TDCJ Weddings & Adventures With Wendy Wortham- Green Bay To Hughes To Hutchins Unit…
I have several clients waiting on I60’s and although the waiting is the hardest part, when the Chaplain calls to schedule your wedding, please answer unknown calls as it may very well be the Unit calling. Last week, I declined an unknown call myself. Thankfully, the Beto Chaplain left a message to return his call.
Wednesday morning as I loaded up my SUV to meet two clients on my way to Hughes Unit, Cindy and I were still laughing about the two headed fur we took in trade from Huntsville and what we were going to do with it. “Maddy thinks it’s a stuffed animal and the twins are horrified.”
If you missed our Huntsville adventure, here’s the blog link– The Pawning Planners On Location. More Flips, Swaps & Barters.
I haven’t had time to shock my furniture reupholstering connection yet with this “latest flip.” Terry will either tell me to trash it or tailor it to remove both heads and the legs. It will be a “wait and see” situation.
Occasionally our Flips ARE Flops instead but, since we don’t limit creative requests, we certainly do have a few hilarious adventures on site at Appraisal Appointments.
Cindy was covering Jack County Jail clients as well as Parker County and my son was at Green Bay Unit with clients while my niece, Leigh Ann was finishing editing on photos from Tarrant County Jail bride, Payton. I would be “flying solo down the back roads” with Skynard, Donna Summers, ELO, Elton John and the Bee Gee’s keeping my company today.
Checking in with Cheyenne, I let her know that I was taking the back roads in order to meet two clients on my way to Hughes Unit who wanted help buying their marriage licenses. I map out my travels to accommodate such requests on a regular basis.
Country towns have creative signage. One air conditioning sign had me laughing out loud remembering my twin sisters firm belief that “hillbillies are geniuses.” The sign? “Do you have a HOT WIFE? Service your A/C and cool her off.” I bet that guy was even funnier in person.
Passing by the Dairy Queen sign, I thought about my brother in law, Steve Daniel who has fond memories of riding his bike to DQ and fishing on the river in San Antonio. I loved the “howdy ya all” sign. Welcome to the friendly and fun back roads of Texas! The courthouse I was meeting my first client at looked like a Gothic mansion with the overcast sky behind it.
Settled in a small town with many of the stores closed down, sadly the expensive building was surrounded by smaller shops that had most likely (years ago) had been thriving with customers. The irony wasn’t lost on me. This courthouse ruled the center of Meridian, Texas. After helping my client get her license, I jumped back in to my SUV to head to Coryell County Courthouse and sent Cindy a text from my navigation.
My Crain Unit client has been having difficulty buying his license and after numerous phone calls back and forth, I had scheduled him into my day to address his apprehension by accompanying him to buy the license. I actually do this for clients frequently by “working them into my road trips to prisons.”
My timeline to meet my Crain Unit client was perfect since the courthouse was fairly close to Hughes Unit and mapping out meetings is essential to accommodating my schedule and my clients.
Driving down 6, I sent Cindy a pic of a “report poaching sign.” I’d never seen one before.
Cindy called me and asked “was that a poaching sign posted? I haven’t seen one of those in years.” I send road trip text photos all of the time if Cindy isn’t with me laughing about the things we see rolling down the road.
My sister can name every type of cow and admire a ranch fence like nobody else I know. Why? Because while I was traveling the world modeling, Cindy was building a dairy brick by brick in Gordon, Texas.
Cindy is far more “country” than I will ever be. We are Compensating Personality Twins as are Cindy’s twin granddaughters. It’s rare. Cindy loves “educating me” about goats, horses and cattle on our back roads journeys across Texas and Louisiana as well as Oklahoma. I think all cows look alike. But, Cindy loves to tell me what makes them different.
I always gas up because finding gas stations can be tricky on back roads.
Arriving at Hughes, I let Christina know where I would be in the parking lot while fielding texts and phone calls from other prison wedding clients. My phone never stops ringing. I dabbed on light makeup as the guard tower watched me change shoes, fix my hair and finally leave my SUV to walk to the main entrance. Lipstick and tinted glasses when leaving WorthamWorld early along with a ponytail are my usual attire. Flip flops are changed into dress shoes once I arrive at a Unit. I always wear a suit to Prisons.
