SUBJECT: Prison Wedding Article
DATE: 01/23/2021 02:06:11 PM
Most women ruminate about their wedding day starting as a young girl. They fantasize about a magical venue garnished with all of the bells and whistles they can possibly imagine. The paramount goal is to be the most desirable human in the room, and for every guest to envy their current state of jubilance. It develops into their day that no one is capable of stripping away from them no matter how hard they try. This day is arranged to be nothing short of perfect.
Unfortunately, I was not able to make this dream come true for my very own wife. Luckily, I was blessed with a very wonderful woman, who is able to look beyond this facade, and realize the true almost forgotten meaning of a wedding. To be joined together in matrimony until death do us part.
When I first entered federal prison, getting married was not at the top of my to-do list. To be honest, it wasn't on my agenda at all. Without a doubt, Julie and I were truly, madly, and deeply in love since the start of this entire situation, but the idea of a marriage was only briefly discussed, and was mostly implied for the distant future.
The first time I became aware that this prison conducts weddings was shortly after my arrival here. I found it extremely bizarre that people were doing this in prison, considering my narrow perspective of what a wedding entails, but it got my curiosity rolling at the same time. I inquired with another inmate who just went through the process the previous year, and he broke it all down to me. He sold me on the idea when he described just how special to both him and his now wife the day was regardless of the circumstance. One thing that I was stuck on though, how exactly does one make a proposal behind bars?
Bringing up the idea seemed like a very awkward conversation, so I made the decision to approach it in a casual manner. "So, they have weddings coming up in a few month," I told her one day at a visit, just making conversation. We both sort of giggled at the cogitation, but didn't completely rule out the possibility. The following weeks we continued to bring up the idea briefly, and discussing it further, now with a more serious tone. Until one day she encouraged me to seek further information, and that we were in fact going to go through with this. This was the proposal.
Getting married in a prison is a lengthy, confusing, and stressful process. Well, pretty much every wedding could be described in this way, but this process was unique. First, we both had to write a letter to my counselor expressing our desire to be married to each other, we weren't required to add all the mushy gushy stuff we wanted to, just a simple request. After this was approved, I had to write several more letter to the warden and to the courts asking for special consideration to be married in the prison itself, and pay a separate fee for this consideration. After a lack of communication demonstrated by the administration, and my persistent efforts to get an answer, I finally was approved and the date of June 6th, 2019 was set.
Counting down to this day was filled with all the excitement, and stomach full of butterflies that I'm sure everyone feels. O na daily basis I'd call her and remind her just how much I love her, and how many days until we officially tie the knot. She finished up some last minute arrangements including finding a pastor, finalizing who our limited guests will be, and most importantly picking out a wedding dress. Then, the day was finally here.
The prison only arranges for one single wedding day a year, so multiple inmates gather for the ceremony, who will then share the same anniversary. After us inmates were accompanied to the visiting room by staff, our guests began to enter. My family was the first to enter the door, so we were the first up to the altar.
My wife was dressed in a stunning white dress, equipped with a barbed wire crown completely appropriate and suitable for a prison wedding. She was accompanied by her best friend, her father, my brother, mother, and sister. Her father simply told me,
"She's your problem now," as he presented his only daughter to marry me. The service was short but sweet and to the point, but the word "I do," held every bit of power. We got to enjoy a visit with each other afterwards, until the time concluded.
This wasn't the ideal wedding, but it's very special to the both of us. It was the ultimate demonstration of loyalty and commitment to one another in this situation. Plus, how many people can say they got married in federal prison?
Upon my release we do plan to have an additional ceremony, and recommit ourselves to one another. But we have no regrets for this decision we've made, and I feel extremely lucky to have married my best friend, Julie Keiter.
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