In 2005, Ms. Goetsch’s parents divorced; her father moved to Branford, and her mother to nearby Guilford. Ms. Goetsch was no longer an Islander, technically. But her dream after graduating from Brown had been to move to New York and land a job in the media industry. Mr. Whalen, who had graduated from N.Y.U. in 2006 and working at Fabrique USA, a Branford company that makes computer carrying cases and accessories ended things. “I didn’t want to hold her back,” he said.
They reconnected in 2013, after Ms. Goetsch moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and went to work for MongoDB, a technology company. “We started talking over text, flirting a little,” she said. That May, she met Mr. Whalen for a dinner date at Barcelona, a wine bar in New Haven, Conn.
“We had grown up a bunch,” he said. “Everything snapped back together.” For a while, anyway. In September 2015, Ms. Goetsch entered an M.B.A. program at Yale while continuing to work full time in New York. Her obligations left her little time for a relationship. This time, she ended things. “It was devastating,” Mr. Whalen said. “I blocked her number like an immature child.”
By the end of 2016, he was feeling less spurned than sad that she was no longer in his life. He unblocked her number and texted her. “I said, ‘I miss you,’” he said. They got back together a second time. In 2017, he moved to Greenpoint to be with her and work remotely for Fabrique; she is now a business operations manager for Amazon Web Services.
On Oct. 25, 2018, during a trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Mr. Whalen proposed. A June 20, 2020, wedding for 150 in Old Lyme, Conn., had to be postponed because of the pandemic. So did a second date of Aug. 8. Then, inspiration struck. In May, the couple moved, temporarily, to Guilford. “It’s always so beautiful around here in the summer,” Ms. Goetsch said. A lot of their Creeker and Islander friends with boats were still in the area. “So we came up with this flotilla wedding idea,” she said.