My husband is taking a few days off for Jury Duty this week. Since parking in downtown Fort Worth is a hassle, I’ve swung my schedule around with client meetings and county jail weddings to accommodate driving him back and forth to the courthouse. 

Yes, it would have been  much easier for him to drive himself but, my husband rarely (if ever) interferes with my schedule so, I’m taking it on the chin kids and have enough work locally to keep me busy Monday and Tuesday before heading to a Texas Prison on Wednesday. 

I’m always amazed at just how many people try to give you unsolicited advice regarding “getting out of jury duty.” After all, jury duty is part of being an American. Shirking your responsibility or finding an excuse isn’t something my family would even consider. 

My husband is looking forward to showing up for jury duty tomorrow and finds serving on a jury “interesting.” I think my husband’s “day job” of developing and building custom homes is interesting but, that’s just me. When my husband shows me a field- I see a field. I don’t see a beautiful development. I can’t. I don’t have the same vision or talent that he does. I may never have it. 

When I find a unique piece of furniture, I see possibilities my husband doesn’t. We get along well because we are different. My husband grew up at Rivercrest County Club while I grew up poor. Our backgrounds couldn’t be more different but, we make it work. 

Matthew is quick to laugh and on occasion, can cry over a commercial. My husband is emotional about everything. Matthew will be going into Jury Duty with compassion and empathy on his mind while trying to be fair. If it were my trial, I’d want him on the jury because he looks at everything from every angle and more importantly, he’s fair.

Matthew pours his heart into building the perfect home over and over again all year round. On average, McBee builds 80-90 custom homes a year which keeps my husband busy. Putting out fires often keeps him stressed. 

Matthew like anyone else in business, does  have a few problem customers along with running five contractors, roofers, landscapers, sheet rock workers, brick layers and every other type of scenario can and do make my husband’s life stressful. 

I no longer take on stressful clients after years of “sucking it up” and waiting for the event to finally be over. My husband recognizes that working with the general public can be difficult to such an extent that he’s offered to pay me to stay home for YEARS. 

I’ve worked most of my life and have no desire to watch daytime television. I’m good at what I do and it gives me an opportunity to not only early money but also to spend time with my family. 

I enjoy working and meeting new clients. I simply weed through every request to limit the “obviously more difficult and time consuming” variety of requests. Event Planning is my “top time consuming request.”

I prefer Prison Wedding Planning because it often only takes 2-4 weeks and it’s far more pleasant for me. There aren’t any surprises. Paperwork, scheduling and done. 

TDCJ clients are grateful for your help and insight and they don’t have friends or family members calling to give “their opinions.”  There isn’t any chili stirring regarding inmate weddings. The chili stirring I’ve encountered was always at traditional events. 

Whenever possible, my husband prefers to “flip problem clients” out of their contracts. The constant phone calls and disruptions to your day are just too much. 

My husband has been a builder and custom home builder for fifty years and occasionally, the problem isn’t the customer. Occasionally, the problem is another builder who happens to be working in the same development. Now and then though it’s another contractor or sub contractor that bring chaos to my husband who like me, enjoys structure and predictability. 

For a week now, my husband has had problems with another builder at one of his developments who continues to use one of my husband’s lots for parking his back haulers or dumping dirt and rock. It’s s real problem. When my husband can’t sleep, it’s always work related. 

Matthew is looking forward to focusing on something other than more problems at one of his developments. Jury Duty is literally breaking up the monotony and, as an added bonus, cell phones must be turned off. My husband won’t answer his cell phone after 5PM or on weekends. He prefers to take calls only when he’s on the clock. 

A few years ago, it was my turn at Jury Duty. I found the other jurors and their occupations fascinating. Who wouldn’t? There were people from just about every industry in the world. From homemakers to judges, doctors, lawyers, laborers and more, it was an interesting mix of personalities. 

Sure, there were a few folks who “wanted to get out of it,” but, they showed up anyway. In fact, not showing up is a bad decision. Failing to Appear for Jury Duty is illegal– Jury Duty What Is It And How Does It Work? 

When a person is called for jury duty in the United States, that service is mandatory and the person summoned for jury duty must attend. Failing to report for jury duty is illegal and usually results in an individual simply being placed back into the selection pool in addition to potential criminal prosecution. 

In Texas, Failing To Appear is common– Texans Skipping Jury Duty? If you vote, you will eventually be summoned for Jury Duty. I’ve actually appeared four times for Jury Duty. This is only Matthews second time. 

What can you expect when reporting for Jury Duty? First, you will be screened. You can bring a cell phone but, it just he turned off. Dress conservatively. No flip flops, shorts, tee shirts, mini skirts, tube tops or tanks. Wear slacks or a dress that hits at your knee. Dress for Court. 