Sadly, the status of the inmate hadn’t been changed from G4 to G2 which meant he would be behind glass. This upset my client but, it’s my job to calm my clients and I did. Had we known ahead of time the status change would be delayed, we could have rescheduled the wedding but, these things can and do happen.
No one likes marrying with glass separating them. Christina didn’t either but, we overcame the disappointment of having her fiancée behind the glass and enjoyed a wonderful visit prior to the ceremony. Since Christina didn’t want photos posted, I posed with her husband and bought photos of all three of us as well as one of her and her husband before leaving the Unit for her to keep.
Headed to Huntsville again, I thought of all the times I’ve driven to Gatesville the past two years. A city that two years ago, I had never heard of that literally is compromised of mostly inmates and prisons.
It’s shocking how frequently I drive to Gatesville. Many of the Units house females although Hughes Unit is a male Unit surrounded by female Units. Other than Hughes Unit, the majority of my Gatesville clients are males marrying females.San Saba Unit is also a female Unit I frequently make trips to as is Hobby.
The Hobby Unit clients booking with us are predominantly females marrying females. Since I’m always asked about this, yes, it’s legal for a male to marry a male or a female to marry a female. This question continues to confuse me. The Units I marry inmates in are located in the United States.
Tennessee Colony is also one of those towns and a regular trip for my niece, Leigh Ann or I to meet a client at their Prison Wedding.
Beto, Michael, Coffield and Gurney are regular trips month after month. Tennessee Colony like Gatesville and Huntsville is a “city of prisons.”
I had a surprising text out of the blue from one of my former production company friends asking “are you and Cindy under contract?” I advised Kristen “no, we are too busy for film projects and we’ve expanded inmate weddings to cover several states.
My niece, Leigh Ann and my stepsister, Tammy are going to be taking on California Prison Weddings by August 2019 with my son and his wife focusing on Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Due to my schedule with traditional as well as prison clients and Pawning Planners Clients, Cindy and I will continue to travel while focusing more on Texas and Louisiana when not traveling for destination bookings through Texas Twins Events.”
The truth is that although I’m consistently contacted regarding show concepts and inquiries, our clients will always be our priority. Cindy and I put everything we have into taking care of our clients.
If and when we have the time to take on the task of filming, it won’t be during wedding season. The reason for this is our time.
Prison weddings and traditional bookings during wedding season leave Cindy and I no time for Skype, voice overs, sizzle reels, conference calls and other time consuming tasks that production companies require. Flying off to pitch meetings in season is out the question for the Texas Twins.
Arriving back at my home office and preparing my suit for Hutchins Unit, I check in with my niece, Leigh Ann who will be handling photography Thursday for Brandy after her inmate wedding at Hutchins while juggling phone calls, emails and text messages.
In this type of business, responding quickly and promptly is essential. I respond every 2-3 hours to clients and keep them updated. Clients are anxious. The process to marry an inmate can run from 3-6 weeks or in unusual situations like Torres Unit, over a year. Inmates being moved are generally the reason.
Bouncing from an appointment with my grandniece, Makenna at Cooks Childrens Hospital for her dermatology appointment and meeting Cindy to take Makenna back to school before parking Leigh Ann’s SUV for her to jump into mine and head to Hutchins Unit. We all have suvs to carry numerous props for photo shoots except my son who drives a 4X4 truck. All of our vehicles are black which makes it easier for clients to find us in jail or prison parking lots.
My twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna like Cindy and I have completely different health issues. Maryssa unlike Makenna had Precocious Puberty. Makenna unlike Maryssa has eczema and psoriasis. Completely different health issues is unusual for identical twins but, Cindy has had none of my health issues and I’ve had none of hers.
Makenna is trying a new steroid cream for her outbreaks and we’ve added bleach baths to the mix after her dermatologist suggested it to Cindy and I at her latest appointment.My youngest grandniece, Madyson is a ball of fire and not a twin. Maddy is three and a half but her first two years were spent with hearing issues we were unaware of.
Maddy has been in speech therapy after ear surgery last year and is now making great strides with verbal communication. Maddy also has wildly curly and unnameable hair.
My niece, Leigh Ann is the only person in our entire family with curly hair that she regularly flat irons. As a child, Leigh Ann was nicknamed, Shirley Temple due to her reddish curly hair. Maddy looks just like Leigh Ann did years ago.
