“SOME people WANT to TIE you DOWN, and EXPECT you, to PAY for the ROPE”
For over a year now, I’ve had surprise emails, texts and phone calls regarding “a date at a Unit for a wedding” with people who are trying to tie me down and expecting me to provide the rope. For “anyone out there” shocked about the blatant honesty of the “rope statement,” it should be noted that this isn’t my first rodeo.
“WE don’t have a date if you didn’t bother to check my schedule before argreeing to a date offered to you by the Unit Chaplain.”
Scheduling of Texas Prison Weddings generally occurs 10-14 days prior to the event. Nearly ALL Texas Units use Tuesday and Thursday as their primary dates. Whether it’s the first and fourth Thursday or second and third Tuesday, you should realize that over 100 Units in Texas use the same or similar dates.
Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are prime time booking dates. PLEASE contact me to validate availability before emailing or texting me “WE have a date.”
You were given a date and you assumed my availability. There is a difference. There is also a possibility that I’m already scheduled hours away at ANOTHER UNIT ON THE SAME DAY. Communication is key and subsequently essential to my schedule.
When Cindy and I started Texas Twins Events, our goal was to give others the Dream Event that Cindy and I had never had. We wanted to create affordable options and we have.
We have NEVER ADVERTISED. EVER. Our businesses were built on dedication and referrals from happy clients.
Texas Twins Events was the FIRST people over profit based endeavor in the events industry. My idea to help the people no one else in this industry wanted to help have a Dream Event was based entirely on personal experience. How so? Neither Cindy or I could afford the flowers, cakes, vendors and other “fun stuff” for our own weddings years ago. My Officiant charged $450 for the wedding ceremony alone. Fees for Officiants should be affordable.
Cindy and I both knew that affordable options were non existent. We also set out to change that. Not everyone has parents to foot the bill and we didn’t either. We became the people we had never met in an industry where prior to Texas Twins Events, the “Average Joe” had previously been forced to marry at the JP due entirely to lack of finances.
After starting Texas Twins Events, the Average Joe called the Texas Twins instead.
We helped anyone. We welcomed anyone and we did it at prices people could afford. There’s a reason for our success in the event business and the reason is that NOT EVERYONE has tens of thousands of dollars to throw at a Life Event.
The majority of consumers live paycheck to paycheck. Many don’t even own a credit card. A few folks coming to us had no money at all. How could we help anyone? Even folks with no money? The Texas Twins yet again found a solution.
Six years ago, Cindy and I merged Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to CREATE a barter option, The Pawning Planners. AGAIN, this was a FIRST.
Cindy and I are PIONEERS in the events industry. “We had effectively created a window than no one else in this industry realized existed. Cindy and I came from poverty. We knew we weren’t alone. We recognized that others had limited incomes. We fought to find a solution for them that we never found for ourselves when planning our own weddings years ago. We pitched our tents and welcomed anyone from any background.”
I will never forget a production company executive in LA telling me “you girls are great! You have huge personalities and I love the Prison wedding angle BUT no one is really interested in helping poor people and prison weddings are controversial.”
Hmm. Controversial. He called us. He then told us that our journey, our clients and our story weren’t “jazzy enough.” Save the fabricated storylines and frankenbiting. We don’t NEED a show. Production companies contact us frequently and have for years. The problem? Their idea and our reality are completely different. Also, unless it’s a docureality format, we have no interest. Controversial? To who? Scripted “reality TV” is controversial and it’s also not real. A group of writers sitting around a table came up with characters and personalities and then found people willing to fit their mold. I can assure you that Cindy and I are not going to fit into anyone’s mold or fabricated concept. My twin is loud, unfiltered and hilarious. She is a comedian. I’m not. I’m quiet, reflective, and organized. We are Compensating Personality Twins. Two halves literally make a whole.
I’ve worked as a commercial and print actress but if you want me to act don’t expect me to read a script regarding my businesses or my life. There isn’t a script for a day in the life of the Texas Twins. People are unpredictable. We’ve met thousands of people over the years and can assure you that scripting their story would be impossible.
