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…

“COMPARING A New Love to An OLD Love Is Like COMPARING A LADLE To A SPOON.” Cindy Daniel

A lot of folks wonder where “we come up with quotes.” There’s really no “we.” My twin sister is the “quote Queen.”

Cindy is a self professed redneck. She spent years working on a dairy farm. Her hilarious quotes always contain truth and transparency.

Today’s blog title is better understood with a definition between the ladle and the spoon so here it is…

“a ladle is a deep-bowled spoon with a long, usually curved, handle while spoon is an implement for eating or serving; a scooped utensil whose long handle is straight, in contrast to a ladle.”

You can’t look behind you at a former lover. You must focus on your current love story. Don’t compare apples to oranges. We all learn from our mistakes in relationships past. I learned that I will never tolerate infidelity or violence. Cindy did too.

Yesterday while on BlueTooth with a client planning to marry an inmate, my niece Stephaney listened in while I went over the paperwork process. She then asked me “can I do prison weddings? I think I would be good at it.”

My niece like many people “thinks what I do is easy.” It isn’t. Ask Cindy. I need to have all of the answers. I need to know all of the policies, procedures and guidelines. “I don’t know” isn’t in my vocabulary. I research continuing changes to marriage laws across the country. I know the family code and I understand State, Federal, ICE and County guidelines pertaining to inmate marriage.

I didn’t just “wake up” one day and have all of the answers. I educated myself. No one contacting me wants someone else to conduct their ceremony. Everyone contacting me wants me.

Explaining this to my niece as I did to my son and my other niece, Leigh Ann who handles California weddings since she moved there about a year ago isn’t an easy conversation.

To my family what I do looks easy. They aren’t with me when my phone rings all night long or while my husband sleeps as I answer emails and DM’s on social media. They have no idea how much time I spend walking clients through a complicated process. My husband does.

I’m awake at 5:30AM reviewing emails 7 days a week. What I do requires commitment. What I do requires knowledge.

What I do requires a huge amount of my time and dedication. I don’t talk to or email a “traditional booking” 20-30 times. A traditional booking generally requires me on site for a rehearsal and the wedding and a few phone calls to set everything up if I’m only officiating the ceremony. I rarely take on a booking for a planner AND officiant these days.

Why? My time. Planning an event takes a huge amount of my time talking to other vendors as well as meeting them with a client. I learned 4 years ago that planning ONE event takes far too much of my time.

Prior to Covid, I easily officiated up to 8 weddings a week. Why tie myself down with phone calls and meetings for ONE CLIENT when I could be addressing several? From a business standpoint, planning an event outside of a prison just wasn’t worth my time. I’ve been in this business over ten years and grew tired of working with divas who were unreasonable.

Comparing a “traditional client” to a client marrying an inmate is like comparing a ladle to a spoon.

“Traditional clients often ask me for an apple and expect a pie.” No thanks.

The clients I “choose” to book over any other type of client booking are marrying an inmate. They are thankful. They are amazing. They are also marrying an inmate.

There won’t be cake or flowers. There won’t be guests or music. There will be my client, their loved one and a few correctional officers.

The variation between being on site at a prison or at a venue are REALLY significant. There isn’t any of the “fluff” at a prison. I wish my clients could bring a family member or exchange a ring or carry a bouquet or wear bouteniers but these luxuries of traditional ceremonies aren’t allowed within TDCJ.

There is intimacy at a prison wedding.

I won’t be dealing with “other vendors.” I won’t be dealing with “the venue.”

I am only dealing with my client and prison authorities. I PREFER PRISON WEDDINGS.

There is no drama. There are no drunks. There isn’t anyone standing up and trying to object while screwing up my carefully scripted ceremony.

There are two people in love who went through all sorts of red tape to stand with me.

There are two people who are so committed to marrying that they patiently waited through a paperwork process that took months. The photographer isn’t a professional. The photographer is a correctional officer. No one can complain about the quality of unit photos because they are the only photos we will have with the inmate in them.

My client and I will leave the prison and find a nice place for me to unload an suv full of bouquets, furs, tiaras, fascinators, veils, fun signs and inventory to set up their photo shoot with me.

I want their wedding day as special as they are. That makes me different from anyone else. I care. Cindy cares.

Our prison clients become our friends for life. We baptize their babies. We orchestrate and officiate their vow renewals. I have also conducted funeral ceremonies for family members of my previous clients.

Yesterday, I had several emails from people anxious for TDCJ to reinstate visitation wanting to hire me. I currently have several clients at several TDCJ Units that will take priority when visitation commences. I never line jump anyone onto my schedule.

I’m currently addressing Federal client bookings because Federal has reinstated visitation. There are and have been a handful of State Facilities that reinstated visitation months ago. Please follow preregistration guidelines.

Once we get the all clear for TDCJ, my clients who were previously booked will be scheduled first.

Many TDCJ Units have several clients waiting so adding you to an existing Unit with other clients isn’t going to be an issue. I cannot take on anyone at this time at a Unit that is not already on my existing schedule though. Please be aware of this.

What are my existing Unit booking sites? Beto, Gurney, Powledge, Ferguson, Scott, Allred, Cole, Roach, Clements, Robertson, Middleton, Wallace, Stiles, Lewis, Polunsky, Estes, Estelle, Crain, Holliday, Darrington, Jordan, Briscoe, Michael, Coffield, Byrd, Hobby, Marlin, Hodge, Crain, Wynn, Garza, Hutchins, Moore, Eastham, Hutchins, Hobby, & Luther. If your loved one is at any of the above Units, we can stack you into the existing list. If they aren’t, you will need to wait until my existing clients and Units are addressed first or book my twin, Cindy to conduct your ceremony.

TDCJ bookings will be addressed first prior to other states being considered. Why? Texas is my primary booking state and other states were addressed in February as Cindy and I travelled outside of Texas. Also most states only allow inmate weddings 1 or 2 times PER YEAR. Because of the policies in other states, I stack clients planning to marry and cover numerous cities a few times a year.

In March, the only bookings I had were in Texas. 17 clients were cancelled. 38 clients were waiting to marry within TDCJ. These clients are my priority and focus moving forward for obvious reasons.

Stacking clients and Units does not constitute “group weddings.” I do not perform group weddings in Texas. Each client has 20 minutes. If your loved one is a G2 or G3, you should have a contact wedding but I have no idea if TDCJ will change this due to Covid as the issue hasn’t been addressed yet.

Contact verses non contact… hold hands and one closed mouth kiss. Non contact is a separation of glass or steel cage.

There are no ring exchanges in Texas due to the Administrative Directive. Guests are so rare that in several hundred weddings within TDCJ only twice has a warden made the exception. Once at Estes and once at Estelle high security.

Your guests can wait and join you in your photo shoot with me but it’s highly unlikely they will be authorized to enter and witness your ceremony. Witnesses are not required at Prison Weddings.

You must be an approved visitor. I am not a visitor. Please don’t list me as a visitor as doing so creates a problem.

We will most likely be required to wear a mask. If you don’t have one, let me know and I will bring one on wedding day.

You must be 15 minutes early. Please plan accordingly and do not forget your marriage license.

Media inquiries must go through TDCJ. I have had many journalists contact me regarding following my client and I into a Unit. My client must agree to this AS WELL as the inmate. Be aware of this.

I will not allow anyone (journalist or production companies) to accompany me to a Unit Wedding without my client and their loved ones consent and their permission. It’s THEIR wedding day after all.

Last year a journalist did accompany me to 4 units in one day. TDCJ would only allow the journalist into one Unit with me. She chose Polunsky.

TDCJ will not allow a journalist or anyone else into every unit I walk into. Pick one. I often go to 1-4 Units in the same day due to the fact that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are TDCJ scheduling days for ceremonies.

I look forward to meeting all of you at your prison weddings.

Loyalty, Love, And Laying It All On The Table. Marriage, Mergers & Messes…

It’s not uncommon for me to get a “problem call” on wedding day. In fact, it’s common and a regular occurrence.

For two months now these “problem calls” have been rolling in. They aren’t coming from my clients in numerous states marrying an inmate either.

Instead they are coming from my “traditional clients.” Standard bookings from Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, or a venue I’m on staff at.

My traditional clients are and can be my “trickier group.” Why? Because during this pandemic the changes they’ve been forced to make in order to get married have left them anxious and occasionally event angry. “They had a plan. They had a guest list.”

They had thought of everything and what they missed I had thought of for them.

Neither my clients, my staff or myself could ever have “planned for Covid-19.”

What was today’s problem? My bride decided that she didn’t want her mother in law to be walked down the aisle by the groom aka her son.

I was advised by the bride to advise the mother of the groom of her “change in plans.”

I had questions as to why what had been rehearsed was now being changed at the 11th hour?

