Marriage, Mergers & Moving On. Blended Families Mix Things Up…

Now and then I hear from a previous couple who “couldn’t make a go of things.” It’s the sad reality of marriages that merged two families that refused to get along. Was it the bride or grooms family that finally broke up their marriage? Yes, occasionally. 

The truth is that you can’t choose your new Inlaws and trying to get along with them isn’t always easy. I call problem Inlaws the Outlaws as does my twin sister, Cindy. She “coined the term.”

When I’m meeting with clients, I always ask if there might be problems with “the other family?” I’ve learned that knowing every possible scenario helps me plan for the unexpected. 

Usually, gossip starts the “trouble train” in the planning process. Occasionally, someone who isn’t in charge also tries to be. 

I’m lucky that my husband didn’t have a family of chaos because my own family brings plenty of chaos on their own. Because of my family and their carnival of chaos, I didn’t invite anyone to my wedding other than my twin sister, twin grandnieces, son and niece, and my aunt. I wanted to “limit” disruptions. 

Weddings should be about the couple and not their families but, marriage merges everything. From the weird uncles to the arrogant mother in laws, there are a host of family members that all of us wish we could keep in a closet. Every family has a few loose wheels. These loose wheels are the unexpected reality of wedding day chaos. 

My husband and I have weathered many storms. From losing his real estate business years ago to my numerous health issues, we saddled up and rode through the storms together. Years later, we are stronger than ever. My husband and I consider ourselves a team just as my twin sister and I do by working together at Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham. 

When I’m not with my husband at home, I’m with my sister working. My twin sister and I do everything together. From appraisal appointments to view possible trades to refurbishing items to meeting clients or executing an event, Cindy and I have fun working together and get along better with each other than anyone else in our family. 

Cindy and I have walked through barns full of snakes and met all sorts of folks. From Pawning Planners Clients bartering their Event request to rich folks who can easily write a check, it should be noted that my twin sister and I aren’t afraid of getting our hands dirty either. Cindy makes everything we do more fun. My twin keeps me laughing! Cindy is hilarious and silly while I’m far more reserved and serious. We are Compensating Personality twins. 

My sister has the uncanny ability of being able to talk to anyone about anything. Cindy has never met a stranger. When my son decided to marry years ago, I had a long talk with him about his future. Problems with “the other family” were apparent long before the actual wedding day. 

Looking back, I saw the red flags while my son couldn’t. My son and his wife communicate by arguing. I don’t understand it but, then again, I hate arguing. 

Cindy and I forbid arguing on location among our team members. Robbie and Stephanie are the only people who ever disagree with each other on location. 

Cindy and I have been referees for my son and his wife on more than one occasion. Cindy is never at a loss for words to “sum up the situation.” At one event, I had to send my son back to the suv after he accidentally deleted his wife’s sd card. Yes, my son and his wife “have their own way of communicating” but, I prefer their communicate privately as opposed to on location AND in public. 

Robert and Stephanie like Cindy and I work as a team. My son is an Officiant and his wife works as a photographer. My son tries very hard to get along with his wife’s family while I have all but given up. They are a volatile group. At the wedding, there were so many arguments that even now, I am shocked at how we managed to get through the process. 

From my daughter in laws mother to her grandmother, everyone thought they were in charge. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians? Absolutely. I worked my fingers to the bone at that wedding creating all of the flowers and centerpieces myself while struggling through thyroid cancer treatments but, don’t expect any thank you’s from people who wanted it all but didn’t want to help pay for it. I didn’t get any. 

My twin sister and I couldn’t believe how many troublemakers bothered to attend my son’s wedding but, looking back, we both wished the troublemakers had stayed home.

Planning your wedding requires “weeding your guest list.” If you know someone is going to be a problem, don’t invite them. I can’t stress this enough! Your guests and family may have plenty of advice but, unless they are writing the checks, their advice isn’t going to help you or me or my staff. 

My twin sister, Cindy is famous for her Redneck Granny Quotes used on Pawning Planners Apparel. Cindy has something to say about everything and…it’s always funny. Over the years, I’ve dealt with a wild array of clients from every walk of life. My sister has too. In fact, Cindy gets her best material on location. Usually from chili stirrers who want to be in charge. Occasionally though, the chili stirrers can be members of our own family. 

Working with your family isn’t easy. Oh sure, we’d love for every me to think we get along all of the time but the reason Cindy and I work alone is because we don’t argue. Throw our kids into the mix and there is bound to be a disagreement here and there.  

The only time our entire family work an event is when we need “all hands on deck.” These types of events require the team. From twin Event Planners to an Officiant and photographers or even a set up and tear down team, I limit full scale events due to my schedule. 

Last night, a bride I had married years ago send me a message about needing an Officiant. I quickly checked my schedule to see if I was available before suggesting my son, sister, or niece. By the time I had garnered more details, I learned that the previous client assumed that I would “just bring a complimentary photographer” as a courtesy or create floral designs “in her colors” at my own expense. 

