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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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… 

Strong Prison Wives, Husband’s & Families Who Continue To Keep The Faith…

Nearly everyday I hear from someone interested in a Prison or Jail Wedding. The number of inquiries would surprise you but, there are many people in love with an inmate and although the majority of my Client base for Texas Prison Weddings is compromised of females, there are also males marrying female inmates. 

Yesterday, Our House Media sent an email asking about families living together awaiting the release of an inmate. 

After reading the flyer, I agreed to share it on my FB Page– Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham. I also asked OHM “if LBGT Couples were invited to apply since a large portion of my TDCJ clients happen to be LBGT.” OHM answered that “all families are invited to apply.” 

I’m familiar with OHM because they worked on a sizzle reel three years ago about my family owned and operated event businesses, Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners as well as documenting how our Texas Twins Treasures storefront effectively “flips” trades bartered through The Pawning Planners. 

The barter option continues to surprise people but finding ways for ANYONE to afford services was the reason that I decided to create The Pawning Planners by merging Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures together. 

Families who couldn’t “write a check,” scheduled an Appraisal Appointment and invited my twin sister and I into their homes to “find something of value instead.” Cindy and I love digging through trash to find treasure. Especially when our hunt is to help a family. 

Three years ago, prison Weddings weren’t “part of our event service options.” Regardless though, OHM did a great job trying to tie together a package aka my family into a 3 minute video also known as a “sizzle reel.” 

I became a TDCJ Officiant shortly after Our House Media created a sizzle reel outlining how four generations of my family work together to make Dream Events a reality. 

My twin sister is my partner and my son and his wife work together as an Officiant/Photography team while my niece, Leigh Ann works as an Officiant or Photographer at event bookings. 

My twin grandnieces worked as flower girls and ring bearers for years for “tips or flips” but now work as princess characters at birthday parties. 

Evolving, expanding and rebranding was essential to our growth and also how a creative request three years ago for “an Officiant at Sanders Estes Unit” would bring a new change and direction to our already wide array of options at Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners.

Misty was having difficulty finding anyone willing to Officiate her wedding. The problem? First, it was at a Prison and secondly, it was an interracial marriage. It’s sad to me that anyone would “judge” or “screen” but the truth is that there are a number of Officiants and even photographers who regularly turn away prospects solely because “they are different.” 

My family and I have always welcomed anyone and while Misty’s situation was unique, I was willing to undergo the process to become a TDCJ Approved Officiant.

Did I know that my business was about to boom with Prison Weddings? No. Who would? I had no idea that there were so many consumers seeking inmate weddings. But, my weekdays are now spent at Texas Prisons and County Jails. 

Before inmate weddings, my weekdays were spent evaluating trades or delivering Texas Twins Treasures sold items when not meeting new clients. 

Three years ago, all of our bookings were either on weekends or in the evening. Today, my entire team work seven days a week due to the new bookings at Texas Prisons and County Jails. 

My son, daughter in law and niece traditionally handle county jail weddings while I address all Texas Prison bookings. Cindy and I travel across Texas on a daily basis to Texas Prisons as a Twin Team. 

While I’m inside a prison, Cindy shops for bargains at area thrift and junk stores for new Texas Twins Treasures items. 

After the ceremony is over at the prison, my Client and I meet back up with my sister for impromptu photo shoots that all of our TDCJ Clients enjoy. Photo shoots are fun and bring the celebration to wedding day. 

Cindy and I pack a number of bouquets and props as well as clothing changes to keep our shoots fun and full of variety. Over the years, my twin sister, Cindy and I have filmed several sizzle reels with production companies. But, finding a production company that can “successfully” tie my unique blend of businesses into a box hasn’t been easy. 

Obviously my “wide array of services” doesn’t fit in a box. I’ve been told that “prison weddings” are controversial but, real life isn’t controversial and love isn’t either. 

