Why Weddings, Funerals & Baptisms Are Often Called “Life Events.”
Traditionally, these Events are only expected to happen once but, more and more, people are marrying more than once in a Lifetime. I believe that Love Is Love and whether you married too young or things just didn’t work out, Weddings are often second chances the second time around.
More and more Brides are finding love after fifty and several who didn’t have the wedding of their dreams years ago, are renewing their vows.
Although Funerals or Memorials are far more final than a Wedding, the emotional impact on loved ones left behind often stays with them for the rest of their lives.
Baptisms and/or Christenings are also expected to happen once although many Christians often choose to be Baptized again as adults.
One readers comment regarding a Memorial that I officiated two weeks ago surprised me on numerous levels. First, the reader thought that a Funeral or Memorial wasn’t necessary since the baby wasn’t full term. Secondly, the expense of such a Memorial must have put a financial strain on the family.
While ignorance is bliss for a few people who assume that their views influence Life Decisions of others continues to baffle me, I’ve decided to address these concerns directly. First, Baby Delilah had Trisomy and her mother had contacted me early on in her pregnancy regarding a Baptism. Secondly, naming a baby whether they are expected to live a long life or not, gives them an identity. Thirdly, regarding an expense on the family, it should be noted that I didn’t charge the family for the Baptism or the Memorial Ceremony as I knew the parents quite well. So well In fact that I had officiated their Marriage Ceremony two years ago.
Choosing to have Memorial or Funeral Service is a personal choice. For some, the expense outweighs their income and sadly, many consumers often skip the Celebration Of Life altogether due to the massive expense on families.
On the “flip side” of a Memorial, consumers often spend far more money than they can afford on a Wedding. Tragically, the money they’ve spent on the celebration of a Wedding isn’t always money well spent when they divorce years later. Not surprisingly, the cost of a divorce is often equal to or in cases where children are involved, far more than the cost of the Wedding itself.
In many cases, parents pay for the Wedding of their daughter but, based on finances, this isn’t always the case. A few of my Clients have had no financial assistance whatsoever with the expenses of planning their Wedding. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I will clarify that anyone thinking the Weddings parents choose not to finance are not limited to Texas Prison Weddings or any other Love After LockUp couple that I’ve married.
The truth is that many parents simply are not financially able to fund a “spectacular wedding ceremony.” For a few of my Clients, their parents paid such a minor role in their children’s weddings that it’s surprising that they bothered to show up at all.
A few years ago, I was contacted by Joanna Davis regarding a Wedding Ceremony through my sister business, The Pawning Planners. Although Joanna had no money to pay for services, after an Appraisal Appointment with her, my Texas Twins Events Team and I decided to sponsor her Wedding Ceremony at our own expense. Joanna wore a Wedding dress that I had bought for her along with her shoes, her sons hats and her jewelry. My hair and makeup team of Angela Rodden and Stephanie Hafele spent hours preparing Joanna for her Wedding Ceremony.
I carefully worked with Angela to get Joanna into her dress before driving her to the park myself. Where were her parents during this 3-4 hour window? Nowhere to be found. In fact, her parents didn’t even bother to drive her to the park which is how I found myself driving Joanna and her children to the park.
While many wondered how many times my staff and I have worked for free and reached out to me for more details, I published a blog regarding the hundreds of times that I had not only donated a wedding dress, loaned bouquets and decorations and had my team provide free photography to give the gift of a Life Event.
No one could understand how I could afford to do this or even why my staff would volunteer their time and talents to give a stranger the Ceremony that their own friends and family weren’t willing to contribute to.
Commitment, Passion, Perseverance and the sale of my $485k home funded the many families coming to me with nowhere else to turn for a Life Event. That’s right. I used my own money to make these Dream Events a Reality. My story became so widely shared that more and more people reached out to sponsor their Event. In a number of cases, the people wanting free services could very well afford to pay for them.
This “I want it all and I want you to give it to me” situation came to a hault when I rebranded and expanded by merging Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners.
My expansion of The Pawning Planners forced these families asking for free services to allow my sister and I to enter their homes and see whether they were actually needy or had anything to of value to barter or whether could afford to pay for services.
By requiring anyone asking for free services to sign a Pawning Planners Contract and schedule an appointment for my sister and I to come into their home and see whether they had anything of value to barter in exchange for Event Services, we cut the requests for free services down to less than 20% which after three years of working for free, allowed us to focus on truly needy families.
