On The Inside Looking Out. Green Bay To Marlin To McClennan County To Mercado To Belltower To Omni…
I spend 3-5 days a week inside state and federal prisons as well as county jails, venues, military bases, backyards and other locations. I am the busiest Inmate Officiant in the United States. I’m also not limited to Texas. I’m licensed and certified to conduct inmate ceremonies in numerous states.
What I’m not is “available to anyone.” I’m picky. I regularly turn down “traditional requests.” Why? I can and if it isn’t fun for me I’m not interested. I’m on staff at numerous venues and for years now the only traditional clients I’ve had were booked from a venue I am on staff at or repeat bookings.
Frequently people “who found me on the internet” contact me. These people are neither prospects or interested in retaining services. These people are production companies, reporters or even others “who saw how successful I am and want me to teach them how to do what I’ve done or educate them regarding what I “do or who I do it for.”
I’m not in the education industry. I’m an entrepreneur and expert in the prison weddings industry. If you’d like me to educate you, hire me as a consultant. If you’d like me to create competition I don’t have move along.
I’m out of the demanding diva business. Instead, I focus on helping people who are thankful and appreciative. I can assure you none of my traditional clients send Christmas cards or check on my sister.
My clients marrying an inmate are honest, real, raw, passionate and down to earth. I prefer working with them. I prefer driving down the road listening to music on another adventure. I don’t prefer working with divas. Thanks anyway.
I don’t work for money anymore I work for fun. However, I’m not a volunteer and my time, experience and knowledge are valuable. I know my worth.
Standing inside a prison with my clients gazing at razor wire glistening like diamonds in the sun, I’m often on the inside looking out. Literally.
A few months ago, I married a client on the outside who had been inside for twenty years. Johnny had been to three TDCJ Units. I knew all three. I’ve been to them many times over the years. Johnny is a success story. He is an amazing husband and good friend too.
Johnny was beginning life after lock up. I met Johnny and Brenda and drove them to the clerks office to buy their license. My team and I loaned the flowers and set up their backyard for the wedding. On February 3rd I had first met David at the Tarrant County Clerks Office. He was nervous about buying the license. Most of my clients are.
Since I was filing licenses from my weekend of weddings, I told David to meet me at 9:30AM. David like all of my clients was excited and nervous.
The clerks office can be intimidating but Tarrant County is one of the friendliest clerks offices in Texas. The number of times I’ve met clients at Tarrant, Dallas and Parker County Clerks Office’s surprises people. But I’m by far more than “just an Officiant.” My role is that of an advisor, a hand holder, the mother of the bride and often in such cases as David, a mother figure walking him through a complicated process.
I get things done. I have a jam packed schedule and I’ve never advertised. Each and every ceremony is custom created for my clients. Their ceremonies are as special as they are.
I am detail oriented and OCD. I’m a list maker, task taker, pioneer and trailblazer. David like all of my clients had “heard about me.” My reputation is my calling card. He knew he could entrust me with the complicated process of getting him married and he was right.
This morning as I headed to Green Bay Unit for an 8:30AM wedding, I took a call from someone who had listed my name on paperwork at Allred but HAD NOT HIRED ME. For weeks now, phone calls from this someone who thinks I’m going to alter my schedule to accommodate her needs without following my booking procedures has been stressful. I don’t need stress in my life. I enjoy what I do and I don’t have to work. I certainly don’t work for anyone who hasn’t bothered to hire me.
I cannot stress this point enough.., if you haven’t hired me I will not be conducting your ceremony.
Due to the workload of a Unit often spending weeks to process the I60, Allred Unit will now call me to verify client status. I advised the caller today of my tight schedule and why attempting to schedule herself on February 19th at Allred wouldn’t work. I’ve had this discussion before with her regarding February 5th when she failed to hire me and also failed to show up. I don’t have time to play games with anyone. Pay me don’t play me.
