Michelle Tauber
February 06, 2013 08:00 AM

She had never been in love before. Then, a few years ago, Kelly Clarkson finally figured out why, she says.

“I was dating skinny jeans and I needed Wranglers,” the singer, 30, tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

So when she fell hard for music manager Brandon Blackstock a year ago, she knew it was something special.

Relaxing at their Nashville home together in December, Clarkson recalls, “Out of nowhere I just said, ‘Thanks for being an awesome guy.’ I’ve never been loved properly by a man, and I was just like, ‘I thank you so much for that.’ ”

What she didn’t realize was that Blackstock, 36, was about to propose. “Not a damn clue!” she says. “If I did I would have worn something besides Uggs and a sweatshirt with no bra.”

RELATED: Kelly Clarkson & Fiancé Brandon Blackstock Attend Inaugural Ball

Now the couple is busy planning an “earthy” outdoor fall wedding at home – think yellow roses for Texas – while Clarkson also works on two new albums and preps for the Grammys on Feb. 10.

“I didn’t know life could be this happy,” she says.

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