Leigh Ann started photography shortly after the birth of Maddy and has worked with me for years. You can trust my niece to make your day as special as you are.
Like my entire family, Leigh Ann treats each and every client like her only client. From officiating traditional events and ceremonies to inmate weddings and photography, Leigh Ann loves working with our diverse client bases. Maddy also often “jumps in” on photo shoots with clients.
Did I anticipate our services as inmate wedding Officiants to expand and compromise the largest portion of our bookings? No. Who would? But, this diverse client base has become my favorite type of client. Why? Because unlike our other clients, the clients marrying inmates are far more passionate and thankful for our help making their Dream Event a reality that’s why.
The interest by media and production companies regarding our prison wedding clients continues to surprise me but, none of my clients are familiar with television and I’m very protective of their journey.
Standard reality contracts would take advantage of our clients who are often unaware of what the “talent” would actually be giving up if they werent educated by us about reality television and more importantly, standard reality contracts with production companies.
Thankfully though, Cindy and I are “very familiar with standard reality contracts” and more than happy to educate our clients regarding the pros and cons of reality tv. Our clients are our priority. Thirty percent of them don’t want others to know they are marrying an inmate. In fact, we don’t publish photos in order to protect their privacy as a courtesy.
I’m a multitask expert at all times but taking on filming is simply too much “in season” for me. Cindy and I haven’t had a day off in months.
Driving in to the guard gate at Hutchins Unit, my Hughes Unit bride called me to check on the status of her marriage license being recorded. I had sent it to San Antonio via 2 day priority mail on my way home from Hughes Unit and quickly tracked the envelope sitting in the parking lot and let her know it would arrive Friday at the clerks office today before 3PM. She was relieved that I sent it with tracking but, I send every marriage license with tracking unless I’m filing it in person. I’m OCD.
Parking my SUV, I sent a text to Brandy from the Hutchins parking lot to meet me at reception, I left Leigh Ann in my SUV. Brandy looked beautiful.
Going in to reception, we encountered a secretary who “didn’t know anything about a wedding today. I don’t have an I60.” Brandy was immediately upset. Who wouldn’t be. We had scheduled this wedding three weeks ago. Once again though, it’s my job to comfort my clients and stay in control. I had Brandy sit down and told the secretary to find the Chaplain.
Apparently, both Chaplains have retired at Hutchins which was a bit of a problem and thankfully, the volunteer Chaplain, Mike knew what was going on and where the original I60 was. The volunteer, Mike sent a guard to the law library to find a copy of the original I60 to give to the wardens office. This took nearly an hour.
When waiting on a prison wedding, the wait can be up in the air. From our escorts to locating the inmate to moving to the location, I can be in a Unit 1-2 hours. Rarely though, I’ve waited three hours. It happens.
When my client and I were finally escorted to the visitation area, my client was thrilled to finally see her fiancée! Although getting to him was exasperating, the wait was worth the joy I witnessed between my couple.
The stress and setbacks leading up to a prison wedding for clients is the hardest part of the process. Once the wedding is performed though, their relief is evident. Finally, they are married. FINALLY.
As usual though, the Unit photos were blurry and dissapointing. I had purchased 3. We left one with the Groom and I gave 1 to the bride and kept the photo below. Thanks to Texas humidity, my hair is a hot mess. I had cut my own bangs in my SUV again. Ugh. Wish I had time for a process haircut but it won’t be “in season.”
Walking out of the Unit, Brandy and I both were surprised at her grainy wedding photos BUT that’s why I pack an entire SUV full of bouquets, tiaras, clothing, furs and more. That’s right. Brandy was going to have a great day with Leigh Ann and I less than 3 miles from Hutchins.
I believe everyone should be able to celebrate their wedding day and my photo shoot and rolling photo booth ensure that they do. Cindy and I had found the blue fur at a junk shopping after leaving San Saba Unit. The fur was a perfect match to Brandy’s outfit.
Leigh Ann can’t wait to finish editing Brandy’s photos and I can wait to see them. When her husband is released, Brandy is also rebooking us to perform their Vow Renewal. We are looking forward to another celebration of joy and freedom long after Lock Up….