My TDCJ clients are all educated and fully accept the challenges that loving an inmate brings to their lives. It’s not an easy path. Loving an inmate is expensive for the person or family “on the outside.” The phone calls and long drives to visit are tough on families.

Last week, I was once again at Sanders Estes Unit. This time for a wedding ceremony on Valentines Day which was unusual since wedding ceremonies normally take place on Friday’s twice a month. 

The wardens secretary told me she had asked if the wedding could take place on Valentines Day because “it would be more romantic.” My Sanders Estes Client had arrived with the Grooms parents and was thrilled about the Warden allowing the mother and father to join us in the visitation area for the ceremony. The Warden at Estes literally made this families day after a long drive from Austin, Texas to Estes in Venus. 

There ARE FAMILIES awaiting the release of inmates. There ARE FAMILIES who live together while waiting for the release of an inmate. OHM has a great idea to document the visits, the phone calls and even, the lengthy process of waiting. The waiting is the hardest part. 

Prison Marriage or even Prison Love might be “controversial” to people who cannot understand the concept but, controversial or not, Prison Visitation Areas are becoming wedding chapels two days a month in Texas and other states. 

Inmate marriages are on the rise and as families and loved ones await the next visit, the next phone call and finally on the day of release, there are also happy endings… 

Saying Yes To The Dress- Allred Unit To Tarrant County Jail…

Right up to wedding day with my Prison brides, I review options for clothing as clothing can be closely scrutinized at Prison Units. 

Yesterday’s adventure began in Wichita Falls as I rolled out of my driveway with my son and his wife joining me on a road trip to Allred Unit. Robert and Stephanie had the day off and I enjoy company while driving across Texas. 

My son and his wife are preparing to move into their first home in a few weeks and we spent the time driving going over details of what to keep and what to sell. I hate moving and know how chaotic moving can be. I bought my first home in my late 20’s not knowing the unexpected expenses that could occur. From hail storms to an A/C needing to be replaced, my first home was a money pit. I loved the fireplace but had no idea that the logs purchased at the grocery store would require chimney sweeping either. I learned a lot in my first home with the most important lesson being to put money back for the next unexpected surprise. Warily, I warned my son to plan for a rainy day because owning a home is an expensive endeavor. 

Dropping Robert and Stephanie off at Walmart some ten miles from Allred, I headed on to meet Flor. We both arrived at noon and waited patiently. Flor looked stunning in a beautiful white dress that I hoped wouldn’t be deemed “too tight” or “too sheer.” White is tricky at Prison Weddings. Attire for your unit wedding falls under the visitation dress code and although it’s your wedding day, Wardens have the final call on your clothing.

Thankfully, Flor had no issues with her gorgeous dress yesterday. Another bride was waiting on her Officiant. This normally wouldn’t be an issue but, as usual, “the other Officiant” was thirty minutes late which forced Flor, myself and the volunteer chaplain to wait on “the other Officiant.” I have no idea why “other Officiants” are always late but, they are. It’s unprofessional in my opinion and at Allred, everyone must wait to enter together. Flor was becoming nervous as was I since I needed to be back in Fort Worth at Tarrant County Jail to meet another client at 4:30PM.

After the “other Officiant” finally arrived, we lined up to walk into the Prison towards the visitation area. Normally, photography is offered and photos are sold for $3 each at Unit weddings. My last two visits to Allred though were without photos offered which upset both of my brides. I’m going to inquire about the photos and try to determine whether Unit Wedding Photos have been discarded altogether. If they have, I’m sorry for my clients as these photos are the only opportunity to have the couple in photos together.

Waiting on the Groom, Flor looked stunning and told me that the Grooms parents were planning a party for her back in Dallas. I was happy that Flor would be celebrating her wedding and had a strong support system in place.

Leaving Allred, I had Flor follow me to a road near the unit for impromptu photos. The rain had stopped but, the overcast sky affected the lighting. 