Matthew is going to Municipal Court which generally only last for one day of service. Criminal Court can take weeks or even months of service. Municipal Court hears traffic violations, truancy, code violations and animal cases. 

I’m officiating several Tarrant County Jail Weddings Monday as well as filing licenses at vital records from this weekends round of weddings at Mercado Event Center, Willow Lake Event Center and Bell Tower Chapel and Gardens tomorrow. 

The Clerks office is right across the street from Tarrant County Jail which makes for a convenient day for me. Downtown Fort Worth is an easy walk. Occasionally, it’s easier to walk than attempt to find parking. Bouncing from Jail to the Clerks office, my husband will be in court only a few blocks away. 

I have to organize my schedule to not only save time but also my mileage. I’m a planner and schedule everything in my life. Without order there is chaos. 

I’ve had several inquiries regarding Jail and Prison Wedding Officiant services. We now have a new site to address questions, comments or concerns. Please visit Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Officiant Wendy Wortham.

Cindy and I are looking forward to meeting a new Pawning Planners client this week as well as traveling to Ferguson Unit Wednesday and Estes Unit Friday. We love new adventures with clients that appreciate us. 

Two of my Tarrant County Jail Clients are bartering services in exchange for their service with me. This is unusual but, it happens. One of them is an accountant and the other a hairdresser. Since I can always use a new trim and everyone needs an accountant, it’s a win win. 

Last year, I had clients that needed an Officiant for an LBGT Wedding. Although I had set a price, the mother of one of the grooms didn’t pay me at the event. 

Issues with bouncing checks or even trying to get paid, have caused a number of problems to such an extent that we NO LONGER “make arrangements” to either get paid or collect the balance on the day of an event. 

All contracts for Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners & Texas Prison Weddings REQUIRE A DEPOSIT AND CONTRACT for booking and the balance must be paid in full no later than one week prior to the event. 

Since I got “stiffed” by the mother for trusting my client to take care of the balance and the client was a hairdresser, we bartered a haircut to “settle up.” 

The truth is that no one in the events industry works on broken promises and I don’t either. A few weeks ago, my niece, Leigh Ann worked not one but two bookings on the same day. The first client was late. I charge late fees for a number of reasons but mainly because tardy parties screw up my schedule. Leigh Ann didn’t force either of her bookings to pay up front. Because of this, she couldn’t decline a check. Check bounce. 

Leigh Ann learned the hard way that taking checks on the day of an event almost always backfires. Although I had advised my niece not to be a sucker, she thought that I was being rigid. I’m rigid for a reason, experience. 

There are a lot of problems regarding trying to get paid on location that include trying to find the person to pay you. You have showed up to work and shouldn’t be concerned with trying to get paid. 

I now strongly suggest that anyone in the Events business 1. Has a contract and 2. Payment schedule that they strictly adhere to. If the client makes changes, change the contract. 

Clients bartering event services must come to terms a full 30 days prior to the event date. Why? Because we need time to refurbish, list and flip the item. 

Items taken in trade through The Pawning Planners are sold at Texas Twins Treasures- Visit Our Treasure Chest.

If you are booking through Texas Twins Events or Texas Prison Weddings, you cannot “decide to barter” after booking or at any time during the booking process. Why? Timelines. Turnaround on a flip, swap or trade generally involve a minimum of two weeks. 

Pawning Planners Clients take up less than 5% of our bookings. Why? Because the Barter Option was created to address local clients. 

Traveling to and from a prospects home to walk a trade and appraise it involves a round trip. Larger items require a truck rental and storage until the item can be sold. Flipping furniture is a HEFTY INVESTMENT of both time and money. 

Because of this, if a trade won’t work for us, we cannot barter your event. We don’t “take anything.” Cindy and I are experienced appraisers and have both worked in sales and brand promotion for thirty years. I.E. We know what we are doing and, we know the market. 

Since I’ve been asked what services are available with The Pawning Planners, let’s first visit travel distance requirements. Prospects must be within 100 miles of Fort Worth, Texas.

Secondly, from photographers to Officiants, planners, floral design and more, any option offered at Texas Twins Events falls under the umbrella of barter options at The Pawning Planners. If we can find something that will work for us, we will work for you.

Thirdly, we do not volunteer. For some reason over the past five years, people assume that we are here to solve all of their problems. We aren’t. We work for compensation. There aren’t any free rides for us or our clients. 

Texas Twins Events Client base has shifted the past two years to predominantly Texas or Jail Wedding Planning Services Monday through Friday. Traditional events take place on weekends or evenings. 

If you are booking a photographer, we have two options. My niece, Leigh Ann Blais or my son and his wife who work as a team, Robert and Stephanie Hafele. 

Not surprisingly, two photographers are not the same cost as one. If you need two photographers, the fee will be set accordingly to reflect 2 staff members on site as opposed to one.

