Two Brides, One Groom & Chaos? “Lies Require Elaboration. Truth Is Spoken In The Shortest Sentence.”
Last Sunday, I played an alarming voice mail left at 1AM from someone who had contacted me in August regarding a Prison Wedding At TDCJ Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas. Suicidal over someone she thought she had loved that she met through a pen pal group to inmates. Someone she had never met. Someone who had sadly been playing her for financial gain. Inmates are often guilty of this and shockingly ive never encountered a love triangle of this magnitude although Monday through Friday I marry inmates. Weekends I officiate Vow Renewals for previous clients, traditional weddings, baptisms and funerals or work as a planner.
The only pen pal marriages to inmates that I have officiated are men marrying women in Gatesville, Texas a city of women’s prisons and one men’s Unit, TDCJ Hughes. She was a victim of a smooth talker. An inmate who convinced her to send money and in return sent her sweet nothings. Empty promises on paper.
This young lady didn’t follow my booking process and was therefore not a client. Because she wasn’t a client, I had no idea of the inmates name or inmate ID number.
Why do I need this information? In order to confirm a client status, I require the inmate number and name. The Unit will not release any information without it and during the scheduling process, I must provide inmate information to each Unit in order to schedule an inmate wedding. The Unit doesn’t want my clients name, they want the inmates number. Hence, the need for me to know this info.
Had the “other woman” given me the inmates name and number and booked when she contacted me in August, I would have immediately recognized the same inmate number and name with another client on schedule at Ellis. But, other than giving her information on what she would need to do, I didn’t hear from her again until last weekend. Months after initially contacting me.
Meanwhile, a few days before the “big FB blow up,” where the woman scorned contacted my actual client, the booked fiancée had sent me a text regarding the clerk misspelling her name. I had advised my client to return to the clerk and get a new license. It’s far easier to correct a license prior to the wedding.
There are currently 9 clients on my books at TDCJ Ellis Unit alone. I am literally juggling a minimum of 18-26 clients wishing to marry an inmate on any given month.
Some clients rotate from month to month due to transfers, paperwork, lock downs and other factors. While booking new clients, I also have a rotating roster. Factor in other clients from Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners and venues that I am on staff at and you have a far better grasp of just how many people I talk to on a daily basis.. included in this number are the Units I also answer calls and from pertaining to scheduling.
It wasn’t difficult to forget someone who wasn’t a client or on my calendar because unless you are a client, my focus is directed at my actual clients. I send bids several times a day. This doesn’t create a client relationship. A contract and deposit do.
I answer texts, emails and phone calls from clients 7 days a week. In fact, I talk to so many people that I forgot about the other woman when I didn’t hear back from her after advising her to download the Absentee Affidavit in August.
The inmate isn’t my client. Inmates cannot marry other inmates. The client is “on the outside in the free world.” I do not see or speak to an inmate until wedding day.
For those unaware of this, I work seven days a week. I go to bed at 10PM and I’m up at 5AM. I do not take calls after 10PM.
Also, as a premarital counselor, any call like last Saturday’s suicide threat is immediately reported to crisis and suicide prevention counselors in the area of which the call to me originated. I must report these types of calls and I do.
The young lady scorned has yet to give up on this Don Juan although she warily must realize the wedding to the other woman is going to happen. Nobody likes to lose but in this situation there are no winners.
All week long, the woman scorned has sent me photos and videos of love letters from this inmate. She has also sent this documentation to the bride. She has refused to give up her quest to STOP this wedding. Her determination and consistent texts and phone calls have also tried my patience. After all I have been consistently disrupted over this by someone who isn’t a client on a daily basis. Someone angry that she isn’t marrying this inmate. Someone I cannot force to accept reality.
Last Sunday, I was empathetic. I spent two hours last week (between bookings) trying to reason with her and after six days of trying to force her to accept the inmate abused her trust, I must “focus on the congregation and turn my back to the choir.”