For families with nothing of value to offer, my sister and I sat down and brainstormed a way to generate revenue. Pawning Planners Apparel was born and featured my twin sisters amazing ability to “make gravy outta water” with her snappy #Cindyism Quotes sold worldwide. We actually did make gravy out of water and have continued to do so for years.
Pawning Planners Apparel sales effectively began funding sponsored events. The original gravy quote was a bit different. “You can’t make gravy outta water.”
I answer a number of questions about how a grassroots campaign and business concept to address the large number of people who couldn’t afford traditional Event has continued to grow and expand year after year.
My desire to create an affordable alternative for these families is often described as a “People Over Profit” based Event Business because it is. Services offered at Texas Twins Events are 50-65% less than our competition. While other vendors were raising their prices, we started far below them in order to reach the families who could never afford to book with our competition. These “donut hole” families seeking affordable options finally had somewhere to go and more importantly, a Team on hand to help them.
Texas Twins Events and my Team have helped over 1,000 families have a Dream Event. What started out as an idea to help others no one else was willing to help became a brand of family friendly options for not only Weddings but also, Memorials, Baptisms, Prison Weddings, Vow Renewals, Estate Liquidations, Rent Parties, Princess Parties, Retirement Parties and more. No Request was too big or small, we handled them all and quickly found that even people with far larger budgets were booking us as well.
We weren’t limited to only helping low to middle class consumers and because we were LBGT Friendly from the start, had a wide and varied base of clients from all walks of life.
I don’t pay for advertising because I don’t need to and haven’t needed to in over five years. Word of mouth, blog subscribers and social media connections share our posts and follow our unique journey to “change the wedding and events industry one family (or barter) at a time from Fort Worth, Texas!” My desire to make Event Services affordable to anyone regardless of their income exploded.
Everyone asks how I created such a strong social media campaign but, social media only works if you put work into it. If you aren’t liking, sharing, retweeting your connections, they won’t promote you. Social Media is tit for tat. It takes work and effort to have a successful social media platform and I strongly suggest you invest time promoting others if you expect them to promote you.
After merging Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners, our journey took an entirely new twist a little over a year ago when yet another creative Request presented itself to me.
Misty was having trouble finding anyone willing to become a Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Approved Officiant in order to Officiate her Wedding Ceremony at TDCJ Estes Unit. I quickly scheduled a meeting with her at my home office to find out more. Misty told me that while searching for an Officiant, she had been asked if she and her fiancé were LBGT, Biracial or had different Religious Backgrounds? I found these questions deeply disturbing. I’ve never asked intrusive questions of Clients and could not understand why anyone else would. After meeting this lovely young lady, I was committed to giving her the Wedding of her Dreams and becoming a TDCJ Officiant in order to do so.
Six weeks later, Texas Twins Events expanded (yet again), to include Texas Prison Weddings. I immediately Trademarked and Copywrited the name to secure my intellectual property and like all other Wendy Wortham Websites, secured the name associated with my businesses.
I’ve been contacted about leasing or selling the Trademark for Texas Prison Weddings but, not interested unless of course, you have partnered with me on a project together in which case, I’m happy to strike a lease option.
Cindy suns this situation up quickly with her #Cindyism Quote “Don’t ask me to borrow an apple and expect me to bake you a pie!”
The first thing that I have always done when rebranding or expanding is protect my intellectual property and consequently is the reason that I protected the brand and name Texas Prison Weddings from being used by others without my knowledge and more importantly, consent.
I knew that my story was a great story and therefore, protected it. All Wendy Wortham Websites are trademarked and copyright protected. All blogs, people, photos, and events are also covered and my story to do something no one else was willing to do years ago to attract blue collar clients is not only a story but also a journey of meeting people and families from every walk of life. Their back stories, their struggles and their desire to have a Dream Event inspired me to do more and reach more people.
Social media connections began donating Wedding dresses, silk flowers for Bouquets and more. People following our travels were inspired to give back and help us to help others. Many emailed me about how inspired they were on our journey to give hope by helping others whether they had money to book through Texas Twins Events or bartered through The Pawning Planners or even benefitted from a Free Service.
While planning my sons wedding years ago, his Maid Of Honor, Melissa was sadly lost in a car accident leaving Fort Worth after a dress fitting at Davids Bridal. I immediately stopped making floral designs for the wedding and began making funeral arrangements for Melissa.
