Love After Lockup- Travels Of A TDCJ (Texas Department Of Criminal Justice) Prison Wedding Officiant…

I’m often told by people who don’t have a clue that “Prison Marriage is destined for divorce.” The problem is that the people telling me this aren’t married to a Prisoner, and they don’t personally know anyone married to a Prisoner either.  Perhaps my interesting mix of clients makes a few folks uncomfortable but that’s their problem and not mine.

I’ve Officiated and coordinated upscale weddings over the past 7 years with couples who appeared to have everything going for them and yet, their marriage fails.  The amount of money spent on a wedding has no bearing on whether the union will survive the “test of time.  

Whether the wedding takes place at a Prison, Cargo Plane, Karate Studio, Park, Venue or Parking Lot, the location of your wedding may be “different” but it won’t make or break your marriage.  Locations and budgets are minor once the initial “Party Is Over” and your life as a Married Couple begins.

All of my Prison Marriage Couples are making their Prison Marriage work. How do I know?  I married them and remained friends long after their wedding in a Texas Prison.  I follow their updates on FB and like their photos because I enjoy staying in touch with them long after the wedding.  

My previous clients are friends for life.  I shared an important event with them and our relationship doesn’t end there.  Many former clients are repeat clients for birthday parties, baptisms and more.  They also refer my team and I for family members and friends. 

Divorce doesn’t discriminate.  Divorce doesn’t care where you were married.  No matter how perfect your wedding day was or how beautiful it was, if you don’t work towards a long lasting marriage, the dark cloud of a divorce may cast a shadow on what you had planned to be a beautiful life with your forever spouse.

Your marriage may face challenges that you never expected.  From job changes and transfers to moving to a partner losing their limbs in a car accident- none of us can predict the future.  You may find yourself adapting to these unexpected changes or unable to cope with them but “for richer or for poorer- for in sickness and in health” are actually promises you made to your spouse back when everything was perfect at your beautiful wedding for the future of your marriage not the moment you repeated those words at your wedding.

Marriage isn’t easy for anyone and it can be challenging for everyone regardless of where your marriage took place. After marrying, it’s no longer “all about you.”  Things change to “all about us.” I can’t stress that enough.  One of you might have a bad day and one of you might not want to cook dinner but both of you will need to find a common ground.

My twin sister, Cindy’s husband, Steve Daniel spent 8 years in Iraq working when jobs were scarce in Texas.  During those 8 years, Steve was allowed to see his family twice a year for 10 days.  Three of those days were spent traveling.  It wasn’t an easy decision but, Steve sacrificed being home every night in order to send money home and effectively, “save the farm.”  

Taking a job as a fuel truck driver in Iraq after being laid off after 23 years of driving for Albertsons wasn’t an easy choice for my brother in law.  While working overseas as a hazmat driver for Haliburton transporting fuel, my brother in law was involved in a roadside bombing within his first year at Camp Anaconda.  

No one chooses to leave their family and take on a dangerous job.  Even now, loud noises can cause Steve high anxiety.  

For years after the roadside bombing, Cindy begged Steve to come home but Steve was fearful of losing everything if he couldn’t find work and chose to stay at Camp Anaconda.  

Steve’s choice was difficult but with a pregnant teenage daughter carrying “twins on the way” back home, Cindy and Steve had the huge responsibility of raising twin grandchildren.  

Stephaney was only 15 when we found out that she was pregnant.  At the time, Steve had already survived the roadside attack and was struggling to adapt to his life at Camp Anaconda as a fuel tanker or Hazmat driver transporting fuel.  It was a very dangerous job due to the location.  Mortar attacks were an everyday reality for Steve and I don’t  recall ever talking to him without hearing nearby explosions on his phone calls home.

Cindy and I both struggled with our decision to tell her husband that after a visit to the hospital for what we suspected to be food poisoning, we were told that Stephaney was three months along with twins!  Cindy finally told Steve when he called late one night and asked how things were going back home.  As usual, Steve took it on the chin and like us, was committed to raising the twins and taking on the task.

My sister and I have always rolled with the punches of our lives and decided to raise the twins as a team.  My husband and I were going through a financial crisis ourselves because the window of him losing his land development business and being unemployed for three years coincided with Steve taking the job in Iraq.

