I’ve officiated TDCJ Weddings in numerous Prison Units across Texas for over a year now as well as in County or State Jails and although I’ve “gone over” what to wear, when to arrive and what not to do or bring, it appears that I need to do yet another “refresher course.”
I’m going to start with what I will be wearing and then go down the list of what or who you can bring to your ceremony and more importantly, why the Warden and Chaplain play a very strong role in the process.
I wear a suit with camisole and slacks. I do not wear dresses to a Texas Prison Wedding. I cover up everything and dress as if I’m going to Court. I suggest you wear something that would work in Court or at work.
There is no rule bending when it comes to your Texas Prison Wedding regarding your clothing, who you bring with you, when you arrive or what happens once inside.
I.E. Neither you or I make the Rules. TDCJ Administrative Directive, The Warden and The Chaplain at Units do. First, let’s get started on the Process. Unlike Wedding Ceremonies outside a Prison, Texas Prison Weddings Require Brides or Grooms to Retain a TDCJ Approved Officiant PRIOR to the incarcerated fiancée filing an Absentee Affidavit or I60 Request For Marriage Ceremony.
I require a deposit prior to anyone listing me on either the Absentee Affidavit or I60. Why? Because if I don’t have an Agreement with you- you are not my Client and, using my credentials to secure a Wedding Date at a TDCJ Unit is a process.
Without an Approved Officiant, a Warden will not issue a date and time and most certainly will not have the entire Unit accommodate a request for a wedding that will never happen without an Approved Officiant.
County Jail or City Jail Inmate Wedding Ceremonies are addressed seven days a week but, TDCJ Prison Weddings are scheduled Monday to Friday from 9-5 on Non Visitation days. Why? Because the visitation area is used on weekends.
I have 5 Officiants that can Officiate your County or City Jail Wedding because the guidelines and approval process are completely different from the TDCJ Prison Protocol.
If you are contacting me about a Jail Wedding on short notice, your request will be bumped to another Officiant on my team. Why? My schedule is booked months in advance at Texas Prisons as well as venues I’m on staff at and have other client bookings aside from Texas Prison Weddings.
I also Officiate Baptisms, Funerals and other Religious services and ceremonies for both of my other businesses, Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners and work as a Coordinator, Floral Designer and Party Planner.
Many of you contacting me regarding a Prison Wedding are unaware that long before Texas Prison Weddings, I had several other businesses that I continue to operate around my Texas Prison Wedding schedule. Texas Prison Weddings are actually an expansion of Texas Twins Events.
Some of you have noticed that I also own The Pawning Planners and barter event services but, don’t know how that works. First, you upload a copy of your trade at my sister site The Pawning Planners Barter Your Event Services and second, add the Unit or location for your wedding.
A barter offering won’t guarantee that the item offered in trade is equal to the value of your service. Whatever item you upload to The Pawning Planners and appraised. The Appraisal process takes 3-7 days for me to evaluate whether your bartered item is something that I can effectively flip or sell in order to recover my expenses. Only I decide what will work or what won’t. Accepted barter items are sold at Texas Twins Treasures. Many items go through an extensive refurbish process.
If you are several hours from Fort Worth, it’s far more difficult to schedule an Appraisal Appointment to walk your trade or appraise it. If a truck is necessary to move large items, the rental fee is included in your initial quote as an expense. Why? I don’t own a box truck and renting one to pick up a trade is an additional expense to me.
If your wedding is at a County or State Jail, my niece, Leigh Ann Blais, son, Robert Hafele, daughter in law, Anne Alexander or father, Jerry Thomas will be retained to address your service request as it is very rare for me to have availability on my schedule.
What to wear to your Inmate Wedding Ceremony- Please do not wear spandex dresses, low cut or revealing clothing or anything short or sexy to your Texas Prison Wedding.
Why? The Warden will either find something to cover you up or cancel your wedding for violating the Visitation Dress Code.
I know you want to look beautiful but, if the Warden won’t Approve a wedding dress, you can wear one after the ceremony at your Bridal or Groom Photo Shoot with me when we leave the Unit.
I’m going to add a few examples of what worked and, what didn’t for a few Brides who “stretched” the dress code. I often bring a jacket, shawl or scarf with me in the event you need to borrow clothing.
