Green Bay Unit to Parker County and Points Between..

I’ve had several clients contact me regarding Gov Abbott reopening the state and visitation. Often obtaining an Absentee Affidavit in smaller “country towns” can be a bit of a hurdle. This morning while in Parker County because my client was turned away yesterday and “just couldn’t bring herself to going back to the Parker County Annex again, I decided to go for her while I was in Weatherford.

Parker County is always a challenge. In the summer of 2015 I organized a picket in order to get my clients, “the first LBGT couple to marry in Parker County” a marriage license. I’m all too aware of how opinionated clerks in Parker County are.

Walking into the annex, the clerks office door is STILL locked. There was a gatekeeper who immediately stopped me and asked “what are you here for?” I answer “an Absentee Affidavit.” The gatekeeper “I don’t know what that is.” My patience for businesses that elect the dumbest person in the room to answer the phone or greet visitors is zero. I wish businesses would learn how they lose business by making dumb decisions but since the clerks office is a government business, I doubt they care.

I’m often “pitched” on an answering service or virtual assistant. The reason I don’t let anyone take calls or messages for me is because my clients want answers. Why waste their time and mine by hiring someone who doesn’t have any real answers to take my calls? I return calls, emails and DM’s between clients. I have all of the answers. If a client is flying in from another state, I also assist with travel arrangements and hotel suggestions to ensure they are in a safe area. No one could answer the questions I do on a daily basis FOR ME.

The gatekeeper stands there after making her statement about not knowing what an Absentee Affidavit is staring at me. I sigh. “Can you go find someone who is familiar with the forms pertaining to marriage that include an Absentee Affidavit?” My patience dealing with a gatekeeper is waning. I’m not going to stand there and educate her about what a clerks office does. She walks into the office and locks the door behind her. I wait.

Another clerk walks out and interviews me regarding why I need an Absentee Affidavit. This is why I do what I can to prevent my clients from encountering crispy clerks. I’m mailing Parker County Affidavits this afternoon.

I look forward to meeting all of you at your County Jail Wedding soon and CAN’T WAIT to get back on the road to TDCJ Units after an entire year…

Back At TDCJ Beto Unit & Big Surprises At TDCJ Units Revoking Visitation & Rescheduling Of Confirmed Dates…

Monday while traveling from the Tarrant County Clerks Office to Parker and Palo Pinto Jails, my husband send me a text that read “buy toilet paper we are out.”

This wasn’t an unusual request from my husband as I had left with a list of weekly items that I normally buy and stock once a week.

I do not buy toilet paper every week because there are only two of us at our home and we don’t need or warrant more than 4-6 rolls at a time. But, this simple request would become extraordinarily difficult to find for me.

Welcome to the toilet paper controversy with hilarious memes and people laughing at others buying toilet paper this past Monday.

By Friday, the people laughing weren’t laughing.

By Friday people in small town Weatherford were getting into fist fights over Charmin.

By Friday I had seen the world change before my eyes. Hoarding and flipping hand sanitizer for $100 on eBay? I’ve seen it.

Toilet paper for $20 a roll on FB Marketplace? I’ve seen it. People buying all of the cold medicine, alcohol, hand sanitizer and wipes as well as canned food items, sugar, meat and food while wiping out supplies for anyone else? I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen some of the wildest scenarios in four days that I could ever imagine. I wish I hadn’t but I have.

On Friday, Cindy and I took a break between clients to go to Walmart. Shelves were empty. Baskets over turned by angry customers left lying on their sides. Ransacked shelves empty greeted shoppers who didn’t expect this type of “mission” to buy toilet paper or anything else for that matter.

Cindy and I left Walmart and headed to Dollar Tree. No toilet paper. No hand sanitizer. No bottled water.

We then drove to Dollar General and found alcohol for the injections my husband gives me at home because going to the doctor once a week with my schedule isn’t convenient. The alcohol was 50% rather than 70% but it was better than nothing. We also found 2 packs of 4 roll toilet paper. There were only 2 packs of 4 roll TP in the store.

We then left Dollar General and went to Albertsons. Still no hand sanitizer. There was coffee and cream and bread as well as eggs. The panic that would arrive a few days later hadn’t “hit yet.”

I bought cantaloupe, watermelon, broccoli and my usual staple items including coffee and cream as well as salmon and chicken breasts and a few cans of soup.

Had I known that there would be food shortages for my Sunday or Monday shopping depending on my schedule, I might have bought a few cans of soup more, some rice and even some beans or ramen noodles but, hindsight is 20/20.

Monday prior to the hysteria and hoarding going on around me, I arrived home and prepared my suv for the drive to Beto Unit in Tennessee Colony on Tuesday to meet my bride. I had loaded furs, bouquets, hats and fun items from my Texas Twins Inventory and planned a leisurely drive to Beto Unit.

Tuesday, I stopped in Corsicana to visit the Walmart and buy my new grandson the diapers and wipes since I couldn’t find at Cindy’s Walmart Monday.

I would have a few problems finding either the diapers or the water wipes my daughter in law prefers in Corsicana.

There weren’t people agitated racing down the aisles. There was bottled water. There wasn’t hand sanitizer or toilet paper, baby wipes or paper towels.

I needed a few rolls of paper towels but decided I could wing it if I had to by using my tea towels at home.

By Tuesday I still wasn’t alarmed. A few things were difficult to come by depending on where you went while others weren’t. No mass hysteria just YET.

I left Corsicana Walmart and headed to Tennessee Colony/Palestine Texas to meet my client at Beto.

While driving there, a herd of wild hogs came running across the 2 lane road with cars traveling 70-80 miles an hour. I saw the “hub bub” about half a mile ahead and slowed down thinking it was deer or elk.

On closer inspection, it was something I had never encountered on the 300,000 miles I have driven getting to Units in Texas.

Wild hogs? They were huge and could easily flip a car as their girth is low to the ground. I tip toed my way around the herd and traveled on wondering where they had come from and if a driver not paying attention wouldnt slow down until it was too late?

Arriving at Beto, I find my bride in the parking lot. We walk in together. She’s thrilled. Her smile shows her joy. We clear in and wait on the chaplain.

We walk to the traditional photo wall at Beto and it’s coveted with Coronavirus signs.

Frankly, I don’t want to use the wall and have my clients photo peppered with Coronavirus signs on wedding day. I request using the tropical wall in the vending machine area instead and we are granted the privilege to do so.

Leaving the Unit, my bride follows me to an old church just outside Palestine. I begin unloading and finding my favorite areas based on lighting and background. We are laughing and having a great time together. I hand her a bottle of water from my trunk and we spend a few minutes trying different areas and have fun celebrating her marriage.

I love my job. We hug and say goodbye as I head to Dallas North Tower to meet my next client.

Cutting through Tennessee Colony, I’m leery about another encounter with those wild hogs I saw a few hours earlier. My fear is confirmed when I see a hog on the side of the road outside of Cayuga, Texas. Someone wasn’t paying attention.

Backroads in Texas give you a wide variety of surprises such as deer, elk, possums and armadillos which can jump straight off the ground four feet right into your grill. Wild hog herds though were a new one for me.

Cautiously driving towards Corsicana aware that something else could jump out on the road, I’m unaware of the widespread panic spreading across America.

I take calls from clients and Units. I check in with my husband and let my son and daughter in law know I will drop off diapers and other supplies I’ve found to them in the morning. I’m not worried about baby wipes because I assume I can find them. I will later realize I can’t.

By the time I leave North Tower in Dallas, a phone call from my niece at Point Hueneme, California regarding “people fighting over toilet paper and water.” This IS DISTURBING. Toilet paper?

Leigh Ann is frightened. People at the military base are no longer touching and running her ID. Instead, they are now simply looking at it.

People are acting differently. Leigh Ann plans to go to Ventura and try to find bottled water. I advise her to wait until her husband comes back from work since her 4 year old, Madyson is a handful.

Checking the clock on my Sahara, I don’t have time to file licenses in Tarrant County and decide to do so Wednesday morning on my way to drop off cold supplies to my son who has sinusitis and diapers for my grandson.

I decide to stop in Lake Worth to buy groceries, juice and soup. There are no paper towels, water or toilet paper at Walmart. I buy meat, pasta, bread, lunch meat and cheese as well as juice. The supplies are low but I assume the trucks are coming or running behind.