Apparently, last night at the rehearsal dinner held at a restaurant that wouldn’t allow more than 25 guests at a time, an argument broke out about who could go in. This is a rather new problem since restaurants in Fort Worth have reopened. For a month and a half the rehearsal dinner was swapped for a backyard barbecue or Uber eats.

I’m “new” to these pandemic changes myself and didn’t attend the rehearsal dinner although I was invited because I had another commitment and because I haven’t eaten in a restaurant for over two months now. Like many others, I’m cautious about being out in public. I need to stay healthy for my clients. I cannot risk getting this virus by being with large groups of people. Since there was a “sideways shuffle” regarding who could get in the restaurant and who couldn’t, I’m THANKFUL I took a pass.

My bride was adamant regarding “putting her mother in law in her place because it’s my wedding.” I hear this all of the time spoken by people who take possession of the frivolity but take a pass on the expenses.

Sadly, the mother of the groom was the person who hired me AND effectively my actual client.

This type of “who is the boss” is so common with my traditional clients that after ten years of being the “go between” I should be accustomed to “awkward situations” but I’m not.

Sitting in my Sahara at Tom Thumb to get emergency flowers to create Bouteniers for the florist who had already sent me a text that she was “short” on flowers for the wedding party, I took a deep breath and called the mother of the groom to broach this change to the procession. Ugh.

My client answered on the second ring. “I was just about to call you. She’s impossible! The florist is also short on bouteniers for the parents of the couple can you take care of that?”

I was in the process of “taking care of it.” The number of times I’ve had to cover another vendor who didn’t cover their own obligations making their job mine is always a thorn in my side.

If you are a florist get it together and go over your order. Stop expecting everyone else especially me to CYA (cover YOUR ass) on wedding day.

I waited and listened to my client relive the entire rehearsal dinner fiasco. “I’m the mother of the groom. I’m writing the checks and even offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner and I’m not invited? What the hell is wrong with her? She’s writing checks her mouth can’t cover. This wedding is going to be stressful for me you know my mother is in the hospital. Wendy what can we do to soothe these ruffled feathers? I’m not in the habit of handing my credit card to someone and then being told I can’t attend a dinner to celebrate my son.”

Whoo the treacherous landscape of the life event business. Clients, chaos and a literal circus without the midway or the corn dogs.

Someone is always feeling slighted. Someone else is acting arrogant. Still someone else is feeling taken advantage of.

I often hear Cindy humming her big top theme music whether she’s sitting next to me or not.

My twin sisters famous quote “close the tent this circus has too many clowns” rang in my ears with the circus music fading away in the background. No rides. No corn dogs but plenty of suspense.

I checked my Corum watch to view the “countdown.” Two hours and counting. Damnit. The bride would be in hair and makeup. The groom would be killing time taking calls. Giving directions to the venue. Probably having a quick drink with the groomsmen.

I finally respond and explain why I called to my client aka the mother of the groom offended by the consistent arrogant behavior of the bride throughout the planning process.

“The bride wants to change the procession for the wedding. She’s decided that she wants you seated prior to the procession. I’m really sorry as you know to have to relate this rather odd request and don’t know how you wish for me to relay your response or what can be done to meet in the middle. Because you are my actual client though I’m going to suggest speaking to your son who is most likely unaware of this possible change of plans.”

I often calculate or guess who might be the “best candidate” for a buffer to work with in times of conflict.

On the one hand I have a mother slighted. On the other hand I have a bride acting like a Bridezilla. In the middle I have a groom trying to make his mother and his bride happy.

The groom holds a unique position of being able to put out this fire. However, it will be I who “broach this subject” rather than his mother in order to remove the possibility of chili stirring outside of the immediate problem.

I’m certain the groom has heard plenty already from all sides regarding that rehearsal dinner gone wrong.

I’ve encountered Groomzillas before but I’m lucky this morning. This groom is mild mannered and knows exactly what he’s dealing with.

His parents are divorced making his position even more stressful. His mother and father don’t want to be anywhere near each other.

The father of the groom isn’t paying for anything the mother of the groom is. She holds a position of power, custody and control and she knows it. She’s graceful about it but she’s writing the checks and anyone unaware of this fact is quickly enlightened by my client. She’s self assured. No nonsense. She wants everything perfect and she’s happy to pay for it.

She also offers to call her son for me but I quickly brush off the idea. I need her focused on relaxing and getting ready. I also don’t want an argument between the mother and son hours before a wedding. I will handle this myself with kid gloves.

“I will call your son in just a few minutes. I’m at Tom Thumb covering the florist so give me a few minutes. You go focus on getting beautiful and I will see you at the venue.”

I needed those minutes. Going into a wedding day knowing the possibility of a blow up exists isn’t for the faint hearted.

I’m reminded of the father of the bride in California who was offended about the pizza party rehearsal dinner. He wasn’t paying for anything but he sure was complaining about everything. “This is a cheap out on so and so’s part. It’s embarrassing. Pizza and no alcohol either. Do something. Tell them how unhappy I am about this.”

Umm hmm. First I was going to give this father of the bride a few options since he was so embarrassed. Stay tuned ya all because what he was expecting me to do and what I did were wholly and entirely surprising.

“I understand your frustration. As a planner and officiant, I often find myself in the middle of conflict. I’ve got a great idea though and it’s for you to offer to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner which would also give you the opportunity to change the location. Where would you like to have the dinner? I will advise the wedding party of the location change.”

Tennis. It’s always shocking when you hit that ball right back into someone else’s court.

“I don’t have any plans to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner. That’s the grooms families responsibility not mine.”

Sure you don’t. What you want is to complain and shame the other family who are on a limited budget and try to force them to pay for something they can’t afford. Sit down and shut up. The rehearsal dinner went on at the pizza parlor and everyone except the father of the bride had a great time. The salad bar was amazing too.

Yet another father of the bride in Dallas managed to get under my skin a few years ago. That event was crazy too. The mother and father were divorced. There was also a stepmother and godmother. Everyone wanted their “own wedding without so and so involved.” Four weddings for one couple? On a timeline and frustrated about this outrageous demand, I came up with the solution to limit this chaotic craziness on location to the father. “You want me to perform the same ceremony four times? Aren’t you and the stepmother married? That would be three ceremonies. First for the mother. Second for you and your wife. Third for the godmother. My fee for three ceremonies is $$$.

Tennis. It’s a game I play nearly everyday although not on a court. My game is with people.

“I wasn’t planning to pay you for three ceremonies. I was planning to pay you for one. I just don’t want to be around my idiotic ex wife or her former best friend aka the godmother.”

The number of times people tell me what they want but aren’t willing to pay for would astound you. It always astounds me.

“I’ve got a solution. If your wife is willing to pay for one ceremony and you are willing to pay for another, I will ask the godmother how important a third ceremony is to her. Your guests weren’t planning to sit through three ceremonies. It’s August and it’s hot. Let’s consider their needs.”

The godmother and mother agreed to “share a ceremony.” The father begrudgingly took the second ceremony after a coin flip to be in the first ceremony.

I called my groom leaving Tom Thumb to “broach the ceremony details.” As usual, whenever I’ve talked to him he was good natured and “aware of the situation.”

“What can we do to make my mom feel special and included?” Well, there are a number of things but what was important to her was to walk with her son. “I know you haven’t considered this before and may be able to communicate it to the bride for me but one day you will have children. One day your mother will be a grandmother. One day this day will be in the past but not forgotten. I’m going to suggest speaking to your bride and advising her of the marriage investment your mother put into this day because her parents couldn’t afford to. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees but everything your bride wanted has been addressed by your mother. She deserves to share this day with you. She earned it.”

I gave him a few minutes to ponder my thoughts on what was just and fair. He was in a precarious position of being the man in the middle. It’s not an easy position. It’s a position my son had years ago and it’s stressful. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time but you can be rational on wedding day. You can be respectful and you can be thankful for those who contributed to the expense of your wedding.

“Ms Wendy you’re right. I know that __ has been a bit tough to deal with throughout this process and I thought that once the wedding was over she would settle down but maybe I should talk to her and tell her it’s important to me.” Good plan.

The wedding went off without a hitch and the bride had an eye opening enlightenment regarding her new mother in law being an ally rather than an enemy vying for the attention of her new beau. One day she will be a mother and her parents who bothered to show up at the wedding but didn’t bother to do anything else will probably show up at the birth of her child but her new mother in law will be involved. Excited. Shopping for her new grandchild and an active part of its life.

Why parents push the person their children are marrying away I have no idea. Marriage is a merger. It merges families. It blends people who may not blend well.

I’m glad we were scheduled so early today as I head to my next “socially distant ceremony.” I’m happy that things worked out and I had time to enjoy my coffee while sitting in the parking lot watching guests take selfies and wait their turn to congratulate my couple.

“When KINDNESS is CONSISTENT it becomes CONSTANT.” Cindy Daniel

Socially distant weddings are so odd to me. I miss being in a room crammed with guests and family. I miss the party environment. The celebration. The precious moments.

