Not just the couple, the restaurant is also sending their photographer along with them.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 25, 2022. It has since been updated.
Tennessee couple Carlsey Bibb and Caden Mills wanted to do something unique for their engagement photoshoot. The pair were engaged in July and will tie the knot in October 2022. "I asked Shea — our photographer and longtime friend — if there was anywhere she had been wanting to shoot but hadn’t yet. That’s when she mentioned Olive Garden!" said Bibb. Although she wasn't totally sold on the idea at first, she agrees that the photos are "better than we could have imagined."
Shea Cravens, who has been a professional photographer for five years, created the images so they look as though they were shot somewhere in Italy. "When you want Italy vibes for your engagement photos, but you live in Tennessee... so you take your photos at Olive Garden," the video posted on Craven's TikTok account reads. These photos have now garnered more than 260,000 views on TikTok, catching the attention of the restaurant chain itself. The restaurant commented on Craven's Instagram reel saying, "Never-Ending calls for Never-Ending refills."
On Wednesday, when the couple appeared on Good Morning America to talk about their viral story, a surprise awaited them. Olive Garden has given them an all-expenses-paid honeymoon to Italy in October. The restaurant is not only sending the soon-to-be bride and groom but also their photographer.
Using a picture from the engagement photo shoot, the restaurant chain also shared the news on its official Instagram page. "We can't wait to see you recreate this in Italy, @carlseybibb! Oh, and we're sending you too, @hunterlasheaphotography," Olive Garden wrote in the caption. Cravens got the idea for this engagement shoot almost a year ago while having lunch there with her family, according to BuzzFeed. "I looked over at the building and said to my mom, 'This would be a cool spot to take some photos.'"
She recalled that when her friend Carlsey had asked if she "had any ideas or anything new I've wanted to try for their engagement photos and I immediately said 'Soooooo I've been dying to do a sunrise session at Olive Garden' [and] she was down for it, so we did the dang thing," according to PEOPLE. "When we started planning to do Carlsey and Caden's engagement photos, Carlsey had full trust in my idea, and I’m so grateful," she wrote. Though a little anxious initially, Cravens knew that is what she was looking for once she started taking the photos. She added, "I am so happy with the outcome."
To make sure the customers at the restaurant were not disturbed, the shoot took place around 6 a.m. before the restaurant opened. Speaking about similar experiences that Cravens has had in the past, she said, "I’ve never shot photos at any other restaurant, but I've done a photo shoot outside of Big Lots because it was a really neat area that caught my eyes to take photos at!"
Many people seem very impressed with Cravens' idea, commenting that it is "genius" and that they'd have never known it's not Italy. One user agreed and said, "Shea, bringing Tuscany to Tennessee over here." A second user who goes by @sarahtorresphotography commented: "I am in love with these!!! I would've never guessed. Genius!!" User @haleyhaysphotography agreed and wrote, "WHAT!! You’d legit never know!" Another user @mckenziedanephotography agrees, "THIS IS GREAT! It honestly works."
Mills proposed to Bibb while the couple was on vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida, this past July, after two romantic years of dating each other. Bibb posted the photo with the caption, "Carlsey Mills has a nice ring to it. Can’t believe I get to spend forever with my best friend."