TDCJ Officiant Wendy Wortham- People, Places & Prisons…
It’s nearly 1AM and I’m still working. I’ve never been able to shut my mind off and sleep easily. Running between two hospitals for my new grandson and my grandniece for the past ten days hasn’t helped my ability to rest.
My structured pattern of going to sleep at 10PM and up at 5AM is out of whack.
People ask me why I work so much? After all, I’ve never advertised nor needed to. I could easily have retired years ago and chose not to. But, work is something I have always been good at. Perhaps better at than anything else in my life. I enjoy working now although for most of my life I was forced to work two jobs to pay the bills. I haven’t had to work two jobs for twenty years now. I don’t miss worrying every second about every penny. It’s odd not to worry about money anymore even twenty years later.
My husband is a real estate developer and president at his business. He shuts off his job duties Mon-Fri at exactly 5PM. He also has trouble sleeping worrying about numerous developments and where they are in the building process.
The one problem I don’t have in my life is money. The main problem I do have is time. Work and family as well as being a problem fixer are and can be stressful.
Mapping out my schedule for the next two weeks and answering 58 emails from today as my husband sleeps, answering questions from states two hours behind or an hour ahead of “Texas Time” rolls on into the wee hours.
For thousands of people who follow my blogs, my posts and my pages, my transparency often shocks them. I tell it like it is and all of my social media is public.
There are those who disagree with LBGT Marriage or inmate marriage that take time out of their day to voice their concerns to me while there are others who have heard about me and want me and only me to officiate their ceremony.
My reputation was and is built on honesty, integrity and transparency.
I don’t care what people who aren’t bound to me by blood, business or friendship think about my clients. My clients don’t care either.
Flying back from Galveston this evening, I was reviewing DM’s on my page and answering someone wishing to marry at Green Bay Unit.
Because I’m often contacted about county jails that don’t have a law library, we will review why a mobile notary may be a necessary expense.
If your LO is incarcerated at a county jail and you don’t have a marriage license in Texas, you need a certified birth certificate and an Absentee Affidavit.
The Absentee Affidavit must be notarized. Because there isn’t a law library at a county jail, you will need a mobile notary.
If you know your LO is going to be going away, I strongly suggest purchasing a marriage license prior to him going into the system or waiting until they are transferred into TDCJ.
Why? Because prisons have law libraries and notaries. Tarrant County Jail will not allow a notary without an attorney. Green Bay will.
If your LO is taken to Tarrant County, the odds are they will be moved to Green Bay. Wait until they are moved or buy that license before they go in. It’s going to save you time, trouble and the expense of a mobile notary.
Why won’t I become a mobile notary? I don’t have time. I’m asked this over and over again and the last thing I need is another commitment. I am on staff at several venues and own several businesses. I work 7 days a week as it is and the last thing I need is one more thing on my plate.
You can easily find mobile notaries online. You CANNOT easily find someone who is willing to go into a jail and notarize an absentee affidavit.
Why? Who knows I don’t understand it myself.
There is one mobile notary I often refer for Fort Worth and another for Dallas. Both are rather expensive but experienced with the process.
Hiring someone who doesn’t know what the Hell they are doing CAN and WILL cost you MORE money.
You need someone who is familiar with the county jail. I wouldn’t refer a Dallas notary to go to Fort Worth and I wouldn’t recommend a Fort Worth notary to go to Dallas. Why? Because travel is expensive and because both notaries have their own areas they prefer to work. I’m not in any shape, form or fashion affiliated with either of these two guys and quite frankly think their fees are exorbitant.
BUT, if you aren’t willing to wait for your LO to go into TDCJ or FBOP, your choices are limited. There are only two notaries that I know of who have successfully obtained the Absentee Affidavits in Dallas and Fort Worth.
Let’s say you “found someone cheaper.” The notary you found also screwed up the affidavit and now you have to hire someone else.
For four years now, I’ve sent anyone needing a notary for a county jail to the same two notaries. No one has had to hire someone else to go back in and do it over either. EXPERIENCE MATTERS.
Now, let’s say you don’t have a photo ID for yourself. Do you have a passport? If you don’t, you aren’t going to get into a jail, FBOP, ICE or TDCJ Unit. You will need to obtain a state issued photo ID before you do anything else.
