Dillon Carmichael + Shayla Whitson — Country’s Greatest Love Stories
Despite his penchant for goofy, upbeat breakup anthems such as "Hot Beer," Dillon Carmichael can actually be quite romantic. His picturesque proposal to his now-fiancée, Shayla Whiston, proves it.
Carmichael surprised Whitson during a sweet, woodsy photoshoot that was supposed to be in celebration of their second anniversary as a couple. What Whitson didn't know, however, was that Carmichael had recently made a secret trip to her hometown to get her parents' blessing, and the photographers were actually there to capture the special moment when he got down on one knee.
"As soon as I got down on one knee, she said yes," Carmichael later recounted to People, who debuted the romantic pictures and the couple's proposal story. "I was so nervous that I pretty much blacked out! I don't remember anything after that."
It was a proposal that was over two years in the making. Carmichael recalls that Whitson first caught his eye during one of his shows in their shared home state of Kentucky, making such an impression on him that she held his attention throughout the set.
"I even went over to my guitar player that night and was telling him about how beautiful I thought she was, right there in the middle of the show. I thought there was an angel standing there," the singer recalls.
Their relationship started out slow -- in fact, he was too shy to go up and talk to her that first night at his concert, but fortunately she came over and talked to him -- but Carmichael remembers making little romantic gestures, like always making sure she was on the guest list for every show he played, no matter what.
"Whether she could make it to a show or not, she knew her name was on my guest list. If she showed up at the show, she was getting in," he recounts. "She always had a special place in my heart, even though we didn't know each other really well at the beginning."
He also had a sixth sense that he and Whitson would wind up getting married one day, even before they actually got together.
"I had told my band I was gonna marry her before we were even dating because I just knew it," Carmichael remembers. "I would even tell her, 'I'm going to marry you one day,' before we started dating, which is kind of an absurd thing to say. But now that it's actually happening, I guess it's not that absurd."
By the end of 2019, they weren't just dating: The couple were living together, and they shared a dog named Parker. Carmichael shared their love story with fans in his song "I Do for You," and Whitson appeared as his co-star in the song's lyric video, which was shot on their property.
"We were laying in bed one night talking about, 'What does this song mean,' and what the video would be," Carmichael recalled to The Boot at a red carpet event in Nashville in late 2019.
"And then we get a call from management, and they're like, 'We really think Shayla should be in the video.' It was so funny, because [we had just been] talking about that," he continues. "So we were at our house, on our land, built fires on our property, shot the video at home inside our house. It just really felt so genuine and turned out great."
For her part, Whitson told The Boot at the same event that she loved the extra layer of authenticity the video gave the song.
"You can see how much we care for each other and love each other. The comments on it even -- you can get the picture," she explained. "People were like, 'It seems so real!' And that's because it is."
At that time, being in the public eye was still a new feeling for Whitson, and she said she was grateful to Carmichael's fan base for being so overwhelmingly supportive and kind.
"It's something I never thought I would be doing, ever!" she exclaimed, speaking about her experiences of acting in music videos and attending red carpet events at Carmichael's side. "I'm from a really small town in Kentucky, so all this is awesome -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for sure."