Flor and I had fun stopping traffic on the remote road to allure a few bridal photos to remember her day. I had packed my SUV with a variety of tiaras and bouquets to bring the fun and loved the way my fur stole accented Flor’s strappy sandals. Congratulating her with a hug, I jumped into my SUV to run and pick up Robert and Stephanie to head to Fort Worth. They had both enjoyed a mani/pedi and were looking forward to grabbing lunch.

My son drives to Wichita Falls frequently for Mr G’s and told me there was a gas station with a Steak & Shake outside of Decatur. The gas station had beef jerky and an assortment of other interesting items similar to a truck stop. I love truck stops because you never know what you will find. 

Answering emails for me, my son noted that an inquiry for Jordan Unit brought up two very different locations. Google listed Jordan Unit an hour from Fort Worth while TDCJ listed Jordan Unit over five hours away. Due to the confusion, I had my son confirm the unit address with Melissa. 

My fees are based on distance and a five hour one way drive with 1-2 hours inside the unit is a full day for me. Please include the actual address on unit inquiries to alleviate any confusion. PS- Congratulations Melissa. I look forward to meeting you soon. 

I’m back at Coffield and Estes Unit next week. My Estes bride is thrilled to be marrying on Valentines Day. Due to the holiday, I’m packing festive balloons for her photo shoot. This is unusual as I normally only bring props but, my bride is so happy about Valentines Day that I’ve decided to do something different. 

I’ve had a few questions regarding courthouse steps weddings and Vow Renewal Ceremonies. The location can be a park, Prison, courthouse steps, parking lot or just about any location for a wedding. A Vow Renewal is simply a “do over” of the wedding ceremony. Normally with friends and family present. 

Elopement packages offer intimate options for clients who aren’t planning a “big affair.” If you wish to do a private ceremony, I suggest the elopement package. We offer photography and a wide array of discount options for an Officiant/Photography Package to Firefighters, Active or Retired Military, Police, First Responders, Teachers, and LBGT Couples. 

While a few of you might question my LBGT Discount option, it should be noted that years ago when I started Texas Twins Events, the LBGT Community welcomed Texas Twins Events with open arms. 

Due to their loyalty, I’ve offered discounts on all services at all of my businesses to LBGT couples for nearly nine years now. I’m looking forward to meeting my latest TDCJ LBGT couple in May at their prison wedding and being a part of their happily ever after. 

I was recently asked by KTVT why my business “shifted” from traditional events to predominantly TDCJ Events or LBGT Events or a combination of both? The reason is I enjoy working with people who appreciate our help. Over the years, I’ve had more than one bridezilla and quite frankly, I no longer work with difficult people. Why? I don’t have to. The clients I choose are wonderful to not only me but also, my Texas Twins Events Team. 

While a minute amount of clients opt to barter through The Pawning Planners, it’s a very small percentage. The barter option exists in order to address a wide array of clients from nearly any any economic situation. 

Whether a client is barteting or booking directly through Texas Twins Events, creating another way to have a life event for families who wanted one took creativity on my part. I merged Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Twins Events to create The Pawning Planners. We don’t “only do weddings” either. We also do baptisms, funeral ceremonies, birthday parties, quincineras, and numerous other services including estate liquidation and home staging. I have a staff that includes four generations of my family members to address large or small events. 

Nearly all of my TDCJ Clients book Vow Renewal ceremonies upon release of their loved one from a Texas Prison. Their celebration of Love After LockUp is shared with family and friends. 

I’m headed to Luther Unit today and looking forward to “road tripping” with my twin sister, Cindy and searching for a few treasures at junk stores along our way. Finding time to spend with my family by creating a unique and diverse events business was and always will be one of the best business ideas I’ve ever had. 

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. 

Furloughs To Forever Homes- Why Releases Are Cause For Celebration And Planning For My Clients…

Last night my Hodge Unit bride called me with good news that her husband was up for Furlough in a few weeks. I love getting updates from my clients and hearing happy endings. 

