Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The TDCJ wedding that wasn't

TDCJ and their schedules are very structured; they have strict guidelines that you must follow for your Texas Prison Wedding.   Having been to over half the units in TDCJ, we know that most units are pretty simple and easy to deal with.  However many units have their own procedure for the TDCJ marriage process.  ID first, approval first etc.

Texas Prison Weddings has their own procedure as well and when not followed, things tend to unravel.   There are reasons we like to work closely with our brides and grooms on the details of their Texas Prison Wedding.  We have our part, your Loved One has theirs and YOU have yours.

  • Procrastinator:  put off till tomorrow what you should do today; definitely me
  • Murphy's Law:  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong; all the time

Some things just GO together even when they shouldn't.  I've always considered myself a master procrastinator, capable of doing things well under stress.   Such as writing the vows and making the gift the night before.

Recently, someone stole the title.  With a 4 pm ceremony, a bride was on the way to the bank to pay the officiant then go get the marriage license before noon, which is when she had to leave to get to the unit by 4 pm.

Things didn't work out as she planned and now it will be rescheduled.   Thankfully this was an easy unit to work with and rescheduled without starting over.   Many do not reschedule, you have to start over.

What happen?

TPW is partly to blame.  We didn't follow our own procedure.  We allowed a bride to pay less than the retainer.  We gave the officiant's name before the retainer was paid.  We didn't stay on top of the payments she said were coming.

We have very lenient payment options and there's usually plenty of time to pay it out.   She was very fortunate to be approved and given a date in about 3 weeks.
If we hold a day for you and schedule the day off and you don't get the date or it has to be rescheduled, other officiants charge a fee.   After this month, we may have to also.


We don't want to make it about the money but the car needs gas and the officiant has to be paid.   Payment must be made before we travel.   

Earlier this month, the unit called another bride the Friday before her scheduled date for Wednesday.  Since they did not have a copy of his divorce in the file, the ceremony would have to be rescheduled.  Both the bride and I had already scheduled the day off.  My employer requires two weeks notice for a day off and unfortunately, two weeks notice if it changes.  Since this was the Friday before, I couldn't work.  

No work plus no bride equals no pay.

11/5/18  Update

After 2 reschedules, no money was ever sent so the couple never married.  We contacted the bride recently and she has been removed from out pending status until further notice from her. 

The second bride mentioned was very happy when her wedding day was finally rescheduled.

I have enjoyed my job as an insurance agent for 22 years.  However...
I love the blessings received as a TDCJ officiant much more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Texas Prison Weddings is what we did today at TDCJ Vance and TDCJ Estelle!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018     
A very wet day in Texas had twice the blessings

It's considered lucky 
to have rain on your wedding day
because it's harder to untie
a wet knot than a dry one
Terry & Leta @ Vance
June 19, 2018

Rain, rain, go away
Rain or shine, can't delay
Nothing to stop us today
TDCJ Officiants were on the way

Open that gate and don't be late
Chaplain Packard has set the date
Rush hour traffic and rainy skies,
Sweet words from the groom and the bride cries

Kids like playing in the rain
as well as running the sun
but for a bride dressed in white,
the rain is not always fun

With two happy couples at Estelle and Vance
this TDCJ Officiant had left nothing to chance
But no music played for the couple's first dance

6/19 @ 8 am
Jo Anne had the honor of performing a Memorable Moment at the Vance Unit in Richmond this morning as Leta and Terry tied the knot.  The groom hit his chest and he said he would 'speak the words from his heart'.  The bride was so nervous, she chose to recite personalized vows written just for them because they 'they were perfectly worded and told their story well'.

6/19 @ 11 am
Mollie shared a Memorable Moment at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville as Amanda and Fran├žois declared their love for each other.  If Amanda looked down or away, Francois would say, "Let me see that beautiful smile".   When he spoke, she cried.  When she spoke, he teared up.  By the time it was over, Mollie was in tears as well and there didn't seem to be a dry eye in the place.

Breakfast for 2...   Delicious
Driving 8 hours...  Exhausting
Flowers & gifts...  Gorgeous
Happy couples...   Priceless

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Our Wish for all our Couples is Longevity

June 14, 1976 we said 'I DO'. 
Today, 42 years later, I still DO.
(he's still here so I think he does too)

Ours is not a prison marriage but our sons have spent many years in TDCJ.  

The ups and downs of every day life are hard enough when living side by side.  When half of you is in prison you must work twice as hard to make a home and life for both of you, some with children and some without.

The love in your heart is not always enough.  Your faith and your love of GOD gives you strength to endure the hardest of these times.

This is the only picture I have of my wedding day.  This is also the reason we feel that all brides should have pictures on their own special day.  It's not the venue that makes the wedding, it's the love that makes the marriage.

