Bless Your Heart. The Southern Saying With Dual Meanings. Sassy, Sweet Or Sarcastic?

This morning while trimming my husbands hair on our patio for the second time in nearly two months, I told him “I’m not a professional.” His reply? “Well bless your heart!”

I knew my husband was being sarcastic but someone else might not have.

If someone alters this sentence by adding the word “little” as in “bless your little heart” you my friend have truly overstepped an invisible line to push the other person.

Yesterday while speaking with a journalist regarding “how my business has been affected by Covid-19” I advised her that moving clients who had been cancelled to my patio or balcony for an elopement prevented their licenses from expiring.

Creative? You bet when the situation calls for it I think outside the box ya all.

I then went on to explain to this journalist that my other clients attempting to marry an inmate were facing expired marriage licenses as well as continuing setbacks due to visitation suspensions and that this “twofold problem” was causing stress and anxiety.

The fact that a Covid-19 is running rampant through prisons doesn’t help worried loved ones either.

Inmates have loved ones on the outside. Inmates have people wanting to marry them.

The journalist was (as usual whenever I am speaking to a reporter regarding prison officiant services) SHOCKED.

“Did you say prison weddings? Is that even a thing? People want to marry an inmate?”

Hmm, here we go again. I answered “yes maybe if you had done a little more research you might have noticed that my business shifted three years ago to predominantly prison weddings. I enjoy the intimacy. The lack of drunk guests. The absence of meddling parents or divas that no one can please. I thought you were aware of our diverse clients. Bless your heart.”

“How many prison weddings do you perform on average? Surely there aren’t that many people who want to marry an inmate.”

Really? We have so many clients booking inmate weddings that I easily perform 15-20 ceremonies per month in Texas myself.

Cindy and my niece Leigh Ann also perform prison weddings. My son and his wife do County, ICE and Federal.

I.E. There are so many people that want to marry an inmate that I drafted other family members onto the prison weddings side.

“Surely there aren’t that many people wanting to marry an inmate?” I wish people would research before belting out uninformed comments when contacting me.

If you are a journalist or work in media, research should be in your job description.

“So all of these people are in Texas? Is it because Texas has the largest prison population?”

We aren’t only limited to Texas. Texas Twins Events is National. The United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world.

My family and I perform prison weddings in numerous states at prisons, ICE, Federal and County Detention Centers.

The journalists next question? “Why are these people in prison? Do you ask them?” No I don’t ask my clients why their loved ones are incarcerated.

I don’t ask traditional bookings if they’ve ever committed a crime either. Frankly, it’s none of my business. I perform a service. I don’t perform inquisitions. I don’t want to know why someone is incarcerated and form an opinion prior to walking into a Unit. I base my opinion on how I’m treated by an inmate. I’ve always been treated with courtesy and respect by inmates. They are always courteous to me and always have been.

I laugh when people call me or my clients controversial. To whom? I recall a meeting in California with a production executive who told Cindy and I “we love what you two do it’s creative and unique but helping poor people by bartering? Prison weddings? No network would touch that.”

If not for a Covid-19 cancelling travel from the U.K. Cindy and I would be filming with a production company outside the US who didn’t “think our clients are controversial” AND didn’t try to immediately put us under contract.

United States based production companies that we’ve dealt with have always not only wanted to change who we are but also immediately tie us down with a contract. No thanks. Have a nice day and keep that contract while you are at it.

Cindy and I like the transparency of the U.K. “We would like to film what you do. Would that be alright?” Sure. Come on down.

No one from overseas has ever told me I was controversial and needed to change who I am and who my clients are. That’s an American thing with production companies in the United States.

How do I know? Buddy, Cindy and I have dealt with so many production companies and media folks that want to immediately send us a contract and then spin not only us but also our clients into “what we aren’t” that it would make your head swim.

Four years ago another production company told me “we need you two to do over the top events.” Cindy and I laughed. You need us to be what you want? Wake up kid that market is already saturated.

P.S. we aren’t interested. Find someone who wants to be fake.

Media people try to contact my prison clients constantly. These clients don’t want to talk to media.

A few years ago, one “producer” was so determined to get to them he sent me a fake contract. I cannot make this shit up ya all. He had contacted me through Instagram messages. He then wanted me to go through my clients for a “prison based show.”