This month, my Estes bride will also finally be reunited with her husband. A few months ago, my Hutchins State Jail bride said goodbye to weekends visits and hello to her husband. Maria like all of my prison wives was thrilled to begin life beyond the razor wire. 

Weekend visits to Texas Prisons often involve long drives for my clients. Phone calls are also a huge expense. It’s not easy or inexpensive to be the “bride or groom on the outside.” Being on the outside is expensive. 

A lot of people assume that my clients were pen pals but, the truth is that very few of my clients (less than 2%) were pen pals. 

All of my clients (male or female) share their love story with me voluntarily. They often tell me how they met and when and how a mistake caused them to lose their love to Lock Up.

No one going into a relationship “plans for Prison” to be a part of the equation. In fact, it’s quite rare for any of my clients to not have known the inmate prior to incarceration. 

Hodge Unit is about two and a half hours from my location. When my Hodge Unit bride initially contacted me months ago, I had just been to the same unit two weeks prior. It would have been easier to perform her ceremony at the same time I was performing another at the same Unit but, this isn’t always possible.  

Units normally “stack” my clients but, occasionally due to slow paperwork this cannot always occur. Paperwork and permission or Approval to marry an inmate involve a process. 

The end result is that I may be driving to the same Unit twice in the same month. I spend several hours a week driving to Texas Prisons and Jails Monday through Friday. In fact, Prison Weddings occupy up to 85% of my bookings through Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners.

Most of my previous clients plan Vow Renewals after release in order to have a traditional ceremony. 

I’m at Tarrant County Greenbay Unit tomorrow and Estes Unit rolling into the weekend at Bell Tower Chapel, Marty Leonard Chapel and The Tower in Dallas this weekend. Working seven days a week keeps me busy.

Rolling into February, I’m at Bridgeport, Allred, Ferguson, Michael, Coffield, Parker County and Tarrant County Units. It surprises folks that I bounce from an exclusive venue to a Prison or Park but, variety is the spice of life.

Since a few readers have been following the saga of dealing with my dad, niece and grandniece this past year or called when I was leaving yet another mental institution visit, my dad left Fort Worth nearly eight weeks ago on an internet date and never returned. I’m okay with this. I’m tired of juggling dad, Stephaney and Maryssa. 

Quite frankly, my family life has been a mess for over a year. My niece, Stephaney went off the rails in October 2017. Her mom and I had been thrilled to get Stephaney back on track after she had been a passenger in a stolen semi tractor truck in Oklahoma five years ago. At the time Stephaney went missing, she was supposed to be working a $300k wedding with me in Fort Worth at the T&P as my bilingual translator. 

For fourteen years now, looking for Stephaney has been an emotionally debilitating and often exhausting unpaid job for my twin sister and I. Stephaney is our biggest failure. Perhaps because she was put on probation with mandatory drug testing, the three years we had of her being stable stopped the moment the drug testing did. 

When you walk in and out of Prisons five days a week, you find yourself wondering why Stephaney isn’t an inmate. Would Prison straighten her out? I have no idea but, I know this, often Prison is the only thing that straightens a few folks out. 

I saved Stephaney from prison and after over a year of her antics, I’m now doubting my decision. In Oklahoma, inmates are charged a fee to be in jail or prison. These fees are added to probation and restitution costs. Stephaney’s fees for six months in Cotton County Jail were over $6k. 

While Stephaney was living at home rent free with my sister, Stephaney paid off her fines. Stephaney has never paid rent. I’m guessing this was a mistake on our part but, I will never know if not forcing her to pay rent gave her the money to go buy drugs? While we had hoped that Stephaney would snap out of it and become a permanent part of our lives, Stephaney loved meth more. It’s this devastating reality that has torn our family apart. 

From the downward spiral of Stephaney’s choices, her daughter, Maryssa began acting out too. In the midst of all of this, my father began acting oddly. A few months into Stephaney’s wild behavior, my father began believing invisible intruders were living in his attic. 