Stephaney getting pregnant was surprising but, we “circled the wagons” and made sure that the twins never lacked for anything.  It takes a village and for grandparents raising their grandchildren, the financial responsibility brought our family closer together.

Steve has always put his families needs before his own.  Not only for his wife and teenage daughters but also twin granddaughters, Maryssa & Makenna Mahaney. All 3 of Steve’s granddaughters are his pride and joy and all three of them live with Cindy and Steve.  

Cindy and Steve have had a marriage that due to his “Over The Road” employment as a truck driver and his stint in Iraq, had them spending weeks, months and while in Iraq, up to 6 months apart.  The separation didn’t hurt their marriage.  

Cindy has always run household while Steve works to pay for it.  

Although she has worked several part time jobs over the years after her daughters were out of elementary school, raising her twin granddaughters prevented her from seeking full time employment to help supplement their income.  Cindy often works with me at events and for a number of years, we brought the twins with us when they were younger.  

Texas Twins Events is a family owned and operated business and many of our clients know our children and grandchildren.  Steve is still working on a book detailing his years in Iraq titled “Caught In The Crossfire.”  

I wrote a blog about his experiences and Cindy was interviewed after the Tommy Hamill kidnapping when it was thought that Steve had been kidnapped.  Cindy and Steve have had their fair share of hardships.  

Like Steve, Tommy Hammil had no military training and yet somehow managed to escape from his captors.  Truck drivers seeking work were far from well equipped to handle roadside bombings—http://texastwinstv.com/blog/2015/09/camp-anaconda-balad-iraq-where-steve-daniel-was-caught-in-the-crossfire/ my brother in law has a story to tell but it’s a difficult and painful one.  He lost many of his friends in the roadside bombing and still struggles with having to watch them die while trying to get to safety.  Survivors Guilt after a tragedy is something that he tries to understand all of these years later.

Steve is also known as “Real Fast” because he drove real fast along with the survivors of the Good Friday Roadside Bombing.

Every Marriage is different but all marriages need a partnership of two people working together for the greater good of the relationship.  

Perhaps because Cindy and I as well as our husbands had all survived painful divorces, we were better equipped to suck it up when we needed to in order to salvage our marriages?  Regardless, all of us knew the sting of a divorce and when things got tough- we became tougher.

Cindy and Steve survived the surprises their marriage suffered and appreciate the good times because they’ve been through the bad ones.

Divorce and Death are both dark strangers. They destroy families and both bring pain to friends and loved ones.  No one ever expects Death and yet its inevitable.  Divorce is often as surprising as death to someone who thinks their marriage is perfect but has a partner who doesn’t.

The one thing that can make s divirce far more complicated and painful is a Child Custody fight.  These legal battles are a war you might win but it’s a battle that will cost you a lot of money, sleepless nights, depression and anger.  If you can push through problems, you can save your marriage.  If you’re going through a divorce, never put children in the middle of a tug of war.

Marriage takes work.  I’ve been married most of my life and certainly I don’t “dance into everyday starstruck or dumb in love.” We are friends first and respect each other’s contributions that make our marriage work.  

Putting your partners needs above your own might sound odd but it’s not always all about you.  Taking time out of your busy life to address your partners needs takes commitment.

My husband is my partner.  We disagree occasionally but we never fight.  He’s quiet and I’m not.  We are completely different and yet, we make it work and have for many years through job loss and illness.  We’ve been to Hell and back but our marriage not only survived- it thrived!

Money is almost always a factor in divorce. My husband never expected to lose everything in a real estate crash back in 2007 and neither did I.  

On the flip side of that, I never expected 7 surgeries for complications of endemetriosis or thyroid disease but, it happened.  

Lucky for us, I carried health insurance through my employer or we would’ve easily gone bankrupt from my medical expenses.

Going into my marriage, we both had great jobs and never expected to have a loss of income but, my husband had been in real estate his entire life and didn’t have a fallback career.  

Prior to our marriage, we discussed a “fancy wedding” but being practical was more important to both of us than spending thousands of dollars on a wedding.  We put 50k down on our home instead.  Years later, that home would net us $178k that effectively pulled us out of the hole that 3 years of unemployment left my husband in.  

