Thinking Outside The Box While Staying Home…Weddings At WorthamWorld…

Last week I was meeting clients who had scheduled weddings at venues that were cancelled due to the group limit of 10.

Most of my clients had 10 people in the wedding party alone.

I’ve offered military discounts from the inception of Texas Twins Events.

Today, I married four military clients who had marriage licenses about to expire that are facing orders to ship out. They were on a timeline and needed my help.

Running to the Justice Of The Peace is no longer an option due to the Coronavirus. Courthouses are closed.

This week, I found a way to not only help military couples but also for other couples facing an expiring marriage license who had their events canceled by venues with their previous officiant canceling too.

How would I find a way to help all of these folks coming to me? From the balcony of my home.

Working from home and my balcony kept me 6 feet away from my clients.

Limiting my clients guests to only 2 witnesses necessary to sign marriage licenses per couple, parties of four have been coming and going on Byers Ave all week.

While other officiants, venues, Planners, DJ’s and caterers are struggling with cancelled events, I’ve been busier than ever officiating from my suv last week or balcony this week.

Meanwhile I am booking new prison wedding requests for April and May as well as Vow Renewals for the couples in the future that were changed to elopements.

Life is ironic sometimes ya all. No one could have anticipated a stay at home order. No one could have anticipated a virus that forced everyone other than essential employees to stay in place.

I’ve never “thought inside a box.” Quite frankly, Cindy and I would never limit creative requests and never have. We were the first event company to expand and rebrand to offer a barter option.

Growing up poor teaches you to be resilient. What works for one person won’t work for another. Trial and error are your learning resources.

When people coming to me had no money, Cindy and I decided to take barters. We had a selling outlet, Texas Twins Treasures and we had been flipping items on eBay since 2009 so bartering wasn’t that big of a leap for us. We effectively figured it out. No money? No problem. We take trades.

The Pawning Planners shocked our competition. Some laughed others wondered how we could make any money?

I’ve really missed my family during this window. Being homebound and down rather than on the road to my next adventure has been a transition for me.

My only child had my first grandchild three and a half weeks ago. I’ve seen Oliver only twice since he was born. Once in NICU at Baylor and again at my son and daughter in laws home while dropping off food, diapers and wipes two weeks ago.

My Tuesday morning balcony wedding was with a Pawning Planners couple who flipped from a traditional event at a venue.

They were now bartering cases of diapers because they no longer needed them.

Sadly, they had lost their child and were planning to marry at a beautiful while the bride was still pregnant.

Stress affects us all in different ways. Loss and grief have no timeline.

Because they no longer needed diapers and were determined to move forward, I declined their payment and suggested swapping diapers as I knew my son and his wife would need them.

I’m praying my couple will one day again be expecting again. They want me to officiate the baptism of their child when they are expecting again as well as scheduling a vow revewal with friends and family.

Many of my clients are be backs. They are also a fabric of my life.

The bride was so depressed regarding their loss that when I suggested a balcony wedding at my home, it gave her something to look forward to. She had the dress. They had their license. She loved the idea.

I created a blue bouquet at her request from my inventory to honor the baby she wanted so desperately. I’ve been digging through my inventory and creating wrist corsages and bouteniers for two weeks now.

I’m an experienced floral designer and enjoy staying busy.

My couple and I chatted back and forth with me being upstairs and the couple downstairs before beginning my ceremony.

They are both working from home now and asked me “how I was adjusting to working from home since I’m always traveling?”

It’s different being homebound but I’m not isolated. I email clients and Skype with family and have kept busier than I would have ever guessed after having all of my inmate ceremonies as well as venue ceremonies canceled this month.

I have 12 reschedules from March rolling into April scheduled events but I will manage. I always do.

Most of my Unit Weddings are “stackable.” What this means is I can start in one city and move to the next and the next on the same day. I’ve done this for years and have learned to map out Unit Weddings.

I saw a recent FB post from Angel seeking baby items for a grandchild she will be bringing home.

I told my newlyweds bartering diapers about Angel. Her daughter is pregnant and in custody.

Because Lexi cannot keep her child while serving her sentence, her mother is bringing the baby home to care for it herself.

Angel will need numerous items for the baby so I’ve been working on getting things for her since seeing her post.

It’s sad that Lexi will deliver in custody but not uncommon. Many grandparents are raising their grandchildren these days.

My twin sister took on the responsibility of raising her twin granddaughters at birth. She is now preparing to homeschool them due to school closures. Maryssa will lag while Makenna excels. Why? Makenna is academically driven while Maryssa is not.

My son and his wife are also donating items to the Scallion family to help with their latest addition to the family. Angel needs a village and she has one.

I’ve known Angel many years and she is a very strong woman who will handle raising her grandchild like a champ.

Whatever my clients and I as well as my family can do to help her we will.

Angel is excited to have a baby in her home again and while my clients struggle with the inability to have a memorial for their child, we are planning one in the future.

I believe ceremonies give closure. Funerals as well as memorials are being scheduled at future dates due to the Coronavirus.

Two years ago, a couple I had married contacted me again. Deanna was pregnant and excited to book me to officiate the baptism of her unborn child. She was aware that my schedule often books out quickly and wanted to retain me ASAP.

I was excited for my military couple to be blessed with a child. But my joy would turn to sorrow during the course of Deanna’s pregnancy.

Over the course of a few months, Deanna was diagnosed with Trisomy. She called me crying from a doctor appointment. Her child wasn’t expected to live.