I am now in a “carnival of chaos” WITH not 1 but 2 women and one inmate who has caused this conflict. An inmate who never expected the woman scorned to discover the woman marrying him. Prison groups are inclusive. People who love an inmate are a very tight knit group. Unbeknownst to the inmate, his North Dakota “pen pal” easily found out about his San Antonio Fiancee because “bad news travels fast.”
Stay tuned for one of the most twisted and shocking “incidents” I’ve had all year involving an inmate playing the field and two women willing to fight over him….
For my traditional clients, this is going to be a bumpy ride and difficult for you to comprehend. For my Prison clients though, you will always be advised by me to be cautious and set boundaries in order to protect your heart and more importantly, your checkbook. Over the years, I have successfully talked more than a few clients out of marrying because clearly marriage wasn’t in their best interest. My clients needs and future take precedence. I don’t “have” to work. I haven’t “had” to work in many years although for most of my life I have.
The difference for me and other salespeople is that I have never sold anything that I wouldn’t buy. I have also never married anyone solely to make a buck. My clients and their decision to marry an inmate may confuse others but I can assure you that aside from this “love triangle,” in general such situations are rare with my Prison clients. Why? Because marrying an inmate is a very lengthy process.
Throughout this process I become their mentor, the mother I didn’t have and more importantly their friend and confidant. My clients tell me things they would never share with someone they didn’t trust. I’m old and wise and advise them in the same manner I would my own children. If the inmate is abusive or manipulative from INSIDE a prison, this person won’t change when leaving prison.
I advise my clients to establish boundaries up front. I also make them aware that they have far more to lose than the inmate and that they are in control because they are.
The voice mail was pertaining to one young lady threatening to kill her self over the realization that “her fiancée” was about to marry “someone else at Ellis.” I am officiating the ceremony which isn’t unusual. I officiate more Prison Weddings than anyone else in the Prison Wedding Officiant business and I’m not limited to Texas. In fact, I cover many states and my twin sister is also a Prison Approved Officiant as is my niece.
The two women who loved the same inmate are remarkably different. One is a pen pal. The other has known the inmate personally many years. Here’s the blog link for more details- Mr Wrong Or Mr Right Now? Stop, Look & Listen…
Since writing last weeks blog regarding this “love triangle,” the bride that was effectively sucker punched by the “other woman” has asked me about the absentee affidavit sent to her by the inmate. I had assumed that she had sent it to the Unit herself but, it was actually the other woman who sent not one but three Absentee Affidavits to the inmate who in turn sent them to my client who wasn’t in a hurry to get one herself from the clerks office to mail to the Unit.
The fact that the pen pal lady had downloaded and mailed the document needed to purchase a marriage license to the inmate thinking he would use it to marry her isn’t lost on me. In fact, it makes this entire scenario even sadder to be honest with you.
What is an Absentee Affidavit? It is a document that every county clerk in Texas has. Initially, this document was solely for military members. Inmate marriage changed this though. Other states require the inmate to appear in person and at their own expense to purchase a marriage license Texas does not. I had sent a link to download a Walker County Absentee Affidavit to the “other woman” in August. In turn, she had mailed it to the inmate.
My life is far from boring since expanding services to include prison weddings. A number of folks laugh when asking “what I do for a living.” Others learning just how successful I am in this industry want to know “how I got here?” For the folks laughing, I do the laughing now thank you very much.
For readers consistently proclaiming “I don’t believe inmates should have the right to marry,” your opinion doesn’t affect my clients. Please stop emailing me your opinions because like my clients, your opinions don’t affect me or my staff either. I’m happily driving to a prison while you drive to an office. I love my job and I love my clients. My businesses give me the ability to meet amazing people. I finally have time to enjoy my family. I no longer have managers cutting my commission because I’m making too much money either.
For the folks wanting me to create competition that doesn’t exist by contacting me and asking me to train or enlighten you to start your own endeavor at my expense and YOUR convenience, ya all can go figure it out on your own. I did. Experience matters. There is no easy button for a successful entrepreneur.
