Prisons, People, Priorities, Life Partners & Travels…
This week is particularly tough even for a workaholic like myself. Short notice bookings are part of the reason I’m running like crazy from one Unit to the next.
Today, I finally married a beautiful bride that had been trying to get Approved and only received notice yesterday. Thank God I wasn’t on the other side of the state today or I would’ve flown to Livingston from wherever I was at.
Why? Because her fiancée is scheduled for execution and received a stay last month that’s why. Time was literally of the essence. The execution is rescheduled for October 27, 2021.
I’m at Eastham tomorrow after beginning my day with a deathbed wedding at Harris before literally hauling ass to Huntsville which is a three hour run under normal circumstances but due to ongoing construction on 45 I always overestimate by at least an hour.
My military family background has me trained that “15 minutes early is 15 minutes late.” I’m always early and abhor tardiness.
I consider tardiness to be a sign of weak character and always instruct all client to arrive early. Thankfully, most do.
I’m a person of my word meaning if I tell you I’m going to do something I will. That’s a promise. My word is my honor which is why I don’t commit myself or my time to strangers. In fact, I research production companies past projects as well as journalists published articles prior to returning calls or while on a call with them. I don’t trust the media when it comes to my clients. They are fragile and often volatile to public scrutiny.
Meeting my bride at Holliday Unit, we had time to run and do bridal photo’s prior to the ceremony and I took her to lunch at Chili’s. After paying the bill, I ran to the bathroom prior to heading to the Unit and noticed someone had thrown away a paid of burgundy panties. Since my client and I were there when the restaurant opened, I assumed someone had started their cycle and tossed their panties.
Hours later about 11 minutes outside of Huntsville after drinking far too many bottles of water after dripping in sweat and feeling dehydrated doing bridal photo’s of my Polunsky bride at Lake Livingston, hauling ass back to Walker County Jail, I threw my own panties in the trash.
I was trying to “hold it” in order to get to Huntsville and try not to make a “pit stop” unless I’m filling my tank at the same time. Oh well. At least I am not “patted down” at jails where a CO would notice I wasn’t wearing any. The fact that the CO at Holliday Unit didn’t say anything about my bride not wearing panties hopefully meant she didn’t notice lol.
Attention: Self testing for Covid IS REQUIRED by anyone entering TDCJ whether you’ve had the vaccine OR not.
I didn’t have time for bridal photo’s after the scheduled ceremony. I squeeze in bridal or bridal photos before OR after weddings and sometimes even days ahead of time based on my schedule.
My TDCJ Holliday Unit bride had hoped for contact but it was non contact as her fiancée had not had the vaccine. This “surprise” had her crying throughout the ceremony. I was heartbroken about her being so upset.
Running from Holliday to Polunsky I had to meet another client at Walker County Clerk who was running late, this aggravates the heck out of me. I called her and gave her exactly 5 more minutes to get to the clerk or I was leaving for Polunsky. Luckily, she was there in 3.
Arriving at Livingston early, I went to the post office to mail contracts, wedding rings and photo’s where I met my next bride. I had planned on going to the post office in Walker County but my plan was ruined due to my tardy bride at the clerks office.
I like to use Lake Livingston at Polunsky because it’s a nice backdrop and near the Unit. I chose this location for bridal photos in Livingston. My bride had brought two dresses and changed on site between our suvs.
We then drove to the Unit after finishing her bridal photo’s to have our cars screened prior to entering. I note this because no other TDCJ Units screen my vehicle other than death row units. It’s time consuming and takes at least 8-10 minutes prior to the Covid self screen which takes another 20-30 minutes.
When you have a schedule like mine you are careful about overestimating rather than underestimating timelines.
Leaving Polunsky I was back at Walker County Jail to meet another client on my way back to Fort Worth.
I’m at Eastham tomorrow and wasn’t notified of the confirmation until last week too. I will literally be backtracking most of my miles of highway covered today to Eastham. My brother in law is a truck driver and we match miles covered all of the time.
