me. She was also nervous about whether or not we could go ahead with the wedding. We both walked to the guard up in the birdcage to announce our arrival for a wedding. 

The assistant Warden arrived to tell us “I spoke with Chaplain Jasper yesterday and he said that he didn’t have any weddings on the schedule and because he’s not here, I have no paperwork.” 

Calmly and I cannot stress this enough, I elaborated on those emails. I was asked to go get my phone and hand it over to review said emails. Since I had responded to the 7:48AM email, I was also asked “why did you drive out here anyway?” I answered “Amanda left Eastland early this morning and was already on the road and in my opinion, we had nothing to lose since this was a confirmed date.” He was kind enough to consider why we went ahead and drove on. He was also confused as to why the Chaplain had “forgotten” about our wedding and yet managed to email us that “the wedding would be cancelled and the inmate would be advised of a rescheduling.” 

Amanda and I asked if he could try to locate the I60. We were in fact, asking a favor and since the Chaplain hadn’t bothered to tell anyone other than me in that email about the confirmed date, we were blessed by encountering someone who cared about our journey. 

Thankfully, this Warden located the paperwork and the wedding went on. If I had simply taken Chaplain Jasper’s brush off email, Amanda would have taken the day off and driven five hours to Huntsville for the hell of it. 

By being determined and having proof that there was obviously a wedding scheduled, we were truly blessed to find someone who helped us. The fact that I had documentation of those emails literally saved the day. 

God Bless that Warden. Amanda’s Husband was going through emotions himself since he was told he wasn’t getting married. He also knew that the Warden and the guard who took photos were the reason that he was getting married. There are truly good folks working at Prisons. I’ve met them.I’m in and out of Prisons everyday. I also “hear horror stories” from clients but there are good people at Units. 

There are people who care and there are people who understand. That Warden and that guard were two of those people. Leaving Ellis, I followed Amanda to the clerks office. You know, the clerk who was so nice issuing that license hours earlier. Again, stay tuned. We arrived at the clerks office and Amanda handed her the marriage license she had issued earlier. The clerk suddenly got an attitude and said “you can’t get married today there’s a waiting period.” What the? Was this lady kidding? She had processed the paperwork herself. She had also put the waiver on the back of the license. 

I said “she has a Twogether In Texas certificate waiving the waiting period.” The clerk THEN said “that ONLY discounts the license.” I said “the certificate discounts the license AND waives the waiting period.” This clerk needed a new job. She also needed a new attitude. But, naughty or nice, she wasn’t going to intimidate me. 

I’ve been with Twogether in Texas since 2009 and if you are a county clerk attempting to tell people that a certificate specifically put in place to BOTH discount the license AND waive the waiting period is incorrect, I AM happy to educate you and, I will. It’s your job to understand this program. 

A clerks job is to issue marriage licenses so it would make sense to understand your role as a county official and your responsibility to understand the process. 

After I had challenged this clerk to pull the paperwork for the marriage license that she had filed hours earlier, she FINALLY recorded the license. This clerk had also overcharged for a certified copy but after all the things Amanda went through to get that license, I also paid the fee of $37 for a $27 certified copy. I had my reasons for whipping out that bank card though so read on. 

I had asked this clerk for a price sheet since I knew damn well the fee for a certified marriage license was intentionally being inflated. “We don’t have cost or price sheets.” I was told this because she knew darn well that providing me proof on the spot of the cost discrepancy wouldn’t be in her best interest. I played along. I wanted Amanda to get that certified copy. 

I’m in and out of clerks office everyday and can assure you that EVERY county clerk has a price list. It isn’t one price for so and so for George and yet another price for Bobby. County Clerk costs are the same to everyone. 

I know all too well from years ago when dealing with county clerks refusing to issue same sex marriage licenses that the attitudes of certain clerks have not changed in Texas. 

Someone should be secret shopping county clerks and I’m not kidding. 

Let’s review why Twogether In Texas exists… House Bill 2685 during the 2007 legislative session, increases the fee for a marriage license from $30 to $60.00. It also allows couples who complete an eight-hour premarital education course to waive paying the $60 of their marriage license fee, and they will not have to wait 72 hours to get married. Couples who complete a course will receive a certificate that is good for one year. The information can be found in the Texas Administrative Code 2.204 effective September 1. 2008. 

