Holiday Marriage Proposals & The Runaway Bride…

My day kicked off with a text that read “do you remember me? I’m the runaway bride, Michelle.”

I’ve had a few runaway brides over the years and a few runaway grooms too so I searched my memory to remember for a moment before sending a text back to Michelle.

My bride has finally found her Mr Right and wants to marry in Hobbs, New Mexico May 12, 2021. Michelle also wants me to perform the ceremony. I checked my calendar and the distance before committing.

March, April and May are my “in season” and busiest months for weddings.

Over the weekend I was contacted by three police officers who proposed over the holidays as well as an LBGT couple who reached out to marry next October. I still have several clients I’m moving from 2020 to 2021 so I always check my calendar before committing to a date. I’m so happy for Michelle.

My weekends are and always have been reserved for “traditional bookings” meaning non inmate wedding ceremonies. These bookings are often weddings, vow renewals, baptisms, house blessings and funerals.

Occasionally, a different type of booking can and does occur such as a Pawning Party or liquidation sale.

A Pawning Party is an estate sale of sorts where the client is selling everything to cover the rent of mortgage. Years ago, these ceremonies were rare. Covid caused a surge of people contacting me through my sister site, The Pawning Planners, to inquire about a Pawning Party or to flip their initial booking through Texas Twins Events or TDCJ Officiant to a barter booking due to financial limitations or unexpected hardships. Scheduling has always been tricky regarding weekends for me. Weekdays are reserved for inmate ceremonies.

This week I’m meeting five sets of clients at the Tarrant County courthouse who had planned to marry in TDCJ who like many others were delighted to contact me to marry them on the outside after an unexpected parole of their loved one. Due to my existing weekend schedule, I’m marrying these clients during the week.

Please be aware that the Dallas County Clerk is now requiring that couples are (and can prove) that they live in Dallas County in order to obtain a marriage license. This is unprecedented. Traditionally, a couple can purchase a marriage license in any county in Texas to marry here. Dallas is effectively “winging it” due to Covid.

Normally, I would send Dallas County clients to Rockwall but Rockwall is requiring appointments and many parolees want to get their marriage license ASAP so there’s a valid reason I’m redirecting parolees whether they are based at a Dallas halfway house of treatment center or not to Tarrant County.

My niece, Stephaney is doing very well at her new job and earning enough to finally support herself and will not be returning to Texas Twins Events as my bilingual translator. Please be aware that Cindy and I are not bilingual. We no longer have anyone on staff to address bilingual inquiries.

Federal clients please be aware that ceremonies are now non contact. There is nothing we can do other than accept this. State, County and ICE have yet to reinstate visitation so let’s be happy that we are even able to get into the facility rather than unhappy your visit will be non contact. Rules are rules and as you are well aware I strictly adhere to policy and procedure.

Moving forward.. as we continue to wait for visitation to be reinstated for many of my clients from 2019-2020 who were cancelled in 2020, when TDCJ visitation is reinstated, my existing clients will be scheduled first as a matter of priority. Throughout the past nearly ten months, I’ve been contacted by 67 other people wishing to marry an inmate in TDCJ custody. The 28 client’s who were cancelled in March and April are spread out at TDCJ Units so adding you on to an existing booked Unit is possible but if you are contacting me regarding a Unit that isn’t waiting on a reschedule or within 1-2 hours from my existing Units awaiting visitation reinstatement’s, please be aware that I must address other clients first. After all, they’ve been waiting the longest and warrant priority booking.

Stacking cities are as follows: Tennessee Colony, Palestine, Huntsville, Iowa Park, Abilene, Childress, Bonham, Livingston, Pampa, Gatesville, Marlin, San Saba, Houston and Colorado City. All of these cities have existing clients and many have several Units in the same city. It’s not unusual for me to start out in Tennessee Colony/Palestine and move to Huntsville then Livingston before heading back to Fort Worth. I also have started in Bonham to Iowa Park to Childress. Pampa and Amarillo are one Unit days as many TDCJ Units are because they are remotely located which makes stacking a Unit impossible. If your Unit isn’t located near an existing Unit on my books, you will be advised of this and given an estimated timeline of when you can be worked into my schedule once visitation commences within TDCJ. I cannot and will not line jump anyone onto my books. I have also not taken any deposits during Covid as a matter of transparency since no one has a definite date of visitation reopening.

Previously booked and subsequently cancelled client’s- I am and have been covering half of the cost of all replacement marriage licenses that expired after issuance in February, March and April 2020 out of my own pocket.

This courtesy extends ONLY to my previously booked and subsequently cancelled clients. If you were NOT on my books or in our records last year, you have not paid a deposit or “put any skin in the game” so to speak and do not qualify for my replacement offer on your expired marriage license.

This “deal” is specifically for clients who could not have anticipated Covid. This deal is for clients who like me were sucker punched after careful and lengthy planning resulted in State, Federal, ICE, County or a venue cancelling a previously scheduled wedding booking. This deal is a courtesy I came up with in order to help clients forced to wait indefinitely to marry for reasons neither they or I could control.

Moving forward… I cannot be everywhere on Valentine’s Day. The number of people contacting me to marry on one of my busiest days of the year is surprising. What I can do is refer you to my niece, Leigh Ann, twin sister, Cindy, son, Robbie or daughter in law, Stephanie to conduct your ceremony instead. I’m in Waco, Austin and San Antonio on Valentine’s Day with other bookings and effectively on the road from sun up to sun down. Sorry.

Don’t forget the clerks office in Tarrant County (and any county in Texas) will need a current and valid photo ID. Please use your actual mailing address on the application for marriage license. The clerk won’t care that your DL has an old address. No one cares. Using an old address will result in the clerk mailing your marriage license to an old address when I file it and possibly getting lost. PLEASE write your current and valid address on marriage license applications. If you know you will be moving, use the right address.

Regarding TDCJ paperwork processing, Units are processing paperwork for marriage during this window. The paperwork process can and does take months. It’s best to begin your paperwork process as early as you can. Federal client’s, be aware that the inmate coordinator is in charge of paperwork.

If you have additional questions, feel free to call, email or message me through any Wendy Wortham website.