What I also miss the most are my prison weddings. I can’t wait for visitation to reopen. There are no arguments over rehearsal dinners or the procession. There are no issues of entitlement. There are amazing people who are thrilled to be getting married and thankful for the opportunity…

Love, Life, Loss And The Power Of Patience. Clerks Office Closures & Chaos..

Yesterday my Ferguson Unit bride contacted me regarding buying her license. The Unit had finally sent the Absentee Affidavit and Inmate ID but she lives in another state and many Texas clerks are either closed altogether or requiring an appointment to purchase a marriage license.

Dallas county is no longer taking appointments and is closed until further notice.

Walker county is only booking appointments with residents living in the county.

Tarrant county is taking appointments but they are booked two weeks out towards the end of the month.

The Absentee Affidavit has a 30 day shelf life once notarized. Often 8-10 days have passed by the time my clients receive this vital document from the Unit.

Because many of my clients are having trouble finding anywhere to buy a marriage license, the possibility of having to send a second Absentee Affidavit exists.

Normally, law libraries at prisons (state or federal) are hesitant to notarize a second Affidavit for an inmate but these are extraordinary times. I’ve spoke to nearly 100 Units to advise law libraries that many of my clients are unable to find a clerks office to buy a marriage license in order to give them a heads up that a flood of second I60 Affidavit notary requests are not only a possibility but most likely a probability.

Don’t worry ya all the law libraries are aware of your struggle to find a county clerk open within the short shelf life of the state issued absentee affidavit.

Many people as shocked and disheartened at learning after finally obtaining the paperwork they waited months to receive that they can’t find a clerk to sell them a marriage license.

In a sense this new trend of no clerks available is deja vu for me. How so? I’ve encountered my clients having problems getting marriage licenses before. In June 2015 to be precise. Oh my the summer of 2015 was a carnival of chaos! Due entirely to opinionated clerks refusing to issue a marriage license to same sex couples? Yes.

The problems lasted for months in Texas. There wasn’t a pandemic. There was something equally extraordinary going on. The Supreme Court ruling granting same sex couples the right to marry. This decision occurred on June 26, 2015.

What happened next in Texas would surprise my excited couples running to the courthouse.

Couples who had never expected to have the right to marry.

Couples who were celebratory in their anticipation of dashing off to the clerks office to buy a marriage license.

Couples who then contacted me when no one would issue them a license at a clerks office. The first call shocked me. The second call infuriated me but the calls kept coming and I effectively saddled up to drive and meet clients here, there and everywhere to walk into the courthouse with them. They were too intimidated to walk in alone.

The news of others being turned away caused further anxiety for them. “Please Ms Wendy we need you to come with us.” In Parker County my clients called crying and said “we will never get married they nearly threw us out of the clerks office.” I orchestrated a picket in Parker County. My clients Kat and Tiffany were the first same sex couple to be issued a marriage license. But it wasn’t easy. It was a hurdle that took days to overcome.

Yes, I’ve seen problems getting a marriage license before and firsthand.

Many of my clients the summer of 2015 had me calling clerks across Texas to see who would issue a license. Others wanted me to go with them. Still others chose for me to marry them in Oklahoma or Arkansas. They gave up on getting a license in Texas.

My team and I saddled up and drove to Oklahoma so many times that the “Welcome to Texas” or “Welcome to Oklahoma” signs were like a revolving door for our suvs running here or there.

It was a trying time in Texas. The controversy went on for months.

I was all over Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas that summer of 2015. Covering every base.

In 2017, I would (yet again) encounter opinionated clerks. THIS time for different reasons. This time because they didn’t believe inmates should have the right to marry. Especially LBGT inmates. Heaven help us. Texas clerks who forgot their job description included issuing marriage licenses?

People who had been hired to issue marriage licenses for a living that refused to do their job.

Opinionated county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses based on religious reasons? AGAIN? I was as shocked as my clients.

Tarrant County was by far the nicest clerks office I have ever encountered in Texas and still is.

Tarrant County is also accepting from other counties which is why they are backlogged.

If you are a booked client and your marriage license expires waiting for a date, I will reimburse you reimburse you 1/2 the cost of your marriage license but this offer is ONLY VALID for previously booked clients as a courtesy.

Yesterday I was also interviewed by a journalist in California apparently following my blogs and social media who “found me on LinkedIn.” Was I lost? Lol. Media people always “find me on LinkedIn.”

It’s a running joke with Cindy and I. Cindy “how did they find us?” Wendy “apparently they were looking on LinkedIn.” We both laugh.

This journalist was initially only interested in my balcony elopement ceremonies at my home due to restrictions of group gatherings.

Love will find a way and for clients canceled by the venue, it did right in my front yard.

After discussing the challenges this virus has brought to my clients marrying an inmate in the many states that Cindy and I service, the interview switched over to “why and how I became a prison officiant in Texas?” Oh brother here we go again… I’m so controversial or so a few people think.

I had been marrying people in jails and federal facilities for many years in other states long before I began officiating in Texas state prisons.

Why? No one had asked me to officiate in a TDCJ facility until April 2017.

In three years now I’ve officiated several hundred Texas Department Of Criminal Justice weddings.

So many in fact that nearly my entire client base shifted to inmate weddings predominantly in Texas and California but also in 36 other states.

Other service area states only schedule inmate weddings 1 to 2 days per year. Mostly scheduling only occurs 1 day a year in many states which is why and how “we can cover so many states including Texas.”

Texas Units schedule EVERY inmate wedding at their facility two days a month.

Shocking as it may sound, I now regularly “turn down traditional bookings” unless the gig is at a venue that I’m on staff at such as Belltower Chapel.

For three years now, my client base has shifted to prison weddings which (not surprisingly) shocks anyone contacting me from media.

Don’t be shocked. I prefer inmate weddings. Why? Because there are no drunks at a detention center wedding that’s why. There is no drama. There are no divas. There are no guests.

When you’ve been planning and officiating events as long as I have you have seen drama. You have encountered drunks.

I’m picky about large Events and have been for years now. Why? Because I can be that’s why. I don’t have to work. I work because I enjoy the clients, the travel and the special moments I share with my clients.

My life is an adventure from one day right into the next. Retirement? How boring.

Cindy and I are born entrepreneurs. We created a people over profit based business to help anyone. Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures were merged in order to create a barter option, The Pawning Planners in 2015.

While other vendors laughed, we laughed all the way to the bank.

We helped rich people AND poor people along with any economic level in between. We opened a window to help low to middle income clients that had never existed.

Creative people are often laughed at until someone realizes they are successful.

In 2017, due to the demand for inmate weddings, we again rebranded and expanded Texas Twins Events to include inmate weddings in 38 states. Federal, ICE, Private, County or State operated.

“Entrepreneurs are people that will use any obstacle they encounter as a vehicle towards success.” Cindy Daniel

Now and then, someone noticing our success asks us to train them. This always takes me off guard a bit. I begin reading an email that starts with “I noticed you are the most sought after inmate officiant and decided I would like to start a business like yours. When can I call you to find out how?” Short answer? Don’t bother. I’m not hiring and my entire family work with me as inmate officiants. You will never be successful in the inmate officiant business without three critical components. What are they? Knowledge. Don’t ever walk into a Unit without being fully informed regarding policy and procedure. Educate yourself. Second you will need the clients to make your business successful. Third, you will be required to do far more than simply show up. You will need to assist your clients through a very lengthy paperwork process. Unless you can successfully do all of the above and support yourself financially in your quest to compete, you will fail. This role requires answering your phone 24/7. This role requires knowledge, passion and dedication. This role often requires answering 10-30 emails from the same client throughout the prison wedding planning process.

Traditionally, an officiant spends 30 minutes on site at a wedding and less than 2 hours preparing for the ceremony.

Inmate weddings involve travel. I can map out several Units on the same day and do on a regular basis. Are you ready to drive 2-4k miles a week? If you aren’t this isn’t the business for you.

“We don’t create competition that we don’t have.” We set out to be different from the start. Others laughed. Prison weddings? Where will they find the clients? Heads up we don’t they find us.

Bartering event services? Those twins are crazy. Yea, crazy like a fox. We have been flipping items for most of our lives. We are also experienced appraisers. If we can’t flip it we don’t take it in trade.

We also are capable of creating our own inventory and do including bouquets, bouteniers, veils and floral designs. We bring everything our clients need on wedding day. We own the inventory we loan.

Cindy and I were different from the beginning of Texas Twins Treasures by flipping refurbished items as early as 2003 with our first EBay account. We had to be creative! Why? Both of our husbands were unemployed.

Flipping items at Texas Twins Treasures literally saved our farms. We circled our wagons and figured it out. Cindy and I even sold our own furniture to pay the bills and replaced our homes with refurbished furniture items. We found flips then bartered the fabric then bartered the labor with a local upholsterer.

