The best dressed country couples on the CMT Artists of the Year red carpet looked thrilled to have a reason to dress up and party. There was nothing to mask the identity of the artists and their significant others, and that led to a lot more smiles.

Dark colors for autumn dominated this red carpet (OK, it was technically black, but you get it), but singers like Brooke Eden, Hillary Scott from Lady A and Morgane Stapleton wore more vibrant shades. Walker Hayes (and his wife, Laney) worked the media room, talking about his new song "Fancy Like" and more before performing it for the very first time at a formal event.

The honorees were Kelsea BalleriniGabby BarrettKane BrownLuke Combs and Chris Stapleton, with Mickey Guyton earning the Breakthrough Artist of the Year honor and Randy Travis being presented the Artist of a Lifetime award. Most of these artists were on hand for the Wednesday night (Oct. 13) ceremony in Nashville, but not everyone walked the carpet or posed for pictures. Presenters Eric Church and Garth Brooks were two that held back.

The show aired live on CMT and was back to normal after a year off due to the pandemic. Brooks presented Travis with the Artist of a Lifetime award, making for one of the more moving segments of the 90-minute telecast. Brown also paid tribute to the country legend with a cover of his classic, "Three Wooden Crosses."

2021 CMT Artists of the Year Red Carpet - Country's Best Looks

It's been a really long time since country music fans witnessed a "normal" red carpet, but the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony provided just that. The show happened on Wednesday night (Oct. 13) at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Below, find pictures of Jon Pardi, Chris Stapleton, Walker Hayes, Gabby Barrett and their spouses. Plus Kane Brown and more with special guests!

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