What you didn't see on TV at the 2019 CMT Awards

There are a lot of music awards shows, and a lot of country music awards shows at that, and they all have similar names. For example, there's the Academy of Country Music Awards, the Country Music Association Awards, and the Country Music Television Awards. That last one, better known as the CMT Awards, is probably the hippest, hottest, and most fun, because it's put on by the country music equivalent of MTV, so it features a lot of young, stylish, and up-and-coming talents from the world of steel guitar-laced twangy songs about lovin' and livin'.

The annual CMT Awards are a major TV event, and certainly attract a lot of media coverage, but with so many stars — Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Kane Brown, Keith Urban, and more — converging in Nashville for an evening of accolades and partying, there's a lot more going on than just what makes it into the broadcast. Here's everything CMT's cameras didn't capture at the 2019 CMT Awards. 

Jwoww wowed with a new boyfriend

Like every other big-time entertainment industry trophy distribution event, the CMT Awards feature a "red carpet." (Although technically, it was a "blue carpet," sponsored by People magazine.) All the stars and their guests must pass through this conclave of fans, photographers, and reporters, simultaneously announcing their arrival at the big show while also showing off their sparkly and expensive outfits. Country music's biggest stars and CMT Awards presenters alike all paused for the press, but arguably the arrivals that stunned the most were those of JWoww and Zach Clayton Carpinello. 

The Jersey Shore bombshell, also known as Jenni Farley, was on hand to present an award with Dancing With the Stars-winning radio personality Bobby Bones. Carpinello, a pro wrestler, was there as JWoww's date. According to Life and Style, the couple confirmed its coupledom in April 2019, but the red carpet appearance at the 2019 CMT Awards marked the stars' public debut as a pair. (Hitting the red carpet together is the celebrity equivalent of going to prom, so they must be pretty serious.)

Midland took its bromance to the next level

Midland was nominated for group video of the year for "Burn Out," but lost to the Zac Brown Band's "Someone I Used to Know," but no matter, because the members of this young, country-rockish trio didn't take themselflves or the event too seriously. According to Taste of Country, Midland bassist Cameron Duddy was spotted handing out beers to fellow CMT Awards attendees as the show progressed. Duddy even got a makeshift game of beer pong going. 

It should've been clear when Midland arrived on People's pre-show blue carpet that the group was there to have good time. Lead singer Mark Wystrach is a newly engaged man, having proposed to activewear entrepreneur Ty Haney in May 2019 — and just before the CMT Awards he made it official…to his bandmates. He got down on one knee and proposed to Duddy and guitarist Jess Carson. "Jess, Cameron, would you guys officially be in my wedding? Be my groomsmen?" They said yes!

The awards are part of a massive music festival

The CMT Awards aren't a standalone event. As if Nashville (aka Music City), didn't already celebrate its country music heritage and industry all the time, the CMT Awards are a mere preview attraction to a days-long country music celebration called CMT Fest. Officially kicking off the morning after the CMT Awards, this Coachella of Country features more than 300 bands and singers performing at numerous venues in and around Nashville. 

"I got like four shows tomorrow, three meet and greets, two acoustic shows and I love it, because the road life can become very robotic," performer Jimmie Allen told Nashville TV station WKRN. Giving a little taste of the embarrassment of riches of live music to come, show performer Carrie Underwood played at the Fan Club Party at the historic Grand Ole Opry the day before the CMT Awards, during which she sang from an outdoor stage in Nashville's Centennial Park. Locals were admitted for free to see the American Idol winner perform "Southbound."

It's in the bag

Maybe the greatest part of being a famous and rich person is that companies give you tons of expensive stuff for free…even though you could totally afford it. That's the reasoning behind "swag bags" or "presenter gift bags." It's common for awards shows to luxuriously thank the people who go out on the stage to read lines off of a teleprompter and then hand a trophy to a winner with a ton of free stuff. The 2019 CMT Awards were no exception. 

Presenters – including radio personality Bobby Bones, singer Hunter Hayes, actress Kate Bosworth, and Modern Family star Sarah Hyland — had quite the bounty waiting for them backstage. Each bag of swag included a bottle of wine from hosts Little Big Town's Four Cellars Winery; a high-end Yeti tumbler; a special clutch made by Kat Von D filled with some samples from the tattoo celebrity's makeup line; and a package of gummy candies that double as a sleep aid. Perhaps the most "country music" item in the package: various hemp-based products made by Willie's Remedy. That's a company founded by country music legend and noted marijuana (and hemp) enthusiast Willie Nelson.

Luke Bryan and a production assistant are islands in the stream

Luke Bryan is one of the biggest stars in country music today, and he was one of the most famous names in attendance at the 2019 CMT Music Awards. The easygoing American Idol judge took the stage to perform his suggestive new single "Knockin' Boots." That was televised, of course. What viewers didn't see at home was Bryan keeping the party and good times going when the cameras cut to a commercial break. 

While those who tuned in to CMT saw ads, fans in attendance at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena witnessed Bryan grab the hand of a woman working on the show — she was directing the camera operators in the section where VIPs sat — and engage her in a bit of spontaneous dancing. To keep show-goers pumped up between televised segments, organizers piped in pre-recorded music. When Bryan heard Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton belt out their 1983 classic "Islands in the Stream," he apparently couldn't resist cutting a rug. (They even did a little twirl.)