Alarmed by these suggestions, I once again reiterated that if I had a photographer available, there would be an additional fee involved and that I no longer loan my inventory to clients other than Texas Prison Wedding bookings. My reasons for this are experience. 

Years ago, people either kept my inventory or threw bouquets damaging them. Items came up missing and no one appreciated the fact that I had spent money and time to have an inventory as a courtesy. Also, Pawning Planners Clients benefitted from photography as a courtesy. Today, only Texas Prison Wedding Clients benefit from complimentary photography and borrow inventory for their photo shoots. My reasons for this are that 1. My photographers have paying gigs. 2. I don’t have to wait around after a ceremony to collect my inventory. 3. Texas Prison or Jail Clients take photos with us immediately following the ceremony near a Unit. No one wants to “keep” my inventory. No one expects me to spend four hours on location waiting to load up my inventory either. No one expects my photographers to take 2-400 photos and be on their feet for hours at no cost. Expectations of folks “wanting everything for nothing” are now addressed up front via a contract. 

If this makes me sound rigid, I’m okay with that. I have booked clients who understand that consideration is a requirement. Why would I or my staff skip a paying gig to go volunteer? We no longer do. In fact, we haven’t in many years. 

My niece, Leigh Ann often accompanies Cindy and I to location events, it should be noted that no one on my staff volunteers. My son and his wife work as a team and like Leigh Ann, handle most of their own bookings unless they are working an event that Cindy or I were booked at as Officiants or planners or floral designers. 

If you want a photographer at your event, be prepared to pay for one unless of course, you are booking a TDCJ wedding. I handle photography myself with Texas Prison or Jail clients. Cindy also helps out with photography at location shoots near Texas Jails or Prisons. 

Explaining that editing photos is time consuming isn’t an “easy conversation.” In fact, nearly all photographers are paid to show up and not to provide photos. 

However, Leigh Ann always publishes photos as a courtesy. Robert and Stephanie do too. Booking one of my photographers can be done at an hourly rate or a mini session rate of 20 minutes. 

Please allow up to 14 days for edited photos to be published. By the way, 14 days is rocket fast. If you are expecting your photos in 3 days, you need a reality check. 

We want your event to be as seamless as possible. By working with us and understanding our limitations or policies, clients have a fun and pleasant experience. 

Aside from advising clients of what they can expect from us and what we expect from them, Open Bars continue to pose problems for my staff on location. Because of this, Open Bar Events now require security. I will no longer work an event with free flowing alcohol without safety measures in place and neither will anyone else on my team.

Over the years we’ve had far too many escapades with unpredictable clients and/or guests. If you Inlaws or Outlaws are uncontrollable sober, you can imagine the issues of inebriated Inlaws and Outlaws. As an event planner and coordinator, I’ve learned that safety first is a priority on location. 

Marriages merges families, credit, and your home. I suggest going into a marriage “with your eyes wide open.” Too many of my TDCJ Clients had no idea that an inmate had signed an Informal Marriage Affidavit at a Unit. This continues to be a problem. PLEASE ask the inmate if he or she has signed a CLM affidavit before starting your Prison Wedding Planning Process. It’s going to save us both time and spare you heartache. No one likes surprises. 

Asking too many questions as opposed to not enough questions is enlightening. You need to know if your fiancée has skeletons in the closet and you are entitled to know. Don’t be embarrassed to dig in and get to the heart of matters. 

From school loans to child support and more, a groom or brides “baggage can easily become YOUR TRIP.” Bad credit? It’s now half yours. Be aware of this. Discharged student loans AND child support are FOREVER. 

You might not have planned on taking on someone else’s debt but, marriage merges everything. 

Marriage is solely responsible for Sexually Transmitted Debt. How? MARRIAGE. Think about it. Since it’s not uncommon for a number of my clients to be either LBGT or Biracial or even Interfaith, it should be noted that Texas Twins Events, Texas Prison Weddings, and The Pawning Planners are rainbow businesses. We welcome anyone from any background. 

In fact, Texas Twins Events is well known as one of the very first openly LBGT friendly event vendors in Texas.Due to the number of inquiries regarding divorce statistics of our previous clients, it should be noted that none of my TDCJ clients have filed for divorce. Surprising right? The divorces that clients have told me about number 3. In eight years, that’s not a bad number. Did we see red flags? Yes. But, love is blind. 

Here is a heads up reality check for ya all…if you are having problems trusting your partner PRIOR to marriage, you will have far more issues AFTER marrying. Be aware of this. Love is based on trust. 

If you’ve booked with us for a wedding and are planning a Vow Renewal, be aware that marriage is a legal proceeding type of ceremony while a Vow Renewal is more of a celebration involving friends and family. There have been far more “surprises” at Vow Renewals than actual weddings. Don’t be surprised. It’s a fact. Going into your marriage, you should recognize and realize that life won’t always be wine and roses but, if you put the effort into making your marriage work, the best benefit of marriage is having a life partner forever….marriage is a serious step.