It is tough to surprise me anymore and yet it continues to happen from production companies. “Wendy I’m casting a prison based show and need to find the talent.” Wait. What? You want me to do your job for you?! “Wendy you and Cindy would be great for TV. We need you to do over the top events though.” Really? No thanks.
Did we realize that there were so many others out there seeking affordable options? No. But, we knew there had to be at least a few people. In fact, there were thousands. We are now national regarding inmate weddings.
Nearly three years ago, we AGAIN rebranded and expanded to offer Prison wedding services. No one including my husband or even my twin sister or even I could have guessed that inmate Officiant services would become our primary booking source?
Prison weddings NOW compromise 85-90% of all Texas Twins Events bookings in numerous states. Upon release, previous Prison wedding clients rebook Vow Renewal Ceremonies. Repeat bookings Wendy? Absolutely!
“Traditional” Event bookings literally became the minority rather than the majority of our bookings. We prefer real people. We prefer amazing love stories. We don’t need fluff or “over the top drama driven Divas.” THEY BELONG ON TV. Going nuts over minor details? Check. From bouncing checks to bawdy demands, if we never booked another “big event” Cindy and I wouldn’t miss it one bit. We have been there and done that for years with “affluent folks” who want it all but never want to pay for it. I turn down “traditional bookings and inquiries” on a regular basis. Daily, weekly, monthly. I no longer work as a planner for an Officiants pay either. Rich folks often “thought my entire staff came at the price of an Officiant fee.” Give me an Average Joe any day of the week! At least they are reasonable AND pay their fees. I’ve never had so much trouble getting paid as I have with “over the top” bookings. EVER. These clients are the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered. How so? I could go on and on here. After all, for years prior to prison weddings, someone would book for an Officiant then add on two photographers, set up and tear down and then balk when I issued a new contract AND a new bid. One “client” even handed my twin sister and apron to serve food? I can’t make this shit up. You don’t hire a singer and get a band. I turned my back to the choir of people contacting me and CHOSE to focus on the congregation of people who were worthy of working with instead. WHAT A RELIEF. Clients don’t interview Cindy and I anymore. We interview THEM.
Prison Wedding Scheduling has become incredibly complicated due to a number of people putting either my name, Leigh Ann’s name or Cindy’s name on Texas I60 Request for Inmate Marriage Forms WITHOUT retaining our services. This is a very real issue.
UNLESS you have followed our booking process YOU are NOT a client. I refuse to advertise in order to limit bookings because we are already juggling too many booked clients and addressing new inquiries on a daily basis.
I limit and cut off new bookings mid month every month to keep flexibility in Texas. Why? Because each Unit has only 2 days per month for a wedding ceremony available.
Last night while walking to my gate with Cindy to return to Texas from New York, a text from Gary regarding being scheduled on September 24th came through. I was already scheduled at Ellis on the same day.
I emailed Ellis Unit to move the date and accommodate Crain Unit and Gary at 2PM.
This morning, Gary sent another text that read “they’ve moved us up to September 10th @2PM.” What the?
ALARMED– I sent a text back that read “I am at 3 Units in Tennessee Colony on September 10th and confirmed these weddings with the Unit! I CANNOT MOVE CONFIRMED DATES. Tennessee Colony is three hours from Gatesville. I cannot be in Tennessee Colony and Gatesville at the same time.
Gary sent a text that read “well that’s the date the Chaplain gave.” I called Crain. The inmate had moved the date NOT the Chaplain. I advised the Chaplain that I was already scheduled at Tennessee Colony Units and had been for weeks. Therefore, I could not and would not be at Crain when I was on schedule at Beto and Michael.
Attention TDCJ Clients… The I60 leaves the law library to inmate records. It then leaves inmate records to Huntsville. It then leaves Huntsville to the Unit Warden. It then leaves the Warden to the Chaplain to schedule. You MUST contact me to check availability on the dates. No exceptions!
I then called Gary again to advise him that the inmate and not the Chaplain had moved the date AND I’m going to use this example with Gary to educate anyone else assuming they know my schedule that they don’t.