She now needed me to conduct a bedside baptism at Harris Hospital with a memorial the following weekend. The baby was only expected to live a few hours.

My heart was heavy. I will never forget an entire hospital room of military members crying silent tears.

I will never forget the profound sadness of carrying out my promise to Burt and Deanna. Baptizing that child with a room filled with mourners was difficult. Keeping my composure was trying.

In my line of work, I’ve had to help families struggling with loss to find peace. I’ve also had to mask my own sorrow. It is always difficult for me to hide my own grief especially with clients I know well.

I’ve officiated funerals for my inmate wedding clients as well but they weren’t for a child. These memorials were for their parent or grandparent. Someone who had lived their life.

The remarkable variation of conducting a memorial for a baby or child verses someone older who had the opportunity to live and be loved cannot be compared in any sense.

My heart holds a candle for each and every child I’ve ever conducted a funeral for. Each and every life cut too short too soon. The parents never recover from the loss. The remember the last time they held their child. The moment they were forced to say goodbye. They call me year after year to grieve the date they will never forget.

Years ago when a creative request for a prison inmate officiant came in, my twin sister and I knew that “half of our followers would support our decision and choice to offer inmate officiant services while the other half would condemn our decision.”

How did we know? Because long before bartering and offering inmate marriage services, we were LBGT friendly from the beginning of Texas Twins Events that’s how.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times someone emailed or called or commented about my LBGT clients in a derogatory fashion to me. I’m still shocked thinking back on the many hateful comments. Because we were LBGT friendly, we were also targets.

Fold or fly? I decided to fly. We a welcomed anyone and we meant it. Opinions wouldn’t change my client bases or my decision to help anyone.

Opinions of anyone not bound to me by blood, business or friendship wouldn’t define my role or my choices and much less my belief that love is love.

I’m often surprised by the number of people who comment on posts to Twitter, Instagram, FB and occasionally LinkedIn that are derogatory.

What part of “if you don’t have something good to say” did they miss?

Weddings are Life Events whether they are in a prison, parking lot, driveway, backyard, C130 or karate studio.

Yes, I’ve been everywhere. I’m versatile. I adapt quickly and a few locations weren’t planned. My clients and I played it from the hip.

Decorating my balcony for today’s drive up style ceremonies, I had taken time to create bouquets, boutenniers and a welcome environment for my couples to stand in the driveway as I officiated from my balcony.

Couples who were devastated about their event being cancelled had no idea that they would be getting married in my driveway but my creativity and determination opened up an opportunity for all of my traditional clients to get married this week.

My friend, Angela drive over to my home to take photos and video to gift my clients and everyone loved their gifts of bouteniers and wrist corsages. I’m including a video link Angela took of my noon couple.

Here’s the video Socially Distant Balcony Wedding at WorthamWorld. Angela doesn’t have the steady hand my twin sister does for video but she gave it her best shot and at least everyone had wedding photos.

My 12PM couple had brought one set of parents to sign as witnesses on the marriage license.

I’ve read a few fairly alarming posts regarding virtual weddings and need to point out that a wedding conducted over an electronic device isn’t legal. Why? Because a formal marriage license requires the officiant to testify a ceremony took place in person with the couple in a location. The internet isn’t a location.

Folks, if you are officiating a ceremony and don’t understand or comprehend family law pertaining to officiating and conducting a ceremony, don’t.

These “virtual weddings” might be fun or even sound creative but an officiant is supposed to be standing WITH YOU to conduct a ceremony. Not on the phone with you. Not on FaceTime with you. Not on Skype or Zoom but standing there with you.

Now, moving on to the wedding in a Fort Worth Park last week with 50 plus guests that’s been widely circulated on FB. The answer is no I did not conduct that ceremony.

At the time of that wedding, the limit of groups of ten was in place.

Because of this limit, when I took the call, I declined to officiate. Why? Because I follow all rules in place that certainly at this time affect the number of people.

Last week, I was officiating wedding ceremonies from my Jeep Sahara in parking lots of the venues that those ceremonies were originally scheduled to take place at.

My saddened couples and I decided to do mobile ceremonies and plan a larger gathering in the future.

This week, I’m officiating from my balcony. Next week I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Seriously. I’m rolling with changes I never expected.

Next month, I’m already scheduled at a number of TDCJ Units who are rescheduling my previous appointments as well as FBOP, ICE and county bookings.

Things will return to normal. TDCJ as well as all government facilities are being incredibly cautious about sanitizing and group limits. TDCJ is also offering free calls from inmates to loved ones.

My son recently asked “are you scared to go back into the prisons with this Coronavirus mom?” My answer time him was no.

My answer to everyone else asking (reporters included) is no. Why? Because I have a security detail of less than 2 people.

My clients and I are in a secure environment and not in a large group.

The “odds” of a TDCJ Unit not being properly sanitized are so incredibly slim that I’m not concerned about being in a prison.

If it was a NY prison though, I would be concerned.

If it was a California or Washington prison, I would be equally concerned.

TDCJ has done a Helluva job containing this virus. While one employee at Jester I and one inmate at Galveston have tested positive, if you look at the sheer number of TDCJ facilities, it’s obvious that they are working very hard to keep the staff and inmates safe from a spread of this virus.

TDCJ is also posting live updates for loved ones during this time.

As for my traditional clients from March and April who have been cancelled and fear their license expiring, I will continue to do what I can to make your wedding a reality from the safe distance of my balcony, wearing plastic gloves to sign your license and wishing you a lifetime of love, joy and happiness…