You will also need to be an approved visitor.
You will also need to follow guidelines for the facility we will be walking into.
The continued arguments of “I live in Louisiana so why can’t I buy my marriage license here” scenarios aren’t helping you or me. You are traveling to Texas. TDCJ Units want a Texas Marriage License.
When I travel to my other service area states, I can assure you that other facilities want a marriage license from THEIR state too.
While it’s true that an out of state marriage license is valid in other states, let’s remember that state and federal facilities govern their own protocol pertaining to their Unit.
A Warden makes the decision as to whether to accept an out of state license or not.
I’m a rule follower. I like order. I enjoy routine. I don’t bend rules or break them and expect my clients to abide by the same principles I do when inside any facility whether it’s county, state or federal.
Your behavior is a reflection of me since I’m representing you.
The clothing question continues to pop up. Remember that visitation guidelines apply to wedding day. Please stay within the boundaries you know exist.
Don’t “stretch” the clothing protocol. No client has ever “happily accepted a cafeteria smock handed to them on wedding day.”
I warn you for valid reasons. I warn you to protect you. My role is to make your day as seamless and close to perfect as it can be.
Regarding inquiries for other states, my travel itinerary is currently booked 5 months out and you will be added to the list on my next trip to your state.
I do not travel to other states that don’t border Texas on a monthly basis. I travel for more than 5 clients in one state and effectively “stack clients” in travel states that require flight which is why my waiting list exists.
I cut off new bookings until March 10th to ensure my availability for currently booked clients in Texas last week.
I am not taking on new bookings until March 11th. Why? Because I have 32 clients in Texas awaiting dates at Units. I limit new bookings to ensure my availability.
Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas clients, please allow 10-21 days for your marriage license to be returned to you.
This “hold up” is from the county clerks offices being slow to process your license. I file licenses within 24-48 hours of each and every wedding via priority mail or in person.
The hold up isn’t on my end I can assure you.
Please Please Please VERIFY your address when buying your license. Why? Because IF you are calling me because you haven’t received it I can assure you that the odds of it being lost from the clerk to you ARE RARE. The issue is 99.9% of the time the address you provided when purchasing your license.
I track each and every license. I know exactly when they are recorded.
What I cannot do is track the clerk mailing the license after recording it to you because… 1. They use snail mail and 2. If you’ve provided an inaccurate address, it will be returned to the clerk and 3. You will call me because you didn’t receive it. 4. I will investigate and find out what’s going on and resolve the issue.
I will check my records and determine exactly when the clerk received your license then call the clerk with the exact date they received the license. The clerk will tell me when they mailed it. I will ask if it’s been returned. They will check. If it hasn’t further research is warranted.
If this “window” of a missing license is beyond 12-21 days, we have a problem and “the problem” in all of my years of officiating weddings is almost always due to a bad address on the license.
In over 2k weddings I’ve only ever had the clerk in Tarrant and Dallas counties lose TWO marriage licenses.
In Tarrant County last week I purchased a certified copy and mailed it to my client from January who never received the original.
In Dallas county two months ago, I had my clients meet me and purchase a duplicate I signed on site.
The odds of any clerks in any states losing your license are so rare that the fact that Tarrant and Dallas are the only clerks offices EVER in my history as an officiant that have not received the license back. This is highly unusual, irregular and concerning.
What’s going on in Dallas and Tarrant County with the mail?
Generally, the license will be returned to the clerk. A few weeks ago my Estelle client called me to tell me she hadn’t received her license.
The first question I ask any client prior to taking a license with me to file in person or via priority mail is to verify their address BEFORE I file it.
My Estelle client had confirmed her address was correct. I called McClennan County and not surprisingly they had the license. It had been returned because her apartment number was missing.
I then called her to call them to provide the correct address. Please check your address on the marriage license. Check it twice.
If you haven’t received it in 21 days, call me. I will find out what’s going on and resolve the issue.
Tomorrow I’m at Tarrant and Dallas Counties then Parker and Palo Pinto. If you are using social media to DM me this week and do not hear from me in 2-4 hours, call me as I’m traveling all week.
For states outside of Texas, we have your information on file and will contact you when scheduling to your state becomes available.
Thank you for your patience, your patronage and the opportunity to make your Dream Event a Reality…