Funny “side story” about my last trip to Eastham Unit, I drink a bottle of water for every cup of coffee, cola or beverage. Why? I don’t want kidney stones again. My last trip to Eastham I couldn’t find a gas station and out of frustration pulled over to cop a squat. That turned out to be the most expensive pit stop I’ve ever had after catching poison ivy “down there” and winding up in the ER later that night. Thank God for insurance because my little roadside escapade wound up costing a little over $2,600.
My Holliday bride as well as several other clients called me hauling ass to Fort Worth to tell me “I’m so glad that CO didn’t say anything about me not having any panties on because I coughed at Chili’s and sprinkled them so I chunked em in the restroom. I shared my story of waiting too long myself and chunking my panties 11 miles outside of Huntsville.
Thursday I’m back at Tarrant, Green Bay & Parker County. Friday I have 4 brides at TDCJ Robertson before flying out for Federal, Vow Renewal Ceremonies and a baptism. This is the most exhausting year I’ve had in ten years and there are 29 emails for new bookings in Texas alone TODAY.
Due to my waiting list outside of Texas my son and his wife are currently covering Northern California and my niece Leigh Ann is covering Southern. I wish my son and his pregnant wife had left my grandson, Oliver with Cindy. 8 days on the road covering territory from Seattle to San Francisco is too much travel for a toddler. I was reminded BY my son that he was a frequent flyer at 2 years old AND that Cindy and I took the twins everywhere for years after my suggestion to leave Oliver in Texas. Argh.
I fielded several phone calls from clients and hung up on a few media people today. If you are going to call me, research me. My blogs are quite transparent and a literal diary. I don’t have time to answer stupid questions from ignorant people just because it was convenient for them to contact me at inconvenient times and especially to ask me about my business. I have 5 websites. I have 5 blogs on all websites. I have social media too. Do a little research.
If you are contacting me because you don’t know how to obtain access into a prison, you are wasting both of our time. Media access is listed and available to the public.
It’s not my job to educate media people OR to do their job for them. In fact, its obtrusive and arrogant to assume that I would. If I have no affiliation with you or to you, I’m not interested in telling you how to do your job or educating you on my very tight schedule. Research. It’s your job.
Moving on, since The NY Times article went live last week, the number of media people contacting me is downright ridiculous. For those who missed the article, it was about prison clients weddings being cancelled.
Frankly, The NY Times is the ONLY media outlet who had the BALLS to cover a story about cancelled prison weddings that NO one else would. Zara wrote that article with passion and empathy. She was diligent in her research and dedicated to conveying her story in a “relatable fashion” of brides and grooms who no fault of their own had their weddings cancelled. Oh sure plenty of media outlets “covered” traditional clients but Zara covered the niche of folks who were viewed by others AS non traditional and sadly often not accepted by society as mattering. Zara made their voices, frustration and setbacks heard. She did ask me to provide names and occupations of my clients which I declined to do in order to protect their privacy. Kudos to her for bringing the plight of OTHERS whose weddings were cancelled in 2020.
Millions of people love an inmate. That’s right I said millions. Media is so far behind the curve about this it’s shocking.
About 0.7% of the United States is currently in a federal or state prison or local jail. If this number seems unworthy of the term “mass incarceration,” consider that 0.7% is just shy of 1%, or one out of a hundred. And a little more context shows that this fraction is actually incredibly high.
Because talking about portions of a percentage can be confusing, this concept is more often expressed as a rate: The United States currently incarcerates 698 per 100,000 people. (The rate is out of 100,000, rather than 1,000 or 10,000, because back when incarceration was much rarer you needed a larger denominator to express the rate in whole numbers. But either way, these are all different ways of expressing the same percentage.)
Rather than calculating how many people in the U.S. are incarcerated, you could calculate how many adults are incarcerated (0.88%), or how many working-age adults are incarcerated (1.07%). These statistics are rhetorically useful, but are often difficult to pair with compatible data from other countries, states or topics, so they’re not used very often.