If you are booking an Officiant and Photographer, availability and the fee will be based on distance.

If you are booking a planner, Cindy and I work together as a team. Often clients assume that by hiring me to Officiate, I’m also coordinating and/or planning their event. This Officiant/Planner combination ONLY occurs for Texas Prison Weddings. 

If you are a “traditional client” who has hired an Officiant, be aware that an Officiant spends 1-2 hours on site the day of the event and if there happens to be a rehearsal, an additional fee is involved. 

A planner spends months working with other vendors and the client. I ONLY take referral clients requesting a planner. My reasons for this are my time. I can easily Officiate up to 60 wedding ceremonies in the time it would take to plan one wedding from start to finish. Because of this, taking on a client requesting a planner is quite rare for me. 

An Officiant booking is also significantly less expensive than a planner. Please be aware that simply because I am a planner, I’m not planning your wedding as a professional courtesy unless of course you happen to be marrying an inmate in which case you will need my help planning and executing your inmate wedding. 

Photos at Texas Prisons aren’t free. Unit photos are $3 each in quarters. Because many of my clients aren’t happy with Unit photos and guards aren’t professional photographers, I offer complimentary photos as a courtesy to my Love After Lock Up Client base.

Years ago, I loaned inventory to Pawning Planners and Texas Twins Events Clients. I stopped doing this two years ago for a number of reasons. First, clients “assumed that floral designs would be created in THEIR COLORS.” Let’s face it. If you “ask me for an apple and expect a pie,” we are going to need have a discussion about your “sense of entitlement.” 

No one “gave me” silk flowers or other items in my inventory. I bought them and/or created them myself. Cindy and I sell our custom floral designs at Texas Twins Treasures. 

We don’t “loan brooch bouquets” because we sell them. People buying them don’t want a second hand bouquet. 

I had a client that I was forced to “kick to the curb” last year over her outrageous conduct and ironically…her failure to pay a deposit. I’m going to give a few folks insight on why I’m so rigid here so buckle up kids cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. 

Cindy and I were actually driving to a Texas Prison when a call came in regarding “a military couple needing an Officiant.” Since it’s well known that I offer active or retired military discounts, I asked “how can we help?” 

What started out as a friendly conversation would weeks later be such an eye opener to me that I began “reeling in the freebies” and having a “coming to Jesus talk” with one Bridezilla who either couldn’t understand her continued requests were out of line or had no idea that she was a Demanding Diva. 

First. The prospect wanted a baptism gown. Since I do baptisms, I had bought several from Italy and have a wide array of sizes. The prospect wanted me to send her one since she had decided to baptize her son at her wedding. 

I am going to go out on a limb here and explain that the prospect had initially contacted me to Officiate her wedding. The location was at a venue 2 hours from my location meaning this was a full day for me. 

Two hours there and at least two hours on location with a two hour drive home. I bid low with a 20% military discount to my Officiant fees. I also didn’t charge a travel fee although the distance was two hours one way. I was trying to be accommodating from the get go but, things would go South. 

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Over and over again, I’ve said okay and should have been saying “okay but, that will change our original terms of the agreement and the original price quoted.” I now do. 

I’ve had four bridezillas in eight years and it’s four too many. I hate problems. I don’t tolerate Divas well either. I’m not your fairy Godmother. 
Simply because I have a Team doesn’t mean that you hired an Officiant “with the fringe benefit of my entire staff.” This should be logical but, we live in an illogical world. 

I decided to send a baptism gown that I could have easily sold for $100 at my own expense. I was “trying to be helpful and generous.” A few days later, the prospect wanted to send it back “for alterations.” I am not a seamstress. I don’t sew. This reminded me of a bride a few years ago that I had loaned one of my wedding dresses to who also wanted me to pay for alterations. I had told her the same thing I told the prospect “I don’t sew. No one gave me the baptism gown or anything else for that matter. I was trying to be kind and compassionate but, you are obviously expecting me to cover everything for you. That’s not how this works. If it doesn’t fit, I suggest finding someone to alter it.” 

The prospect like the bride who wanted alterations obviously planned to keep my property. Loaning isn’t giving but, I’m giving you strong examples of how people can want everything for nothing and be outrageous without even realizing it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived through it and problem customers cost you money. But, it wasn’t over yet.

Two weeks later…I begin getting Pinterest photos of pew bows that this lady wanted. Being an experienced floral designer, I knew that to create a bow with 15-20 rose buds in the center would be expensive and up to $60 a piece. I asked if she “knew what she wanted would cost to create?” No, she didn’t. Custom floral designs are expensive. 