Unless you are committed, driven, dedicated and educated pertaining to prison policy and procedure as well as family and marriage law and able to pass a background check, you will never be successful at earning the Prison wedding client base I have. I have NEVER ADVERTISED any of my businesses. That’s right EVER. My businesses and their success are based on happy clients.
EVEN if you could successfully learn this industry, you would need to find the clients. This isn’t an industry where advertising will gain you a client base. Your reputation is what will earn your client base. It’s a fact. You don’t just “become a Prison Officiant” and become successful at it.
I’m not in the business of teaching others how to do my job although I’ve trained my own family to do so because I cannot be everywhere all the time at the same time. I also moonlight as a consultant for GLG.
I’m seasoned in numerous fields and excel in sales and marketing. I.E. I was willing to put the work in to get the results out of my investment.
For a few of my clients, I am a life coach and also available for booking as a public speaker and consultant to advise others but not as a volunteer. I get paid to educate others in market trends. Don’t ask me to teach you how to do what I do and educate you to what I have achieved as a courtesy or at YOUR convenience. I’m busy and I get paid to share my industry experience and knowledge.
From flipping items to bartering event services to premarital counseling, floral design, planning and even the highly technical aspect of marrying inmates, I have never been intimidated to be viewed as controversial. Others opinions don’t impact my drive or ambition.
Long before inmate weddings, I was somewhat infamous for being LBGT friendly while other vendors hid in the closet. Why were they hiding? Fear of retaliation.
My twin sister and I are the most resilient and determined set of folks you will ever encounter but our background is why we became successful. How so? We left home at 15 and knew at an early age that in order to eat we would need to earn a living. True story. “Just how resourceful are you and your sister Wendy?” Well, for extra money Cindy and I began flipping items forty years ago as well as working two jobs to pay the bills. We were flipping long before flipping became trendy.
Texas Twins Treasures was established years after CD Designs. Cindy was creating and flipping jewelry while I was (as usual) working in sales. Where others didn’t see a resale market we did which is how and why we are also known as The Pawning Planners. We don’t “pawn” items though. We don’t own a pawn shop either. We flip items in exchange for services.
“What do you mean by not fitting in a box?” When I divorced my ex husband, I needed a car. Why? Because I was escaping a controlling marriage. I had a car in my name when I married. My ex sold it and bought me a car in his name. By leaving him, I was left a foot. I needed a car and an income. To solve this problem, I walked right into a luxury car dealership and “sold” my ability to sell. How so? Well, I had been a commercial and print model for over twenty years and not only attained fabulous wardrobe to “look the part of a successful salesperson” but also was confident enough to honestly tell the sales manager “if I can’t sell it, you don’t have to pay my draw.”
I was willing to work for free to prove myself and my worth. I also rolled out of the dealership with a brand new demo and free gas. Creative? Resilient? Determined? You better believe it. My sister and I were forced to figure it out and we did over and over throughout our lives.
I’m a survivor. If you don’t know this, you should to better understand how and why I don’t wait for opportunities. I create them. Cindy does too.
What the? That’s right I used my fabulous wardrobe and my connections in the film and print industry to hire a photographer and run my own ads at country clubs marketing high end clients. Other salesmen laughed.
Again, I laughed all the way to the bank. Resilience and creativity made me the most successful female salesperson in North Texas. I retired from Cadillac on top.What makes my journey different? I was lucky enough to be a twin. I was determined to be the person I had never met. I wasn’t afraid of being laughed at. I don’t fit in a box.
My clients are the family I wasn’t born with…As for the Ellis Unit scenario, I advised the woman scorned to move forward. I also gave her a list of help hotlines. The other bride has set boundaries and demanded honesty PRIOR to marrying this inmate. She is also excitedly looking forward to her wedding day and has blocked the other woman due to stalking and retaliation. She is moving forward.
Marriage is a merger. Don’t make a deal with someone you cannot trust. Divorce is a dark stranger that will leave scars. Wait for Mr or Mrs Right rather than settling for Mr or Mrs Wrong…