Cindy and I learned how to be creative. Why? We had no choice. We didn’t have parents to call for help. We had each other.

Poverty is a great teacher. You learn how to survive while learning to think outside the box. Cindy and I aren’t in the teaching industry. Sure if we had time we could be but we don’t. We have three businesses with a very diverse group of clients that warrant our attention.

Cindy and I are in the entrepreneurial industry. Experienced public speakers, problem solvers and selling geniuses. We’ve worked in sales for thirty years. We’ve also worked as brand ambassadors. People are either born to sell or they aren’t.

Cindy and I don’t just sell what other people sell. We sell what people want. Dedication, quality, transparency, honesty and integrity. You can build a business from the ground up. We did.

Cindy and I have built all of our businesses solely on happy clients referrals. Loyalty is important to us. We have never advertised or needed to.

“Without common sense your wealth today can become your poverty tomorrow.” Cindy Daniel

My candor often shocks media people contacting me now and then.

Perhaps they are unprepared for my transparency? Oh well that’s THEIR LUGGAGE and THEIR TRIP.

If you are contacting me for an interview, buckle up for transparency, honesty and candor. My life and my business are a wild mix. From an exclusive venue to a prison? You bet.

Any journalist contacting me is contacting me because they are either shocked we make our diversity work or surprised at our success.

Often, “media people” are equally taken back by our grit, drive, determination and ambition.

These Texas Twins are just as resilient as our clients. Our inmate wedding clients are warriors. They do it all and they do it on the outside alone. They are resilient, passionate and perseverant.

“If you don’t focus on your journey to success you will end up working for the person who did.” Cindy Daniel

Monday I was contacted by someone with the Dallas Morning News who had read my blog on Texas Twins Events regarding “Catfish Adoption Scams.”

Did I think at the time that the person contacting me was using me as bait to get to my client, Deanna? No. I thought someone contacting me because she wanted to give up her baby was a blessing.

After all, April 11 was and will always be a heartbreaking day for Deanna and Burt. It was the day they lost DeLilah at Harris Hospital. It was the day I baptized DeLilah.

Two days later I officiated Delilahs memorial.

Several months later, my niece and twin sister joined me at a photo shoot for the Villareal IVF fund.

Deanna needed family photos for her campaign. Months later Deanna learned she couldn’t conceive. Months later Deanna decided to try surrogacy. A year later, Deanna still had no success.

Fast forward November 2019. A message sent to my FB account by Lacey stated “I’m pregnant and I want to give my baby up for adoption.” It’s hard to surprise me.

FB hid this message from me until I was searching hidden messages last Tuesday and found it. No one was more shocked to see that message than I was.

But over the course of a few days, Lacey would show her true colors. Lacey never did speak to me on the phone. She always had an excuse. She would only correspond by text and messenger.

Lacey could have been a man for all I know. Here’s what I do know, Lacey wanted to get her claws on Deanna and used me to get to her.

Deanna would do anything for a baby and somehow some way Lacey knew it.

Each and every day I’m contacted by someone who is trying to accomplish this or do that and has no idea how. I’m accustomed to unique situations. I wasn’t familiar with the situation of someone like Lacey. I prefer transparency in all areas of my life.

I’m still reeling from Lacey and the drama that unfolded Easter Sunday. Deanna is too but we will both be far more cautious from this point forward.

If you missed the blog on Texas Twins Events, here’s my last eye opening blog post about Lacey and her for profit adoption scheme… Deception And Direct Deposit? Adoption Scam.

Back to county clerks chaos… Whether you find a clerk in time to obtain your marriage license or not, stay calm. We can send another Affidavit to the Unit.

For my county jail clients, it’s often easier to wait until the inmate is transferred. Why? Because currently no county inmates are being chained into the system. County Jails have no law library.

An Absentee Affidavit REQUIRES a notary.

If a County Jail won’t allow a mobile notary into their facility, you cannot obtain the Texas required Absentee Affidavit.

I’m off today to ship our latest addition to Texas Twins Treasures, logo designed face masks. We have sold out twice which is pretty surprising to Cindy.

Cindy and I are currently sold out of all Texas Twins Treasures logo detailed face masks and we will have new stock in two weeks.

Cindy and I will not be restocking Versace until mid May as Chanel and LV outsold the Versace masks hands down.

We sell what sells and apparently the Versace isn’t as popular. I don’t know why because I liked the Versace because it was different but apparently not everyone else did.

My twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna are models our latest additions to Texas Twins Treasures. Maryssa is a ham for selfies anyway so she’s having fun hamming it up for the camera.

Why did we go into the mask business? The possibility of all my service area states and State as well as Federal Units possibly requiring not only Cindy and I but also all of our clients to wear masks after the Coronavirus exists.

Walking into a prison after Covid-19 wearing a mask will be different but it’s safety first issue.

Unable to find masks for ourselves or our clients, Cindy and I decided to make our own.

Our success by offering designer masks has shocked a few of our competitors who didn’t think of it themselves or who wonder where we are getting our fabric.

Our fabric is straight out of my closet. From designer scarves, dresses, slacks and pants to bathing suits, I’ve been collecting designer logo clothing for some thirty plus years now and used what I had on hand to create these amazing one of a kind designs.

We do not sell fabric for our masks or refurbished furniture items in my Texas Twins Treasures storefront. Why? Because the average Joe has no idea how expensive quality fabric is for one and for two it wouldn’t be a Texas Twins Treasure if you could find it anywhere.

“Some people may get jealous when you find success because they are too lazy to look for it themselves.” Cindy Daniel

LOVE Is LIGHT To LIFT And HARD To HOLD. TDCJ Allred To TDCJ Cole To Winstar In A Blizzard…

Texas weather is highly unpredictable but for clients who have waited months to marry, getting to Allred Unit yesterday had my husband “volunteering” to spend the day with me to alleviate his fear of me freezing in a ditch. My husband has a wild imagination. Seriously. All of our suvs and trucks are AWD or 4WD. Matthew has never been to a Prison with me and didn’t know what to expect. I advised him to “get ready to meet the most amazing people in the world!” My clients are hilarious, passionate, independent and wonderful in every way. 

Leaving Fort Worth where there wasn’t any sleet or ice and headed towards the eye of the storm just outside Bridgeport, the roads were pretty sketchy and fairly deserted. Everyone was staying off the highways due to a travel alert except the Wortham’s and my clients as well as semi tractor drivers.

Matthew and I rolled into Iowa Park two hours prior to my four Unit Weddings starting at 12:30. Because we were so early I started texting my brides to see where they were. One of my clients was across the parking lot from us. Because we were both early and because the drive to Cole Unit from Allred was three hours, I suggested leaving the Unit to do bridal photos while waiting on my other clients. Rosalinda hopped out of her car and we had some fun pulling out a fur collar and her choice of bouquet while I found a coordinating tiara. Driving back into the Unit, Matthew returned his business calls and emails while I returned emails and answered phone calls. My other clients still weren’t on site at 12:24 so Rosalinda and I walked into the Unit together to check in. 

Walking into the Visitation Area, the Chaplain advised us her wedding would be no contact due to the G4 status of her fiancée. This was a crushing blow. But we cannot change an inmates status or the protocol of contact or no contact Weddings. 

After finishing her ceremony and signing the license, I asked the Chaplain if my other clients were on site. The Officer at entry said no. The Chaplain and I went over the paperwork for reschedules and one of the names I did not recognize as my client. This problem was discussed at length yesterday. If you HAVE NOT booked services and had your LO list my name on an I60, be aware that Allred will now require you to furnish the last 4 digits of my state issued DL. Why? Because you cannot find this information unless I provide it to you that’s why. The person’s who both had listed my name on an I60 and didn’t show up yesterday won’t be rescheduling with my other clients on February 19th either. You will both need to hire and retain my services as you should have done in the first place. The Unit goes through a lot of work to process these I60’s and I’m not going to officiate a ceremony for anyone who hasn’t hired me. 

Minutes prior to rescheduling Vallecia, the Duty Guard announces her arrival. The Chaplain escorted my client and I to the front as I waved goodbye to Rosalinda and said hello to Vallecia. We followed the Chaplain back into the Unit. Following her ceremony, the reschedules of my other clients have been moved to February 19th.

Matthew was enjoying 70’s rock and ready to roll to Bonham. We hit the Whataburger and drive through small towns named Jolly and Muenster before seeing Nocona known for western boots. We both notice nearly everything other than gas stations are closed driving through these quaint towns while the townpeople stay warm and dry at home in small town America. 