There aren’t entire empty shelves other than cleaning products, hand sanitizers and toilet paper or water. There is still fruit and vegetables. There is still soup, rice, beans and other staples.

Wednesday morning with my Jeep loaded for my sons house, I head to the clerks office. There are signs regarding the Coronavirus everywhere. The governor of California has revoked visitors to prisons. This is alarming.

I have 5 Units next week. Will TDCJ follow suit? I’m thinking no but my husband is thinking a strong maybe on my phone call to him leaving the clerk. “They are cancelling major events. NASCAR, golf, basketball. This is spiraling out of control. Update your clients and stay on top of changes. They will need to know what’s going on. Stay calm. This will pass but it may take a week or two.”

I’m worried but helpless to change what’s coming. Leigh Ann is increasingly concerned watching the news by Wednesday. Costco and Sam’s are running out of everything.

There is no hand sanitizer available anywhere. My son needs it as he is sick with a new baby. Cindy and I decide to make our own hand sanitizer.

My son is getting better but still answers the door in a mask. I begin unloading an full of items for my son and his wife and begin cooking lunch for them while checking on the baby.

Ollie is three weeks old and doing well but he’s fragile. He wears an Owlett sock to monitor his breathing, blood sugar and heart rate.

Leaving my son fully stocked other than baby wipes, I drop in on my husband down the street from my sons development. McBee Homes is just a few miles away. I invite my husband to lunch.

We choose Boo Ray about 1/2 a mile from McBee. It’s dead. There are very few people eating out. I notice it. My husband does too.

My husband decides to ask about my schedule next week and any possible changes. It’s a full plate. I’m at Green Bay Unit Monday. Wallace and Middleton Units Tuesday. Allred and Roach Units Thursday. Estes Unit Friday then back to Green Bay and Parker County. I will be driving about 2300 miles.

My husband again advises me “TDCJ may follow California. Caddo Parrish is also suspending visits.” Matthew like me is following prison news.

I consider cancelled visitation at prisons before answering my husband. “Weekend visits are thousands of people at prisons. My client and I are two people. I’ve decided to add to my booster shots a phnuemonia shot just in case and after Cindy’s heart surgery, believe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for her either.”

I’m still not even entertaining the possibility that TDCJ will cancel my confirmed dates. I cannot imagine having to tell my clients who have waited months that another delay looms in the future. I worry. I fret.

I also head to Dr Stern for an adjustment. The stress of Leigh Ann in California and people hoarding along with the possibility that my clients could be rescheduled has me with a stiff neck.

Dr Stern has been my trusted chiropractic go to for twenty years. He knows when I’m stressed I hold stress in my shoulders. My left shoulder is out. He pops it back in and goes over the importance of finding time to relax. I have none. Time is something I never have.

Thursday morning, Cindy arrives at WorthamWorld. We have a list of things to buy for an upcoming wedding at Botanic Garden and head to Hobby Lobby. We both discuss the news media and coverage of this mysterious virus. We worry about Leigh Ann and Maddy in California. But, we don’t think mass hysteria is going to come to Weatherford or Fort Worth. We are both wrong.

I talk my twin into getting a phnuemonia shot with me at Walgreens. We both walk into prisons on a regular basis. Keeping our vaccines up to date is important not only for our own health but also to keep from getting ill and possibly getting our family or clients sick too.

I buy colloidal silver. I buy zinc. I listen to Cindy complain about her arm pain. I have it too but it will get worse later. So painful was my left arm and shoulder by 1AM that I woke my husband crying out in pain. I go get Aleve.

My arm feels like it weighs 100lbs. I worry I’m having a bad reaction.

At 3AM, I call Cindy. Her arm is killing her too. We are both highly concerned this pain will be permanent.

I consider buying a sling the pain is so intense. After reviewing answers from others who have had the same shot, I decide to use my arm rather than prop it.

Friday morning, I drive to Weatherford. Cindy sits for me to meet her after Parker County Clerks Office. We can’t find feminine items for Cindy’s twin granddaughters and decide to set out on a mission. The twins are picky. They are also brand loyal.

Walmart is a mad house. Empty shelves and angry shoppers abound. We leave and go to Big Lots. We then leave and go to Albertsons. We then leave and go to Brookshires then H E B. We come up empty. There are no hygiene products to be found the Twins brand or otherwise.

There’s a fist fight at Brookshires. In small town America? Willow Park of all places? Two grown men fighting over toilet paper.

Someone is honking and yelling at someone else to pull out of a parking lot space. Angry honking which is rare in Texas is everywhere. People are agitated. Angry. Scared.

Governor Abbott announced a state of emergency. He also suggested removing visits from nursing homes, prisons and large gatherings of people.

Fifteen minutes later, TDCJ suspends all visitation. But, does this affect my clients and I as we go into Units during the week. I begin calling Units for next week. The revoked visitation affects my clients. Their dates are cancelled.

Arriving home, I’m still fielding panicked clients in Texas and other states. I have no idea how long this will last.

An email from Chaplain Rentz of Bridgeport Unit that reads “I’ve just got off a conference call with all Chaplains in TDCJ and they have Cancelled all Volunteer entry into Units throughout the state until further notice.”

I’m still trying to determine if my clients are affected when I find that they are. Everyone will need to reschedule. People who have waited months for a very important date. People who will be saddened and disappointed. My people. My clients.

Leigh Ann sends me photos and videos of mass hysteria in California. I advise her that Texans are equally terrified, angry and behaving in a manner I’ve never seen before.

I’m 55 years old. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve lived through the gas crisis in the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve never seen people fighting over food. I’ve never seen people fighting over water or toilet paper.

I’ve never seen anything like this mass hysteria occur in my lifetime. I hope I never see it again..watching people fight over gas as a child was something neither Cindy or I can or will ever forget.

We are all in this together. Please don’t hoard essential items that others need. Please don’t leave home if you are ill and please wash your hands

TDCJ Weddings- Questions, Comments, Concerns & County Clerks…

Daily I field calls texts and emails pertaining to inmate marriages. Several of these calls are from different states. Over the weekend, a lady from Georgia contacted me regarding marrying her. 

Georgia is more than a “jog” for me from Texas and due to the distance, I chose to educate her regarding policy and procedure before telling her I didn’t know of anyone conducting prison weddings in Georgia but, if after understanding the process, she needed an Officiant, when we have out of state requests, we can stack an inmate wedding. Let’s review stacking. It’s essential for me due to distances. Many states only allow prison weddings two days a year. In Texas, prison weddings occur two days a month. Because of the scheduling, other states are stacked. 

The last thing I would do is to refer someone to a stranger. A person unaware of how to perform a complicated task such as a prison wedding. If you make a mistake at a prison wedding, you might find yourself there. There are no mistakes at prison weddings and shouldn’t be anywhere else but, everyone assumes they can be an Officiant these days. They can’t. 

Finding a qualified Officiant to conduct your prison ceremony requires far more than the Officiant bothering to show up. 

Today’s blog will revisit the role of an Officiant inside or outside the walls of a penitentiary.

The role of an Officiant is a very serious role. I should know because each and every time someone came to me AFTER HIRING THE WRONG OFFICIANT, I solved their problem of entrusting something as serious as a marriage to someone else unaware of the seriousness. 

There is also some confusion regarding a name change after marriage and a court filing for a name change. These are two completely different things ya all. Marriage requires no court appearance (or filing fee) in order to change your name. 

I will use an example to better describe changing your name NOT pertaining to a marriage or divorce. In July, I’m meeting a client in court to legally change her name. The reason for this is she was a victim of domestic abuse and changing her name is essential to protecting her identity. This is a rare occurrence but, it happens across the U.S. for other reasons too. 

Sometimes adults wish to change their name simply because they don’t like it or for other reasons. Aside from marriage or a divorce, name change petitions are relatively rare. 

The option of “taking on your spouses name” is up to the couple. Meaning, you are not required to change your name due to marriage. The “flip side” to that coin is divorce. After a divorce, you can either keep your previous name or return to your maiden name during the divorce proceeding. 

Again, changing your name is optional and a personal decision left up to the party. If you have children, you are (most likely) going to keep your former married name for convenience but aren’t obligated to do so. Your divorce decree will outline your desire to keep OR change your name. 

The (signed and filed) marriage license gives you an effective “window” to do a name change by simply taking your signed and recorded license to the DMV first then to SS. 

An original (unsigned by an Officiant) marriage license is valid for 90 days. Once signed, the license MUST be filed within 30 days. Failure of a filing in Texas is a crime. 

If you are an Officiant in or outside of a prison in Texas, each state within the U.S. has laws pertaining to officiating a marriage ceremony. 

In Texas, you need to educate yourself to the Family Code, your role and responsibly and the penalties for FAILURE to follow procedure and protocol. From the clerk to the Officiant to the filing, there is far more involved in the process of marriage. After all, divorce is difficult and expensive. 

A divorce is required to dissolve a marriage. The difference is that a divorce often requires attorneys. In most cases, couples rarely have ANY legal advice prior to marrying including the Oath taken to purchase a marriage license. 

Let’s go over the “Oath.” There should be a Miranda for people who have no idea that falsifying a marriage license application is a felony. But, it is. What you are swearing to is that all of the information you have provided is true and correct. If it isn’t, you are falsifying a government document. 

Most of you don’t even recall taking an Oath but, I can assure you that you did. 
“What if my loved one wasn’t present when buying the marriage license?” They didn’t take an Oath. Ahhh, but they did. The Absent Party signed an Oath on the Absentee Affidavit. The person present swore out a verbal Oath. 

Both parties took an Oath. See the attached Absentee Affidavit. The bottom of this form contains an Oath by the Applicant. 

“I’m consistently shocked and subsequently, horrified that people think the role of an Officiant is to show up and sign a license.” It isn’t. It is by far more and if you are unaware of this, do the couple a favor and yourself a favor and don’t volunteer to do something you are incapable of understanding how to do. You, the Officiant, are expected to file the license and fail to do so, you face criminal charges in Texas for failing to do so. Don’t be surprised. The role of an Officiant is a serious one. 

Sec. 2.206. RETURN OF LICENSE; PENALTY. (a) The person who conducts a marriage ceremony shall record on the license the date on which and the county in which the ceremony is performed and the person’s name, subscribe the license, and return the license to the county clerk who issued it not later than the 30th day after the date the ceremony is conducted.
(b) A person who fails to comply with this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.
For people unaware of the criminal and civil penalties for “not knowing what you are doing,” I will continue to elaborate.

Sec. 2.207. MARRIAGE CONDUCTED AFTER LICENSE EXPIRED; PENALTY. (a) A person who is to conduct a marriage ceremony shall determine whether the license has expired from the county clerk’s endorsement on the license.
(b) A person who conducts a marriage ceremony after the marriage license has expired commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.
Sec. 2.208. RECORDING AND DELIVERY OF LICENSE. (a) The county clerk shall record a returned marriage license and mail the license to the address indicated on the application.
(b) On the application form the county clerk shall record:

(1) the date of the marriage ceremony;

(2) the county in which the ceremony was conducted; and

(3) the name of the person who conducted the ceremony.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Let’s review a certified marriage license. It is a legal copy of of the recorded and signed original marriage license. Why do you need one? Generally, for insurance purposes or other legal reasons. These certified copies are relatively inexpensive. You will buy them at the same clerks office that you purchased your marriage license at. 

There also appears to be some confusion regarding Absent Applicants. In general, BOTH parties appear at the clerks office. Because active military members have been using Absentee Applications for years, the new use pertaining to inmate marriages might very well confuse smaller clerks and sub county courthouses. 

Time and time again, one of my clients have been told by a clerk that “Absentee Affidavits are ONLY for service members” “obviously isn’t up to date regarding the use of these Affidavits for inmate marriages.” 

However, rather than attempting to educate Texas county clerks or other state based clerks who are unaware of how to perform their jobs how to, I send my clients to a clerk in a larger city instead. 

Knowing how to solve problems is essential for Prison Wedding Planning. Knowing procedure is critical to an Officiant. 
One of my Crain Unit clients was so confused by the Coryell County Clerks Office that he told me “they keep sending it back.” Alarmed, I asked “sending what back?” 

My client had been mailing in the paperwork rather than appearing in person WITH the paperwork. I was really confused as to why he was mailing the paperwork to purchase the license after I had advised him of the process and the necessity to appear in person. Why was my groom confused? The clerks office. They consistently told him to mail in the paperwork. I can’t stress this enough ya all. Smaller clerk offices are almost always unfamiliar with inmate marriage.

Since it was easier to meet him two hours from my location in order to walk him through buying marriage license myself in Coryell County, I did. Unlike the clerk, I understood the process and held my clients hand through applying for and subsequently buying his marriage license.  

I’ve met several clients over the years at clerks offices to walk them through the process of obtaining their marriage license. 
There CANNOT BE TWO ABSENT APPLICANTS. One person must appear to swear out the Oath and fill out the marriage license application. You must also have a current and valid ID. 

You also cannot purchase an unsigned original marriage license by mail. What you can do is order a filed and recorded marriage license. There is also some confusion regarding this. But, you must fill out a marriage application, show ID and swear an Oath which obviously cannot be done by mail. Hence, you or at least one of you are required to appear in person at the clerks office. 

The original marriage license application and procedure require at least one party present. 

The option to either pick up your (filed and recorded) marriage license at the clerks office or to have it mailed to you is available in certain counties within Texas.  
Tarrant County mails filed licenses back to couples. 

Please double check the address. If you give an incorrect address, a Duplicate License will not look like the original. 
In certain cases, the original sent to the wrong address may eventually show up but, it’s not a given. 

I’ve also had questions regarding Marriage Fraud and Marriage Laws. I’m well versed on both. I’ve also taught Marriage Fraud classes. There isn’t anything I don’t know about my job. I’m well versed and knowledgeable. 

However, for these other folks aka other Officiants  “who decided that they could perform the task of officiating” contacting myself or my staff to “walk them through how to perform a wedding ceremony,” I’ve got a wake up call for you. We are booked two years out. Our clients are our priority. We don’t have the time to teach you how to perform a function that requires far more than a phone call. No one does. 

What couples need to know when hiring an Officiant is that your Officiant is educated pertaining to laws associated with marriage license protocol. 
What does this mean? I will give you a few examples. Over the years, I’ve had hysterical couples call me because “our neighbor performed our marriage and we aren’t actually married.” 
Or, “my uncle went online and didn’t know he had to file the license and we aren’t married.” 
Or, “we went to another country and thought we were married. My husband died and I’m not legally married.” In that situation particularly, the bride lost ALL assets in probate court. Why? She wasn’t married. She also called me because like many others, she had heard I help people. Her story was shocking. It also infuriated me. She was a victim. I was her advocate. I helped locate an attorney and encouraged her to file suit against the Officiant. She subsequently, also won her lawsuit based on emotional and economic damages against the Officiant. 

Let’s keep going here. I could write a book. “The Officiant made a mistake on our marriage license and the clerks office wants them to file an Amended license but they refuse to respond to our phone calls.” 

If you are an Officiant who has no idea how to perform the function of marrying a couple and much less how to carry out the role, STOP. JUST STOP. Don’t call me to solve YOUR problems. You need legal advice. Call an attorney because if you’ve made an error, you are expected to correct it. Not me. I don’t even know you. I’m juggling my own clients with the knowledge and professionalism they deserve. 

Last year, someone called me telling me “I’ve decided to become an Officiant. I need your advice.” Whoa Nelly! YOU have decided to become an Officiant and need MY ADVICE? 

My advice is to educate yourself. After all, you are asking me to create competition that doesn’t exist for myself and my staff at my expense of time that I don’t have to educate someone else. 

Don’t assume that by “going online that conducting a ceremony is easy.” It isn’t. It’s complicated and outlined in Family Law for a reason. The reason is that it’s a legal process. Five minutes online becoming ordained isn’t going to educate you pertaining to a serious role you have chosen to play. You know, your PART in officiating a wedding. 

These people AKA “other Officiants” think that signing a legal document “isn’t a big deal.” However, contacting me to ask “what is an Amended Petition? How do you file a Duplicate Copy of a marriage license? Can you help me?” No. You need to help yourself buddy. You should also stop performing marriage ceremonies. Obviously, you aren’t qualified and much less educated to the process. 

For all the folks thinking they are an educated or even knowledgeable Officiant and assuming that it’s an easy job,” heads up people, if you don’t realize that screwing up a marriage license has legal ramifications, you shouldn’t be doing it. There are also criminal liabilities. That’s right. Marriage Fraud is a felony. 

If you are part of a Marriage Fraud case, no one is going to accept that you didn’t know what you were doing as an adequate defense. 

I’ve seen “other Officiants” sued AND criminally prosecuted over mistakes. It will happen again since people assume that “it’s so easy ANYONE can do it.” 

I’m also well aware of “other Officiants” having their privilege of officiating a wedding rescinded due to more than one error. Held accountable for an error? What do mean Wendy? First off, you have just ruined someone’s wedding by not knowing what you are doing and secondly if you make a mistake, you are civilly and criminally held accountable. 

Ignorance isn’t an adequate defense of the law. 

After all, you WERE the “other Officiant.” I’m the clean up crew to your mistakes. You know the person couples hired to become LEGALLY MARRIED. Over and over again, I’ve been the SECOND OFFICIANT. You know, the person who knew what they were doing! The person the couple came to upon realizing and recognizing that they had initially trusted the WRONG PERSON. 

The number of times I’ve remarried someone who thought they were already married would shock you. 

An Officiant SHOULD BE EDUCATED TO ANY AND ALL PROCEDURES. If you aren’t, it isn’t a job you should be conducting. 
I saw a hilarious comment on TIFA from someone saying “I have a loved one incarcerated. Because of this, I’m familiar with the process of inmate marriages.” 

Really? Visiting an inmate and marrying an Inmate are TWO COMPLETELY different things. Can you assist your client in filing an appeal for revoked visitation? Can you assist your client in remedying a CLM status? Do you know how to walk a client through a prison wedding planning process and answer their concerns and much less address them pertaining to the Administrative Directive with knowledge that they can comprehend? 

This statement regarding visitation and inmate marriage was so outrageous that I found myself wondering why loved ones of inmates didn’t respond to the post by saying “I have an inmate incarcerated and I have no idea of the process of marrying one.”

Visiting an inmate and conducting a legal marriage within a prison is complicated. There are rules and procedures. There are also unexpected hurdles. You need someone educated and well versed on all of the above. Visiting a prison and inmate have nothing to do with marrying an inmate. These are two wholly separate instances. 

What you don’t need is someone “winging it.” There are a lot of them out there. This isn’t a job function you play by ear or accomplish by simply showing up on wedding day. 

“Just because a person goes to the DOCTOR, doesn’t make them a PHYSICIAN.” Experience MATTERS, That’s WHY you HIRE a PROFESSIONAL in the FIRST place. 

I hope this clarifies your questions and for those simply wanting to change their name without marriage marriage being a factor, I’m including this information- When you file your name change petition, you’ll have to pay a filing fee, which varies depending upon what county you are in. Generally the cost to change your namein Texas ranges from $250 to $350. Once you’ve filed your name change petition, a date for the court hearing will be set.

TDCJ San Saba Unit To Ferguson Unit- TDCJ Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham…

Driving to meet Joel yesterday, I felt as if I had known him for years. His journey was one of resilience and faith. Joel works with veterans struggling with PTSD. A few years ago, Joel was one of those vets himself. He now also works as a DJ on Road To Hope Radio discussing topics pertaining to veterans as well as being an outreach coordinator at the PTSD Corporation of America. 

Joel is dedicated to making a difference and changing the lives of veterans struggling with PTSD. 

I could relate to Joel’s passion as my brother, Jerry was in several wars during his twenty years in the Navy and my brother in law, Steve Daniel spent eight years at Camp Anaconda as well as being one of the fuel tank drivers under attack during the Good Friday roadside bombing in Iraq. 

At the time, Steve had only been at Camp Anaconda a few short months. Delivering jet fuel in Iraq was far more dangerous than trucking groceries across America but, work for truck drivers was so slow in 2003 that Steve felt he had no choice but to take on work in Iraq with his hazardous materials truck driving credentials. I spoke with Joel about my brother, my brother in law and my niece, Leigh Ann’s husband, Alex who is currently preparing to station in Oxnard, California after a few months training in San Diego this July. 

Joel had a smile and excitement that was contagious. While driving to the Unit, rain and lightning were the furthest thought I had on Tuesday that started out beautifully in Fort Worth but within 30 minutes of San Saba the weather changed quickly and dramatically for the Texas Twins who were as usual traveling together to a Texas Prison. 

Our road trips are fun, full of adventure and always interesting. There’s nothing we enjoy more than “hitting the road.” From junk shops to out of the way cafes, Cindy and I love having the time together that 30 years in sales took from us while working for different companies.

Joel had sent me a text that read “hope you brought an umbrella.” We were seeing light drizzle and lightening miles away but completely unprepared for the sudden downpour that made it difficult to see clearly. 

I had Cindy answer Joel for me “I not only brought an umbrella for me but one for you too buddy see you soon.” I plan ahead. I’m “everyone’s mother.” If my SUV doesn’t come well stocked with whatever I need hours from home, it’s difficult to find the one thing I forgot. Because of this, I make detailed lists. I don’t forget anything because I’m OCD. 

Rolling into the visitor lot at San Saba, it was a hike in the downpour to get to the Unit but, Joel and I laughed and jumped puddles together to get there a little soaked but ready to “get the wedding going” he had waited for. Planning a prison wedding can be a time consuming process. 

Joel’s rainy day wedding was literally a “Rainbow In The Dark” on a cold and dreary day. 

Joel loved the boutenier I had created with bling and pink accents to coordinate with his shirt and jacket. 

I had a wide variety of other props but due to the rain only chose a few to keep him from getting drenched outside my SUV parked next to his. I commissioned a wooden “Mr” sign as a surprise gift to send him with his wedding photos. I love surprising and delighting my clients with unexpected gifts. Joel’s fiancée was beaming as she entered the conference room and a bit nervous as three guards watched the ceremony. She was beautiful and excited. I love my clients and making their day special. 

By the time we finally meet whether it’s at a venue for my traditional clients or a Prison, I know a lot about them and they know a lot about me. 

More often than not, my clients and I have spent weeks and occasionally even months on the phone or texting when not emailing updates to each other up to wedding day. Leaving the Unit, my happy new clients both gave me a hug. The relief at finally being married after the long and arduous prison planning process is always evident with my clients. They are finally married and finally through the process. 

Joel is looking forward to planning their vow renewal upon the release of his beautiful bride with my team as am I. 

Vow Renewals are a literal celebration of freedom, resilience and strength for my TDCJ clients as well as my other inmate marriage clients. Whenever possible, I meet my former clients on release day at the Walls Unit. It’s truly a celebration. Driving back to Fort Worth, I check in with my Ferguson bride about timelines to meet her today. I had three clients at three Units in the same day. My first was at Ferguson some three hours from my location but, my client meeting held me up this morning getting me off to a later start than I had planned. 

I was planning to arrive an hour early at Ferguson to handle bridal photos before heading to the Unit at 1PM but didn’t arrive until 12:30 at Ferguson for my 1PM wedding. No matter, we headed in together to clear and get ready to meet the Groom. 

My bride looked stunning in white slacks and heels. I wore heels years ago as a clothing, print and commercial model but these days prefer flats. 

While waiting, my bride told me she was nervous as the guard told us both “we aren’t professional photographers.” I laughed as did my client since I’m well aware that guards are doing the best they can regarding inmate photos.

The Groom couldn’t stop smiling. He was thrilled and excited. I love what I do. The happiest moments at a Prison are releases and prison weddings. 

Posing for photos was so much fun with my newly married couple! The love and the journey to finally get married are often emotional for my clients. The Groom touching his heart and reading his vows was a sweet and precious moment for the bride and I although at Ferguson Unit our “backdrop” were open cages and scattered chairs. Moving away from the cages used for non contact visits in order to “cut them” from the wedding photos, my clients nervously held hands. 

Contact is within strict guidelines. Holding hands, two closed mouth kisses, one hug. Inappropriate contact is strictly prohibited. 

I love handwritten vows and creative input from clients making their wedding as special as they are. 

Finding good lighting inside a Unit for photos is difficult but, I think our guard did an amazing job quite frankly. 

Leaving the Unit after waiting for our photos to print, my bride followed me to my SUV for a wide array of prop options. 