My patience with this young lady as well as the Chaplains patience at Allred Unit have been with paper thin. I CANNOT and WILL NOT commit to anyone who has not committed to me. Arguing with her after learning she had called Allred and attempted to put herself on my schedule February 19th when I obviously don’t have time since I’m at Roach on the same day was an escapade in Futility. My schedule is tight.
On Wednesday after consistently telling the two people who used my name without hiring me to send money or stop contacting me, I posted the following update to enlighten anyone unaware that Cole to Allred or Allred to Roach or Cole to Hodge or Hodge to Ferguson are an all day affair of driving for me and why I will not commit to anyone who isn’t a booked client to clarify…
Attention TDCJ Allred Unit Clients, after a lengthy conversation with Chaplain Redwine and due to my schedule which often has me at other Units on the same day (Roach, Cole and Goree specifically), the Unit will NOW CALL ME rather than you to schedule. Why? Because a number of people have been using my name and credentials without hiring me to obtain a date at Allred Unit.
Each couple has 20 minutes. My schedule is TIGHT. I allow for 20 minutes per couple in each Unit. I must factor time inside the Unit as well as travel in order to address additional clients on the same day.
I can’t just “add someone” because I’m on site. That’s not fair to my existing clients and certainly won’t work with my schedule.
On February 19th I have a confirmed client and only one confirmed client at Allred. Why only one? Because this client was initially booked on 02-05 but didn’t have her marriage license so we rescheduled. After rescheduling at Allred, another client was Approved at Roach. Because of this and the distance between Units, I knew that I only had time for one wedding at Allred before heading to Roach.
Because I am also at Roach Unit on 02-19, I must leave Allred no later than 12:15PM in order to be at Roach by 2:30PM . Roach is 106 miles from Allred.
Adding another client at Allred would effectively add another 20 minute ceremony at Allred. Because of the timeline I have I’m not adding anyone else on February 19th onto my schedule. I know my limitations and know who I have on my roster at Allred. If you aren’t on my roster though you aren’t a booked client and will need to book services. You will roll to March too. I have zero flexibility for any other weddings on the 19th at Allred.
Since I have discussed this “time crunch” issue regarding several units on the same date at length with Chaplain Redwine, we are working together in order to make your Dream Event a reality at Allred Unit.
Timing is critical for me. I’m never late and I never rush my clients. Whether I’m moving from Cole to Allred or Allred to Roach or Hodge to Goree since all of these Units use Wednesday’s, my schedule is carefully planned and mapped out.
While Ferguson is also a Wednesday Unit, I rarely (if ever) schedule another Unit on a Ferguson Wednesday day. Why? Because Ferguson schedules at 1PM and after. Unless the other Unit is Goree, the possibility of moving from Allred, Cole or Roach to Ferguson on the same day isn’t even a remote possibility. Goree and Ferguson are close enough to be a possibility and schedule on Wednesday’s as well.
The distance from Cole to Ferguson is approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. The distance from Allred to Ferguson is approximately 4 hours and 22 minutes. The distance from Roach to Ferguson is approximately 5 hours and 43 minutes. The distance from Cole to Ferguson is approximately 3 hours and 19 minutes. The distance from Ferguson to Goree is approximately 30 minutes which makes a shift from Ferguson to Goree even possible on the same date.
I know the exact distance between Units because I have to. While it’s possible to move from Tennessee Colony to Huntsville to Livingston, it’s not always possible to move from a Unit outside the distance of 2 hours to another Unit without careful planning.
Only once have I moved from Huntsville to Gatesville on the same day. Why? Because the distance is nearly 3 hours. I prefer Units be within 2 hours on the same day to give me some degree of flexibility. Moving from Allred to Cole or Cole to Allred or even Cole to Roach is far and beyond two hours which is why I would never book Allred, Cole and Roach on the same date. It’s humanly impossible.
Subsequently, I would never book Allred and Ferguson or Goree or even Hodge on the same date. The distance from Hodge to Allred is approximately 4 hours and 19 minutes.
I prefer to book Hodge when I’m scheduled at a Huntsville Unit. Why? Because I can easily move from Rusk to Huntsville. Approximate distance between Rusk and Huntsville? One hour and thirty nine minutes.
