Jill Porter: Married on SEPTA: In love, and on the right track

With echoes of the final scene of "The Graduate," Leann Greto and Matthew Ashby, SEPTA lovers both, pose for their official wedding photos at the Walnut-Locust subway stop.
With echoes of the final scene of "The Graduate," Leann Greto and Matthew Ashby, SEPTA lovers both, pose for their official wedding photos at the Walnut-Locust subway stop.
Posted: February 06, 2009

CERTAINLY, there are picturesque indoor places to take wedding portraits in the cold of a Philadelphia winter: the central staircase of the Art Museum, for instance, or Fairmount Park Horticultural Center.

But Leann Greto was looking for "something interesting - something I haven't seen before, something that had meaning to me."

So, when her wedding photographer suggested a SEPTA subway stop - that's correct, a subway stop - Greto, 27, was immediately intrigued.

The contrast between the stark industrial background and the formal wedding gown appealed to the arty fashionista, who's a buyer for Anthropologie and a former designer for Urban Outfitters.

She also loves, yup, SEPTA.

Greto and her friends started traveling to Center City on the Regional Rail from Ridley Park when she was 13.

"And you probably shouldn't print this, but we stole the R2 sign from one of the trains and one of my friends hung it up in her room," she recalled, with a laugh.

"We thought it was supercool."

Indeed, SEPTA is one of the reasons Greto moved into the Bella Vista section of South Philadelphia when she was 18 - mass transit made it so easy to get around.

Her fiance, Matthew Ashby, 26, also grew up taking SEPTA into town from his Yardley home.

So when the photographer suggested the SEPTA idea over the telephone to Greto, she turned and repeated it to Ashby - who agreed without hesitation.

He loved the idea.

Her mother? Not so much.

"I was stunned," said Deborah Greto.

Needless to say, it's not what she fantasized for her only daughter's wedding day.

Sure, the couple was having a traditional wedding with 175 guests at a catering hall, ice sculpture and all (even if it was of their dog, Toshi.)

But, wedding photos that would last forever, in a subway stop?

"I really thought of a gritty, grimy subway, kind of, and I was a little horrified," Leann's mom said.

And who could blame her?

So what possessed photographer Lorraine Daley to even suggest the idea?

"I absolutely adore urban spaces and architectural photography," she said by e-mail from South America, where she's traveling.

"I have been wanting to shoot a couple underground and, when I met Leann and Matthew, I realized they wanted something different. I suggested the idea to Leann and she loved it.

"I have not shot down there before but am looking for clients that would allow me to shoot in an edgy, not-your-grandma's-wedding-photos way."

SEPTA often gets requests to shoot photographs underground, said spokeswoman Sylvana Hoyos. But they're usually for commercial purposes or movies.

This is SEPTA's first wedding.

So, there were Greto and Ashby, in full formal dress on Jan. 17, a Saturday, posing for pictures at the Walnut-Locust stop, while commuters gawked and yelled out congratulations.

Leann's only worry was that it would rain and the stairway would be wet and muddy.

It didn't. And it wasn't.

"I lifted my dress up until we got to the bottom," she said.

"There was a little bit of dirt on the dress, but Lorraine said she's seen worse, by a lake."

And SEPTA, she said, was "fabulous."

Tyrone Holmes, a maintenance and security supervisor, was on site to help; he let them know when a train was arriving, for instance, so that they could shoot it in the background.

The photos - as you can see at

subwaywedding- are spectacular.

Greto's movie-star beauty and Ashby's lank hipness make the photographs look like magazine ads.

Everyone - yes, including Leann's mom - is thrilled with them.

"They're amazing," said Ashby, 26, assistant manager of the Diesel clothing store in King of Prussia.

The couple met through mutual friends and are now settled in their own home in South Philadelphia.

Leann is creating the couples' thank-you notes, which will be a little offbeat, too.

The design will include 200 canceled transfers, provided by SEPTA. *

E-mail porterj@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5850. For recent columns:

http://go.philly.com/porter

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