If you want more information from the TEXAS FAMILY CODE on marriage licenses you may access that web site and click on “The Marriage Relationship Chapter 2”. This may answer any questions in more detail about the requirements for the marriage license.

On Walker County’s OWN WEBSITE this information can be found and yet the clerk tried to tell Amanda “you can’t be married today as I just issued the license.” The same license WITH A WAIVER on the back of it. The same license that requires the Twogether certificate to obtain the discount and the waiver the clerk argued “hadn’t been filled out.” I could not believe that this clerk was pointing out something that she herself had failed to complete BUT she was. 

You know, the same license she had issued a few hours earlier. Come on County Clerks with attitude. Get off your high horse and off that personal phone call and start paying attention to your job and the general public. 

What if I HADN’T joined Amanda to file her marriage license at the clerks office? Thankfully, neither I or Amanda were going to be bullied by this clerk who FIRST refused to file the marriage license then also decided to upcharge the fee for a certified license copy to the price of an Informal Marriage just because she thought she could. 

When people tell me “I can do what you do. Can you teach me how?” They literally have no real idea what it actually takes to do my job and the majority of the time they wouldn’t put forth the effort either. I’m driven, determined, passionate and perseverant. I also encounter obstacles on a regular basis. From a CLM status to a lost I60 to an idiotic clerk to an unorganized Chaplain and more, prison weddings can be as chaotic as large traditional events and they are. 

Back to the Huntsville clerk- I went ahead and charged the transaction for a certified license with my Frost Bank card specifically to document the upcharged fee. You know the inflated cost of an Informal Marriage License versus the actual cost of a Certified Marriage License. 

NOW let’s review the posted fee for a certified copy. Don’t be shocked because I was WILLING to pay this upcharge put upon us SOLELY because I challenged this clerk regarding the waiting period waiver and validity of the Twogether in Texas certificate pertaining to Amanda’s license. 

Ten dollars might sound insignificant until you realize that Amanda and I were effectively challenged on getting that license filed AT ALL for twenty minutes. Paying an upcharge AFTER this confrontation was effectively the icing on the cake at that courthouse. 

When it comes to legal issues, especially pertaining to marriage law, I’m educated and well versed and I’m also not easily intimidated. I was well aware of the ACTUAL FEE for a certified marriage copy too. I bit my tongue though as not to upset Amanda. Frankly, it was already upsetting to have a clerk telling you she wouldn’t file and much record the license “due to the waiting period.” Nothing I do is easy. Sure, others think it looks easy. It isn’t. I’m not successful because I’m lucky. I’m successful because I’m perseverant, educated and determined. There’s a difference. I don’t have an easy button. I have a get it done button. 

An Informal Marriage License CANNOT have an Absent Party. An Informal Marriage License doesn’t look like a traditional marriage license either. These two documents are remarkably different. The circumstances and use for both documents are also different. The cost is different. They are two entirely different things but, this clerk decided to upcharge the fee for a certified copy of a marriage license to an Informal Marriage License because SHE THOUGHT Amanda wouldn’t notice and I wouldn’t either. 

The clerk and her coworker might’ve assumed that they were both “getting even” for being challenged about that waiting period waiver. Perhaps they even snickered regarding their private joke. I’ve spent years in clerks offices. I’ve met nice ones and I’ve also met naughty ones who are opinionated about same sex Marriage AND inmates marrying. 

My Texas Twins Events clients remember all too well Kat and Tiffany McKay the same sex couple who couldn’t get a marriage license from Parker County because the clerk “had religious reasons for not issuing one.” My Team and our friends in the LBGT community picketed the courthouse and I also married Kat and Tiffany who were the basis of a news story titled “the first same sex couple issued a marriage license in Parker County marry.” The story in the Parker County Democrat detailed how difficult it was to obtain that marriage license. The story touched upon “Wendy and her team helping them get married” in the same story. Kat and Tiffany contacted me after hearing about Lisa and Terry Williams wedding. They had no flowers, they had no photographers. They had no Officiant. My ENTIRE TEAM gifted them their wedding. I’m that Wendy. I’m that committed. My entire family made their Dream Event a reality. 

