updated 12/12/2005 AT 8:45 AM ET
•originally published 12/10/2005 AT 10:15 AM ET
Country stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood got married in Oklahoma on Saturday at a private ceremony at their home.
“It’s the perfect Christmas gift to each other. We could not be happier,” Brooks said in a statement.
Brooks, an Oklahoma native, and Yearwood exchanged vows in front of family members, Nancy Seltzer, a publicist for the couple, told the Associated Press.
News first began circulating about their impending nuptials when they filed for a marriage license in Oklahoma’s Rogers County in Claremore on Friday morning.
In May, PEOPLE reported, Brooks popped the question before a crowd of 7,000 screaming fans at the unveiling of a bronze statue of himself at Buck Owens’s Crystal Palace, a country-music complex run by the former Hee Haw star in Bakersfield, Calif.
Brooks, 43, who has largely stayed out of the spotlight since announcing his retirement in 2000, strolled onstage with Yearwood’s hand in his. After yanking off a gold cloth to reveal the 8’-tall statue, Brooks 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 happening, Yearwood, 41, pouted playfully and said, “You’re not going (to do this) in front of these people?”
He did. Brooks 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.
Despite living with Brooks in recent years, the bride-to-be was completely taken by surprise, according to people who watched her backstage afterward. “Her knees were like Jell-O,” said Jerry Hufford, talent coordinator for the Palace. “She was totally stunned.”
At a May 18 Las Vegas press conference for the Academy of Country Music Awards, Brooks, clearly having the marriage proposal in mind, hinted at an upcoming event that he said would rank emotionally with the births of his daughters with ex-wife Sandy Brooks, 40: Taylor, now 12, August, 11, and Allie, 8. Garth and Sandy were married in 1986 and divorced in 2001.
Brooks and Yearwood first met in the late 1980s when Yearwood was an opening act on Brooks’ tour, and this will be the second marriage for him and the third for her.
Her previous husbands were musicians Chris Latham (to whom she was married from 1987-91) and Robert Reynolds (1994-2000). Both unions ended in divorce. She has no children.