It’s safe to say the wedding industry has hit peak unreasonable.

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From bridesmaids ruining friendships over the cost of being in a wedding to elaborate engagements that crave viral approval and giant wedding cakes that border on obscenity, weddings have gotten out of hand. One major player to blame in the overpriced, overdone wedding wars? Social media, of course.

When “viral” meant you should see a doctor and wedding announcements appeared in the paper, engagements were an intimate moment between a couple. Mama has always been the first to know via phone call immediately following, but the newly engaged didn’t need to prep an Instagram caption, a wedding hashtag, and a photographer hiding in the bushes to capture it all perfectly.

Not only are future husbands and wives going all out on the engagement moment, they’re following it up with engagement photo shoots after the fact. Often, couples use photos from these sessions in their save the date cards.

And that’s great! Share your love with the world. But my biggest gripe with these engagement photo shoots is when they’re meaningless to the couple. If you happened to meet, start dating, get engaged, or have any other milestone in a wheat field, you pose your behind off in that wheat field. If you as a couple are avid hikers, adventurers, and nature-lovers, go for a woodsy photo shoot that reflects your passions. If you met your partner at the ice cream parlor, have an adorable engagement photo shoot with a cherry on top. But if you have severe allergies, hate the outdoors, or are lactose-intolerant, you probably shouldn’t take photos that you’ll have for the rest of your life at one of those locations.

I understand you want the photos to be as beautiful as possible, don’t get me wrong. What I’m trying to say is this: If you’re going to go take the time and pay the cost to hire a photographer, get your hair and makeup done, buy an outfit, and find a location for an engagement photo shoot, please make it mean something. Marriage is one of the biggest commitments you can make in life. And in your engagement photos, you are professing your love and devotion for this person for all the world to see….in a random field off the highway? Go to your favorite coffee shop, the park where you take walks every Sunday, the restaurant you had your first date, anywhere. Just make it meaningful to you and your relationship. Because that’s what this is all about, remember?

The wedding industry has gotten a bit ridiculous, that I think we can all agree on. But with our sweet friend social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the fluff of it all. How are you going to see Sarah’s Instagram of her bountiful bouquet, Pinterest-worthy bridal hairstyle, and wedding venue that looks plucked off a rom-com set and not want the same for yourself? So sure—go all out (budget permitting) and “propose” to your bridesmaids, find the perfect hashtag, and have an engagement photo shoot that Instagram will swoon over. But don’t forget why all this fabulousness is happening: You’re getting married to (hopefully) the love of your life. And when the Instagram filter comes off, it’s just you two. Make every moment, every invitation, every shower, every last thing matter. Because you (probably) only get to do this once. And in 50 years, you want to look back and say, “How sweet are these engagement photos we took at the place we met/had our first date/got engaged/got married?” not “Honey, why do we have these photos of us in a cornfield? I don’t even like corn?”

WATCH: Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Etiquette

Need to brush up on your wedding etiquette? Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, Southern etiquette experts and authors of Being Dead Is No Excuse, Somebody Is Going To Die if Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet, and Some Day You'll Thank Me for This, have everything you need to steer clear of any etiquette issues you might encounter.  

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