Nearly everyday I review a request for an Approved Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Wedding Officiant. In most cases, the Bride is contacting me in order to make arrangements and often confused about the process. Today, I will go over what happens when you choose to marry a Texas Inmate and how the process works.
You must be on the visitors list at the Unit. You cannot be a family member or the Prisoner. No two inmates can marry. You cannot be on probation and marry a Prisoner. You cannot bring a wedding ring or anything else with you other than your ID on the day of the wedding. You may or may not be allowed to bring a friend or family member with you.
The Warden will tell you whether or not bringing a visitor is allowed and every Unit is different. You may or may not be allowed to wear a wedding dress. Again, the Warden will make the decision regarding your attire based on the Unit. It is important to remember that revealing clothing is prohibited and not a “good idea.” If your attire is too revealing—your wedding may be rescheduled.
At Estes Unit, Misty was granted permission to wear a wedding dress but on the day of the wedding, told her shoulders must be covered up. Luckily, I had clothes in my car to loan her a jacket to cover her shoulders but, if you are unsure of your clothing, bring a jacket, bolero, or scarf to cover exposed cleavage or “too much skin.”
Whenever possible, we try to “stack” weddings at Texas Prisons due to the distance from Fort Worth, Texas. The reason for this is that I often drive 300-500 miles a week and the wear and tear on my vehicle along with gasoline expenses are the basis of fees for Approved TDCJ Officiant fees.
Often a Texas Prison Unit is a minimum of 2 hours one way from my location. We may be at a Unit for 45 minutes to an hour during the screening process to get to the Visitation Area for your wedding so the time involved for me to perform your ceremony isn’t 30 minutes to an hour it’s the time it takes me to travel there, perform the ceremony and return home.
I’m aware that there are two other Officiants that charge a hotel fee. I don’t believe in this practice because it “pads” the cost and involves hidden fees. I also don’t charge a Filing Fee because I’ve been Filing Marriage Licenses for 7 years and have always considered Filing a License part of my job.
If you need your Marriage License quickly though…it’s best for you to file it in person. The reason for this is that the clerk will record your Marriage and hand the License right back to you. If I mail or walk the License in, it will take 10-21 days for you to receive the License back in the mail.
It has come to my attention that there are more than a few unethical businesses that are taking fees from folks and pretending to be Authorized by TDCJ to perform an Inmate Wedding. You can verify and validate who is Authorized and more importantly, who isn’t by contacting the Courts.
If you have paid someone else to perform your Texas Inmate Wedding and they are either Unauthorized or Not Approved to perform a wedding within the Texas Department Of Criminal Justice system, I strongly urge you to get the money back! If you have sent a payment through PayPal- you can escalate a claim to get a refund.
It’s very sad to me that so many people are contacting me because they were misled by someone who lied in order to take advantage of someone who obviously couldn’t afford to be taken advantage of but based on emails through my site, it’s an ongoing issue.
I DO NOT provide Marriage Licenses. The County Clerk does. The incarcerated person will need to file an I60 and you will need to secure an Authorized Officiant to perform the ceremony prior to requesting a Marriage Ceremony at any Texas Prison Unit.
There is a very small window once permission is granted for a Marriage Ceremony at a TDCJ Unit. Once you’ve received the date and time of the Marriage Ceremony, you will need to notify your Officiant immediately to give them time to prepare for your wedding by “working it into their schedule.”
My schedule is often booked months in advance for traditional Event Services on weekends. TDCJ Unit Weddings are booked on weekdays at Units because visitation takes place on weekends and the location for Texas Prison Weddings is in the Visitation Area. For more information, please visit this link– TDCJ Policy.
Always arrive early for a TDCJ Wedding. You will need to be screened and escorted to the area to meet your fiancée and the time it takes for the process may or may not be what you expected. It is always best to be early rather than late.
If your fiancée is behind a glass partition- he or she can hear and understand what is being said during the ceremony. Kissing during the ceremony should be quick and PG Rated. This may sound weird but please remember to be respectful of TDCJ Personnel and don’t overdo it.
A copy of your signed Marriage License will be taken prior to leaving the Unit for the incarcerated persons records.
If you have something you wish for me to read during the ceremony, please let me know prior to meeting you at the Unit. I can often incorporate Scripture or poetry into your ceremony on my notes. If you prefer a Non Denominational or Christian based Ceremony, let me know prior to the wedding and I will customize your ceremony.
The Unit may or may not offer photos of you at you TDCJ Wedding. These photos are $2-3 and depending on the Unit, can be paid either in quarters or dollars so be sure to ask the Chaplain or the Warden.
Although all TDCJ Units have a Chaplain on staff, they do not perform TDCJ Weddings. It is your responsibility to secure an Authorized Officiant outside the Unit.
Regarding bouquets—it is rare that a bouquet is allowed in a Unit so please ask about this when you ask about wearing a wedding dress.
Complimentary Bridal Photography- I offer a free photo disc to all Prison Brides or Grooms. The location for the photo shoot is often near the Unit and I bring props of bubbles, signs, bouquets or bouteniers as a courtesy to loan you so your photos look “pulled together” and planned. Many of our Brides enjoy these “spur of the moment” photo shoots because they have fun with me and a permanent memory of their Wedding Day with photos.
Vow Renewals upon the release of your spouse: we also offer a Vow Renewal Ceremony as a courtesy to previous Clients at a discounted rate. If you’re interested, please contact me to schedule your Vow Revewal and go over rates for an Officiant & Photography Package.
If the incarcerated fiancée does not have a valid & current ID, please allow an additional 2-3 weeks for them to get one.
Upon receipt of your deposit, you will receive a contract laying out the terms along with a receipt and business card with my contact information. I require a deposit for TDCJ weddings and any other service I offer for a very good reason– you know what you are paying for and what to expect.
If you have other questions, comments or concerns, please use the Contact Us link on any Wendy Wortham Website.