The couple were friends since elementary school, before their relationship blossomed into something more.
“I remember seeing Lauren for the first time in second grade, and I don’t know how much in love you can be as a second-grader, but I just remember being like, ‘She is extremely attractive,’” Rhett said on the SiriusXM’s Exit 209 with Storme Warren Podcast. “And then moving forward, I think the first time we ever actually really hung out was at church camp in sixth grade.
“There’s a hilarious photo on her Instagram page of us standing there, and I’m like a whole foot and a half shorter than her,” he continued. “I’ve got braces. I dyed my hair black that summer for church camp. She was always just a really kind person.”
Rhett and Akins dated in high school before splitting up to date other people. Akins went on to date someone for five years, and when that relationship ended, Rhett asked her out again.
“I was just like, ‘Look, [I’ve] been in love with you since I was 16 years old,’” Rhett told her at the time. “‘I just signed a record deal. I’m not sure if you’re gonna enjoy this life. But, I feel like we should at least give dating one more shot, just so I can check it off my list. Because I can’t really be friends with you. We’re either gonna date and get married or we’re moving on.’ So, we started dating for like three months, and I just knew.
“After three months of dating, she was like, ‘So when are we gonna get married?,'” he recalled. “‘Cause there was no dating that needed to happen. We already knew everything about each other. We knew each other since we were really little kids.”
Rhett went to Lauren’s father to ask permission to marry his daughter, a meeting that didn’t go exactly according to plan.
“I did not show up unannounced. I actually called Lauren‘s dad and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna come over. I would like to ask you a question,'” Rhett told BMLG. “And if you know my wife’s dad, he is one of the most amazing but also crazy humans on this planet. And so he goes, ‘What are you coming over here for, to ask me if you wanna marry my daughter? I mean the answer’s yes, but you can come over here if you want to.’ And so I was like, ‘Alright, well, on my way.’ I get to the front door and he’s just standing at the front door with a video camera. And he’s like, ‘Alright Tom, ask me what you wanna ask me.’
“And that just completely broke all the ice,” Rhett continues. “He knew it was happening anyway. But I’ll just never forget that because it was the most untraditional asking your wife’s dad for permission to marry them or whatever. But I remember that so vividly, and he still, every year at Christmas he shows me that video.“
Rhett proposed to Akins inside a private room at Akins’ favorite restaurant, Giovanni’s.
“There was a [wine] bottle, and with a silver Sharpie, I wrote ‘marry me?’ on the bottle, and she wrote ‘Well, duh, yes’ on the bottle,” Rhett said at the time (via The Boot). “Somebody cued ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Frank Sinatra, and we danced in this little cigar room. It was pretty awesome.”
Now that they are the proud parents of four daughters, Rhett is just as in love with Akins as ever, even after all the years.
“You truly are part angel, part woman,” Rhett gushed to Akins on Mother’s Day in 2022. “I thank God every day you chose to spend your life with me. You are the best momma our kids could ever ask for. Having four little ones is no joke and you do it with such patience, love and grace. It’s inspiring.”
Rhett is still as in love with Akins as ever, and maybe more. She served as the inspiration for his recent No. 1 hit, “Angels,” which marked his 21st time at the top of the charts.
“Lauren’s been through the wringer with me in the van days, the bus days, and now today’s days, and she’s always taken my life as a champ,” Rhett told Southern Living. “I say this a lot before I play the song live, but I look at Lauren sometimes and I do truly wonder every now and then if her body is completely just taken over by an angel, because it takes a lot of patience to be married to somebody like me.”
Find all of Rhett’s music and tour dates at ThomasRhett.com.