The Parker County Clerk had an attitude too but, I have thousands of friends in the LBGT community and I had also found the time to silently protest with sandwich boards the ability for a same sex couple to purchase a marriage license. 

Jeff Mosier had reported in the Dallas Morning News since I was openly LBGT friendly while other vendors were hiding their affiliation in the closet. The story about my site crashing on the day of the Supreme Court ruling was big news but what Jeff didn’t report was how difficult it actually was for my clients to purchase a marriage license. Many Texas clerks refused to issue marriage licenses.

It was so difficult for our clients to find a LBGT friendly clerk to buy a marriage license from that my entire family literally “split up to accompany couples intimidated about the simple process of purchasing a marriage license” to courthouses throughout Texas for not days but WEEKS. 

Seventy percent of my bookings on the day of the Supreme Court ruling a day of much celebration for same sex couples wishing to marry were effectively moved because my clients couldn’t find clerks to issue their marriage licenses. 

So, if you are wondering “why does Wendy Wortham KNOW so much about county clerks?” Here’s your answer- I’ve been in so many courthouses over the years holding my clients hands that it would make your head swim. I’ve met a mixed bag of nuts at clerks offices. I’ve encountered opinionated clerks, discriminatory clerks, mean clerks, nice clerks, arrogant clerks and clerks who don’t believe in same sex marriage OR inmate marriage either.  

You REALLY should have followed up on that story Jeff. The real story was that the hundreds of couples who had been forced to have unification ceremonies rather than marriages who finally thought the ability to marry would be cut and dry were instead impeded in the ability to legally marry due entirely to clerks refusing to issue them a marriage license. 

I’m not shy or a wallflower. But, my dedicated readers already know this. Kat and Tiffany had a legal right to marry. The clerk wanted to grandstand and set an example. During that window of the Supreme Court ruling, I had clients all over Texas requesting my team accompany them to buy their license due to the intimidation they faced. We split up and covered courthouses far and wide to get our clients the marriage licenses numerous Texas clerks refused to issue. True story. 

The Huntsville clerk had actually CHARGED AMANDA for a Declaration of an Informal Marriage RATHER than a Certified Marriage License. What is the difference you might ask? I’m happy to elaborate. 

An Informal Marriage is one where BOTH parties are present and it’s wholly, entirely and completely different from a certified copy of a marriage license too. Obviously, the groom or both parties WERE NOT PRESENT. 

Let’s review Informal Vs Formal Marriage- Section 2.401 of the Texas Family Code establishes the requirements for an informal marriage, without obtaining a marriage license or having a marriage ceremony. One of the ways an informal marriage is established is by registering a duly executed declaration and oath with the county of their residence. Both parties must be present. Rather than buying a traditional or formal license, the couple swear an oath and file an Informal Marriage License. 

Amanda and I left the clerks office and the two idiots working there who attempted to screw up wedding day for Amanda. They are out there. You might just encounter a few of these types of people yourself at the clerks office BUT KNOW THIS- I know marriage law. I am not intimidated and I don’t care how ugly a county clerk is willing to get. I saw plenty of ugliness during a time when same sex couples who wanted to marry couldn’t EVEN AFTER the Supreme Court gave them the right to do so. County clerks impeded the process. Clerks paid to issue marriage licenses who refused to do so. 

I’ve seen too much sadness because a county clerk thought they were God. If I have an attitude, rest assured that I know there are clerks with attitude. I’ve seen them AND I’ve met them. 

If the Huntsville clerk had refused to record the marriage license, I would’ve been on the phone so fast to complain about it you have no idea. She expected us to leave and she underestimated both Amanda and I because we were not leaving without getting what we came for and that was recording the license AND getting a certified copy to mail to inmate records at Ellis. 

That clerk was WAY out of line. I don’t care where you work or who you are, if you think you are God and can do whatever you want, you also leave a paper trail and if you don’t, I’m happy to create one for you just like I did by buying that certified copy in Huntsville. I reported that clerk. 

For every other person going to Walker County planning to marry an inmate, you’re welcome. Maybe this lady “doesn’t think inmates should marry” or that she simply enjoys upsetting folks on wedding day but either way, I can assure you she was surprised to get a phone call about her confusion regarding Twogether in Texas and the fee discrepancy between an Informal Marriage Declaration and a Certified Marriage License Copy. 

