06/01/2005 AT 4:00 PM ET
Despite living with Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood was completely taken by surprise by his May 25 proposal before a crowd of 7,000 at Buck Owens’s Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif.
“All I can say is that I am so happy,” Yearwood said after Brooks proposed. “What I’m feeling right now I would wish on anyone.”
In detailing the proposal, PEOPLE reports in its new issue that Brooks strolled onstage with Yearwood’s hand in his for the unveiling of a nearly 8-ft. tall bronze statue of himself – then pointed out a curious detail on the sculpture’s left hand: a wedding band he had asked artist Bill Rains to include.
Realizing what was up, Yearwood, 40, pouted playfully and said, “You’re not going (to do this) in front of these people?”
He was. Brooks, 43, whipped off his hat, got down on his right knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” Yearwood instantly said yes and dabbed away a tear.
“Her knees were like Jell-O,” Jerry Hufford, talent coordinator for the Palace, tells PEOPLE. “She was totally stunned. Minutes after the proposal, we asked if she’d like to perform onstage with Garth, and she replied, ‘I don’t think I can make it up the stairs.’ It took her a while to regain composure. You could tell she’d been crying.”
Still, the event couldn’t have come as a complete shock: At a May 18 Las Vegas press conference for the Academy of Country Music awards, Brooks hinted at an upcoming event that he said would rank emotionally with the births of his daughters with ex-wife.
“Some of us guessed he was going to announce he was coming out of retirement,” said Jim Shaw, who produced the Palace show, which showcased nine other bronzed legends, including Johnny Cash and Willie. “Some guessed the proposal. We knew it wasn’t that he was getting a new Hummer.”