I’ve been a floral designer for over twenty years and also have several connections who create amazing and beautiful designs if I don’t have time in my schedule to take on a custom order.
Using my skills to create Bouquets is also how I have ready to use designs in my workroom to loan to families who cannot afford to provide their own flowers for a ceremony. This concept of loaning bouquets and bouteniers was unheard of but, I’m different.
I care about your story and I want your wedding photos to look complete which is why 40-60% of my Clients from Texas Twins Events, Texas Prison Weddings and The Pawning Planners borrow my Texas Twins Treasures Inventory and don’t have to buy items for their ceremony.
At the Funeral for Melissa, the funeral director asked if he could keep my silk designs “for other families to borrow that couldn’t afford to provide flowers for their Memorial.”
Like everything else in my life, this insight into the struggles of families with little or no money, inspired me. I decided to start donating silk floral arrangement to funeral homes for families to use at Memorials. For years now, I regularly donate designs to numerous funeral homes.
When my sister and I heard that many of the children at their school couldn’t afford mums, we bought all of the supplies to create them ourselves and gift to the girls who really wanted to have one for homecoming but, had no way to pay for them.
We were interviewed about why we went to the expense, time and trouble to help these students but, the truth was that neither my sister nor I had ever attended a homecoming and understood how hard it was for families to afford a mum for their daughter. For our father years ago, it was equally difficult to buy clothing much less a mum. We grew up very poor.Perhaps poverty gave us far more insight to what people needed or wanted but couldn’t afford? I’m unsure but do know this, poverty creates ingenuity. If you can’t afford to buy something, you learn how to make it yourself which is how Cindy and I stumbled into the brooch bouquet business as an addition to the other services we offer.
We had made a set of brooch bouquets for a Client who booked us as decorators and coordinators at her event. Cindy and I decided to make the bridal bouquet completely different from the bridesmaids bouquets in order to “make it stand out.” The results were fabulous!
The bride was thrilled and out new custom brooch bouquet business boomed. Texas Twins Treasures brooch bouquets now ship worldwide.
Using a wide array of brooches, silk roses and color options, our custom Texas Twins Treasures Brooch Bouquets were a hit although we never planned on going into the custom bouquet business, Cindy and I really enjoy creating designs that thrill our Clients!
What made us different was also what made us successful. By being open minded and even willing to help others when their request was not something we offered, our journey had more than a few hilarious moments.
A few months ago, a creative request for a Fence Party had Cindy reminding me of her many years working on a dairy farm. I had no idea how to help this lady who needed her fence repaired but, Cindy did. Together, we ran an ad on Craigslist for free fence posts and panels and rented a Home Depot Truck (we aren’t branding here) due to the lowest cost for a truck rental to deliver the poles and panels ourselves.
Cindy will tell you that “hillbilly’s are geniuses.” Why? Because they figure it out on a tight budget. We helped a lady fix her fence with only a days labor and the cost of renting a truck. The generosity of a stranger helped us to help her. Who else was going to help her? No one. Not her friends and not her family. When I tell you that many people come to us because they have nowhere to turn, I’m being blatantly honest.
Being poor while struggling through a divorce in 2001, I managed to find a way to get a free demo and earn enough to support myself and my son. How? Ingenuity. I knew that luxury car dealers offered demos at no cost to salespersons and set out to get a job and a car at the same time since my ex husband had sold my car during our marriage. Marketing propelled me to the top salesperson in North Texas. My campaign? Myself. I had been a model for years to acquire nice clothing in my high end sales positions and knew that the best way to generate sales was to place my own ads in country club magazines and, I was right. No one had ever thought of this but, being poor makes you far more resilient.
I don’t think in a box and neither does Cindy. We both think outside the box while keeping open hearts and open minds. My guess is that we probably would’ve never made all this work if we hadn’t been through financial struggles ourselves.
Why? Because rich people don’t worry about money. They don’t have to. Poor people or struggling folks worry everyday. They want to give their kids a birthday party or wedding too but simply have no idea how. We changed all of that. We filled a huge gap of consumers with no options and created a window to address their needs.
For years other vendors laughed at our concept and business model but, no one laughs anymore. Other vendors book consultations to find creative ways to increase their bookings with a little help from my Texas Twins Events Team.