Our home was the greatest investment that we ever made because my husband was a home builder and we effectively built our home at cost prior to the real estate crash in 2007. 

Had we have taken the 50k we spent on our home and effectively “blew it” on a wedding instead, who knows what would’ve happened to us or our marriage.  

The job loss and health crisis put a strain on our marriage but, as we worked on getting through the hard times, we learned that our partnership kept our marriage strong and that by getting through the hard times, we could look forward to the good times together as a team.  

In 2010, my husband went back to work as a land developer and home builder but after our “lean years” from 2007-2010, neither of us are frivolous spenders.  We pay cash for our vehicles that are less than a year old and buy new ones every few years that are pre owned and certified and we no longer carry balances on our credit cards either.  

When my husband and I married years ago,  we both drove expensive vehicles and carried balances on credit cards.  

We have since learned that having money in the bank is far more important than a $70k vehicle with a $1200 a month payment times 2.  We have no debt and we like it that way!  

Our credit cards are used strictly for travel and paid off the following month.  We use credit cards to rent cars or hotels for travel but we never use credit cards for purchases or everyday shopping because it’s easy to get yourself into trouble with credit cards. My husband and I don’t live beyond our means anymore.  

My husband drives a Nissan SUV and I drive a Hyundai SUV.  We both drove the wheels off our older vehicles and used the money we would’ve spent on car payments for savings instead.  

Last year  my husband gave his old Toyota Tundra truck to my brother in law, Steve as a Christmas present.  If my transmission hadn’t gone out on my Santa Fe for the 2nd time in 8 years, I would still be driving it because I loved that SUV.  It took me to so many places my first years of Texas Twins Events that it was hard for me to finally trade it in and say goodbye.

Divorce often affects children who are caught in the middle and many of them will suffer with self esteem issues long after the divorce because they blame themselves for the breakup. My son struggled through my divorce with me from my first husband.  The war raged on for five years at a cost of over $200k.  

Looking back, I know that our marriage could have never been salvaged due to my ex husbands temper.  I hung in there for ten years but divorce was inevitable.  Twenty years later, he has never remarried.  My son went through years of counseling over our divorce and due to the custody battle, is leery of having children although he’s been married for over 5 years.  

As a premarital and crisis counselor, I’ve seen far more “crisis situations”  than anyone realizes.  When violence in the home is involved, it is often a difficult choice to leave.  Divorce wasn’t an “easy” choice for me years ago and it’s not an easy choice for anyone.  Divorce ravages families and destroys lives.  

If only the people going into a marriage knew the pain of divorce “going in,” I believe they would’ve put more effort into their marriage prior to “calling it quits.”  Relationships have become far too “disposable” these days.

A few years ago, a once happy couple divorced after surviving the death of their child.  Both parents blamed each other and this “blame game ” killed their marriage.  It’s sad that two people who had already lost so much lost each other. 

Losing a child is the hardest thing for any married couple to survive.  Sure there are plenty of other issues that can (and do) affect the viability of a marriage but death carries a heavy burden for both partners when a child dies.

My brother and his wife lost a child shortly after the birth.  He called me completely devastated about it and I’m certain he will never recover from the loss.  Jerry and Michelle took this tragedy and worked through it together.  Years later, they had two other children and they still celebrate the birth of the child they lost by visiting the grave.  

Many parents who’ve lost children celebrate the birthday of their child so it’s not unusual and if it helps heal the hole in your heart, its worth taking the time for yourself to remember the child you lost regardless of how long the child lived.  

Every year, I plan birthday parties for two clients who have lost their child. It’s important to both of them to cherish the memory of someone who meant so much to them.

No one goes into a marriage planning a divorce. No one.  Marriage Counseling may help couples over a “rocky patch” but even counseling isn’t a magic wand when it comes to divorce.  

If you’ve got two strong willed people determined to make each other suffer, it’s a pretty tough road to recovery for either of them.  Marriage is give in take.  One person can’t always be pulling the wagon because eventually, their arms will get tired.