This sneaky snake realized people who loved an inmate didn’t trust him. He decided to find someone they did trust (me) to contact them for him. Sly move.

He wanted me to do his job for him. I told him to send me a contract. He did but didn’t sign it. If you can’t perform your own job functions don’t contact me to do them for you. I’m busy and I also hate smoke and mirrors. I blew this idiot off after a week.

It was a tough week for me. I had Mary AKA Juror #10 fighting for marry Lester who she had first seen in court at Allred. I also had four traditional bookings and 7 prison weddings that week AND then I had some idiot sitting on his butt in LA calling, texting and emailing me who wouldn’t even sign his own contract wanting me to find him “beautiful people on my client list.” Yep.

My jaded opinion of production companies and phonies is from personal experience. Keep your one sided “standard reality contract” and get out of my life, off my cloud and off my schedule.

Let’s review the difference between “I’m casting” and “I’m fishing.”

For anyone unaware of the variation I will elaborate. Production companies come up with the pitch. They need the talent for the sizzle reel. They then pitch the network with the sizzle and the story.

The network either green lights the concept or they don’t. If they don’t there isn’t any casting. That’s smoke and mirrors. What production companies or “producers” are actually doing is trying to find people AKA “the talent.”

Often these producers are looking but don’t actually have a green light so they “say they are casting a project” when in fact they aren’t.

In order to be casting you need a green light and a network willing to pay for the pilot. Cindy and I filmed a pilot five years ago, Pawning Planners. We’ve filmed numerous projects. We’ve met straight up production companies and we’ve dealt with production companies that were so cheap that they didn’t even shoot their own film. Instead they pulled film from our YouTube channel and sloppily spliced it to create a garage sale version of a sizzle reel. Why? Budget. They didn’t have a budget to professionally produce a sizzle. Filming is expensive. Travel is expensive.

If you can’t afford to produce a professional sizzle or pay for travel of the talent, don’t contact us Pal.

If you are pretending to cast a show that you don’t actually have solely to “get to our clients” we will also find out about it and warn others in prison groups about you too. It’s a tight circle. They don’t trust outsiders.

This is why that LA based “producer” decided to try and piggyback by sending that phony contract in order to get to my clients. Shocking stuff. But true. I have the documentation.

The LA “producer” who wasted a week of my valuable time taught me that some people will do anything to get to my clients.

His “prison based show” never did come to fruition. You know why? He didn’t have a green light or the talent. He was fishing. Casting and fishing are two entirely different things.

Love After Lock Up producers frequently contact me. They are actually casting but many of my clients have seen the show and aren’t interested in being portrayed as wild or crazy. Why? Because they aren’t. They work, raise families and pay their bills singlehandedly. They are independent. Determined. Driven. Passionate. They are warriors not weirdos.

Not every person who loves or marries an inmate “wants to be famous.” Many of them want to be private. I don’t publish all the photos of my clients to social media.

30-40% of my prison clients ask me not to in order to protect their privacy. Why? Because they are well aware that not everyone accepts their decision to love an inmate. They certainly don’t want to be contacted by a “producer” casting a prison based show that isn’t.

These clients are busy paying their bills, raising their children, driving long hours to a Unit and being independent.

My life and my businesses are a factual representation of real people and real life.

Rarely in my life has “bless your heart” been anything other than sarcastic but 99.9 percent of the time the person I’m saying it to has no idea of the dual meaning. Especially if they aren’t from the South.

I’m confirmed at Belltower in May. My clients are going ahead with their plans to marry in May. It will be the first time in nearly two months I’ve been on site at a venue.

My twin grandnieces are driving Cindy crazy because they are sick of being stuck at home. Telling Cindy they are bored always gets the same response of “well bless your heart.”

This sentence is spoken so frequently by Cindy or I that it’s second nature.

“I want this, that or the other but it’s not within my budget.” Umm hmm. “Bless your heart.”

