What Is the Process of Marrying an Inmate?

What Is the Process of Marrying an Inmate?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that marriage rates in 2022 will be the highest in nearly forty years. This extends throughout society, and especially to those hoping to get married to an inmate.

The heart wants what it wants, regardless of place or time. The circumstances may be a bit more complex than a traditional wedding, so if you find yourself hopelessly in love with someone who is incarcerated, you have probably wondered, "what is the process of marrying an inmate?"

Marrying an inmate doesn't have to be as difficult as it may seem, especially if the incarcerated individual is on good behavior and has a set release date. Regardless of the specifics, you can follow this prison wedding guide and begin planning your future with your loved one.

What is the Process Of Marrying An Inmate?

Answering this question can be a bit complex and is very dependent upon the state in which the inmate is incarcerated. You should also be prepared to fill out an extensive packet of paperwork and undergo several screenings and counseling sessions.

There is also the matter of whether that particular prison even allows marriages. Mix in the likelihood that extended visits after the ceremony are prohibited, and the big day could be very restrictive.


One of the first things you are likely to encounter when marrying an inmate is a large amount of paperwork. Not only will you have to go through all of the typical processes, but you will also have to learn about, be counseled on, and sign off on the jail's regulations. This can be a daunting process for anyone.

Begin Planning and Set A Date

The bad news here is - the jail is likely going to do this phase for you. Since there needs to be specialized staff on hand (chaplain to officiate, etc.), and some days are off limits to visitors, the facility will likely tell you when and how the ceremony can take place.

If you're the bride or are hoping to wow your future spouse with your wedding dress, you should also keep in mind that any attire will be closely inspected by jail staff. They will check for contraband that you may be attempting to smuggle into the facility, just as they would any other visitor. 

It is also a prudent idea not to wear anything that can be deemed even mildly revealing. Any garments deemed inappropriate by jail staff will not be allowed - this can delay your ceremony or worse. It is not without precedent that a bride must wear a smock over their dress if they wish to proceed.

The Big Day

Obviously, your wedding day is going to be rather untraditional when you're marrying an inmate. Let's go over some of the aspects that will look different when you're wondering what the process of marrying an inmate is.

The Officiant

Typically, officiants are chosen by the couple to be wed. They might be their clergyman, a family member, or even a friend who obtained their license specifically to join the two together as one legally. 

You should most definitely check with the facility in which you hope to have the prison wedding, but unfortunately, they are likely to choose the officiant for you. Most facilities insist on using their staff chaplain or even having the warden of the prison conduct the ceremony.

Suppose you are lucky enough to be allowed to choose your own officiant. In that case, the officiant should also prepare to adhere to the rules of the facility and prepare for inspection for contraband and appropriate attire upon entry. Everyone participating in the ceremony must abide by the facility's rules.

The Wedding Guests

Another issue that you will have to deal with is the matter of your wedding guests. A vast majority of the time, it is not allowable to have guests at all. If it is allowable to have guests on hand at the prison to bear witness to your nuptials, it will most likely have a limit of one or two guests or family members per partner.

Guests should also prepare, as everyone mentioned above, for an inspection for contraband and appropriate attire upon entry to the facility.

The Honeymoon

You should already know this, but there will not be an immediate honeymoon. Depending upon the incarcerated partner's release date, you shouldn't bother planning one until a release date is set.

In a particularly difficult set of news, most prisons won't allow for conjugal visits after the wedding ceremony. There definitely won't be any consummation of the marriage - in fact, most places aren't even going to allow the two of you to touch one another.

Make Sure You Know The Facts

Before you take any action when wondering, "what is the process of marrying an inmate," you need to know the facts. Learn every aspect of the requirements and the specific facility.

Often, prison libraries have the resources to learn these facts, so the incarcerated person could also help in the research process.

This will not be an easy process. It will take a toll on your patience as well as your heart. Your wedding day is one of the best days of your life, so you should fight for it and know everything that there is to know.

If you have more questions that weren't answered here, or you'd like to learn more about supporting inmates, check out our website.