Over the past seven years, 4 of my “traditional” couples who had the “perfect wedding day” have separated and divorced but, the surprising fact is that none of those couples appeared to have any issues at the time that I Officiated their wedding.  

All of them were happy and working great jobs and effectively “had the world at their feet.”  They had friends and family that celebrated with them and a tight knit community of people to support their union and yet…their marriage failed.  

These couples had all of the flowers, the cake, the dress, the photographers and all of the “fixings” of a perfect marriage so, what went wrong?  

Conflict comes in many shapes and sizes.  Alcohol, drugs, infidelity, domestic violence and even disinterest in your partner (infidelity) are all “potions for disaster.”

Other factors can impact a once happy marriage include job loss. Was unexpected illness a factor?  Or was marriage a disappointment after all of the fairy tale planning and partying became a memory?  

The truth is that depression often follows a large Event because when the party suddenly ends, real life begins.  Post Event Depression is real.  I’ve seen it and helped families work through it.  

All of the glamour and excitement that took months and up to a year to plan and execute are over in a few hours.  Getting back from your honeymoon to go back to work and set up your household aren’t nearly as exciting as planning your wedding.

Adjusting to a new home life of living together isn’t as easy as it sounds for many folks and marriage is an adjustment whether you realize it or not.  Your partner may snore or leave a mess for you to clean up.  You may tire of always doing all of the chores or you may just find married life too boring.  

Marriage takes effort from both parties to make things work.  There will be highs and lows and there may be arguments.  Choose your battles carefully because divorce is a death of something that started out filled with love and wonder and plans for a future.  Divorce is a tragedy for not only the couple but also their families and friends.  Why? Because everyone is forced to choose a side.

Surprisingly, Prison Couples have none of the advantages that traditional couples have and yet, they make it work.  One of them is unable to work and help support their family.  One of them drives long distances for Visitation and pays high fees for phone calls and essentials to ensure that their loved one is comfortable and able to talk to them sometimes several times a day. 

Having a loved one or spouse in Prison is expensive for not only their family members but also and more importantly, their spouses.  How do they make it work when having so many things against them? Dedication and perseverance.  

Unlike many traditional couples who are married and enjoy a dual income,  Prison is the first and foremost “hurdle” in their relationship.  They go into their marriage knowing they have things to overcome that others may not and yet, they make it work.

I’ve never met a Prison Bride or Groom who wasn’t a professional with a good job.  That’s right, from Pschycologists to Real Estate Agents and Mortgage Bankers, these folks aren’t uneducated or under employed.  

Prison Brides (or Grooms) are high functioning performers in their field.  They are intelligent and articulate and they don’t take their marriages lightly.  They make their spouse a priority by spending hours driving to the Prison and plan their life around these visits.

When someone aware of my travels makes an uneducated assumption about my clients by guessing “they must be very lonely or they just can’t find the right person.”  I answer that they have found the right person and that person just happens to be incarcerated.  

No one marries a Prisoner without weighing the risks or the rewards.  In fact, many “traditional couples” that I’ve married over the years have put far less thought into their marriage itself than clients choosing to marry a Prisoner.  

The romance, the wedding planning, the rings, the flowers,  the announcements, the pomp and circumstance that follows traditional wedding planning is as far from the reality as a Prison Wedding as one could imagine and yet, these couples make it work.  

Prison Weddings take place in the Visitation area of the Unit.  There are no “grand entrances to the alter.”  There aren’t any bouquet tosses going on or friends and family standing to welcome the new couple.  I stand alone to take place of their family and friends in a Visitation area.

How and why Prison Wedding Couples make it work is far more interesting than the traditional couples planning their “Fairy Tale Wedding” and wanting everything perfect.  There isn’t anything perfect at a Prison Wedding.  Everyone is nervous and no one I’ve ever married is exactly comfortable because it’s something they’ve never done before.  It’s often cold and the decorations are vending machines with tables and chairs along with a few guards.  

Occasionally, a Visitation area wall may be painted for a backdrop but, it’s rare to find decor in the Visitation area.  At Darrington Unit, a few weeks ago, there was a Christmas tree merrily sitting in the corner but decorations are a rarity in an otherwise sterile environment.

