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.