Arriving at Cole Unit I send a text to my 5:30 bride to let her know I’m on site. She’s excited and thrilled to get married. The groom is just as excited. Going over their vows and watching the love they feel for each other was heart warming. I borrow a pen from the officer to sign the license while visiting with the Chaplain about his newborn son. I meet such nice people at Units. The staff are always friendly. My clients are always fascinating too. The Harlequin costume raised a few eyebrows but my bride rocked it.Leaving the Unit, sleet is falling and I find the fascinator my twin sister made for our bride and a coordinating bouquet for her bridal photo shoot. She’s fun, happy and finally married. 

I met three amazing people at Allred and Cole yesterday. The clients who didn’t make it to their wedding get rolled back into my roster. 

Headed to Winstar, my husband tells me “you are right about having the best job in the world. Your clients are thankful for your help. You get to listen to music and take calls while going from one adventure to the next. I’ve had an amazing day with you and it isn’t over yet.”

Rolling into Winstar to check in and meet my client for a late night wedding, Matthew and I have two hours for a wonderful candlelit dinner and time to hit the slots for me and tables for him before I’m back officiating another wedding at Winstar…

In A Society That Has You Counting Money, Carbs And Steps, Be A Rebel And Count Your Blessings…

We are all fighting our own battles. Many of us want to be thinner. The majority of us want to be wealthier. For my inmate wedding clients though their wish is to be together. Separated by glass, isolated with loneliness, exhausted from long drives to the Unit and expensive phone calls it should be noted that loving an inmate requires tenacity, dedication, resilience, strength and stamina. Big journeys begin with small steps. The Prison wedding planning process is a series of steps. 

I have several clients on my books who will not have the luxury of a contact wedding. It’s something neither they or I can control. Why? An inmates status warrants contact or non contact ceremonies. The glass is a permanent fixture for “lifers.” It’s also present for a G4 or G5 inmate in Texas. The glass can be broken on the base or edges from the fist of an inmate who became angry. Such cracks or marks bother me. I always wonder why or how someone became angry at a person that drove miles to a visit? Usually, I’m bothered to such an extent that I ask the officer to move the inmate to another cube. If the glass is dirty, I also request a move. It’s a wedding and I want everything as close to perfect as I can get it ESPECIALLY if the ceremony is non contact.

The phone won’t work or the inmate cannot hear me? A request to move. Correctional Officers are always helpful and pleasant to me because I’m respectful to them. No one likes the glass. We accept the things we cannot change.

Contact weddings are structured. Two closed mouth kisses. Hand holding. A brief embrace.

The variations of contact or non contact are the ability to touch. Non contact ceremonies are bittersweet. There is no kiss to seal the deal regardless of what state or Unit I happen to be at.

I was driving from Huntsville to Livingston Tuesday when someone from a production company called me. This isn’t unusual. Not knowing anything about my beliefs and compassion regarding my clients? Also not unusual. 

People “find me on the internet.” Whether they are reporters or production companies though the one thing they have in common is lack of research. You don’t know anything about me or my journey and yet you want to pitch me on a show concept or idea or interview me at YOUR convenience? How convenient. 

Last year, I was sent a message on Instagram during the height of wedding season by someone claiming to be casting a prison based show. This person was fairly demanding and assumed that doing his job for him at his convenience was “my luggage and my trip.” It wasn’t. 

I demanded a contract. The contract gave me everything I asked for. What? Stay tuned because this guy was a Charleton, a chameleon, a con artist and an opportunist. Chris and his phony contract were a first for me. I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was a teen. It’s tough to shock me. Chris did. He also didn’t sign this “contract.” 

Why was he playing me? Because trying to find people in a relationship with an inmate is difficult. They are a very private group. They don’t trust strangers and over the past few years, I’ve been contacted by Love After Lock Up to find people interested. 

Unlike Chris though, Love After Lock Up producers were not demanding of my time or leading me on with a carrot. I had asked my clients if they were interested and shared the producers information to them rather than vice versa. A few of my clients have even applied to Love After Lock Up. 

Chris wanted my clients and was attempting to use me as his gateway to get to them. He was willing to fabricate a phony contract to do so. My dislike of liars is well known. 

Chris thought he had found a hillbilly in Texas to do his job for him. At his convenience and at his demands. A contract giving me the moon and the stars he didn’t bother to sign? Check and double check. During my busiest window of the year, Chris wanted me to find him the talent he couldn’t find on his own. Humph. I’m not a paid talent scout. I’m also not a casting producer. What I am is a very busy person who works seven days and week and doesn’t have time for smoke and mirrors or bullshit. Chris was full of all of the above and consistently demanding. 

I wasted a week of my life last March answering his phone calls, texts, and emails. During the same window, I was scheduled to marry Mary Martin to Lester Butcher, orchestrate a camouflage themed wedding and 9 other events. 

The worst time for a casting producer or journalist to “hit me up” is “in season.” Chris and his unsigned contract became an email suggesting that if he cast any or one of my clients for his “show,” he would pay me $1k. Sure he wouldn’t. This email offer was sent to replace the previously emailed unsigned contract. More smoke and mirrors. I blew him off after a week of being told my clients weren’t pretty enough or interesting enough. 

Chris was picky. So picky in fact that his prison based show never came to fruition. Go figure. His promises of fame and fortune to my clients behind my back through Instagram messages are why I no longer tag anyone. 

The last thing my clients need are a carrot on a stick or false hope. I protect my clients from “industry people” attempting to use them, their story or their journey for their own tag lines or log lines. These people are already fragile. These people are like my children and need to be protected from anyone “leading them on with promises of fame and fortune.”

Casting producers are always looking for “the talent.” It’s their job not mine. My job is to protect my clients. 

At about the same time last year that I was contacted by Chris, Elena Lindemans contacted me. Unlike Chris, Elena was straightforward and honest. I met Elena in Houston a few months ago with Cindy. Her project is far more interesting to me. Why? Because she’s passionate about sharing love stories of pen pals and women married or planning to marry an inmate. 

A few months ago, Jannette with the BBC contacted me. Cindy and I Skyped with her regarding a show concept. We discussed frankenbiting and creative editing. We discussed why protecting our clients and their journey is important to us. I also discussed the fact that a large percentage of our clients are LBGT and asked about whether documenting my diverse client base would involve clients from not only inmate bookings but also bartering bookings and traditional bookings? Why? Because stateside production companies think our diversity is “controversial.” To whom?

Cindy and I liked Jannette off the bat as we did Elena. Honesty and candor go a long way with me. 

Everyone is looking for a story. A pitch. A concept. Aside from Elena and Janet as well as investigative journalist, Ella who spent the day traveling to Units with Cindy and I a few months ago, finding anyone willing to accurately describe ourselves, our clients and our determination to make Dream Events a reality for anyone isn’t easy or cut and dry.

For our clients being contacted by a “producer” or “director,” we encourage you to ask questions before sending photos or sharing your story. Protect your heart and know that there are people who will pitch you who are credible but there are others who may tell you what you want to hear while leading you along with a carrot. Know the difference. Don’t believe everything you hear ladies and gentlemen because Chris was the first person I’ve ever encountered who was willing to send me an unsigned contract and believed I was dumb enough not to question it. Chris underestimated me. 

I’m more than a little familiar with both contracts and liars who will use anyone to get what they want. Ask who has the green light? Which network? If someone tells you they are casting a show, don’t take their word for it. 

Protect yourself from wolves in sheep’s clothing because I can assure you that not everyone contacting you or even me are “casting a show.” Many of them are pitching a concept that may never get picked up and are wasting your time. Chris wasted mine…

Passion Is The Plow That Pushes Dreams Into Reality…Prisons, People & Places.

The holidays are “that time of the year” when holiday parties can bring out a few unexpected conversations after one too many. Loose lips sink ships. I never drink too much or have the desire to do so. There isn’t anything glamorous or funny about people who cannot handle their liquor. A glass of wine occasionally or one vodka martini on a bad day are my limit. I rarely drink even one drink on location but occasionally have based on the situation. Certain clients insist I share a celebratory cocktail or highball and I oblige. 

Corporate Christmas parties always bring the chaos. Why? Free flowing alcohol. Whether I’m working the event or a guest at my husbands Christmas gathering for work, there’s always that one employee who “wants to know more” about the person sitting next to them. Or, there’s at least one person who should have stopped at two drinks. A combination of both always proves for an enlightening conversation. 

I was recently at a corporate Christmas party where I was asked “what do I do?” The person seated next to me was talkative and entertaining but my answer sent her into a laughing fit.

This question about “what I do” comes up frequently. It’s changed from “where do you work?” 

Describing what I do to people who either have an opinion regarding inmate marriage or are unaware that inmate marriage exists can get a few less than tactful responses from the person asking me. 

My usual answer? “I own several businesses and work as a coordinator, Officiant and also barter event services as well as perform prison weddings in numerous states.” The last part is always surprising to the person asking if they don’t follow me on social media or read my blogs. My statement is either met with shocked silence or in this weeks scenario, a laugh from the person asking me an intrusive question such as “what do I do?” A better question would be “what don’t you do?” 

Not caring what others think about what I do or who I do it with is the most liberating gift that I have ever given myself. Let’s get started with “how I got here.” Years ago, I was successful in high end sales, print and commercial modeling and promotions. Years ago, my life was spent on the set, the sales floor or traveling. Years ago, I was always working and spending little time with my family. Years ago, I was working for the man to pay my bills. Years ago, someone laughing at my profession would bother me. It doesn’t anymore. 

I don’t care what others think about my job or my clients. I have the time to spend with my family that my jobs took from me for all of those years. I work for myself. I set my own schedule. I’m highly sought after in the events industry and I regularly turn down gigs with “traditional clients.” Why? Because I don’t HAVE to work. I haven’t HAD TO WORK in many years. 

I’m often “recognized” as is my twin sister. “I saw you on TV.” Or, “I saw you in an ad for Cadillac.” Or, “weren’t you in those commercials for Whataburger with Mel Tillis?” The answer is yes, I’ve been in the film industry since I was a teen. 

I’ve been a promotional model for thirty years and I’ve filmed five commercials with Mel Tillis. For the record, my favorite burger isn’t from Whataburger. It’s from Kincaids. I’m nothing if not blatantly honest. 

How did I get from Whataburger commercials to high end sales and promotional modeling? Good question. I began modeling in my 20’s to obtain an upscale wardrobe I couldn’t afford to buy. I then used my wardrobe to become a high end sales person. You’ve got to “look the part” and, I did. During the week back then, I worked a wide variety of weird jobs but on weekends I was a model for numerous brands. I preferred to get clothing rather than a paycheck. 

Modeling for clothes? It was a barter and a great deal for me. I have closets full of designer clothing and none of it was bought. In fact, my son modeled with me for Stripling & Cox a number of years and was the best dresssed kid in Fort Worth. Those mommy and me style shows kept my son in school clothes year after year. Those years on the catwalk at country clubs provided me an amazing wardrobe of clothing, furs and jewelry. The experience also taught me that I could sell anything. “How did Cadillac come into the picture?” Buckle up kids… during my second divorce my ex husband sold my car. I needed a vehicle, insurance and income. I became a Cadillac salesperson. 

To generate clients I hired a photographer and paid for print ads targeting consumers who could afford Cadillacs at the very same country clubs I had walked the catwalk at. True story. 

Experience is a great teacher. I knew where the money was and where to market. The county club had the clients who could afford Cadillac products.

Moving into an industry I had no experience at? Why not? Selling myself as a high end salesperson was easy. I knew that luxury car dealerships provided demos. I needed a car, health insurance and income. I decided to pitch myself at a local dealership. 

After all, I had sold furs, jewelry, designer clothing and even solar panels. How hard could it be to flip luxury cars? I’ve never sold anything I wouldn’t buy and I would have bought a Cadillac if I could have afforded one so I was all set to start selling. 

I decorated my office off the showroom floor and studied my manuals. I passed my GM certification courses. I also spent time wondering how to generate new clients.

Finding a client base took creativity but I did. Cadillac gave me everything I needed. I had a free demo, gas, health insurance and an income. I decided to run ads featuring myself with a different car every month at country clubs. I was investing in myself. It takes money to make money. I needed the “right clients” and found them. What I did had never been done before by a salesperson in the car industry. I was a pioneer. 

My ex was shocked at how I went from nothing to something. My ex was also one of the many country club members viewing my ads month after month. Smiling back at him from those glossy brochures making more money than I ever imagined? Absolutely. 

That smile was real folks. I wasn’t a hangar anymore hawking or flipping for clothes. My game literally stepped up for those Cadillac ads. Coordinating evening gowns? You bet from my years as a model. I have closets of options. 

In the ad below I decided to wear a chocolate gown rather than match the car. Who didn’t want an XLR? What a great car the XLR was! I loved them. I could sell anything I believed in and did.Poverty is a great teacher. If you don’t learn you will never earn. Successful people don’t start out successful unless they are lucky. I have never been lucky but I have always been resilient. Trial and error are essential to success.

I’m a survivor. I also think outside the box. Other salesmen laughed at my ads. I laughed all the way to the bank. 

I left Cadillac on top. I retired from car sales. I left laughing and moved on to my next adventure. Years of car sales, classy demos and fantastic paychecks was a wild ride but I was ready to move on. Everyone knows I’m an identical twin. This isn’t a news flash. My twin sister has been raising her twin granddaughters since birth. We are two sets of twins. 

While working for Cadillac, I even put my twin and twin grandnieces in one of my Cadillac ads for Escalades. “Got a big family? Get an Escalade!” 

I sold the $hit out of Escalades with that two sets of twins ad posted in the Ridglea and Colonial Country Club monthly brochures. The twins are now fifteen years old. 

My twin is my partner at Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures, The Pawning Planners and TDCJ Officiant.When I decided to start Texas Twins Events, Cindy and the Twins joined me on location at events and clients hired the twin as flower girls, ring bearers and ushers. This was a surprise. Taking our kids to work became a family affair.

For tips or flips, the twins loved being in weddings. They now book as princess characters for birthday parties. Within a week of going LIVE with Texas Twins Events, production companies started contacting me. This was shocking because my goal wasn’t to get famous. We filmed a Pilot for The Pawning Planners in 2015. It went with the smallest minority of our actual bookings though and our focus was helping others not filming. We don’t have any interest of fabricating our embellishing our journey or our clients.

My goal was to find a way to spend time with my family while making Events affordable to our clients. Any client. Any event. Any location. 

We welcomed diversity. Narrow minded people had opinions. Those “opinions” were THEIR luggage and THEIR trip. “What percentage of your clients are LBGT?” This idiotic question along with others used to bother me. Why? Because the person asking wasn’t supportive of my client base. 

I was the first openly LBGT friendly vendor. While everyone else was hiding their affiliation with LBGT clients fearful of backlash, I was openly LBGT friendly. All of my businesses are LBGT friendly.My first prison client all of those years ago came to me because I welcomed diversity. She had seen me on a news interview regarding support of the LBGT community. She knew I was open minded and she was right. My first Prison wedding was to help a person no one else wanted to help. 

The CW33 interview was aired on numerous stations. Cindy and were in Dallas when I was hijacked by a reporter for that interview. Two sets of twins caught his attention. The fact that we weren’t LBGT was why he stuck a microphone in my face and said “roll it.” 

Even members of my family voiced their disdain for our client bases over the years and effectively cut themselves from my life. I didn’t care about opinions. 

Those family members didn’t lift a finger when Cindy and I were homeless at 15. We had no one but each other to lean on and did. Those “family members” never once helped my sister or I. We had each other and a new family. Our clients became that family.

Prison weddings evolved from a creative request for services. I perform up to 20 prison weddings per month. 

I prefer prison weddings. There aren’t any divas or drama. There is love. There is resilience. There are happy endings. There is life after lock up. My clients are amazing!

“Why did you and Cindy go to the expense to create your own inventory of photo props? Why do you do photo shoots with clients?” Prison photos aren’t always great and guests in Texas aren’t allowed. 

Photo shoots bring the fun, the flowers, the tiaras, the family and magical moments. I’ve spent thousands on my inventory but it’s worth every penny to clients because my SUVs are treasure troves of fun stuff. 

I became the person I wanted to meet. I became the mother I never had. My twin sister and I continue to change the wedding and events industry one family or barter at a time from Fort Worth, Texas. We love our clients and our role to make their Dream Event a reality. Many of you recently saw us on the Mel Robbins show regarding “over sharing.” We are driven and passionate. What was cut from that interview and effectively missed was my explanation of why I was excited a new baby was coming though Cindy already had a full house and was raising her twin granddaughters when a call from her oldest daughter planning to come home pregnant on a one way ticket came in.

Cindy was excited to have another baby coming and posted the update on FB. Cindy offering to take her daughter in with a baby on the way gives you far more insight on how we had decided that with “two of us we could handle anything.” We do everything together including raising our children and grandchildren.

Little Maddy rode with us to Units and jumped into client photos for three years and nearly four before her father returned to the states. Leigh Ann, Maddy and Alex are now reunited in California. We miss Maddy and FaceTime  daily. We are flying to see them in a few weeks while working destination weddings in California. 

Our little Maddy is a ray of sunshine. Leigh Ann is homesick and excited about our twin trip to visit. We are honest and open. We don’t care what others think. Their opinions or negativity don’t enrich our lives. They have “limits” to what they think is controversial or acceptable. 

I was told a few years ago by a production company “what you do is just too controversial.” Really? They contacted me. I’m not going to change who I am or what I do to fit it someone’s mold of what they think I should be or do. My clients are more important than the opinions of strangers.

What Cindy and I have is each other and a desire to change the way people perceive our clients and their relationships. What we have accomplished is giving our clients the event they wanted with the kindness, compassion and attention that they deserved… 

Wonderful Surprises And Happily Ever Afters…Life Events & The Endurance Of Love…

A few years ago, I married Trishelle at Michael Unit. A few months ago, Trishelle sent me a text that her husband was finally coming home. Their life after lock up as a family would finally begin. I love happy endings.

Trishelle’s mother and best friends had joined her in the drive to Tennessee Colony and because guests weren’t allowed inside the Unit, they waited with Cindy while Trishelle drove me in her car to Michael Unit. My very first maximum security prison wedding. The razor wire looked like it had been encrusted with diamonds in the sun. The guard towers and the size of the Unit were intimidating. Michael Unit has a reputation of being Texas Tough Prison. 

Looking at it through the passenger window, I was thankful that Trishelle was driving. Why? Because I was nervous. I felt intimidated. I had been at Sanders Estes Unit a minimum security Unit and assumed that other Units would be equal to it. I was wrong. Michael is massive and back then it was also intimidating to me. I mustered up the courage to tell Trishelle “I’m a bit terrified.” Trishelle laughed and said “Miss Wendy, I’m here every weekend and I know the drill. You’re with me and you will be fine.” My anxiety and claustrophobic tendencies were running high but I trusted Trishelle and her experience so… in we went. 

Taking off our shoes, belts and jewelry, we carefully put them into the containers to screen in. After a pat down, we handed our ID’s to the correctional officer at the desk and awaited our escort to the visitation area. Walking through the yard, I couldn’t help but look back at that razor wire. 

Entering the visitation area, our groom was escorted out. Vending machine trash was around the area so I moved my couple away from it to the center of the room. Trishelle was wearing a tee shirt that read Mrs Fontenot. She would change into her wedding dress later at her photo shoot with me. 

She was excited and happy and I was far more comfortable once I knew what to expect. Hearing door after door “clank” behind us, I didn’t know it then but it would take several units for me to stop jumping when I heard the clanking. We bought the photos of my newly married couple taken by a correctional officer at the Unit.The couple couple shared a brief kiss and we were escorted out of the Unit. There are no special visits at weddings. We are escorted in and escorted out within 25 minutes. 

Walking back to the parking area, I was relieved and thankful to have had Trishelle by my side throughout my first visit to a maximum security Unit. 

Driving back to meet Trishelle’s mom and friends as well as Cindy, we headed to do her bridal photos and change into her wedding dress. Cindy and I had packed bouquets and an suv of fun items for photos.Seeing Trishelle and her mom as well as Trishelle’s husband again yesterday was truly a delight and happy ending to an amazing journey. 

Lisa had contacted me to marry her to her ex husband 33 years after divorcing him. Love ALWAYS finds a way. I was honored and thrilled to share this Life Event and see Trishelle again too. I had packed a long veil that Lisa wore and brought several bouquets for her to choose from. My twin sister, Cindy handled the photos and we had a wonderful time celebrating the endurance of love and the joy of a happy family reunited… 

Affairs Of The Heart Harris Hospital To Estelle Unit Huntsville, Texas…

Juggling the past few months has been hectic. My worry and concern about my sister has preoccupied my mind and robbed me of sleep. 

Since flying to NY in August, my twin sister has struggled with pain in her chest but, her “EKG’s were normal.” Because of this and while waiting on a referral to a cardiologist from our PCP, we would both learn that a normal EKG and chest pain are not normal. We would learn in a nick of time to save Cindy from a heart attack. 

Maria had contacted me regarding marrying Erin at Estelle Unit a few months ago. Maria and Erin are both deaf. This meant my only form of communicating with her was by text. Normally my clients call, email and text but text only was how Maria and I managed her Prison wedding planning process. 

In the middle of the Prison wedding planning process, we would also learn that Erin was CLM which prevented approval to marry. Undoing this CLM status would take several weeks. 

Widespread misuse of Common Law Marriage Affidavits within TDCJ are common. How common? Thirty percent of my clients encounter the “sticky CLM issue” in the midst of the confusing process of planning to marry an inmate. How do they find out? The I60 Request For Marriage is denied based on the inmate being listed as CLM to someone other than the person attempting to marry them. 

To start the unraveling, I sent two Dissolution agreements to Maria. One for Erin and the other for the other party to the CLM status. Luckily, she was willing to sign it. Maria had given me her number and I called to explain the situation to her myself. 

Finally gaining a date to marry at Estelle, it was a sleep deprived week for me altogether. Friday morning, Cindy and I had a Skype interview with the BBC regarding a show concept. This isn’t unusual. In fact I’m contacted by reporters and production companies on a regular basis. Cindy and I have intentionally waited to sign contract for awhile now. Why? Because finding the right production company to share our unique journey isn’t easy. The BBC won’t embellish or frankenbite or fabricate our clients or ourselves which is why they have our interest. 

Cindy struggling with chest pain had me considering a reschedule but, we have never rescheduled with a production company in all these years and Cindy refused to consider a reschedule promising to go straight to the hospital immediately with me instead and following through with the Skype call. The call lasted nearly two hours. How my twin managed to be funny and entertaining I have no idea. 

We left the office and went to Harris Willow Park. As usual for the past 3 months, her EKG was normal. I insisted on more tests this time. I was sick of being told she was normal and watching her pop nitro pills like candy. Those pills are key here so stay tuned. 

At our PCP (yes, we have the same PCP, GYN and dentist as well as eye doctors), I fought to get a prescription for those nitro pills. Due to that normal EKG, the doctor didn’t want to prescribe them. 

After researching nitroglycerin pills though, I wasn’t leaving without them. They would prevent Cindy from having a massive coronary last week. Because she had them, she took them. If she hadn’t had them, at any time during four days of travel, she would have easily suffered a heart attack. 

Monday we were dealing with Stephaney again. This most likely caused the stress to Cindy. Her daughter consistently sucker punches us with her consistent relapses. Tuesday while at the PCP, Cindy’s daughter called stranded in Oklahoma after getting off the bus we had put her on to treatment hours earlier. The pain would only get worse. 

By Wednesday, I was begging Cindy to go to the hospital. The pain was so intense that she couldn’t sleep. Instead, Cindy rode with me to Goree Unit then on to Gib Lewis. 

Thursday, I again begged Cindy to go to the ER. My son and I headed to Jordan Unit to meet two brides. Cindy continued to believe nothing was wrong due to the normal EKG’s and being released over and over with chest pain. I was determined to get her into the hospital by Friday. 

Friday morning after wrapping the Skype call and bracing for yet another “normal EKG,” the additional tests I demanded showed inconsistencies. An ambulance transported Cindy while I picked up the twins from school. A stress test Saturday morning was canceled. Cindy’s heart wasn’t up to the test. The cardiologist wanted to do an angioplasty immediately but because Cindy was returned to her room and served breakfast, the surgery was moved to Monday. 

Throughout the weekend, I literally bounced from the hospital to Events to home to the hospital to Events to home. Acting normal with little or no sleep  and hiding my fear from my sister my family and even myself was no easy task. 

I handled paperwork from my sisters bedside. I took client calls and emails as I watched her. I checked in with my husband watching the twins. I sent my son to feed Cindy’s cats. I called the workers who had been paid to paint Cindy’s house and hadn’t returned all week. I called Cindy’s husband from NY to Colorado to Nevada to California. Steve finally arrived in Texas Tuesday morning.

Steve and I went to visit Cindy and I left Harris Heart Tower headed to Estelle Unit in Huntsville. I drove alone. I thought how driven I had become to find answers. I wondered why I had accepted that normal EKG? Why Cindy had? Why we didn’t ask more questions? I thanked God for arguing about the nitro and winning the argument. We had saved her. We found the answers and the solution but it took far longer than it should have.

Arriving at Estelle, I text Maria. She walks towards me smiling. I can’t text. I must leave my phone. We screen in. We wait for Erin. I loan her my ring for Unit photos. She is finally married. Cindy is finally going home. 

Anything worth having is worth fighting for. My sisters health or Maria’s ability to marry didn’t have clear cut paths but, I’ve never given up easily. Love will find a way. Maria’s Friend is also deaf. I’m going to help her marry at Estelle. Cindy is home resting and like me thankful. We are forever in debt to the amazing staff at Harris.

Love Is An Action Not An Idea. TDCJ Goree Unit to Gib Lewis To Jordan Unit. Travels Of A Prison Wedding Officiant…

Monday was a mess due entirely to dealing with my niece, Stephaney. Worrying about my niece is a full time job and the primary cause of all the stress in my life. 

For my twin sister, the stress of her daughter and her consistent shenanigans has caused not only stress but also high blood pressure and hypertension. 

I wouldn’t realize until Friday that the stress my niece brings to our lives would affect my sister to such an extent that she is currently awaiting heart surgery at Harris Methodist Hospital. 