Once I enter the Prison and am cleared for entry with a Bride or Groom, we are escorted to the Visitation area by a guard or several guards depending on the degree of security at the Unit.  Arriving, I often see eight feet of barbed wire glistening in the Texas sun to greet us with a guard shack and clearance area in the middle.  

It’s actually a situation that I never envisioned myself being in when I decided to go into the Events business.  Driving into a Prison never occurred to me and I had never even seen a Prison other than on a TV screen or at a movie theater.

No Prison Bride or Groom is out meeting caterers, choosing flowers, renting a venue or buying wedding rings.  All of the frivolity flies out the window for Prison couples who have a situation that’s often “less than ideal.”  They don’t have unlimited budgets or parents paying for their wedding ceremony services.  

Prison Brides or Grooms don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing the perfect vendors or party favors.  These couples could care less about such things as you might imagine.

For most of my life, I’ve been far more interested in “back stories.”  The “front story” is the one that everyone wants you to see but the back story has a life of its own.  There are details and reasons for choices that others may or may not understand but there is always a history.  Prison Brides often knew their partner long before incarceration.  I have never married a Prison Bride or Groom that met online although I realize such relationships exist.  

We live in a Facebook World where everyone looks like the perfect mother, the perfect family, the perfect holiday or even the perfect home but, looks can be deceiving.  These “perfect photos” of a perfect world are often planned.  It’s well known that my posts often include a crying baby or other “unplanned” types of photos because I’m real and not trying to impress anyone.  

My grandniece, Madyson is often the “star of the show” on my FB posts because everyone is always trying to entertain her and often with disastrous results because she’s 2 years old.  Maddie makes family photos hilarious and often, unpredictable.  

No one has a perfect day everyday and yet, by looking at your friends walls, it somehow appears that everyone’s life is better and far more “glossy” than your own.  

Prison Brides (or Grooms) look at all of the perfect wedding photos online too.  The best flowers or the most fabulous cake.  A fantastic venue or a gorgeous wedding gown.  Prison Weddings, lack all of these “extras” that are far from their reality.  

Instead, these Brides or Grooms plan their perfect wedding when their partner is released with me.  Vow Renewals happen once all of my married couples are finally together again.  

Several months ago, I was en route to Ferguson Unit for a wedding when my neighbor stopped me to visit.  I explained that I had to dash because I was on my way to a Prison Wedding.  Her response?  “Oh, are they LBGT?”  Not that it would matter but, since there is a lot of speculation about this, 80% of my Prison Weddings are traditional with only a small margin being LBGT.  

Outside Prison Weddings, a very large percentage of my clients are LBGT.  We love our LBGT Clients and offer year round discounts as a courtesy because the LBGT Community have often encountered discrimination when planning their event.  

There is a reason that I have so many LBGT Clients on the books and the reason is that they can trust me to treat them with respect and dignity.  I earned my LBGT client base and long before my sites crashed when same sex marriage became legal, performed unification ceremonies.

The truth is that I’ve never had a beautiful wedding myself with the dress, the cake, the guests, the venue, the flowers or the photographers.  Why?  Money.  I’ve never had an unlimited budget or parents to pay for my wedding which is the reason that I started Texas Twins Events in the first place.  

Weddings are expensive and I would never spend tens of thousands on a wedding that could be used to buy a home or a vehicle or be put into savings.  

I’m finally at a place in my life where I don’t have to worry about money and sure, I could hire whoever I wanted for a vow renewal and spend money on it but I prefer to give others the gift of a Dream Event and put my money in a savings account.  The idea of spending thousands of dollars on an event doesn’t appeal to me although I’m an event vendor. 

From destination weddings to birthday parties, funeral ceremonies, anniversaries and Prison Weddings, my travels have been an adventure of sorts and probably the most exciting story of an event business there is.  

After all, none of the twists and turns we’ve taken over the years could have been planned.  My idea to offer affordable services was based on my own experience and that of my twin when planning our own weddings years ago.  

Frankly, I don’t know why no one else thought of all the people they weren’t reaching by only marketing people with a lot of money but, I often view things differently.

Bartering wasn’t part of my initial plan but it happened and created an opportunity for people to still get what they want by trading for services in leiu of paying for them.