We are here for you from the contract to the I DO... and beyond.

Texas Prison Weddings is what 'I DO'. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Texas Prison Weddings - In The News

Article in eChron.com  By Craig Hlavaty  March 20, 2015

Jo Anne Hall officiates jailhouse weddings in the Texas prison system. When an inmate wants to marry someone on the outside, Hall is one of a small handful of people who have been approved to do the honors.

The 59-year-old Humble resident has two sons currently locked up in Texas prisons, so she has a familial knowledge of prison life and the strains it places on those on the outside while family members do time on the inside.

Back in January, Hall applied to officiate wedding ceremonies in the prison system. So far she has one wedding under her belt.

On March 17, Hall wed Adam Rubio and Ginger Fisher. The bride was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2011 for stabbing a police officer outside of a bowling alley in Baytown three years prior. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, she has no scheduled release date.

Rubio and Fisher were married at the Murray Unit in Gatesville.

“I’ve made myself available to any unit except the Wynne Unit in Huntsville as that is where my son is and the warden has said that I cannot perform marriages there,” says Hall. Marriages are open to any unit and eligible inmates.

Spokesman Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Thursday that a new inmate wedding policy changed in mid- January.

Before the change, incarcerated offenders in Texas had only married by proxy. However, Clark says, state law has changed, permitting a proxy when applying for a marriage license but not for the marriage ceremony itself.

“Given the restrictions and understanding offenders have a legal right to marry, the agency has approved a policy that allows an inmate to marry a non-incarcerated person within our facilities,” Clark says.

So far Clark says that at least six inmates have taken advantage of the rule change and wed in a TDCJ facility. Wardens, in part, help make the decision whether or not to approve or deny the request for a marriage in the visitation area. A unit chaplain handles the scheduling of the wedding.

Marriages of course must be in compliance with an inmate’s visitation rules. Ceremonies should be consistent with the offender’s visitation status, and there will be no special amenities, he added.

“There are no decorations or other items that may jeopardize security allowed. Also, if the offender is not eligible for contact visits, sitting at a table, they will be separated by glass,” says Clark. Weddings are not to be performed in the prison’s chapel area. Two days are set aside per month by each unit to accommodate weddings. Services are capped off at 30 minutes.

In Texas, prisoners have never been allowed conjugal visits, so consummation made need to be put off until a later date. Other states do allow them though.

Spouses on the outside are responsible for obtaining marriage licenses and arranging for an agency-approved officiant, which is where someone like Hall comes in.

According to Hall she is one of four wedding officiants in Texas. The road to performing weddings in Texas prisons was not an easy one, she says.

While looking for a way to reach out to other people like herself coping with a loved one on the inside, she found the Texas Inmate Families Association (TIFA) group on Facebook. After that she formed a group of her own, Texas Inmate Birthdays, which sends birthday cards to inmates.

“Each ‘event’ is someone’s birthday. We all send birthday cards to everyone’s loved one and in turn ours will receive many cards too,” says Hall. One of her sons received five cards from people he didn't even know.

“These people have become family and our loved ones are currently receiving about 20 cards each,” she says. She later started another group just for the parents of those who are in incarcerated.

When the TDCJ announced that they were going to approve inmate marriages, she felt that that was her next calling. Her third group, TDCJ Inmate Marriages, was formed. Soon after this she signed up to be a wedding officiant.

The couples that she has met through the Facebook group have a variety of stories. Some are serving life sentences, some met while they were both incarcerated and got married after one was released. One couple even met while one was an inmate and the other was a guard.

The Facebook group is a way for people in the same situation to find others to lean on.

“Marriage is hard enough when two people live together and sometimes have long distance relation due to work. I cannot even imagine this,” Hall says. Some are fortunate though that if eligible they can make phone calls home.

Ignite with Tabatha aired at 5 PM  Sunday, September 13, 2015 

Ch 99 - AT&T U-verse
Ch 99 - SuddenLink 
Ch 95 - TVMax 
Ch 17 - Comcast

ABC13 Houston  News  PM  Monday, March 20, 2017  

Saying 'I do' from prison used to be a difficult task, but thanks to a local woman, many are able to tie the knot from behind bars.

"Some (couples) I can look at them and it brings me joy to do what I'm doing," Jo Anne Hall said.

Hall is one of the few officiants in the state of Texas that is allowed to conduct prison ceremonies. Back in 2015, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice made changes to its intimate wedding directive and allowed prisoners to marry someone from the outside. Those ceremonies are usually performed in jail.

"My heart feels for these (couples) because I've been on this side and it's not an easy life," Hall said.

Both of her sons have been incarcerated, with one currently serving a 25-year sentence. After years of visitation and traveling, Hall says she understands the stress loved ones on the "outside" go through.