We had a very full week and Monday as well as Tuesday had Cindy and I slammed busy dealing with her daughter Stephaney AGAIN. Stephaney would ruin both days for our schedules (as usual) and by Wednesday I was driving to several cities with Cindy complaining of chest pain yet refusing to go to the ER. Watching my sister pop nitro pills like candy my fear mounted day after day this week. The nitro wasn’t helping. 

Friday morning at 10:30AM, we had a Skype conference with the BBC and ITV. I suggested a reschedule. Cindy wouldn’t even consider a reschedule. “We have never rescheduled in our lives and this won’t take 20-40 minutes.” The call took over 2 hours. With incredible chest pain, my twin sister laughed her way through those 2 hours with the determination of a skilled actor. No one knew she was in extreme pain. Cindy and I have work ethics that surprise everyone. 

In Los Angeles, I walked into a pitch meeting with my production company with a broken foot. I had tripped getting to my rental and knew it was broke when I heard the snap. Cindy looked and me and said “we have an hour to be on here and then we will run to the hospital. Suck it up and smile buddy.” I did. No one knew my swelling foot was bothering me. A pitch meeting lasting two hours as opposed to the twenty minutes our production company expected left me limping out of Lifetime. The ER cut my shoe off hours later. Cindy and I both have a high pain tolerance so when my sister complains about pain know she is in pain.

Friday after the Skype call, we went immediately to the hospital. An hour later, Cindy was admitted to the hospital. Cindy’s EKG was normal but her enzymes high. More tests were ordered. Her heart surgery is scheduled Monday morning. 

Life with an addict in it causes more stress than people realize. You never stop wondering if the next phone call is more bad news when you have a loved one with a drug problem. Late night phone calls scare Cindy and I both.

Tuesday, Stephaney had walked away from the very same bus that Cindy and I had put her on from Dallas to Muskogee at 6:30AM. A bus that should have gotten a break from Stephaney that didn’t. 

Within 2.5 hours though, Stephaney would yet again upset our schedules and our lives with her consistent ability to focus all of our attention on her needs. Her emergencies and how nothing is ever her fault. Sigh. 

By Tuesday afternoon, after yet another “Stephaney situation” phone call of her claiming the bus had left her at a McDonalds in Oklahoma, Cindy and I were forced to drive several hours to Oklahoma then go find Stephaney and drive her to the to Oklahoma treatment center ourselves. Naturally, the treatment facility for severL hours from where Stephaney has left the bus and decided to relax while we drive to find her before she wandered off yet again.

My life has never been easy. Cindy’s hasn’t either. The number of times I’ve prayed, screamed and begged my niece to straighten up would astound you. 

Consistently trying to force Stephaney to choose her family rather than drugs is a twisted merry go round of torture for the few people who still care about my niece. Who are those few people? My sister and I. Everyone else has given up. 

By midnight Tuesday after hours of driving through Oklahoma, Cindy and I finally rolled into my driveway thankful that we didn’t have to worry about yet another phone call from Stephaney for at least  a few hours and get some sleep.

Stephaney is going to find her usual complaints of course as she always does. If we can keep her in this program, it’s worth the money to get 6 months of peace in Texas with Stephaney in Oklahoma. 

I still kick myself everyday for keeping my niece out of prison five years ago in Oklahoma. Maybe if I had let do hard time I could have spared Cindy and I as well as her twin daughters the past three years? Maybe if I hadn’t believed her when she said she would never do drugs again in Oklahoma and convinced me into getting her a plea deal and paying court ordered rehab she might have a life and a future right now after doing a few years in prison?  I can assure you that I won’t try to save Stephaney from prison by throwing thousands of dollars to defend her again. 

Having Stephaney where we know she can’t find drugs is and has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to accomplish. I understand now why people give up on addicts. It’s taken me years but I understand why people just give up. They just can’t take it anymore. Who can blame them? Addicts pull you in every direction mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. How did our mothers mother manage our heroin addicted mother? I will never know. I do know that grandma Tinney survived our mothers addiction forty years. I do know that my grandmother died far too young. Stress kills you.

Wednesday morning after getting approximately 2 hours of sleep, Cindy and I headed to Huntsville. We were exhausted from dealing with Cindy’s daughter, Stephaney Monday and Tuesday. 

Stephaney and her antics consistently rob of us of any degree of joy. Work is our salvation. Our escape. Our reward. We shake off our stress of Stephaney and focus on our clients instead. 

The pain and loss of having an addict in your family will never be understood by others unless of course they’ve been pulled through the dust storm of their loved ones choices themselves. 

The worry, frustration and anger don’t go away. Years later, Stephaney and her choices have also affected her twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna (like Cindy and I) will never understand why drugs were more important to their mom than they themselves were. 

Cindy and I will never understand or accept our mother’s choices either. We can’t. I hate addiction and what family members addiction issues has brought to our lives. I hate that my twin sisters health has been affected by trying over and over to rehabilitate Stephaney. I hate that my own efforts have failed too. Addicts shouldn’t be allowed to have children.

Getting Stephaney into treatment in Oklahoma after she walked out of treatment in Fort Worth was as stressful as you might imagine. In Dallas, a man was lying in the street near the bus station. I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. It was 3AM in the morning. I told Cindy “call 911.” Stephaney said “who cares about him? I only care about my family.” 

As usual, I lost my composure at this ridiculously stupid statement. “Your mom is having chest pains. Your children won’t talk to you. Your sister wants nothing to do with you. Our husbands are sick of watching us try to save you. A man is lying in the street and you don’t care? Jesus, Stephaney, I wish you could find compassion, understanding or comprehension regarding why we are in Dallas at 3AM in the morning hellbent on getting you to Oklahoma. I have at least 10-12 hours of driving twice this week. For God’s sakes get on this bus and get your shit together. We NEED a break from you. You are killing our family. Do not get off that bus until Muskogee. I do not want another phone call from you until you are back in treatment. The counselors will meet you at the station.” 

Stephaney (as usual) would find a way to screw up our Tuesday. Wednesday we were on a twofer unit day from Goree to Lewis and Thursday I had two brides at Jordan Unit in Pampas, Texas. It would be another week of driving 1500-2000 miles for me this week. 

Arriving at TDCJ Goree Unit, the chaplain met me in the parking lot. There was a CLM issue and my clients wedding would need to be rescheduled. Not surprisingly, she would be devastated. The chaplain and I walked to her car together leaving my sister in my suv. Genekia had her sister with her in her suv. I spoke with her and tried to assure her that we would work through this issue together with the inmate and the law library. 

The warden and chaplain returned to Genekia’s car and the warden granted her a contact visit. This is rare and remarkable. For Genekia it was also a gift of generosity. 

You will hear me say this often because it’s true “prison weddings are rainbows in the dark.” More importantly, without the assistance of TDCJ personnel there would be far more hurdles to overcome as Goree had moved Genekia to 10AM and Gib Lewis had moved my other client to 2PM in order to accommodate my drive time between Units.

After a 15 minute contact visit, the chaplain escorted Genekia and I back to the gate. Because she had her sister with her and was dressed for wedding day, I suggested leaving the Unit and taking a few photos nearby before heading on to Lewis Unit.While on the side of the road unloading my inventory, a car stopped with a couple who offered to allow us to use their home for photos. This WAS unusual. I followed them in my suv with Cindy while Genekia and her sister followed us. My timeline was tight but within range to get to Lewis Unit. 

The location was actually perfect. My bride and her sister loved the trees and pond and we captured a few fun pics before I thanked our new friend and drove on to Lewis Unit.Arriving at Gib Lewis Unit at 1:30PM, I sent a text to my 2PM client to let her know we were on site.

Gib Lewis Unit is located in a beautiful wooded area. My excited bride and I entered together.The couple had both written their own heartfelt and memorable vows. Leaving the Unit, I found an area for a few bridal photos.Headed back to Fort Worth, Cindy and I are equally tired now. Cindy’s in pain that she thinks is angina. I’m very concerned. My son is staying at Cindy’s house caring for Maryssa and Makenna. We are hours from home.

Thursday morning at 6AM, my son and I leave for a five hour and fifteen minute drive to Pampas to meet my 1 o’clock bride at her hotel and drive her to Jordan Unit.

It’s 39 degrees outside so we take photos in the hotel then check in with my 2PM bride as we head to the Unit.

All three of us walk in together. The Unit has stacked my clients closely together on the same day which is truly a gift due to my travel time to Jordan Unit. The warden was so nice and accommodating that he even moved my 2PM bride to 1:30 so we weren’t left waiting. 

I want to give a shout out to the wardens at Goree and Jordan as well as the Chaplain at Goree for their assistance this week. I cannot say enough good things about TDCJ staff and their amazing efforts to make prison weddings a reality for our clients. 

Leaving Jordan Unit, my son drove my bride and I while my other bride followed to a nearby restaurant where we celebrated over lunch with both of my clients before headed back to Fort Worth.