Valentine’s Day didn’t go as planned for Luke Bryan and his wife Caroline this year.
Though the pair normally treat themselves to an extended hotel stay in downtown Nashville, Bryan says his wife wanted to switch it up.
“She came to me a week before Valentine’s Day and said, ‘Listen, we’ve been busy, you’re busy, don’t plan anything elaborate,’ the country star tells PEOPLE.
Even more the reason to stay in for the holiday: Caroline came down with the flu. Hard.
“I was home and she started running a fever,” Bryan, 43, says. “I’m a hypochondriac. I was like, ‘Oh my God I’m gonna get it!’”
He continues: “I had to go do press for American Idol. So, somehow, I left her, and she laid in bed for literally four days. I’ve never seen her lay in bed for more than one day. I go do press, come back … she’s still got the flu. We had originally planned to not have a big, elaborate Valentine’s Day anyway, but her having the flu made it funny in its own way. She’s better now!”
Joked Caroline on Instagram, “When I said I wanted to spend Valentine’s Day in bed, this isn’t what I meant.”
Upon returning home to Nashville, Bryan decided to surprise his wife of 13 years with a romantic gesture.
But not with roses, jewelry or a candlelit dinner: A Dairy Queen ice cream cake.
The frozen treat is “sentimental” for the couple, Bryan tells PEOPLE.
“I don’t want to send someone who works for me to get the cake; it’s not the point,” he explains. “I walked into the Dairy Queen and the girl behind the counter was shocked, like, ‘What are you doing here?’ She was a little starstruck.”
“So I asked her, ‘Can you write, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day Caroline’ on the cake?’ Well this is, like, the third year in a row I’ve gone and they mess up. They can’t write it out because they’re shaking so bad! We have fun with it.”
He adds, “An ice cream cake bails me out every time I’m in trouble.”
Bryan first met Caroline at a local bar when they both were attending Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia.
They married in 2006 and have two sons together, Thomas “Bo” Boyer, 11, and Tatum “Tate” Christopher, 9, and also raise Bryan’s 18-year-old nephew Til.
2020 is already shaping up to be a big year for the Georgia native. In addition to starting his third year as a judge on American Idol, Bryan is releasing a new beer with Constellation Brands called Two Lane American Golden Lager, as well as his seventh studio album, Born Here Live Here Die Here.
“Growing up, I was always in a boat, floating down a river with my friends drinking a beer or having one after a long, hard day of work — there’s no better way to decompress,” Bryan says of his latest project. “We just want this beer to fill those voids — check those boxes for beer drinkers out there and even create some new beer drinkers.”
Two Lane will become available March 2 in liquor and grocery stores throughout the Southeast: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida.
Bryan’s first album since 2017’s What Makes You Country, the new album is set for an April 24 release date, with a summer tour to follow.
“Nothing is more exciting than writing a great song, freaking out, sending it to your producer, your manager and your record label and letting your friends and your family listen, and playing it for my wife,” Bryan says. “That stuff really still excites me. The second it stops exciting me, then I’ll find me a fishing boat somewhere and retire quietly.”
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