My rolling photo booth changes frequently and I’m constantly adding or replacing inventory. The sequin veil was an instant hit as were the tiaras and fascinators. From lanterns to signs to bouquets, flower balls, banners and more, my SUV is often a treasure trove of fun items that make photo shoots as creative as my clients imaginations are. I love an opportunity to share the joy of clients on wedding day. Jumping back into my SUV to head over to Huntsville, Texas to meet my next client, I ran over a retread that had come off a semi and luckily didn’t blow out my own tire doing so. My suvs are road warriors. 

I’ve had a few escapades on back roads to Texas Prisons and once even hitched a ride after hitting a deer with a truck driver in Tennessee Colony. Nothing and I mean nothing keeps me from showing up for my clients! Whether it’s with a buzzard sticking out of my broken windshield or the horrific smell of an errant skunk I was unable to keep from running over, my clients know they can count on me. 

Backroads are full of semi trucks throwing rocks, work boots, tires and more. Staying alert while fielding calls from my Texas Twins Events Clients as well as my TDCJ Clients usually takes a copilot but today, Cindy was working Parker County Jail. 

My son and his wife were covering Louisiana prison weddings and my niece was still editing photos from last weekend. Two weddings on Mother’s Day with family photos thrown in had her swamped and everyone else was at another booking. I don’t mind driving alone I simply don’t answer emails or texts until I’m in a parking lot and off the road. 

Leigh Ann’s family photos were as usual hilarious with our family. My husband was busy dealing with one of his developments and Cindy’s husband was on the road in New York so, as usual the lone male in our family of females on Sunday was my son. He’s a bit of a ham. 

My youngest grandniece, Madyson adores my son though and my son has decided not to have children since he “has four dogs and will have twins like everyone else.” 

The truth is that twins run on both sides of our family and my son isn’t too far off. However, his wife does want children and one day this “baby discussion” is going to come up again for my son and his wife. My niece, Stephaney is doing well and back on track again. We’ve paved a tough road with my grandnieces mother but, once again, we’ve got her back on track. 

Photos with the twins mom the last 14 years have been rare as normally Stephaney preferred to be anywhere other than with us. That’s changed now though and family time has become a priority. 

With two sets of twins, young Madyson, Leigh Ann and her younger sister, Stephaney, my son was more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it but, we managed to get a few photos just the same. 

I’m off to Green Bay Unit and Palo Pinto County Jail tomorrow and as usual, back at venues all weekend with Hughes Unit, Hutchins Unit, Robertson Unit, Torres Unit, Allred Unit, Beto Unit and Stiles Unit over the next few weeks. 

My niece, Leigh Ann will handle both Texas overflow inmate clients as well as photography, notary services and predominately California inmate weddings after July 27th. 

Cindy and I will continue to handle mainly Texas based inmate weddings as well as traditional bookings and county jail requests based on our schedules. We will still take on prison weddings and destination weddings in other states but, book early as our schedules are often burdened. 

Traditional events can run up to 2 years out for my calendar and short notice bookings or requests will be bumped to my son and his wife who work as a team and handle booking in several states as well as traditional requests for an Officiant/photography team. 

My twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna are available as princess characters at birthday parties as well as flower girls and are both studying videography and photography. 

The twins work together as a team on location as do Cindy and I. Maryssa and Makenna both enjoy working with younger children on location and have been on site with my Team since they were two years old. I’ve had several model inquiries regarding Maryssa and Makenna so it should be noted that they are both currently already under contract with an agency and not interested in signing with a new company at this time. Please check back in 2020 for model or promotional inquiries for Makenna and Maryssa. 

Young Madyson is also a model for several brands and managed by her mother, Leigh Ann. For inquiries, please use the contact us link at Texas Twins Events regarding commercial or print booking information.There will as usual be more road trips, rest areas, memorable clients and great times in store for the Texas Twins. We are now handling prison weddings in several states but, our main states will continue to be California, Texas, & Louisiana although destination inmate services are still available upon special request.  

I will be offline Thursday for Iheart radio interviews with Cindy then radio interviews with Silver Linings Inspired Radio before running to Palo Printon and Parker County bookings as well as in and out of venues Friday through Sunday night. 

It’s Wedding Season and the joy of love is everywhere we go. The best job in the world? The Texas Twins would have to say “you bet!” we love what we do and do what we love for our amazing clients.

If you need to speak with me or anyone on my team about your inmate wedding, traditional event or media inquiry, please leave a detailed message or email me we look forward to meeting ya all soon… 

If You DON’T Focus On YOUR Journey To SUCCESS You Will End Up WORKING For The Person Who Did…

For a few months now I’ve been pushing off a press release for an award I was presented. Why? I don’t have time to sit down for a one to two hour interview. My work takes precedence over anything else in my life with family running a close second. 

I’m frequently asked how I became so successful by others who readily realize that I have never advertised or needed to. The answer is by exceeding my clients expectations. If everyone else in the sales industry would put forth the effort with each and every client they too would see amazing results but, sadly we live in a world where sales are similar to taking a number. Once the number is taken, it’s thrown in the trash. 

Relationships outlast the initial sale. I don’t treat clients like sales. I treat them as individuals and make their needs my priority. I’m different because I actually care about my clients. 

My Beto client last week touched my heart. Her journey hasn’t been easy. Both of her parents were sentenced to prison when she was only one year old. She had also just given up her apartment and had her car towed a week prior to her scheduled wedding at Beto. Hearing this news days before the wedding and knowing she had a two year old son touched my heart. How could I find her help for a very stressful situation? I quickly went to my contacts at Womens Haven and Union Gospel Mission as well as deeply discounting my fee and even offering to drive her to Beto myself. 

At her photo shoot, I asked her “what her plans were for her and her son?” My bride had family in East Texas but, her son attended school in Forest Hill and my client didn’t want to pull him out of the school she had fought to get him into. Her son’s school took precedence over any decision she would make to find a new home and job to support herself and her young son. 

It’s not well known but, my twin sister and I were residents at Women’s Haven ourselves at fifteen years old. Homeless and alone, Cindy and I both lived at the center until we could get on our feet again. During my divorce, I worked 2-3 jobs to support myself and my son while paying his Ad Lidem attorney and my own attorney. Without my twin sister helping me by taking care of my son, I have no idea how I would’ve afforded childcare back then. 

I’m driven and determined because I’ve always had to be. I’m compassionate because I’ve learned that caring about others journey is rare but, I care far more than anyone realizes. 

Yesterday as I was driving back from Dallas North Tower and the county clerk, my Beto bride called me regarding filing the license. An issue she faced was that she no longer lived at the address she had given when purchasing her marriage license. If I filed the license for her, it would be mailed to the old address. I spent some time going over a few alternatives with my client that included going to the post office to put a hold on her mail at her old address as well as getting a P.O. Box or filing the license in person. 

If I file a wedding license, it’s mailed directly to the address given by the couple. If a client files the license in person, the license is recorded and handed back. I suggested this option to ensure the license wasn’t lost in the mail and put gas money in the envelope containing her wedding photos to be sure she wouldn’t run out of gas getting to Dallas. I hadn’t heard from her prior to running to Dallas myself yesterday morning and assumed she had filed the license herself last Friday. Otherwise, I would have driven her to Dallas myself to spare her the trip and the expense of gasoline. 

This morning as I prepare for a call from Kate, a journalist on my way to Tarrant County Detention Center, I wonder if my bride has been by my office to pick up her wedding photos and gas money? I wonder if she has found a place to stay or a job and I wonder how the burden of expenses involved to be a Prison wife will affect her life? I worry constantly about my clients. I can’t help myself.

There’s a stack of mail in my office awaiting my attention. There’s also a five page questionnaire for Power Woman Of 2019 awaiting my attention. I have 172 emails to answer and I have a text from Cindy. My day is off to a “roaring start.”

Cindy now has both of her adult daughters and all three of her grandchildren living with her. I’ve talked to Adult Protection Services in Valdosta and Texas. The “Stephaney Situation” is finally blowing over although I may need to testify in Valdosta, Georgia regarding how my niece wound up there and how I realized that there was a problem while at Wynn Unit with my client in Huntsville, Texas. It’s a long story.