Without a TDCJ Approved Officiant on site- I can assure you that your wedding WILL NOT take place.
If an inmate isn’t having my client contact me FIRST to check my SCHEDULE you have CHOICES. First, I will refund you and wish you well if you want or expect me to cancel an EXISTING and confirmed date in order to accommodate your own.
Secondly, if you have not paid your deposit, your date will not be confirmed. If I am unavailable because you assumed that you “knew my schedule better than I do,” you will need to file a new I60 with Cindy as your Officiant. I cannot be in two places AT THE SAME time.
Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Clients PLEASE CONTACT ME PRIOR to choosing a date. I cannot stress this enough. Get THREE POSSIBLE DATES then call me to check availability.
I’m juggling up to 20 Texas clients each and every month. Texas unlike my other states only has 2 available days for each unit each month. Many of these dates are the same dates as other units.
Whether it’s every other Tuesday or Thursday which are primary booking dates or another day of the week, I can assure you that I will not move a confirmed date at ANY UNIT to accommodate you because you failed to check your day with me first.
If Cindy and I are BOTH BOOKED at existing Units in Texas and unavailable, Leigh Ann can fly to Texas for your TDCJ wedding but be advised that booking with Leigh Ann will incur additional travel fees.
STOP CONTACTING me saying “we have a date” without validating the date with me first. I hate surprises.
If you fail to contact me and check availability of or if you listed my name on an I60 without bothering to follow booking procedures, I will be forced to contact the Unit myself and cancel the date if you haven’t followed my REQUIREMENT for booking procedures and paid your deposit.
If you are a booked client and HAVE followed my REQUIRED booking procedures, the date that “you assumed that I had available in Texas on my books” MAY or MAY NOT be available on my calendar. ASK before agreeing to a date. If you don’t run a date by me first, you are running the risk of a forced reschedule. You are doing so at your own risk. Call me. Text me. Email me. Whatever you do communicate with me.
We can easily alleviate scheduling conflicts by CONTACTING ME FIRST. GET MORE THAN ONE DATE OPTION and if you aren’t a booked client, STOP using my name and credentials to obtain a date behind my back and assume I will show up. I won’t.
What I will do though is contact the Unit and explain why and how you were Approved by pulling my name off the internet. Nearly ALL TDCJ Units NOW REQUIRE verification from me due to the consistent misuse of my credentials from strangers who are NOT clients pulling my name off the internet.
“We are different. We are passionate. We are dedicated. People forget words and remember actions. We are versatile. We are open minded. We are also remembered for our dedication.”
Today’s blog will outline why I insist on my booking policies being followed. I live on timelines and deadlines. Cindy does too? A free day? We haven’t had one in years.
I assume a great deal of risk each and every time I leave my location. I could be in a car accident, my windshield could be broken, my car could break down in the middle of nowhere. If I’m taking on all of the responsibilities of getting to your Unit, you must be taking on the responsibility of booking me first.
Who goes to Walmart and leaves with bags without paying? You don’t fill up your tank without paying for gas. No one in the Prison wedding industry drives 10-18 hours a day to provide a service without compensation. If there is an Approved, Certified or Accredited “volunteer” Prison Officiant out there, I’m wholly and entirely unaware of them.
The Unit Chaplain cannot and will not conduct a ceremony in Texas or many other states. Obtaining an Officiant is a requirement for your Prison wedding.
Last week, I reviewed yet another email that ludicrously stated “I just need you to conduct my ceremony. It won’t take more than 30 minutes.” Let’s review this. The Unit is hours from my location. HOURS. I cannot snap my fingers and arrive on site. I spend $1000 every 9 months on tires alone.
I don’t risk a flat or blow out on the road. My vehicle is an investment. Without it, I obviously cannot be where I need to be. I don’t skimp on necessary components of my job description.
The time “inside a Unit” is entirely up in the air. We don’t rush the Unit. We wait. We could wait up to 3 hours at ONE UNIT and I have. “Thirty minutes” minimizes what is required of me to such great lengths that each and every time I see this statement, I am shocked that anyone assumes that what I do “only requires thirty minutes.”
