Love’s first sight at FSC: From meeting to marriage


Photo courtesy of Emma Lauren Poole | van den Berg proposing to Roth at Lake Morton.

Caroline Bryant
Features Editor

Seeing each other at an intramural seminar during a 2020 Scholar’s Weekend, senior Emery Roth and graduate student Craig van den Berg did not expect to be on the same plane heading towards Atlanta from Florida Southern. Excited to see her Scholars Weekend crush, Roth “crawled over three rows of seats” to hand her phone to him to get his number.

Little did they know their meet-cute was just the start of what would be a long-lasting relationship, an engagement and a marriage.

After three and a half years of dating, the two discussed getting engaged. While Roth believes that an engagement should be planned, she believes the proposal should be a surprise. With that, van den Berg devised multiple schemes to catch Roth off guard.

His first idea was to fake an arrest. Just days before the proposal, van den Berg marched into the Campus Safety office and asked the employee behind the desk if he would help him out. Instead, the officer replied, “I think I’ve got the right guy for you.”

Lakeland Police Dept. Officer Leach was called down to the office. He shared his idea with Leach and he was excited to help.

van den Berg then reserved a table at Nineteen61 restaurant in downtown Lakeland to convince Roth the proposal would happen at their dinner.

“After dinner, I said, ‘Yeah I got to take you home right now, I’m going downtown with the boys,’ and just left her high and dry so that she was completely confused,” van den Berg said.

Downtown with his friends, Leach pulled up to initiate the fake arrest. But right before Roth was called to pick up van der Berg and his stuff, the two decided not to go through with it. Not only did Leach’s wife think it was a bad idea, but they didn’t want to scare Roth.

Back to the drawing board, they agreed to have Leach call Roth another day to pick up van den Berg’s lost wallet instead.

On Dec. 9, Roth was called down to Lake Morton to retrieve the wallet. Alongside Leach’s body camera footage, Roth’s roommate senior Emma Lauren Poole hid behind a nearby wall capturing the memory. Poole jumped out to take more snaps once Roth said yes.

Dec. 16 the two were married in an intimate ceremony at Hollis Gardens. Under the sprinkling rain, van den Berg’s fraternity big brother, alum Bobby McLaughlin, officiated the wedding.

While Roth says the wedding was “a labor of love,” their families started to plan the wedding the second they heard the two were planning their engagement in November. Since the couple already had the date picked out, they did whatever they could to help.

“Our parents were absolute miracle workers,” Roth said. “Craig and I are so lucky to have such great people in our lives because they managed to plan a wedding from the time that we decided that we were going to go through with this and do this up until December 16. They had like slightly less than a month to plan everything and they volunteered to do it because they knew Craig and I would be in finals.”

Celebrating their one-month wedding anniversary, the two are enjoying married life. While getting married in college wasn’t what Roth’s younger self expected of her, she wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s definitely not the way I expected or planned, it’s not something that I would’ve chosen for myself when I was younger, but I trust Craig and I love the partner he is and he is the only person in the world I can see myself doing this with, which is how it should be,” Roth said.


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