For a few years now in Texas, I’ve had Units and even people I’ve talked to that didn’t book services call me “about a date.” If someone or the Unit is calling me “about a date” and I don’t recognize the name, the person isn’t my client. This is a real problem and it continues to happen.
To correct this continuing issue of people listing me on I60’s without bothering to book me, Units are working with me to stop working on paperwork for a wedding that isn’t going to happen.
Last year, Hodge Unit called me “about a date with my client.” I didn’t have anyone on my books for Hodge and advised the Chaplain of this fact. The Chaplain at Hodge Unit gave me the contact information of this person and I called her. She had expected me to officiate her wedding without hiring me and was surprised to hear that “I wasn’t in any way obligated to drive 3 hours one way simply because she found my name on the internet.” After a phone call with her and carefully explaining why “I wouldn’t volunteer to drive 6 hours round trip at my own expense because she found my name on the internet and used it on the I60” I called the Unit and cancelled.
For anyone unaware of this, an Approved I60 with my name on it for someone who hasn’t hired me is a problem for them because I can cancel the wedding. Using my name and not bothering to book me doesn’t obligate me in any form to show up hours away. Why? Because I have booked clients that followed procedure expecting me on site at their wedding and if I’m not on site there won’t be a wedding.
If you aren’t my client, don’t expect me to drop everything and volunteer. I drive 1500-3k miles a week. I’m busy. I’m driving to meet clients who actually HIRED ME.
Further, I cannot and will not “move another client” who has followed my booking procedure and has been waiting for 1-3 months aside just because “someone else” who hasn’t followed booking procedures expects me to do so.
Don’t ASSUME my schedule or my availability. Don’t assume that you are more important than someone else. Everyone waits. If you are holding a contract and haven’t returned it, I can assure you that calling me about a date isn’t going to go well. I know exactly how many clients are on my books each and every month. Many roll over during the waiting process. Meaning that as well as roll over clients I have new clients each month.
At any given time I have up to 30 clients waiting on dates. I limit new bookings in order to be available. I never overbook myself. This is to ensure my availability.
My priority is the booked client. My priority is getting to my next Unit in time. My priority is keeping my promises. I ALWAYS KEEP MY PROMISES.
What my priority isn’t is accommodating someone or even several someone’s who were aware of my being on site at a Unit and expecting me to simply “add them into my schedule as a courtesy.”This isn’t how my booking procedure or my schedule work.
Let’s review how and what create a client relationship one more time. 1. I mail you a contract. 2. The contract outlined the terms of the deal and requires a deposit. 3. When a client returns the contract we create a client file and return a receipt and signed contract to the client. If you are returning a contract without a deposit, the contract requires a deposit. Because this has occurred in the past I’m going to go over why we hold a contract and wait on the deposit prior to creating a client file, I cannot commit to someone who isn’t committing to me.
My contracts are very specific and require a booking deposit.
Expecting me to officiate your wedding simply because you are aware I will be on site is not only line jumping but also arrogant.
My booked clients and my schedule are my PRIORITIES.
If you are NOT ON MY BOOKS YOU ARE NOT ON MY SCHEDULE.
If you have not returned your contract AND your deposit, you are not a booked client and not my responsibility. I cannot be clearer about this.
I do not advertise. I do not book more clients than I can address and I regularly bump new inquiries for bookings to the following month in order to ensure availability for my existing clients.
Many TDCJ Units are now requiring the last 4 digits of my drivers license number to limit people pulling my name and then using my credentials to obtain a date for marriage at a Unit. This has to stop. It creates work for the Unit and surprise phone calls for me. I don’t like surprises and Units don’t either. Without an Approved Officiant on site there won’t be a wedding.
The paperwork on a Units end to process an I60 is time consuming. Because of this, processing paperwork for a wedding that isn’t obviously going to happen without an Officiant, Texas Units will now requesting information about me that isn’t listed anywhere on the internet or having me contact to confirm. If you are not my client, I will advise the Unit of this and “your date” will be cancelled.