One in four American adults has had a sibling incarcerated. One in five has had a parent sent to jail or prison. One in eight has had a child incarcerated.
Today, 6.5 million adults have an immediate family member currently in jail or prison. Surprised? Don’t be. Enlighten yourself as to why so many people are in prison.
More than 97 percent of federal criminal convictions are obtained through plea bargains, and the states are not far behind at 94 percent.
Now, moving on to a reporter who covered this story, Zara. I was contacted by her regarding my cancelled prison clients in 2020.
At that time and in that article were the numbers on my cancelled clients. Throughout the past 14 months that number has grown significantly in other states as well as Texas.
My other service area states are on a waiting list until I have time to catch up my cancelled clients which is why I’m not state hopping as I normally would.
Zara told me “you are the only officiant I’ve talked to who has photos.” She’s right. There are a lot of people who say they do prison weddings who actually don’t. They either aren’t qualified or they aren’t in demand. I am. I’m both qualified, EXPERIENCED, educated to policy, procedure, AND marriage laws in all of my service area states.
I also trained my family to conduct prison weddings because I obviously cannot be everywhere. Cindy is doing county weddings while I cover state and federal.
Here’s the thing, walking into a prison requires knowledge of policy and procedure. There are no mistakes in the prison planning process.
I’ve remarried people FOR YEARS NOW who THOUGHT that they were married on the outside because they “let a friend” conduct their ceremony. Hire a professional.
Stop assuming ANYONE can do this job. They can’t. Certainly not just anyone can enter a prison. Hire someone you know is reliable, educated and wants you to have the best experience possible under unique circumstances.
Just because someone “says” they do prison weddings doesn’t mean they actually have. Research!
No one does what we do for our clients and I mean no one. All of our clients receive complimentary photos with our extensive inventory, wedding rings if they don’t have them and tennis bracelets if they do as well as nice wedding gifts on wedding day. Don’t contact me to teach you how to do my job. This job takes dedication, compassion, perseverance, education, stamina and a large degree of travel. I’m not a teacher. I’m a businesswoman.
I’m blunt, transparent and real. I don’t fit in a box and have NO desire whatsoever of being “portrayed” as something a production company dreams up for a pitch. I don’t need media. Media needs me.
All this scripted B.S. faux reality TV concept crap is getting old and I don’t care whether a production company is worried or “has an idea” about how to pitch me or not. Your “ideas” are not MY reality.
I’m not interested “in getting famous.” I already am or you wouldn’t know who I am. I’m also NOT under contract and don’t give a damn about being tied down with rope no one is paying for. My clients pay me not media. They are my priority. Not media.
No, I won’t “give you an exclusive” just because you asked or demanded me to. I’m damn busy and average 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I work 7 days a week.
Go make up a phony storyline for someone else. Go create drama at someone else’s expense. I protect my clients from a “general public” who views them as being lonely or desperate or with negativity because they plan to marry an inmate or already have ALMOST always assume that they were pen pals.
I don’t marry pen pals. Why? Because I don’t believe the marriage will last and divorce leaves scars.
Scripted reality such as Love After Lock Up would have you believing that anyone loving an inmate is drama filled or unstable.
News flash- my clients are heroes. They do it all and they do it alone. They are educated, employed, dedicated and resilient. They are devoted and driven. They are also overcoming every boundary that even couples on the outside cannot by making their love story last AFTER lockup.
How do I know? They rehire me to perform their Vow Renewals and I stay in touch with them that’s how.
Back to the article, Wedding officiants, for the public and for prisoners, say their calendars are packed and that couples need to plan a date six months or more out. “We’re going to do twice as much business, or more, in 2021 and 2022,” said Wendy Wortham, the founder of Texas Twins Events of Fort Worth, Texas, who has planned prison weddings.