Cindy is overwhelmed at “trying to make everyone else happy in my home other than myself.” Cindy does it all and without my help, Cindy would be doing it alone. Maryssa and Makenna argue incessantly and Leigh Ann has a chip on her shoulder regarding her sister, Stephaney moving back home. “Five females fighting” is an ongoing rerun at Cindy’s house. Arguing over the bathrooms, arguing over the chores, arguing about each other. I could go on and on here. Cindy lives at Camp Chaos. Don’t let the happy smile you see Cindy wearing fool you. Cindy spent seventeen years caring for our selfish grandmother. My sister finally snapped over our grandmother and kicked her out after nearly eighteen years. I would have never moved her in. I’m far less tolerant of moochers and morons than Cindy. My twin has the soft heart regarding our family that I possess regarding our clients. It’s a fact. 

Cindy has spent her entire adult life caring for her children and grandchildren and Cindy needs a vacation. Cindy loves leaving her fighting family behind to jump in my SUV and head off to meet clients. Who could blame her? At home, chaos and more chores await my overworked twin sister. 

After listening to Cindy nearly crying while I sat in my SUV at the Tarrant County Clerks Office preparing to file licenses before walking across the street to the county jail, I butt in and suggested “laying down the law. It’s your house. Your adult children are guests. I’m highly concerned about Leigh Ann’s husband, Alex coming to stay from July to August and bringing more chaos. You need to establish rules and guidelines. If you don’t, I will.” Cindy knows I will and it will be far less confrontational if she would snap and start putting her own needs first. If she can’t though, I certainly can.  

My Beto bride sends a text asking “are you home?” I’m twenty minutes from home but at least an hour from attending to filing licenses and meeting my Tarrant County client. I suggest meeting me for lunch at the 7th street Starbucks in an hour after she picks up her wedding photos and gas money. I’m highly concerned about her and her child and have a list of suggestions for her to get back on her feet. I have plenty of time to get to Jack County Jail and Parker County Jail to meet my afternon clients before heading to Willow Lake Event Center with Cindy at 4PM. Leigh Ann will pick up Maryssa and Makenna at 3:30PM and after their incessant arguing this morning on the way to school, Cindy could use a break from the twins and Leigh Ann quite frankly. 

Yesterday, Cindy and I were with our clients at Taylor’s rental looking at bar height tables and chairs for a June graduation party when Leigh Ann sent a group text to Cindy and I regarding Stephaney. I was instantly lit because when my family know we are with clients, the last thing I need are to be blasted with family bickering but, Leigh Ann consistently and repeatedly makes her problems a priority to her mother and I. “Maddy had milk on her mouth and I asked where that milk came from? I went into the living room and Stephaney was eating cereal and had been sharing it with Maddy. I’m so furious about this that my hands are shaking!” 

I walked out of Taylor’s to call Leigh Ann. While she attempted to interrupt me, I interrupted her. “Listen, we are on location with clients. We don’t care about your problems and if Maddy wasn’t hungry she wouldn’t be asking Stephaney to feed her. You need to go feed your daughter and stop disrupting us with stupidity while we are working. We don’t care how mad you are. Now we are mad you bothered to dump your problem on us. Grow up.” I then hung up and practiced smiling in the parking lot before walking back to my clients and sister. 

I abhor disruptions to my carefully orchestrated agenda from family members and everyone realizes it. And yet, the consistent disruptions from my family are a regular and consistent occurrence in not only my life but my twin sisters too. Dash it all. 

What Leigh Ann should have been doing was feeding Maddy first and finishing the Sunday rehearsal photos second. But, explaining prioritizing to my niece is an escapade in futility. 

Meanwhile, my Bridgeport bride had sent me a message on FB that would have to wait until choosing tables and linens and my Allred client wanted to know about the Absentee Affidavit while my Torres client was concerned “about the glass” and my Eastham client wanted to know “how much longer the I60 would take?” My phone never stops ringing and bleeping alerts. 

Preparing myself to text back and answer emails from the Taylors parking lot after happily waving goodbye to my June clients, I turn to Cindy and say “about the California back and forth situation, I’ve come to a decision. We aren’t telling any of our adult children when we are leaving or arriving in California. We need a few days of fun without being drug into drama in San Diego with Leigh Ann, the twins and Alex. We won’t check in on FB. We will pretend we are still in Texas. Wink. Wink.” 

Cindy is shocked by my “plan.” I’m not. I need a break from my family and whether Cindy knows it or not, she does too. My sister is thinking. I jump in before she can respond (as usual) “listen, we are exhausted and overwhelmed. We have a podcast with Karen and then the Twyce Twins, a press release for Power Woman Of The Year, a follow up interview with Kate, and we are juggling 29 clients with new clients each and everyday. We need a vacation and I’m booking us into The Beverly Hills Bungalow for three days of spa, shopping and fun before we hit the bricks on that August wedding in two cities. It’s going to be an ass whipping and if we don’t catch our breath, I’m afraid we will be in the hospital from pure exhaustion. We are bouncing from Louisiana to Arkansas to Oklahoma to California seven times between August and October. It’s time to put our needs in the “front pocket” in order to be camera ready and refreshed for our clients. Our families and their chaos are killing us with stress Pal. Unlike our clients, they dont appreciate our sacrifice today, tomorrow or ever. With them it’s me, me, me, I, I, I. We must hopefully before our 55th birthday in November, learn to put our demanding kids and chaos on the back burner.” 

Warily, and probably feeling guilty (as usual) my twin sister agreed. Traveling gives us the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company but, thanks to cell phones, our family is always a text or phone call away from screwing up the day. It’s a fact.

My son and his wife have been traveling together as an Officiant and photography team the past 4 years. When my son and his wife get into an argument, everyone in my family hears about it. My daughter in law “I can’t drive with him in the car. Nothing I do is right and he makes me nervous.” My son “Stephanie doesn’t pay attention. She’s either driving too slow or driving too fast.” Me “you two are married and work together. Try to stop bickering and work together on learning patience.” Cindy “Robert and Stephanie Hafele are arguing again.” Me “I cannot stop what’s coming. Those two think they are communicating when in fact they are arguing.”

When I’m on location with Leigh Ann as I was last weekend at one of my rehearsals, I’m called “The Boss.” I instruct Leigh Ann on locations for photos and how to pose the wedding party. I wonder how Leigh Ann will handle addressing clients in California when I’m not there telling her what to do? It’s a valid point. I recognize that more flights to California to “save the day” await the Texas Twins. Our adult children are needy and often demanding. Heavy sigh. 

For two years now, I’ve been bouncing between states for inmate weddings. It was essential due to my burgeoning client base to add Leigh Ann as a TDCJ Officiant and to bump county Jail Weddings as well as traditional requests for an Officiant/photographer to Robert and Stephanie. 

Cindy and I are both stretched to the limits. My traditional bookings are now three years out. Weekends and evenings that include holidays are taken up by traditional clients. 

Trying to find a day off is impossible during wedding season. As usual, my anniversary will be bumped into my birthday this year when things slow down. My husband accepts my overwhelming schedule. He knew when he married me that I was an overachiever and accepts it. He’s also fifteen years older than me and turns off his phone from 6PM to 8AM Monday through Friday and altogether on weekends. 

Matthew is “off work when he is off the clock.” We have very different views regarding client needs. I never turn my phone off which may be why my husband is “tuned in” on client needs and family chaos. He hears it all. 

My husband doesn’t have any family to burden him with their problems. I cannot imagine what a worry free blessing that would be to not have adult children or grandchildren and their problems dumped in your lap like my husband doesn’t. Seriously. My husband as well as Cindy’s husband don’t have children which is a remarkable comparison to Cindy and I with our “carnival of chaos kids and grandchildren.” Opposites do attract. Our marriages are proof of that.

I’m going to go over the certified marriage license to address questions about the process of changing an inmate status from single to married. While we are inside a unit, often there will be a copy of the marriage license filed with inmate records. This is not a certified copy. 

What constitutes a certified copy being available has a few caviats. First, the license must be signed by the Officiant AND then filed at the clerks office either in person by the client or via certified mail from me to the clerks office BEFORE a certified copy of the license is available for purchase. 

The certified copy bears a seal deeming it as certified to be true and correct. While the original marriage license (after being signed and filed) can be used for the DMV and SS Office, it CANNOT be used for a change of status to inmate records. 

Only a certified copy of the marriage license can accomplish this task. You will purchase and then mail the certified copy to inmate records at the Unit your spouse is incarcerated at. 

You have 30 days from the date I married you at the Unit to provide a certified copy. You will then need to change your name (if you intend to do so) on your state issued ID for visits to the Unit.

