Carlsey Bibb and Caden Mills went viral this week for taking their engagement photos in front of an Olive Garden in Cookeville, Tennessee, pretending it was Italy. The photos turned out gorgeous and fooled some folks, while many of those who got the joke saw it as a statement against the social pressure to be perfect for Instagram.
The photo shoot was the brainchild of photographer Shea Cravens. “A little over a year ago I had the idea of doing a session at Olive Garden. I mentioned it to some friends but never got around to doing it,” Cravens wrote in an Instagram caption. “Fast forward to today, it finally happened and I am so happy with the outcome.”
Most importantly, the couple was over the moon with the tongue-in-cheek photos. “They were way better than we could’ve ever imagined,” Carlsey told BuzzFeed. “We’ve never been to Italy so I didn’t know what to expect from the pictures, but when we got them back we loved them,” she added.
A video of the couple on TikTok has more than 260,000 views.
tennessee but with Italy Vibes✨ #engagementphotos #engagementphotoshoot #engagementpictures #bride #weddingtiktok
The couple was even mentioned in “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon’s monologue.
I AM SLIGHTLY FREAKING OUT. @jimmyfallon YOU MADE MY YEAR🙌🏼 MY PHOTOS GOT PUT ON TV. LIKE WHATTTTT. #thetonightshowstarringjimmyfallon #jimmyfallon #jimmyfallontonightshow #olivegarden
One of the reasons for the couple taking their photos at Olive Garden is they haven’t had a lot of time to plan their wedding. They got engaged in July and their wedding is in October. “We’ve had three months to do everything,” Carsley told Good Morning America while standing in front of the Olive Garden in Cookeville, Tennessee, adding that they “have just about everything done, but still trying to plan a honeymoon.”
“We’ve been pretty busy with everything else, so we’re just waiting around, trying to see the best time for everything for both of us so that’s where we’re at right now,” Caden told Good Morning America.
Then Good Morning America host Michael Strahan surprised them with the ultimate gift, an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Italy.
“We want to help make memories in actual Italy, not just an Italian restaurant,” Strahan told the couple. “I love the Olive Garden, and they love you so much they’re sending you on an all-expenses paid trip to Italy for your honeymoon.”
“Wow, that’s great,” Caden exclaimed. “Thank you guys.”
u201cCarlsey Bibb and Caden Miller’s engagement photos in front of an Olive Garden went viral u2014 so we surprised the couple with a trip to ITALY! ud83cuddeeud83cuddf9 https://t.co/kWY5S6wpLCu201d
— Good Morning America (@Good Morning America)
Obviously, the couple’s viral photoshoot was great publicity for the folks at Olive Garden so it makes sense for them to give them the trip. The shots show that the restaurant has made a nice attempt to give people the feeling of being in Italy with its Tuscan farmhouse-inspired facade. But the couple deserves the trip as well. They took engagement photos that were out of the box and thumbed their nose at a current-day Instagram culture that pressures everyone to be perfect.
They also gave a lot of people a good laugh.
Carlsey and Caden had a bright future together as a married couple because they already know what matters most—it’s not status or keeping up with the Joneses—but loving one another in their own unique way, regardless of what anyone thinks. It’s also about breadsticks and all-you-can-eat salad.