Crazy in love, Brad Lytle was facing a decision: How do you make extra special that moment when two people commit to love each other forever, when the someone you are committing to is a no-apologies fan of all things Texan?
His decision was to do it in a place iconic to Texas culture, a place dedicated to “The Friendly Pepper Upper,” no less.
Lytle’s new fiancee Haley Rohde is an Austin resident and Texas State graduate whose family lives in Kyle. He’s a manager at the Spec’s store in New Braunfels and the two had been dating about two years when he decided his birthday on Jan. 30 would be a good time to pop the question.
“She’s always grown up as one of those authentic Texas girls,” Lytle explained. “When her family would travel she would always have to have something from Texas – a Dr. Pepper, a Whataburger. That’s just how her family is.”
And that tradition has in fact paid off – Haley’s mother won a $2,000 scholarship from Dr. Pepper years ago and her daughter actually used the money for college. “It’s a running joke that they got their money’s worth,” Lytle said.
It was a happy coincidence that he is from Waco, home of the iconic Texas soda, and the Dr. Pepper museum was a place they’d often talked about visiting.
Lytle’s sister Samantha took that idea and ran with it — why not propose there, she asked him?
He contacted the museum in early January, before he and Rohde took a trip to Las Vegas. While she was enjoying the sights, he managed to keep the secret. “Our whole time in Vegas I knew I was going to propose — she had no idea.”
Over the next weeks he was in contact with the museum, where the staff was eager to go along. “It was actually the first proposal there,” Lytle said. “They were even kind of flabbergasted.”
For the occasion, Lytle knew he had to have the right prop. A former graphic designer, he decided to fashion a Dr. Pepper label where the 10, 2 and 4 was replace by 1, 30, 20 (the date he would propose) and the words “Dr. Pepper” replaced with “Marry Me.”
He located the smaller bottles of Dr. Pepper made with sugar cane at the Kyle Wal-Mart. Then, he found a logo to copy online and tweaked it on his computer. Next, he took a sticker machine, that used to belong to his scrapbooking mother, and used that to adhere it to the bottle.
On their way to the museum on his birthday, they stopped at Starbucks and Haley made a remark that made both him and his sister cringe. “She commented that the ring on her finger needed a sister. Sam and I glanced at each other,” not knowing their secret was still safe.
As Rohde was looking at the exhibits, Lytle slipped away in the direction of the gift shop. When he approached her with his redesigned bottle, she thought at first he’d just picked it up.
“She said, ‘oh yeah, that’s cool,’ and I said, ‘no, look at the date.’ She goes, ‘oh that’s crazy’ and I went to get down on one knee.” She had no idea whatsoever.”
The couple’s in no hurry to set a wedding date. “We want to have a long engagement, it’s probably going to be a couple of years. We don’t want to rush, we want to make sure everything is planned out,” he said.
Meanwhile, a video of the proposal that Lytle’s sister put on Instagram has gone viral.
“It’s taken on a mind of its own. Everybody is writing about it in Waco, Austin, New Braunfels. It’s kind of crazy. The Dr. Pepper PR team actually emailed me this morning and they are going to send Haley and me a gift which is really cool. It’s kind of overwhelming.”
The couple will now celebrate Valentine’s Day with the ring on her finger. As for the custom bottle? “She’s got it in her room on a shelf. She’ll probably keep it forever,” says the man who has committed to loving her for just that long.