If you are on Pinterest and finding photos you want at your event, I strongly suggest asking a floral designer what it will cost to create. Sending me photos of what you want doesn’t mean I’m going to drop everything and run off to go buy flowers and ribbon and spend weeks making your “Dream wedding” come true. I can but, it won’t be free to you or me. Nothing is free.

About a month later, the prospect now needed “help setting up the venue and a photographer for 3 or 4 hours.” Oh? Now she needs a set up and tear down team and a photographer? I had already given her a baptism gown and the hits just kept coming. 

I advised her that not only do I not sew or do alterations but, I also don’t create custom floral designs for free either and don’t have a Team on hand that we’re willing to volunteer for 6-8 hours on location either. 

I “went over” what she had initially contacted me to do (Officiate the ceremony) and how out of hand her requests had continued to be as well as the fact that she hadn’t paid a deposit or signed a contract and yet…kept adding on to the list of what she wanted but wasn’t planning to pay for.

I simply didn’t have the time or patience to accommodate diva needs or desires that went well beyond the scope of what I had supposedly been hired (and not paid) to do and…I wished the diva good luck. 

Nobody wants problem customers. Nobody wants to work for free and nobody wants to feel that they have been taken advantage of but, it happens. Cut your losses kids. 

Divas are too much work. Divas that don’t pay are disruptive to your life AND your schedule. Cindy can spit a diva a mile away. My twin sister has something to say about everything and it’s usually funny. 

If you might’ve missed Cindy’s blog (or opinions) about divas, here’s the link– Mansions, Moochers & Morons. 

Because of the prospect and others who wanted me to create custom floral designs for free or to keep my inventory or expected my entire staff to handle their Event, I added “Outrageous behavior that prevents us from performing our job” clauses to my sites. 

If you are so difficult to work with that I can’t, you might want to “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” I try to be accommodating and kind whenever possible but even I have limits.

Loaned items have come up missing or damaged over and over again. If you hired me to Officiate and borrowed centerpieces, I’ve also had to wait on site until after the event to collect them. 

Brides have also wanted to throw my bouquets and the guests who caught the bouquet wanted to keep it. You get the point. 

If you want to toss a bouquet, buy it. If you want “your colors,” order them and pay for them. We don’t loan bouquets or bouteniers in anyone’s colors. We keep two colors in stock- if you don’t like the colors, feel free provide your own floral designs.

Everyone is confused as to why I love Prison or Jail Weddings. There aren’t any divas. There aren’t any friends or family members who think they know best or try to give direction or insight to my staff. There aren’t any clients making outrageous demands of not only me but also my staff. 

I love consistency and predictability. I love clients who appreciate the time and effort we put into making their Dream Event a reality. 

For a few people “Too Much Will Never Be Enough.” These are the kind of people that I’m not interested in having on my books. I dislike problems. We help people. We’ve helped thousands of people but, a thank you now and then rather than new demands on items you aren’t paying is a thankless task for anyone. 

Cindy published a blog regarding Mansions, Moochers & Morons. We have had a few. Rich people claiming to be poor might surprise you but, there’s a reason we require an appraisal appointment. The reason is to give us insight on where you live and what you drive or whether you have anything of value to barter. 

Cindy and I merged Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners specifically to weed out everyone asking for something but offering nothing in return. That’s right. 

We needed a way to force people into putting some skin in the game. The Pawning Planners is an outlet of sorts for the numerous inquiries from folks “needing help” that poured into Texas Twins Events for years. 

Our volunteer years are behind us now. It’s rare for me to review a story and I should add that I care about stories and find that the person contacting me has nothing. 

In certain situations involving an unexpected death, I’ve always made an exception. I will volunteer to Officiate a funeral or memorial and I donate silk arrangements that are used over and over at area funeral homes. Death is a dark stranger and often family members are never prepared. A funeral is a situation that gets my attention every time. 

As I finish contracts and editing photos to prepare for another week of Jails, Prisons, Client Meetings, the post office and other responsibilities, I’m glad that I finally started learning to say no and focusing on the people who not only needed our help but more importantly, appreciated it. 

Pawning Planners Clients are welcoming and hospitable. They may not have much but, they are willing to share. They are humble, gracious and kind. There aren’t any divas. There isn’t any drama. They are friends for life and they are a joy to work with as our my TDCJ Clients and the majority of my Texas Twins Events Clients. 

I’ve learned to weed my garden and I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of spending   time with my family doing things I enjoy. I’m older now and far more interested in happy memories than I am with impossible clients that no one could ever please including me. 

I’m at a place in my life where work is pleasant and something I look forward to. It’s taken me years to find a happy place but, I have and I’m going to hold on to it or just say no. 

Cindy and I love working together but, we don’t HAVE to work anymore and haven’t in years. We are picky about our clients because we can be. 

My husband is looking forward to Jury Duty and I’m looking forward to having lunch with him tomorrow on his break…