Lauren Akins and Thomas Rhett, who is up for three honors, graced the red carpet at Sunday night's ACM Awards - with Akins' baby belly on full display

By Jen Juneau and Mark Gray
April 02, 2017 07:35 PM

Thomas Rhett might be the one up for three awards at the 2017 Academy of Country Music awards, but on the red carpet, Lauren Akins‘ baby bump is the “Star of the Show.”

The country singer-songwriter, 27, and his wife arrived at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile arena on Sunday with Akins’ belly on full display in a gold sequined, long-sleeve dress.

While the night had just begun, Rhett was already focused on life’s next adventure, telling PEOPLE he’s “getting into daddy mode and looking forward to this crazy transition in life.”

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Rhett is nominated for song of the year (as both artist and songwriter on “Die a Happy Man“) and male vocalist of the year. (He won both.) In addition to expecting a baby girl, the couple are also in the process of adopting a child from Africa.

“I’m really just pumped to see what they’re into,” Rhett told PEOPLE on Sunday of his new family. “Two kids, do they want to do music, do they want play guitar or do they want to play soccer? I’m excited to indulge in whatever they’re excited in. I can’t wait to see them on the side of the stage with their little headphones on.”

In the press room after his wins, Rhett added, “My next milestone is to be the best dad that I humanly can. Anyone that has kids that’s toured with them, whether it’s Dierks or Luke — I talked to Hillary Scott today from Lady A — and I’m just trying to get as much advice as possible on how to be a dad but also play 200 shows a year. I’m really nervous about being a dad but I also can’t wait to indulge in my children’s lives and see what they’re interested in. That’s my next goal, is to figure out how to be a dad.”

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RELATED VIDEO: Thomas Rhett and Wife Lauren Expecting a Baby – and Adopting a Child from Africa

Married for four years, the pair announced their big news (times two!) in February, telling PEOPLE the pregnancy came as a surprise — and the timing couldn’t have been more ironic.

“When we began the adoption process, we said, ‘Let’s wait, let’s give this adopted child his or her time with us and then we’ll continue our family,‘ ” said Akins, 27. When she began experiencing morning sickness, she was convinced it was food poisoning.

“I was in complete and utter shock!” Rhett admitted. “No one is ever prepared for something like that. It is almost like we suddenly had twins.”

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Akins made her baby-bump debut in March at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Inglewood, California, dressed in a black off-the-shoulder bump-hugging dress with ruffled bell sleeves.

“Hey heyyyyy @iheartradio awards are here and baby bump is OUT,” the mom-to-be captioned an Instagram post.

The couple has graced a number of red carpets over the past couple of months, but one in particular — the Grammy Awards — was difficult to maneuver considering their then-secret.

“It was almost impossible to not mention it during interviews on the carpet,” Rhett told PEOPLE exclusively in February, with Akins adding, “To say that we’re excited to finally be able to talk about it is an understatement.”