The dress above was low cut, tight and short. I loaned a white jacket to cover up the top half and coordinated with the Brides Dress at the Unit Wedding.
You can wear whatever you want to your photo shoot after we leave the Prison but, while at the Unit, your clothing will be closely scrutinized.
Know this and please don’t assume that because it’s your wedding day that the Unit will make exceptions. They won’t. You are expected to follow the dress code. Covering up is essential to alleviating any issues regarding your clothing at the wedding.Kissing after the ceremony- You are allowed to kiss but, please be respectful. No tongues or overly intimate behavior. Keep it simple, classy and appropriate.
If you are not Allowed to wear a Wedding Dress to your TDCJ Unit Wedding- You can change clothes for your Bridal or Groom Photo Shoot after leaving the Unit. Trushelle couldn’t wear her dress to TDCJ Michael Unit but, did after the ceremony.
The Warden and Chaplain will Approve or Deny a Request to wear a wedding dress to your Texas Prison Wedding. The Warden or Chaplain will also Approve or Deny your Request to bring a guest to the Unit.
Trishelle wore jeans and a tee shirt to the Unit. No guests were allowed so, they waited for us to finish the ceremony and joined us in the Photo Shoot. I provide loaned bouquets, bouteniers and props as a courtesy for photo shoots.You can change clothes for your photo shoot as many times as you like. I encourage you to bring friends or family to your photo shoots because you have more fun.
Do not drink or do anything that would make you “unstable.” Drinking or doing drugs prior to your Texas Prison Wedding is a bad idea- I can’t believe I have to continually go over this but, we are entering a Prison. Do not drink, smoke pot or anything else that is deemed illegal.
I’ve had two brides arrested for drunk driving after leaving their Texas Prison Wedding and need to strongly advise you that bringing alcohol or drugs onto a Unit is perhaps one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of. Use your head!
Do not bring drugs or alcohol to your Wedding. Do not get drunk or high prior to your wedding and do not bring mace, knives or any other weapon onto Prison Property.
If you are arrested prior to your TDCJ Wedding, you will need to forfeit your Prison Wedding fees and I will not reschedule your wedding. The reason for this is that Wardens and Chaplains expect me to control my Clients.
If you are uncontrollable to such an extent that you refuse to listen or honor my strong suggestions regarding how to act, what to wear or when to arrive- we have a real problem! Outrageous behavior is clearly defined on my website and, in my contract with you.
Be respectful to Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Employees- This should be self explanatory but, I am going to use an example to better clarify what I mean by this.
If you talk under your breath or challenge personnel while being cleared to enter the Unit, you are being disrespectful. If we are waiting, wait patiently. Do not make comments or verbal assaults to TDCJ Employees regarding your impatience.
We are at a Prison and, we are not in control. Wait patiently. Address everyone as Sir or Ma’am and personnel will treat you with the same courtesy and respect that you show them. Again, bad behavior is reflected directly at me and I do not appreciate having anyone with me being disrespectful.
What you can bring into a TDCJ Unit- You must bring your state issued ID and the Marriage License. Without either- your wedding will be cancelled by the Warden.
You cannot bring anything other than your state issued ID, Marriage License and car keys inside. No wedding ring for the incarcerated spouse, no clothing for the incarcerated spouse or anything else.
You will be required to remove your shoes. Wear shoes that are easy to remove as I cannot touch you or assist you in putting them back on. Once I’m cleared, I must step away while you are being cleared which prevents me from assisting you in putting your shoes back on.
I’m always cleared first and wait for you to be cleared near the gaurded entrance to the Unit. If you are bringing anything in other that what I’ve stated is allowed, you will be asked to leave the Unit and, your wedding will be cancelled.
Never ever bring anything other than your state issued ID, Marriage License and car keys into a Unit when meeting me for your Texas Prison Wedding. NO EXCEPTIONS.
If you wish to bring in hand written vows, I must have them prior to entering the Unit as they will be cleared with my possessions that include my state issued ID, Bible and car keys.
I bring nothing other than my state issued ID, Bible, Notes and car keys aside from $3 in quarters in a ziplock bag to purchase a Prison Photo if they are available.