My plan never actually included Prison Weddings but a request for an Officiant at a venue that I’d never heard of, Estes Unit in Venus, Texas changed all of that.  Misty couldn’t find an Officiant and had emailed me trying to find someone, anyone to help her.  

Unlike everyone else, I listened to Misty’s story and my heart led me to becoming a TDCJ Officiant.  No one should be treated badly because they’re marrying a Prisoner or put down regarding their choices.  

Misty was interviewed over and over by other Officiants who quoted her outrageous fees and I knew there were probably hundreds if not thousands of other Misty’s out there.  

Misty’s experience trying to find an Officiant wasn’t the best but then she found me and I changed all of that for her.  I made her wedding experience fun and exciting and best of all I made a new friend.

 

You see, I realized years ago that affordable options didn’t exist in the wedding industry and set out to change things for people like me.  Other event vendors and coordinators and Officiants read my blogs and follow my posts but never like or comment on them.  

The reason may be that other vendors are trying to figure out how I make it all work and how I’ve expanded and rebranded over and over while being “different” and/or “priced far below my competitors.”  I’m not in it for the money.  If I never worked another day in my life, my husbands income would cover our expenses with money to spare.  I work because I enjoy the work.  Meeting new people and traveling with my family is fun for me.

Other vendors may never figure it out because they want “perfect clients” to promote their “perfect businesses.”  They want glossy couples and splashy Events to promote themselves as being elite and sought after.  My clients aren’t perfect or polished but they are real.

At a destination wedding in California a few months ago, one event vendor actually contacted me to find out how on earth I had booked a destination wedding “at your prices?”  

People with money hire us too.  I’m on staff at venues and book location gigs because I work with my clients to keep their expenses down.  Crazy right?  

All of my clients (rich or not) have a budget and we work hard to stay within that budget by finding cheap flights of hotels for our clients so they don’t have to do the work themselves.

I can make floral arrangements, fix a hem and operate a camera as well as Coordinate or Officiate a religious ceremony as can anyone else on my team.  All of us are cross trained to address any issue.

My posts aren’t so splashy but, they are honest and whether I’m at a fancy venue, a parking lot or a Prison, I’m up front and honored to be a part of my clients day.  

Maybe these other vendors wonder how I land these fancy gigs when after all, I’m a budget friendly event service?  

Other vendors are too busy trying to hustle rich folks to give a thought to the low or middle class consumers but, the kicker here is that there are far less rich people than there are paycheck to paycheck people.  I do a lot more business than everyone else because I don’t limit myself to big and impressive events.

Reality is surprising!  Very few families have thousands of dollars for a wedding and although many television shows would have everyone thinking the reverse is true, it isn’t.  There’s a reason so many couples are eloping are visiting the JP and that reason is money.

I go to great lengths to make every Prison Bride or Groom feel as special as they actually are because like them, the reality of a romantic or even “splashy” Prison Wedding is something they cannot imagine.  

Perhaps I’m as different as many of my unique clients are in that I care about their journey and I understand the whispers from others who may never understand their choices.  I’m often more of a friend than a traditional vendor.  Their back stories are important to me. 

I don’t treat my clients as numbers because I treat them as family and care about making things as pleasant as possible even when their wedding is in the confines of a Prison.

It’s not unusual for me to Officiate or Coordinate or both at a $250k Wedding and a few days or hours later, at a Texas Prison. I don’t judge anyone or their situation and I never will.  

I’ve worked with a wide range of clients from all walks of life and met hundreds of families in my journey to “change the wedding and events industry one family at a time from Fort Worth, Texas.”

It’s not for me or anyone else to judge and I prefer to deal with “real people” than the fancy and often glossy, Bridezillas at exclusive venues who can occasionally act like the Princesses they are.  I’ve had  too many fingers snapped at me at “high end” soirees and outrageous behavior at a few “ritzy” events that I was planning or coordinating which is why I have a Bridezilla/Guestzilla Clause on this site.  

You can’t pay me enough to treat me badly and, I don’t have to work. I’m picky because I can be. At this stage in my life, work is my recreation. 

No one has ever talked down to me at a Prison Wedding or snapped their fingers for me to fix a problem that belonged to another vendor on location.  I’m treated with respect by not only the couple but also TDCJ Personnel.

