Love and Theft's Stephen Barker Liles popped the question Tuesday night to longtime love Jenna Michelle Kennedy in Fort Myers, Fla., the singer tells PEOPLE exclusively.
"I had one of my closest friends, Justin Ross Ward, drive down and set up cameras," says Liles, 29, about the surprise proposal. "Jenna and I were planning on a sunset dinner at Fresh Catch Bistro, and I called ahead and told them … to say that the table wouldn't be ready for 30 minutes so that we had to kill some time and walk on the beach."
After convincing his bride-to-be to "take her wedges off," the couple strolled to the beach, where Kennedy, 26, saw the cameras set up.
"[She] asked what they were doing, and I said, 'Probably just watching the sunset!' Then we walked closer and I got down on one knee and begged her to be mine forever," says Liles, who adds that they both cried during the proposal.
The country crooner, who asked Kennedy's mother and three siblings for their blessing last weekend, purchased his fiancée's 2.34-ct. yellow center cut diamond ring from August Stephenson, a store owned by a childhood friend in Oldsmar, Fla.
They are planning a May 2014 wedding
"I am so blessed to have [Jenna] in my life and for us to become one," Liles says. "She is my best friend and I am so grateful for the Lord bringing her into my life."
Reporting by CYNTHIA SANZ
Justin Ross Ward