I WILL NOT under any circumstances bring anything into a Unit other than my state issued ID, Bible, car keys or quarters. Don’t ask me because I won’t. I follow guidelines strictly and to the letter.
Getting yourself and your vehicle cleared are a requirement to enter a Texas Prison. If you have something in your vehicle you shouldn’t, you will not be married.
If you are detained or running late, be advised that 15 minute prior to your scheduled wedding ceremony, I will already be inside the Unit waiting for you. I’m thirty minutes early to a Texas Prison Wedding and strongly suggest that you are as well.
What will I be wearing? I’m always wearing a suit to a Texas Prison Wedding. If my blouse shoes any cleavage, I’m also wearing a scarf to effectively “cover up.”
Why are my Bridal shoot photos outdoors? Lighting and accessibility. I often scout out an area near the Unit while driving there to find places for your photo shoot. I bring a selection of bouquets for you to choose from as I often have more than one wedding at a Unit.
What are “stacked weddings.” If I’m Officiating a wedding at 10, 10:30, 11 and 11:30 all Brides or Grooms follow me to a chosen area for photos and take turns or take photos together based on my schedule. Many Wardens and Chaplains realize that I’m traveling hours to get to your Prison Wedding and stack my schedule on the same day.
You cannot bring a cell phone or other electronic device to your Texas Prison Wedding. Period. If the Unit offers photos, they are $3 each in quarters. You cannot take your own photos or video only a TDCJ employee is authorized to take photos at your Texas Prison Wedding.
What if my fiancée is already listed as CLM (Common Law Married) to someone else on TDCJ Records? If your fiancée listed themselves as CLM when “going in,” it’s a real problem! Your Request For Marriage Ceremony will not be Approved. You must undo this process and it’s a very lengthy, time consuming and stressful situation.
I suggest asking your fiancée prior to even trying to start the Marriage Process as this “hiccup” is a very real and ongoing issue that many people continue to contact me about.
Have the incarcerated fiancé go to the Law Library. Go to the County Clerk and make certain that the person listed as the Common Law Spouse has not filed an Informal Affidavit of Marriage.
What is a Declaration and Registration Of An Informal Marriage or Common Law Marriage Status? I am asked about this all of the time. Truthfully, I don’t understand why anyone would go to the trouble to file an Affidavit Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage rather than have a Wedding Ceremony.
Most insurance companies don’t recognize an Informal Marriage Affidavit as an actual Marriage and deny coverage without a Marriage License.
Both parties are required to appear when filing an Informal Affidavit of Marriage so this obviously isn’t helpful to anyone wanting to be Informally married to someone incarcerated. An Absentee Affidavit will NOT be recognized for an Informal Marriage Affidavit so, please be aware of this.
Why Can’t My Texas Prison Wedding be filed Confidentially or Privately? Texas does not honor Confidential Marriage Licenses. All Marriages in Texas are Public Filings.
I don’t want my friends or family to know that I’m marrying a Prisoner- If you don’t wish for me to use your photos in blogs or website photos, I won’t but, you must advise me of this prior to your Texas Prison Wedding Ceremony. I honor client requests but need to be aware of an issue up front.
I’m from out of state and want to marry a Texas Inmate what is thr process? If you are out of state, I suggest taking the online Two Together In Texas Course in order to receive a $60 Discount on your Marriage License AND Waive the three day waiting period in Texas.
I have a question, comment or concern that wasn’t covered in this blog and want to speak with you about it. Please email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact us link on the TDCJ Wedding link regarding your Prison or Jail Wedding plans.
Marrying a Prisoner or Inmate is a process. Both you and I must follow the Adminidtrative Directive. There is no “rule bending” at an Inmate Wedding Ceremony. Everyone follows the Rules.
Why do I have to be 30 minutes early to my Texas Prison Wedding? It takes time to clear your vehicle and you prior to entering the Unit and being escorted to the Visitation Area. It also takes time to bring your fiancée to the Visitation area.
Being early prevents you from being late. Being late is stealing time from the Unit and TDCJ Staff. They are accommodating your Texas Prison Wedding and therefore, being late is considered to be disrespectful. Please be early as your tardiness reflects badly on me.