My Ferguson Unit bride, Savannah had sent me a text on July 4th. Her truck had been stolen and she needed a ride from Dallas to Ferguson. I picked her up at 9:45AM on July 10, 2019. Together, we drove to the Unit and enjoyed a day full of fun conversation. 

I had packed several veils, bouquets and tiaras as well as a kimono I had sent photos of to Savanah. She loved the kimono and I gifted it to her as a wedding gift. We stopped a few miles from Ferguson for photos. I wanted to incorporate one of my latest veils into her photos. The red shoes were perfect for my kimono. Finding areas near Units for photos occasionally has me in fairly remote areas.While applying some hand location just outside the Unit, Savannah spilled a bit on her blouse but I’m a mom and I have EVERYTHING in my SUV including wet wipes. We cleaned up and adjusted makeup for a few more photos before drivin into the parking lot. I think of everything so you don’t have to. We were a few minutes early and walking up to the birds nest saw a beautiful bride waiting on her Officiant. 

I’m going to go over this again because this “particular Officiant is ALWAYS LATE!” Lacy from Wife and Inmate Connection and I have met up at Allred, Coffield and now Ferguson. My clients and I waited over thirty minutes at Allred because as usual Lacey was late AGAIN. The guards were less than friendly to Lacey’s client based on her tardiness as well. Sadly, the client who showed up on time and was forced to wait outside was being punished for her Officiants unprofessionalism. Left alone in the sun worried her Officiant wouldn’t show up after everything she had gone through to finally get to her wedding day only to be forced to wait alone infuriated me and my client, Savannah. We were angry for that other bride and the position Lacey had left her in. 

At Ferguson Unit, the guard first addressed the hemline of Lacey’s clients dress BEFORE telling her that her wedding would be cancelled if Lacey didn’t show up. How would you feel if you were that lady? You paid someone for a service. You trusted them. On wedding day you didn’t know if they would show up or not and the guard is singling you out because you are alone. Think about it. 

Being late with a bride waiting in the sun and wondering if you are going to bother to show up is the most unprofessional shit that I’ve ever heard of. The bride was advised by the guard “we have a 30 minute policy. If she doesn’t show up your wedding will be cancelled.” The poor bride nearly started crying AFTER being forced to pull down her hemline or change clothes from the guard. 

What kind of stupid idiot Officiant and I use THAT TERM LOOSELY puts a client who has entrusted her through this kind of concern ON THEIR WEDDING DAY?! 

I CANNOT stress this enough… HIRE someone you can trust. Weddings ARE LIFE EVENTS regardless of where they take place.

Since it was 1PM and the bride was scheduled at 1PM with NO Officiant on site, Savannah and I were escorted in ahead while that poor lady ran to her car to call Lacy. 

Ferguson will not allow you to wait inside. You must enter WITH YOUR OFFICIANT. Sadly, that poor bride was forced to wait on the hot pavement as Savannah and I were escorted into the Unit. 

Savannah and I worried that poor lady who had driven hours and probably spent weeks finding the perfect dress was left standing outside wondering if Lacy would bother to show up? In fact, I told the guard “if her Officiant DOESN’T show up, I will marry her myself.” I meant it. We were scheduled at 1:30PM the other bride was scheduled at 1PM. 

The other brides fiancée watched my marry my clients while his bride waited in the blazing Texas sun on Lacey. 

The guard also used a flash that I wished she hadn’t causing red eyes on all of the photos. The guard also checked her watch mid ceremony. I have 20 minutes for my Ceremonies and don’t like to be rushed. 

My clients have waited months to get married. The guard “looking at her watch” not only bothered me but also my clients so I addressed “the elephant in the room” by advising the guard “I time my Wedding Ceremonies and have specifically  incorporated 8-10 minutes for my clients today in order to read their own vows. I know exactly how much time I have and stay well within the guidelines. I’m not going to rush this ceremony.” I meant it. 

If you are a guard that doesn’t know or care what the person marrying an inmate has gone through to get there, I will enlighten you. They’ve jumped through hoops. They’ve filed paperwork. They’ve patiently waited. A few encountered idiotic county clerks trying to buy their marriage license. The LAST THING I will allow is for my clients to be rushed through their marriage ceremony. I operate on a timeline well within my allotment for a ceremony inside the Unit. 