While driving to meet my client at Ferguson Unit, one of the people who had listed me on the I60 at Allred but not bothered hiring me at Allred called me. Driving along I prepared to go over why and how rescheduling on the 19th weren’t going to work for her.
She has now had three weeks to actually book services and still hasn’t bothered to do so.
While she’s holding that contract though my schedule continues to book up with actual clients effectively bumping her opportunity to actually book services AND obtain a date with me.
Since this bride had been on the schedule 02-05 as Chaplain Redwine has added her knowing I had four other clients on the same day. Chaplain Allred was unaware I was also at Cole on the same day.
She had bothered to call Allred to cancel 02-05 but didn’t bother contacting me regarding this matter as she assumed my availability and somehow assumed she didn’t need to book services either.
I confirm bookings at Units. Why? Because my schedule requires planning that’s why. First, this bride doesn’t book or retain services THEN assumes she can reschedule her wedding and my schedule without retaining me? What the? Now you are catching on as to why obtaining your Officiant and services is and should be a priority. Without following procedure, I can assure you that no one else is going to officiate your ceremony either.
Frankly on 02-05 I had “timed to the second” my actual booked clients at Allred and the drive time necessary to get to the Unit along with icy roads.
The timing was critical as I had not only clients at Allred but also clients at Cole on 02-05. I could not be LATE to either Unit. I am NEVER late.
I advised her of all of the reasons that assuming she could just show up and I would have time to address her although she had made no commitment to me wouldn’t work on 02-05 OR on 02-19 AND she still hadn’t booked me EITHER.
On 03-04 I’m at Cole and Roach. I advised her that she would need to actually booked me for a secondary date in March and that 03-04 wasn’t an option either as I don’t have time for Cole, Allred and Roach on the same day. I’m being serious. Cole to Allred is 3 hours. Allred to Roach is 2 hours.
Pertaining to my actual clients at Allred, the arrival time at Allred is going to be changed after 02-16-2020 to 10:30 check in for 11AM ceremonies after 02-19-2020.
Outside of the McClennan County Jail waiting on my clients, Allred Non Client called me AGAIN. She had sent another text that read “Chaplain Dooley won’t believe me. You have to call him.” Why would I? She still hadn’t booked me and quite frankly I don’t want to be a nervous wreck adding another client at Allred on a really tight scheduling day.
I don’t have to do anything for someone who hasn’t hired me going behind my back and attempting to piggyback my tight schedule.
Because I had 41 text messages by the time I walked out of Marlin today, I had my Apple play app read text messages as I drove towards Waco. It’s easier to talk text and drive and safer.
Persistently pesky non client continues to disrupt my day again today. What she didn’t do was send money. I had ignored her latest text. Why? Because at 10:44AM this morning I had already told her to wire money. I meant it. Chaplain Redwine and Dooley are well aware she hasn’t hired me. How? I told them.
I would not call the Unit an add her onto my burdensome schedule UNTIL she paid my fee in full. By the time she left the text while I was in Marlin Unit, she had finally realized that she couldn’t simply add herself to my schedule. Yet she refuses to send money? She’s a waste of my time. I know it, The Unit knows it and I’m guessing she knows it too.
She has consistently refused to follow protocol. NOW she was texting me? On a 7 Client day? My contracts require payment in full SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO THE EVENT DATE.
Either you are serious about marrying an inmate or you aren’t but I can assure you that I’m not going to cut a booked clients event short or risk running late because someone who has consistently failed to follow my protocol assumes they are entitled. They aren’t.
You are either a booked client or you aren’t and if you aren’t, you are not on my schedule. PERIOD.
Due to the consistent misuse of my credentials by people pulling my name off the internet, Units are now requiring me to contact and verify client status.
I’m leaving Mercado Event Center to head to Belltower Chapel before heading to Omni Hotel for a midnight wedding. I have another full weekend of events. What I don’t have is time to deal with people who cannot or will not follow my protocol. My time is valuable. I don’t waste time on people who aren’t worthy of my time or my attention…