When Trishelle contacted me to officiate her wedding in Tennessee Colony, I had no idea the city was actually compromised of three large Prison Units.  We talked several times Planning her wedding day and I explained how Bridal Photography would work at a location near the Prison.  She brought her family and friends for the photo shoot and we spent a few hours having a great time together.  

Trishelle like many others was surprised that I had brought bouquets, bubbles and props for her photo shoot and like many others, had far more fun doing photos than at her actual wedding.  

Since she couldn’t wear her wedding dress at the Prison, she wore it for her photos instead.  We found a location near the Prison and parked our vehicles on the side of the road to get some unique Bridal photos with her family and friends.  

Yesterday, a family friend decided to tell me how much they disagree with Prison Weddings and LBGT Unions. I don’t enjoy these conversations but after seven years of hearing them have gotten really good at giving clear examples of the success and longevity of the couples I’ve married over the years. 

When I told my family and friends of my idea to start a low cost wedding and event business, even my dad thought it was a dumb idea that would never work.  How would I find these people?  How would I make enough money to get by?  The questions became answers over the years of all the people who needed help and needed someone to help them.  I became that person and my family became my team.

Thanks to the internet, we live in a world of opinions that are more often than not, based on speculation rather than actual facts.  I laugh when I read a post about the “average cost of a wedding.”  From twenty thousand dollars to fifty- who are these “average couples?”  The average family is earning between 40k and 70k a year but can easily afford to drop 20k on a wedding?  Come on!  Most families struggle to afford a funeral much less a wedding at $10k.

I spend a lot of time driving from one location to the next but my “drive time” increased dramatically after becoming a Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Approved Officiant last April.

For reasons that I may never understand and perhaps because I live in a Bible Belt, a few of my friends and even family members were shocked when they learned that nearly half of my clients are LBGT.  

I never discuss politics or religion and I never post or comment on anything controversial.  You will lose half your audience by commenting or posting about religion or politics. Why people haven’t figured this out by now when operating a business continues to confuse me.  Politics and/or religion don’t belong in business.

I’ve never considered myself to be controversial although many people do.  I have an open heart and more importantly, an open mind.

Everyone deserves to love and be loved and whether you believe that or not, my belief is that love makes the world go round and that kindness is priceless commodity that costs nothing.

When I chose to start a People Over Profits based business, I knew my twin sister would join me on a journey of giving others the Dream Event we had never had for ourselves.  Like me, Cindy knew there was a huge market of families who could never afford $2k-10k and up for a Life Event.

Since I’m contacted by Production Companies on a weekly basis and have filmed several sizzle reels and even a television pilot, I know that  “bigger events, with more glamour and outrageous, over the top events” are what they want me to be doing but, I’m doing what makes me happy.  

Spending time with my family on location and meeting new friends is far more fun than dealing with an outrageous client who sucks up all of your time while making your job miserable.  

Our “over the top events” are really time consuming and 90% of my clients have budgets of $5k or less so it’s rare to be hired for a $250k and up event.  It happens but it doesn’t happen often.

I was once told that by a production company  “no one really cares about helping poor people or Prison Marriage.  Why can’t you just help rich people because there’s a market for that.”  Most people watching tv every night aren’t rich, they are low to middle class “workers” who relax and unwind by turning on their televisions.

Our story is unique because I’m doing something that no one was interested in doing.  I’m focused on helping the people no one was willing to help.  Perhaps I’m a pioneer in my efforts to do things differently.  We love our clients! 

No one in this industry loans flowers or gifts photography.  No one in this industry barters event services and certainly, no one in this industry is willing to sponsor a family much less several families every year in order to give them a Dream Event that they could never afford on their own.  

I’m different and I like it that way.  My family and I were never trying to compete with other vendors.  Our goal was to reach the families that no one else wanted to help and we have.  

1000 Dream Events later and counting, you may or may not understand our clients choices or their “back stories” but all of them were worthy of being treated as the individuals they are and along the way I learned what I knew all along, these people existed and they were searching for someone to understand their story and they needed affordable options.  

I was willing to do whatever it took to make their Dream Event a Reality and the rest is history….