I am a professional but, if you want to tap your watch or attempt to cue me mid ceremony, I am more than happy to enlighten you on my timeline. My timeline is twenty five minutes not five. 

My client and I have just driven 3 hours to the Unit. My client and I have a 3 hour drive back and we are going to enjoy our 20 minute ceremony and wait 3-5 minutes for our photos to print. Thank you very much for your patience and see you next time. I posed my new couple in various shots to capture a wide variety of photos. Why? Because if I don’t, all of your photos will be the same pose that’s why. In an attempt to fix our eyes, I also edited these Unit photos to black and white. At 1:24PM, Lacy finally showed up just as we were leaving and minutes before the brides wedding was cancelled because Lacy apparently doesn’t care about creating stress on wedding day for a client. 

Good Lord, if you are an Officiant, get your shit together! It’s a LIFE EVENT. If you can’t perform the function you’ve been retained to perform, be honest and let your client know firsthand. Don’t leave them standing around wondering WHERE YOU ARE ON WEDDING DAY. 

A wedding day that someone waited weeks or months to finally have. A day very important to them. A day they drove hours to a Unit for. A day they took off work for. Put yourself in your Clients position. Wake up. This is a very important day to your client. They trusted you to be there and yet again you were late. They carefully dressed and applied their makeup. They excitedly drove to the unit. Then they miserably waited on you with a guard telling them their wedding would be cancelled if you didn’t show up. Good Lord do you have any idea what you are doing to the people who trusted you? Get it together or get out of this business. Lacey, you and your snarl at Units while dragging in late again are as miserable to my clients and I as they are to yours. Get an alarm clock. Buy a watch. Answer your phone. 

By the way, of you are reading this “late again Lacey,” the next time my staff or my clients and I are forced to wait on you in order to enter the Unit for the wedding they’ve waited months to have, I’m going to ask to speak to the Warden and complain about it. Waiting for you to fly your broom into a prison parking lot with your anxious client wondering why you won’t answer their calls or if their wedding will be cancelled along with my clients and my staff or myself being forced to wait on you to bother showing up stomping your way into the Unit while wearing your frown is the LAST THING ANY OF US NEED ON WEDDING DAY. Being forced to wait on you is a miserable experience for everyone concerned including the Unit itself. Quite frankly, why certain Units force everyone to wait on the “other Officiant” to arrive I have no idea but, your tardiness and your attitude are aggravating and intolerable. 

A few months ago, my Allred client had to get back to work that day and sitting in the clearing area watching your frazzled client wonder IF YOU were going to bother showing up was unsettling to a three of us Lacey. 

My client was also late returning to work BECAUSE you were late AS USUAL Lacey. Your consistent tardiness on wedding day is shocking and saddening. If you worked for anyone else, you would have been fired. Your clients have waited weeks and sometimes months to marry. Your Ferguson client yesterday was forced to fan herself with her marriage license in the sun with over a hundred degree temperatures on sweltering pavement in heels. 

What bride looks forward to being forced to wait and wonder if their Officiant will show up standing in the sun wearing a beautiful chiffon dress with her hair and makeup melting? Get it together and take some degree of consideration into your clients journey. Or, better yet, let them hire someone who cares about their journey!

Not only I but also my clients are sick and tired of “waiting on Lacy” to arrive late and unfriendly or unapologetic to her client or anyone else for that matter. At Coffield, she stomped out after the wedding and left her bewildered client waiting on wedding photos after the same client had been detained because she had a ring box that wouldn’t clear the Unit. As usual, I had jumped in to advise her to leave the box at the machine. 

NO ONE should be walking in alone on wedding day. The role of an Officiant is all encompassing. What it ISN’T is “bothering to show up late.” If you are one of those “other Officiants” for God’s sakes buy a watch and make your client and THEIR DAY a PRIORITY!

I’m at several Units over the next 6 months and THRILLED to be seeing my previous clients at their Vow Renewals. I’m scheduled the next five years with amazing clients I’ve married at Units and just as excited as you are that we are planning a celebration of resilience and endurance of love long after lock up…