The reason that Units NOW REQUIRE a certified license is to prove the marriage license was filed and is legally binding. 

Apparently, several people were “going through the motions to get married” but, by not filing the license, were effectively not legally married. Due to this issue, certified marriage licenses are now a requirement at many if not all Units.

Reading a text from one of my Coffield Unit brides was truly good news today. The inmate has made parole and will finally be coming home. I cannot wait to Officiate their Vow Renewal with family and friends present to celebrate their new journey of freedom and promise together. God Bless my amazing couple and their resilience. What a blessing.

My Beto bride and sit down together to “go over her plans for her son and their new direction to move to East Texas.” Visiting for a little over an hour before running off to Jack County, I also prayed that this trip would bring my client a new job and positive direction although removing her son from school was somewhat troubling to her. At two years old, her son is resilient enough to change schools now as opposed to being older. I will order her certified license as the Officiant and forward it to her to send to the Unit. 

Since there are many questions about certified marriage licenses, I’m adding a photo of the questionare for Dallas County for your review. 

The cost in Dallas is $10. The cost may vary by county. Tarrant county charges $21. Unlike Dallas county, there is no form online in Tarrant county. Here’s the link– Tarrant County Certified Marriage License Request.

Juggling incoming emails and text messages while sitting in the parking lot of Jack County Jail, my husband sends me a text telling me he loves me. It’s the little things but the stinky skunk development problem is finally over and Matthew is relieved! Thank goodness. We’ve had a month of brain storming to solve the skunk issue and, it’s a month too long. 

I miss my happy go lucky husband. Matthew is actually hilarious when he isn’t stressed out. Cindy and I are looking forward to road tripping to Stiles, San Saba, Crain and Huntsville Units before heading back to Louisiana in May. We love getting away for a day or two and hitting the junk shops together. 

My husband prefers long walks with my feisty Beagle, Foxy Wortham along with the Golf Channel or NASCAR and a dry martini. 

Cindy’s husband left for Canada today so she has 5-6 days before Steve Daniel is back home for a 1-3 day “staycation” at Camp Chaos AKA Cindy and Steve’s house. 

With five females fighting over the bathroom, I’m guessing Steve was “ready to roll.” Fighting for a bathroom isn’t fun at Cindy’s house. I drink a lot of water and coffee and it’s not uncommon for me to stop at Petro on my way to her house to effectively “stand in line.” 

Things will get worse when Alex comes to stay for a month before leaving for San Diego with Leigh Ann, Maddy and the twins. A summer in San Diego will do them all good and an empty house will be a Godsend to Cindy as we bounce all over the place to client bookings. 

In fact, I’m looking forward to Cindy staying at my house for our slumber parties and spook movie nights.

My Saturday clients are so much fun that Leigh Ann and I can’t wait to see them again. I love it when clients at outgoing and spirited at photo shoots.We love our LBGT clients and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the rehearsal photos for Brokk and Ruben. 

Since I’ve been asked, I do stop and start blogs between bookings. I just leave my WordPress app open and pick up where I’ve left off. All of my blogs are typed with one finger on my iPhone. Often, while waiting on a client at a Unit or venue. I spend a lot of time waiting as I’m always early.

I reviewed another email regarding someone else blogging on one of my sites and will once again go over why I have no interest in “guest writers.” First, my content is entirely my own and based on my experiences with clients and my family since they are both combined. 

Secondly, I have no interest in sharing my platform with others. 

Thirdly, I do not allow back links on any of my sites. Sorry, but, I’m not now nor will I ever be interested in having a guest blogger.

I’m off to the Parker County Courthouse and looking forward to meeting all of my new clients in the coming weeks… 

A Hitch In Time. County Jail Or Texas Prison Wedding Ceremonies & The Impact Of Video Visitation…

In my opinion, inmate phone calls are ridiculously expensive and I should know. My niece was incarcerated in Cotton County five years ago. This would be my first “hint” to the expensive phone calls to my twin sister or I. 

From setting up a phone account, to the actual charge per minute, these phone calls are a hefty expense. Did my niece realize she was costing her mother and I hundreds of dollars a month to call home? I doubt it but, as we wait for her to be transferred from JPS/LCA to Parker County Jail, we are buckling up for more months of expensive phone calls. 

Having a conversation with my niece who wants to call home several times a day while also wanting money on her books and expecting my sister to pay her probation fees to Cotton County, a discussion was in order regarding “entitlement.” My niece is 31 years old and for nearly a year and a half now, expects her mother to continue paying her bills. Numerous traffic violations and losing her car have added on the expenses for my niece. Although she is complaining about not having a car, my niece should be focusing on finding work to pay her massive fees. 

Parents and loved ones alike take on a heavy burden when it comes to phone calls but, video visits seem be more popular these days for County Jails than phone calls. My niece prefers to call her mother or I and I’m looking in to the cost of video versus phone calls. Hundreds of dollars in calls a month as well as money on the books adds up and quickly. 

The flip side of inmate phone calls is video visitation. I don’t believe you can replace the human contact of a visit with video but, a number of county Jails are doing just that. I’ve visited my niece is County Jails for over twelve years now. It’s not easy trying to cheer someone up in Jail but after 13 involuntary commitments, visiting my niece in a mental institute is equally taxing for me. I’ve also had to visit my father in a mental institution and my grandniece. 

Quite frankly, my Pom Poms are losing their streamers these days. My family have no idea the amount of stress they bring to the table. Work is my salvation. 

Video visitation continues to be an issue for prospects contacting me to Officiate a County Jail Wedding at a Unit that ONLY allows video conferencing. 

I will not conduct a ceremony via video for a number of reasons but mainly because video, cell phone or other forms of communication aren’t a legally binding ceremony. Why? Unless it’s a Proxy Marriage, the internet is not a legal entity. Communicating via the internet to marry might sound like a good idea but, it isn’t. 

My clients are always right in front of me whether they are separated by a glass partition or not. 

Prior to the Administrative Directive in Texas, inmate marriages were not allowed unless they were performed by Proxy. The Administrative Directive changed all of that. 

Proxy Marriage is no longer allowed in Texas Prisons. Proxy Marriage is also highly controversial to such an extent that many states no longer allow it. 

In the United States, proxy marriages are provided for in law or by customary practice in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and Montana Of these, Montana is the only state that allows double-proxy marriage. Proxy marriages cannot be solemnized in any other U.S. states.

On July 28, 2015, the TDCJ revised Administrative Directive AD-03.42, concerning prisoner marriages. Under the revised policy, prison officials “shall permit offenders to be married on TDCJ property or contracted facilities.” Each prison “shall provide two non-visitation workdays per month for offenders to be married in the visitation area of the offender’s assigned unit.” Marriages between two prisoners are not permitted, ceremonies can not be held in prison chapels, nor can a non-incarcerated spouse bring in a wedding ring to give to the prisoner they are marrying. 

Offenders who are eligible for contact visits shall be allowed to hold hands during the ceremony and can share “a brief embrace and kiss at the end of the process.”

Administrative Directive AD-03.42 made inmate Proxy Marriage a thing of the past. For two years, I’ve been officiating Prison Weddings. Long before that though, I officiated County Jail Weddings. 

I’m not interested in why an inmate is in custody since it’s the first question anyone who realizes that I Officiate inmate weddings ask me. It’s not for me or anyone else to judge. 

There are differences when it comes to a County Jail or Prison Wedding Ceremony. The main difference being that only a TDCJ Approved Officiant is authorized to conduct the ceremony. 

County Jails have no such limitations. The only requirement for a County Jail Wedding is that the Officiant be authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony.

Prison Wedding Planning is a process. There is paperwork to be filed and the Prison Unit must give permission for couples to marry. 

County Jails and prisons both have dress codes in force to visitors. Be aware of this. You CANNOT “wear whatever you want” to an inmate wedding whether it’s in a County Jail, State Prison or Federal Prison. 

If an inmate is behind glass, they can hear and understand the ceremony. Depending on the level of custody, certain inmates may be restricted to their cells. Let’s look at custody levels. 

S1 (Often called Trustee one or Stat one)

S2 (Often called Trustee two or Stat two)

S3 (Often called Trustee three or Stat three)

S4 (Often called Trustee four or Stat four)

There are only a handful of S1’s in all of TDCJ. For most prisoners S2 is as high as they will go. For some crimes (homicides in particular) S3 is as high as the prisoner can go. 