Traditional clients almost always want more than they are paying for. Prison clients don’t. Why? Because they are realistic. We created our own inventory of bouquets, tiaras and all the trimmings at great expense so our clients wouldn’t need to themselves. Our suvs are rolling photo booths of fun for booked clients. We have a great time with our clients. We enjoy adventure and frivolity on location. We do what no one else will for their clients. Loaned inventory? Yes absolutely. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to create a wide array of items that we bring to photo shoots as a courtesy. Double print photos are a gift that our clients treasure. No one does what we do for our clients. Why? Money. But if you want me to create a bouquet “in your colors” you will need to pay for it. Custom designs aren’t free to me or to you.

The journal is like everyone else was shocked that we provide all of the items seen in photos of clients. “That’s yours? Why would you go to the expense and trouble to do all of that?” Because no one did it for me. No one did it for Cindy. We didn’t have a mother or family to make our wedding day fun and fabulous. We give others the Dream Event we would have wanted for ourselves.

“My ring isn’t as big as I wanted it can you tell my fiancée to get me a bigger one?” Hey honey first off let’s review what a wedding coordinators job isn’t. Secondly, “bless your heart.”

In-Laws, Out-Laws, Chaos and Crazy Requests aside, I was asked to explain In-Laws and Out-Laws to this journalist “who had never heard the term Out-Laws.”

“Out-Laws are the family you don’t want but get anyway when you marry.”

In-Laws are the family you do want. The bonus family that marriage brings.

“What was your most chaotic event?” Dang. Over the years it’s hard to pick just one. Was it the groom caught in the patio lights during the traditional toss or the commando party guest passed out on the dance floor in a dress.

Maybe it was the witness crossing out her old address and voiding the marriage license?

Perhaps it was the bouncing check broken tooth bride?

Or was it the groom getting drunk at a nearby bar who wouldn’t come to his own wedding?

Let’s not forget the banjo playing boyfriend busting in on the ceremony for a serenade.

When folks ask me “why would you prefer walking into a prison?” The reasons are many.

I’ve never had a drunk guest push me when telling him the bar was closed.

I’ve never had a raid due to a bar room brawl between the groom and groomsmen at a prison.

I’ve never had anyone marrying an inmate expecting me to do anything that wasn’t outlined in their contract.

I’ve never had surprises at a prison. Structure, predictability and sentiment replace the craziness of a traditional event.

No one is jumping up trying to object. No one is there to try and ruin the moment. No one is jumping in front of me with a camera or cell phone.

I don’t “miss” traditional events one bit.

I’m so particular about taking on a traditional event that unless the client is booking through a venue I’m on staff at or a referral, I decline the booking.

Covid-19 has affected my business by a flood of rescheduled events.

What it hasn’t done was create fear of walking into a venue or prison. Yes, I’m well aware this virus is spreading through prisons like poison ivy. My clients and I don’t go into general population for their ceremony though. We are escorted to the visitation area with 1-4 officers and their fiancée. When I say inmate weddings are intimate I mean it.

Covid-19 has brought about the need for masks. My clients love fashion and style. Cindy and I decided to create our own designs and our clients went wild. We look at setbacks at step ups.

You can take what life has handed you and get upset about it or you can take what life has given you and make something of it instead.

This too will pass. It will pass like a kidney stone but it will pass.

Covid-19 coming in at the start of wedding season was a real kicker. But in many ways this setback was a step forward. People reached deep within themselves to become compassionate. Others became homeschool teachers to their children. Families learned to cook together. Relatives learned that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Grandparents learned to Skype, Zoom or FaceTime with their children and grandchildren.

The nation learned the value of having a job. Many people complain about their job but being without one taught them that having a job was a blessing regardless of how much they disliked their employers. I love my job. Cindy does too.

Yesterday I helped my husband with his job and his expanded role of making sure the open houses were unlocked. His 5 day work week has changed to 6 or 7. We had time to spend together we have never had in our entire marriage due to Covid-19.

Like everyone else, I’m anxious to get back to work and get back to normal. This is something that none of us have never been through before.

This is something that rattled us. Awakened us. Taught us to be better people. Better parents. Better prepared.

While I work through finding a clerks office open for my clients to purchase a marriage license, I’ve learned that we are all more capable of expanding our horizons and our own abilities. We’ve learned to check on our neighbors and care about others. We’ve learned compassion for strangers the hard way.

Marriage is a Life Event. Love always finds a way and that hasn’t changed.