Whether inmates are in jail for theft or murder, Hall said she doesn't ask for details. She says at the end of the day, it's up to the bride.

"She's the one that loves him, she accepts him for what he is, for what he may or may not have done," Hall said.

Hall makes jewelry for her brides, trying to make their day just a little more special.

"I feel happy that I was able to share in their memorable moment in their lives," she added.

It's the same article but a friend from New Jersey says it even made it to the east coast....

The Prison Show  90.1 FM KPFT Houston   Friday, December 22, 2017

Season’s Greetings from The Prison Show! We have a HUGE evening planned to bring back the Prison Show wedding traditions. Tanika Solomon will co-host with Hank, Dave Atwood will report on The Death Penalty, Michael Allen will tell us about Christmas at the Jail, and we have an announcement from Parole Solutions. 9 pm – Opening with Tanika J. Solomon - 12 minutes – 9:12 pm 9:12 pm –Marriages by Memorable Moment – 15 min – 9:27 pm (on air vow renewal) 9:27 pm – Parole Solutions – 3 minutes – 9:30 pm 9:30 pm – Mike – 10 minutes – 9:40 pm 9:40 pm – Dave Atwood – 10 minutes – 9:50 pm 9:50 pm – Daniel - 5 minutes – 9:55 pm 9:55 pm - break song – 5 minutes – 10 pm 10 pm - Callers - 45 minutes – 10:45 pm 10:45 pm – no more holding – 10 minutes – 10:55 pm 10:55 pm – closing – 3 min – 10:58 pm 10:58 pm – PSAs – 2 min – 11pm 11 pm - Cultural Baggage with Dean Becker

TDCJ Wedding Process

Thank you for contacting Memorable Moment for your Texas Prison Wedding behind TDCJ walls.

Your Loved One's first step is to submit and I60 to the Law Library to get a copy of their TDCJ ID card.  This is the longest process and can take 3-6 weeks.  We offer a Twogether in Texas* Premarital Course that will save you $60 on the cost of the marriage license that can be taken during this time.  (The course will also waive the 3-day wait to marry)  If you have a valid ID and/or birth certificate for them, you may be able to skip this step.  

Your first step is to hire an officiant to guide you through the process of saying I DO.  Memorable Moment has several approved officiants to help make that special Moment Memorable for you both.

Our first step is to send the Twogether in Texas* material and our Steps to Marry in TDC.

Your cost to marry will depend on the actual location of the ceremony, where your Loved One is located. If you take the Twogether in Texas* Premarital course and follow our plan, it will include everything; no surprises or last minute expense.

Check out our website at TexasPrisonWeddings.com. Once you know your cost to marry, go to the PAYMENTS tab. Click on PAY RETAINER then go back and complete the CONTRACT.

We have very lenient payment options for the balance; pay as often and as little or as much as possible as long as paid in full 2 weeks before ceremony date or when a date is given.

Just so you know...

My normal work week is Mon, Wed and Fri til 6:30. I will try to text but cannot have calls when working. We are up late most nights so if you need something, it's almost never too late.

We may doze but we never close.

Let us know if you have any questions or need additional information. You can reach us via phone or text at 281-399-9999 as well as email at TexasPrisonWeddings@gmail.com.

Texas Prison Weddings is what 'I DO'.


Although it can be taken, our Twogether in Texas program is Christian based and not currently designed for non-Christian or same sex marriage. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hope to have another in place before the end of the year.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Name Change after your Texas Prison Wedding

Congratulation on your Texas Prison Wedding! 

When you receive your marriage license back from the county, you can use it or a certified copy to get your name changed.  Some may use a copy of your license or your new TDL or ID, while others may take your word for it.  In any case, here are just a few changes you may want to consider:

  • Attorney and/or Doctors

  • Bank Accounts  (contact your bank) 

  • Insurance:  auto/home/life/etc  (contact your insurance agent or me)

  • Car Registration (Form 130-U)

  • Credit Cards  (contact each credit card company)

  • Health Insurance  (contact your agent or health care provider)

  • Immigration Documents  (if applicable)

  • Lease Agreement  (contact your landlord)

  • Magazine Subscriptions

  • Mortgagee  (contact your mortgage company)

  • Passport

  • Payroll and/or Retirement (contact your employer)

  • Post Office 

  • Property Deeds  (contact your county appraisal district)

  • Professional Licensing Boards/Associations

  • State Tax Authority

  • Social Security Records

  • Utilities (Cable/Cell/Gas/Electric/Internet/Water)

  • Voter Registration

  • Student Loans

  • Texas Driver License or ID

  • Veterans Administration  (if applicable)

  • Welfare or Public Assistance (if applicable)

  • Will

Additional few links that may answer questions:

Texas Prison Weddings is what 'I DO'