Preacher to Go


Prison Weddings

Prison Weddings

As you know, an incarcerated person has few rights, and one thing he or she cannot demand is the right to marry.  Some wardens allow weddings, and some do not.

One recently appointed administrator of a nearby facility believes it is in the best interest for an inmate to have a family waiting for his release.   The chaplain prepares all paperwork and the bride goes to the court house to pick up the marriage license.

Before traveling to the prison for your wedding, make sure that you have followed all procedures.  One bride called to cancel at the last minute due to a mix-up.  The correctional institute has a "first visit" policy before there can be any marriage.  Even though she and her groom had known each other most of their lives, due to the long distance to the prison from her home and her lack of transportation she had not visited him while he was incarcerated.  During the eight hour trip, her friend's car was totaled when a deer ran out into the road.  After all that, she was still not allowed to get married due to her not meeting the prison's strict rules.  However, she is still determined to get married.

Since many prisons have rules regarding women's shoes, you may want to play it safe and wear loafers, tennis shoes, or low heeled pumps.  Spike heels are not permitted in many prisons.

          It is important to remember that modest dress is required.  As a female guard explained to the bride and me, men are already “lonely” and too much skin will only exacerbate the problem.  Revealing or inappropriate clothing is prohibited.

At one prison, I witnessed a woman wearing a sun-dress being turned away after driving four hours from Kentucky to Central Ohio. 

No exceptions, no bare arms, no cleavage, no loaner clothing.   Also banned are shorts, hats, gloves, flip-flops and outfits that resemble prisoner or guard uniforms.  If you are unsure if your clothing meets the requirements, call ahead.

Prisons have strict regulations which must be followed.  If weddings are allowed at all, they will be limited to specific days of the week and times.  

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t bring unnecessary personal belongings.   The prison I am most familiar with will not allow  cell phones inside the main building.   The prison additionally has rules against bringing money or gifts for inmates.   Also, you may be searched at any time and any contraband will be seized.  As long as you abide by the rules you have nothing to worry about. 

No cameras are allowed which means there are no wedding photographs.

Remember to bring your identification.

Although physical contact is limited, inmates are permitted to hug and kiss their visitors.  This means the groom is allowed to give his wife a brief embrace at the end of the ceremony.

Use your inside voice and be pleasant.