Between dad and Stephaney, Cindy and I were literally overwhelmed. Trying to convince my dad that no one could possibly be living in his attic while trying to find Stephaney who continued to disappear and run wild, Cindy and I had diverted our attention to dad and Stephaney who were both involuntarily committed in July 2017. Unbeknownst to Cindy or I, Maryssa would use this window to begin acting out herself. 

Visiting mental hospitals is similar to walking into a Texas Prison. How? You are frisked doing both. Inmates don’t act crazy but, other patients do. It’s an eye opener to visit a family member in a Psych Ward if you’ve never done so before. My first visit to one was for my niece, Stephaney. Cindy and I went through the process of getting cleared, giving the patients ID # and being herded in with other other poor people struggling through the process. It reminded me of entering a Prison. By the time my dad was committed, Cindy and I “knew the drill.”

Yesterday, I write a blog regarding the importance of vending machines in Visitation Areas. If you missed it, here’s the link– Visitation Areas, Vending Machines & Doing Our Very Best In A Bad Situation.

The only “breaks” I’ve had the past year have been inside Texas Prisons. There isn’t anything unpredictable occurring. I’ve found the structure and predictability to be relaxing. For a few hours, the problems of my family are put in a box. For a few hours, I’m not worrying about my niece, grandniece or my father. Road trips to Texas Prisons are actually an escape of sorts for Cindy and I. The problems at home are put away giving us a break from the ongoing issues of having three family members who have no idea of the strain they’ve caused to our families. 

Mixing work and family isn’t a choice. My family and I work together. Due to my dad’s behavior, I’ve removed him from County Jail Wedding Services and am now handling them myself when my other niece, Leigh Ann or my son are unavailable to take on a new client. Initially, I had assumed that I would bounce clients requesting jail weddings to dad but, obviously I cannot count on someone unreliable. I’ve whipped through our staff this past year and cut bilingual services because Stephaney is the only bilingual person in our family. I wish I was bilingual but, I’m not. No one else is either. 

Since I also handle destination event services, Cindy and I coordinate and Officiate traditional bookings with my niece, Leigh Ann handling photography. Since I’ve been asked, Cindy and I work as a team at all event services other than inside Texas Prisons. 

There aren’t any visitors allowed in Units. I walk in alone with my clients. Cindy waits for me at area thrift shops or a cafe along with guests who travelled with my client. 

Guests and family members can join my client for photos after we meet up again upon leaving a Unit. Photo shoots bring the fun after the stress of marrying in a Texas Prison are in the rear view mirror. Clothing at Texas Prison Weddings continues to be an issue for clients who “assume” that because it’s their wedding day, they can wear what they want. You can’t. Visitation dress codes are in force on wedding day. You CAN wear sandals. You CANNOT wear revealing clothing. 

I have a specific contract for Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham that outlines client conduct at Units. 

I want your day to be as pleasant as possible. Because of this, while County Jail Weddings are far more relaxed, Prison Weddings aren’t. You must follow all TDCJ Guidelines. Following the Rules will make your wedding ceremony far more pleasant.

Because County Jail Visitation can occur seven days a week and wedding ceremonies are scheduled during visitation, I cannot Officiate on weekends at County Jails due to my schedule. County Jail Weddings are scheduled with Prison Weddings Monday through Friday in order to accommodate my existing bookings on weekends. Please be aware of this. 

My niece, Stephaney will be released from JPS LCA in the next few weeks. Of course, I’m concerned about what to expect as is Cindy. However, our focus is on Maryssa and Stephaney must find her own path. At this time, I’m not adding another bilingual translator. 

My father is apparently happy wherever he is and I’m happy I’m not consistently trying to convince him that no one is living in his attic. I’m also happy to not be visiting him daily at Wellbridge as is Cindy. 

I’m looking forward to meeting our new clients at Texas Jails and Prisons in the coming months and seeing our previous clients at their Vow Renewal Ceremonies soon. 

Congratulations to all of our Prison Wives and Husband’s on your journey home far from the steel doors and razor wire…