Bride Sarah Young and groom John Dubitsky taking a wedding photo at Primo Hoagies in Fishtown.

About two weeks ago, Sarah Young’s father decided he no longer wants to undergo treatment for a lengthy illness. So he told his daughter — a Fishtown resident — that she should consider marrying John Dubitsky, her boyfriend of two years. She didn’t flinch: “Absolutely not.”

Little did Young know, a ring was already in the works.

After Dubitsky had a Memorial Day conversation with Young’s father, he had a thought, too: Maybe Young’s father was right. By the Tuesday after Memorial Day, Young and Dubitsky had somehow gone from “absolutely not” to planning a wedding set to take place the very next weekend. And they actually went through with it.

So was born what was maybe the most Fishtown wedding of all time, one that included two neighborhood residents, Wawa coffee, a grocery store cake complete with profanity and a grammar error, and wedding photos taken at the Primo Hoagies location across the street from their own home where they got married.

Bride Sarah Young and groom John Dubitsky celebrate their marriage in Fishtown. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Young

Young, a 31-year-old who works at a Center City hair salon, met Dubitsky, 33, at El Bar about two years ago. The two had mutual friends who worked at the popular dive bar under the Market-Frankford Line, and when Young asked a friend what she thought of Dubitsky, the friend essentially said “no way.” Young met him anyway, they hung out for the summer, and a year later bought a house together in Fishtown right across the street from Dubitsky’s favorite place to eat: Primo Hoagies.

“I used to tell him I was going to put his picture up in Primo to get them to stop serving him,” Young said. “But then he said that meant he’d need to put one of me in Loco Pez to get them to not serve me margaritas.”

Fast forward to two weeks ago. The same Tuesday that Young and Dubitsky decided they could pull off a wedding inside their home in the course of a week, Young grabbed her aunt and cousin and went to the BCBG in the Cherry Hill mall for a wedding dress.

The next day — last Wednesday — Young and Dubitsky went to City Hall and got a self-uniting wedding license, what Young called “the easiest way to get married in Philadelphia.” More family members came later in the week to decorate the house, and Young and Dubitsky picked up candy rings from a machine inside the IGA grocery store at the Port Richmond Village shopping center since the real deal was still in the works.

By the Friday before the wedding, a close friend of Young’s stopped by the house, noticed the decorations and offered to help. On Sunday morning, she ran to that same IGA on the edge of Port Richmond and picked up a cake.

“Holy shit your married,” it read. Young said her friend thought the misspelling of “your” made the cake even more perfect.

An IGA wedding cake. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Young

The two were married at 2 p.m. on Sunday. (They chose the timing because that’s when Shelby Eatonten, played by Julia Roberts, gets married in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias.) There were just a handful of people there in the living room for the ceremony — their parents, Young’s aunt, uncle and cousin, as well as Dubitsky’s sister, were there to witness it.

Because it was self-uniting, there was no officiant. Young and Dubitsky didn’t recite vows — Young said “it’s really awkward to say in front of a few people” — and high-fived to seal the deal. The newly-married couple celebrated at home with their close family, along with that grocery store cake, Wawa coffee and, of course, a tray of Primo hoagies. Young even gave her new husband a gift: A fidget spinner, “with a really nice note.”

Then Young had the idea to take a picture in front of the Primo Hoagies sign. A friend, Jenny Drumgoole, served as the photographer, and she had a suggestion: Let’s try to take a photo inside Primo Hoagies. When Young expressed concern, Drumgoole reassured her by spitting some truth: A woman in a wedding dress can get away with pretty much anything.

They walked into Primo while other customers were coming in and out, asked a man working if they could snap a few photos, and posed. And now this newly-married Fishtown couple has professional photographic evidence of their purely Fishtown wedding.

“I’m so happy we did it, and it’s definitely the way we always wanted,” Young said. “We’re both from really big families, and I don’t think we ever thought we could get away with this. But everyone has been really excited.”

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.