“I had such an amazing time,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I felt like a queen on the carpet and it was so great to see friends that we don’t get to see all the time on the road.”
The “Criminal” singer, 29, stunned in a sparkly white gown by NBD and kept her look sleek with a high ponytail and jewels by Nashville-based designer Brooke Worthington.
“The females totally stole the night for me,” says Ell. “Carrie Underwood made such a great comeback performance, Lauren Alaina‘s and Maren Morris‘s vocals were off the charts … Reba McEntire, Kelsea Ballerini, Julia Michaels and Kelly Clarkson all made the women of country music proud!”
Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
Stapleton led the nominations with eight nods in coveted categories including entertainer of the year, male vocalist of the year, and album of the year.
The 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards were broadcast live from Las Vegas on CBS starting at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday.