By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 10/21/2017
Occurred: 8/19/2017
Topics/Keywords: #Autobiography #KeithJim #Wedding Page Views: 354
All the photos from my wedding to Keith Jim.
Paul S. Cilwa

Oh, joyous day! Today I married my love, Keith Jim, in a small, family ceremony near Sunset Crater, just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona (location chosen because it's between Phoenix, where Keith and I and much of my family live, and Shiprock, New Mexico, where most of Keith's family lives.

Neither Keith nor I are ones to require much ceremony for things. So there wasn't as much planning for this wedding as is often the case. However, the result was something much more fun and spontaneous than a typical wedding. So I call it a win!

Although we had picked the (approximate) date at least six months ago, for whatever reason we found ourselves not really making plans until a few weeks ago.

Originally, we had thought to have the wedding on August 21st, during the eclipse of the sun, in Durango, Colorado. However, that location proved too inconvenient for most of our families to visit. And, it turned out that my grandson, Zach, had to be in Manhattan for school on the 20th. So we moved the date to August 19th, and the location to Flagstaff, but still no specific location.

It was on a camping trip in mid-July that Keith and I found the perfect spot to have the wedding, in a meadow near Sunset Crater National Monument, immediately northeast of Flagstaff. The meadow isn't actually in Sunset Crater National Monument, and we were told we wouldn't need permission to have a quick ceremony there. But I was still a little nervous, so we decided to hold a "flash wedding", that is, we would show up, set up chairs, sit, have the ceremony, and clean up—all in less than 30 minutes.

I determined the planetary coordinates for the location and put it on the invitations.

And even then the plans weren't complete! Our first choice of reception venue, a public park (we were picturing a cookout), turned out to be less-than-ideal after all, and we changed that to the Taverna Greek Restaurant. Keith found a party rental place in Flagstaff and made arrangements for us to rent 25 folding chairs for the occasion, and the wedding was on!


Keith and I arose at 5 AM on the day, along with Keith's twin, Chris, who spent the night so he could ride with us to Flagstaff. After breakfast, we made our way up I-17, intent on delivering the wedding cake safely to the restaurant and then picking up the rental chairs and deploying them to our meadow in time for the wedding.

Meanwhile, Keith's family was caravanning from Shiprock, as was mine from Phoenix.

Our timing was a little off. We dropped off the cake and picked up the chairs without incident. (I was a little amazed that I could fit 25 folding chairs in the back of my Rav4!) But it was then too soon to go to the wedding location. There's no cell service there, and I wanted us to be contactable if anyone had trouble finding it. So instead we met with Keith's family for brunch at Village Inn.

Which put us deep in Flagstaff itself when people starting calling and texting that they'd gone to where the wedding was supposed to be, and where was everyone?

But we made it to our meadow, and so did everyone else, and that's what counts, right?


As guests pulled up to the parking area, Keith and I helped them step into the meadow, while chairs were brought down to the area selected. It was a few minutes past our announced time of 1:30 PM, but it's not like they could start without us!

Zach Rizzo

The weather couldn't have been more perfect. The sun was hot but the air temperature was reasonable. And the San Francisco Peaks (Doko'oosliid) were stunning in the sunlight.

Zach Rizzo
John D. Cilwa
John D. Cilwa
John D. Cilwa
John D. Cilwa

We chose this meadow partially because its backdrop was the San Francisco Peaks, one of the Four Sacred Mountains that mark the borders of the traditional Navajo (Diné) lands. However, there was a bit of a dip from the paved parking area and the meadow itself, which made it impossible for Michael's sister, Surya, to make it down there with her walker. Fortunately there was a concrete apron from which she could safely observe.

Zach Rizzo
Molly Jim-Bottom
Zach Rizzo
John D. Cilwa

My own ex, Michael Manion, is an ordained minister (as am I) and officiated the ceremony. He had asked Keith and me if we wanted to make up our own vows, or use traditional ones? And we tried to decide, but decided to decide later, and then completely forgot. And Michael hadn't brought a copy of the traditional ones. So, when Michael asked if Keith and I would recite our vows, we had a clumsy moment when we realized no vows were there, there was no phone signal in order to look one up, and none of us had the traditional ones memorized. Between Karen, me, and Michael, we managed to put together most of the parts…"Do you take this man…"

Molly Jim-Bottom
Isaac Navajo

"You may kiss…"

John D. Cilwa
John D. Cilwa
John D. Cilwa

With the ceremony completed, we loaded the rental chairs back into my SUV, made sure no trash had been left behind, and drove back into Flagstaff and the Taverna restaurant where the reception was to be held.

After ordering, we got in photos of Keith and me with my family, as both Karen and Zach had to hurry back to Phoenix to catch flights to the East Coast. In addition to myself and Keith, the below photos include my grandson Zach Rizzo and daughter Karen Cilwa; Zach and his girlfriend, Shani; and my son John.

L2R: Keith, Surya (Michael's sister), me, Michael

While there, we also got the requisite photo of Keith and me holding our Certificate of Marriage…

Molly Jim-Bottom

…and showing off our tungsten rings.

John D. Cilwa

Then we just had to wait for the food. Which probably wasn't really an excessive amount of time; but Karen and Zach were concerned about making it back to Phoenix in time for their flights.

John D. Cilwa
John D. Cilwa

The food finally arrived. Unfortunately, Karen, Zach, and John couldn't stay any longer, and had to ask for their orders to go. And then, that took time. So, while the rest of us began to eat, John grabbed some candids of us dining.

John D. Cilwa

L2R: Yoshi (Tachini) Little (our roommate), Cilla Percy (Keith's school friend).

John D. Cilwa

John D. Cilwa

Dedrick (Deedz) Dan (Keith's best friend), Celia Muñoz(Dedrick's girlfriend).

Then it was time for the wedding cake. We had decided to just get a sheet cake, since there were really too few people present for a towering layer cake. And, since Keith and I are both superhero fans, we decided to use a couple of action figures as our cake toppers. A couple of people asked "Which of you is which?" But Keith and I admire both Superman and Captain America, so the answer is, "They are us."

Paul S. Cilwa
Molly Jim-Bottom

When we were done eating, we gathered around Taverna's fireplace to get photos of Keith's family.

L2R: Isaac Navajo, Chris Jim, Dedrick Dan, Paul S. Cilwa, Keith Jim, Yoshi Little, Cilla Percy.

L2R: Christine Jim-Bottom, Molly Jim-Bottom, Monqiue O'Brien, Mary, Jarryd Jim-Bottom, Erica John, Keith Jim, Paul S. Cilwa, Norma Jim, Chris Jim, Amy John, Sonya John.

Finally, after hugs all around, we all dispersed toward our individual destinations. And everyone made it home safely. So, the ceremony, despite the lack of garters, bouquets, new things and blue things, and so on…was a huge success.

Just as I expect our marriage to be.