Generally, unit disciplinary cases are the cause of a prisoner dropping in class. Prisoners generally rise in class levels by serving their time case free. How often and how many class levels a prisoners rises is a decision made by unit authorities. As a rule of thumb a prisoner usually rises one or two classes at a time and reclassifications occur between every six months and every year.

Prisoners have to reach the line class they entered into the TDCJ system as in order to become eligible for parole again. So if the prisoner entered as a Trusty IV and unit disciplinary case brought him down to a Line III, he will have to continue to have good disciplinary till he reclasses to a Trusty IV. 

G1 General Population Level 1 (Previously Minimum-Out)
G2 General Population Level 2 (Previously Minimum-In)

G3 General Population Level 3 (If offender has a sentence of 50 years or greater, 3G must serve 10 flat and non 3G must serve 5 flat, to move to a less restrictive custody; job and housing assignments will be restricted.)

G4 General Population Level 4 (Previously Medium)

G5 General Population Level 5 (Previously Close-Custody)

The G3 custody is what is being called the “new custody” and it is primarily utilized for those offenders with lengthy sentences who have not served a significant amount of time. 

An offender who is assigned to G3 custody will not be allowed to live in dormitories that are outside of the main building of a facility. They may not be assigned to jobs such as maintenance, back door worker, SSI, any clerk position, or any job where the offender would have access to multiple areas of the facility. This custody will retain the same privileges as a G2 offender (currently MI). 

The guidelines are as follows:
50 year 3G (murder, capital murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, health and safety code, chapter 481.134 (d), (d) and (f), and any offense with affirmative findings for use of a deadly weapon) will be required to serve 10 flat years before they are eligible to promote to a custody less restrictive than G3.

50 year non 3G offenses will be required to serve 5 flat years before they are eligible to promote to a custody level less restrictive than G3.

A. Custody Levels On the unit of assignment, an offender is given a custody designation which indicates several things. It tells where and with whom he can live, how much supervision he will need, and what job he can be assigned to.

An offender’s custody level depends on his current institutional behavior, his previous institutional behavior, and his current offense and sentence length. 

If he (or she) violates rules, he (or she) will be placed in a more restrictive custody. If he (or she) complies with the rules, he (or she) will be assigned a less restrictive custody level.

Institutional Offender Custody Levels:

1. Administrative Segregation

2. General Population Level 5 (G5) 

3. General Population Level 4 (G4) 

4. General Population Level 3 (G3) 

5. General Population Level 2 (G2) 

6. General Population Level 1 (G1)

State Jail Offender Custody Levels:

1. Special Management 

2. General Population Level 5 (J5) 

3. General Population Level 4 (J4) 

4. General Population Level 2 (J2) 

5. General Population Level 1 (J1) Administrative Segregation or Special Management refers to offenders who must be separated from the general population because they are dangerous, either to other offenders or staff, or they are in danger from other offenders. 

Additionally, offenders who, according to the SCC, are members of security threat groups designated by TDCJ may be given this custody level. 

These offenders leave their cells, for the most part, only for showers and limited recreation. (Offenders assigned to Administrative Segregation in expansion cellblocks shower in their cells.) 

General Population Level 5 (G5) or (J5) custody refers to offenders who have assaultive or aggressive disciplinary records. 

G5 or J5 custody offenders must live in cells. They may not work outside the security fence without direct, armed supervision.

General Population Level 4 (G4) or (J4) custody means the offender must live in a cell, with few exceptions, and may work outside the security fence under direct armed supervision. J4 State Jail offenders may be housed in designated dorms. 

General Population Level 3 (G3) refers to Institutional offenders who may live in dorms or cells inside the main building of the unit. 

G3 offenders are ineligible to live in dorms outside the main building of a unit, inside the security fence. 

G3 offenders will be generally assigned to field force and secure jobs inside the perimeter as designated by the Warden. They may work outside the security fence under direct armed supervision. (State Jail offenders are not assigned to level 3 custody.) 

General Population Level 2 (G2) or (J2) custody refers to offenders who may live in dorms or cells inside the security fence. They may work outside the security fence under direct armed supervision.

General Population Level 1 (G1) or (J1) custody allows offenders to live in dorms outside the security fence. They may work outside the security fence with periodic unarmed supervision.

Note: Offenders in all of the above general population custody levels may also be given a safekeeping status if they need an added level of protection from other offenders.

Since I’ve been asked about being in 2 locations on the same day, there are limits in my ability to get from one Unit to the next based on distance. I cannot be in Childress and Allred on the same day. I can be at Michael, Beto or Coffield on the same day. Why? Because Tennessee Colony like Huntsville or Gatesville has numerous Units. 

If I’m within 30 minutes to an hour of a Unit, it’s possible to be at two Units within a certain distance on the same day. 

Normally a “stacked” day for me involves 1 to up to 8 clients at the same Unit. Moving from one Unit to the next can be stressful as I have no idea how long we will be “inside” making calculating my timeline difficult if not impossible.

Because of this, I limit new clients for Prison Weddings every month to ensure my availability. 

Like anyone else I’ve talked to, I’m against video visitation. The personal element is removed entirely with video. Several county Jails also remove the ability to visit in person entirely when installing video cameras. 

Families of loved ones can and do video chats from anywhere for a fee but, is it worth it? I don’t think so but, I’m adding a link for those unaware of video visitation to enlighten you– Video Visitation. What is it and how does it work?

For clients marrying an inmate, an Absentee Affidavit and notarized ID are necessary to purchase the marriage license. There cannot be any corrections on either document. 

If you’re planning to get married, there is one thing you can’t forget: the marriage license AND an Officiant. You can’t get legally “hitched” without a marriage license. A marriage license is sort of a permit, kind of like a driver’s license. It says that you are legally allowed to marry, although obtaining one does not mean that you are married. 

Marriage licenses are not free OR provided by the Officiant. The couple must purchase a marriage license at the Clerks office. 

You still must tie the knot before someone with the power to marry people legally, with the license at hand. The rules and requirements for getting a marriage license vary from state to state and from country to country. 

To make sure that you have all your ducks in a row, contact your city, county, or town clerk’s office which will direct you to the pertinent information. Many cities and counties have websites with marriage license requirements spelled out, and you often can fill out the application online and pay fees with a credit card. That said, there are certain basic pieces of information that you will need no matter where you apply for a marriage license. 

Timeframe: Find out if there is a waiting period and for how long marriage licenses are valid. You’ll likely need to apply during the week or two before your ceremony. What documents you’ll need: Some states require birth certificates, proof of citizenship and/or residence; virtually all states require a driver’s license or another type of photo ID. 

If you have been widowed or divorced, you should also have a copy of the death certificate or divorce decree. Fees and how to pay them: If there is a fee, you might need to pay it with a money order, cashier’s check, or cash. You also might be able to pay with a credit card, depending on the state. 

Blood tests: Although this requirement is no longer widespread, some states still require blood tests. 

If you are planning a destination wedding or getting married in a state other than where you live, you’ll also need to find out about residency requirements, if any. This includes how long you must be in the county before you can apply or any other rules at the location you’ve chosen for your ceremony. 

The bride and groom take identification, any necessary paperwork, fees, and sometimes blood test results to the county clerk in the jurisdiction where the ceremony will take place to apply for a marriage license. 

The marriage license is either mailed to or picked up by the bride and groom. There is sometimes a waiting period, depending on your state. You are married by someone legally allowed to do so in your state. 

The person who performs the ceremony, two witnesses (if required), and sometimes the bride and groom sign the marriage license. 

The marriage license is returned to the county clerk’s office by the person who performs the ceremony or, the couple if they choose to file the signed license in person. 

About a week later, copies of the certified marriage certificate can be purchased from the clerk’s office.

Marriage is a process whether you are marrying an inmate or not. Please be aware of timelines pertaining to the marriage license. There is a shelf life. If your marriage liscense expires, you will need to purchase a new one. 

If your Absentee Affidavit expires or contains corrections, you will need a new one as well. 

I hope this clarifies Proxy Marriage and explains why the Administrative Directive changed Prison Proxy Marriage or any confusion regarding video or internet ceremonies and why both parties must be present if I’m officiating your ceremony.