From having my vehicle serviced to loading my car to getting my affairs at home in order or consulting with other clients, time is the only thing in my entire life that I have far too little of. I can’t buy time. I must use my time wisely.
Certain people must stop confusing ignorance with righteousness. Let’s review righteousness for people unaware of the term. I’m honest, I’m dedicated, I’m reliable. In this industry, experience, reliability, honesty and integrity don’t come free. If I’m dropping everything in my life to accommodate your needs, I expect you to put some skin in the game. I.E. Pay your deposit. Sign your contract.
Certain individuals are shaking my tree without being willing to eat the fruit that falls. Arrogance speaks without forethought.
If you are assuming that you are more important than my other clients who have adhered to my booking requirements, without retaining my services, you aren’t my first priority.
My booked clients are and always will be my first priority. Don’t assume that I have free time on my schedule. I don’t.
Character becomes questionable when certain individuals expect others to accommodate their needs rather than those who were already standing in line when they happened to stroll up or contact me.
Cindy, my twin sister creates iconic quotes for Pawning Planners Apparel on a daily basis. These quotes are based on real life situations.
“Don’t expect to cherry pick a withered branch from a barren tree. People’s generosity eventually runs out. Gratitude is the difference between appreciation and a sense of entitlement.”
Now, let’s address production companies….if you are contacting me or my twin sister for casting, “we don’t hand over our paychecks to people who didn’t earn the income.” Don’t expect us to do your job for you.
Also, investigative journalists and casting producers wishing to disrupt my day and address your needs, your sense of urgency is YOUR luggage and not OUR trip. We are busy addressing OUR CLIENTS NEEDS. “Even baggage handlers expect a tip.”
I am paid consultant with GLG. From marketing to consumer merchandise to luxury cars and even warranties, I get paid to share my knowledge with industry leaders.
People constantly ask me “how did you come up with this idea and make it work without ever advertising? Tell me how I can do what you did.” Hmm, hey buddy, why would create competition that doesn’t exist? Answer? I won’t and don’t.
BUY OUR book. It’s going to be chock full of surprises, twists, drama, real life people, stories and adventures. No one could fabricate a journey like ours in a million years.
“We had an idea. A concept to create a business to help people no one else would. Others thought we were crazy. No one cared enough to help low to middle income families have a Life Event. What we wanted and strived be to do for others had never been done before. Effectively, we took coal and squeezed into a diamond. We became the people we had never met. Along the way, we met amazing families. We had inspiring adventures and the time to spend together that our former careers had taken from us. Our success is literally an amazing story.”
Truth beats the shit out of scripted “faux reality” any day of the week. Our story is genuine, riveting and real. But no one told us how to succeed. Most people laughed. We do the laughing now.
If you aren’t passionate, driven and determined I can assure you that you don’t have the stamina to be me. Cindy and I make a helluva team. We are scrappy and resourceful but most of all– we HAVE NEVER BEEN LAZY. Lazy people might get lucky now and then but luck doesn’t last. Perseverance does.
I am also an expert in the wedding industry and the most knowledgeable Prison wedding Officiant you will ever encounter. I know Prison policy and procedure within each and every state I conduct ceremonies within. No, I didn’t “wake up one” day with this knowledge. Instead, I educated myself and continue to educate myself at my own expense. If you need something from me, get your checkbook out. My time isn’t free. I get paid to talk and people listen. I don’t get paid to listen to people pitching me. Networks do. Go pitch them. Schedule a meeting.
“We just need to talk to you about an idea or concept.” We are BUSY. Email and schedule your Skype or conference call at OUR CONVENIENCE. “Don’t EXPECT me to EDUCATE you, WITH my EXPERTISE, without PAYING the TUITION.”
“If you want the honey from the hive, don’t complain about the stings that come with it. Getting what you want is painful. WITHOUT RISK, DEDICATION AND PASSION, you will never begin and without perseverance you will never finish.”