A Networking Event That Sparked a Romantic Partnership

Michael Owen Landsberger’s sister told him that he probably shouldn’t ask out Alyssa Rachel Petersel given the way they met on May 16, 2019.

Mr. Landsberger, 37, was on a first date with a woman he met on Bumble. Ms. Petersel, 31, was the woman’s client. Toward the end of the event in Manhattan that Mr. Landsberger’s date had invited him to — a party put on by Start Small Think Big, a nonprofit group that helps small businesses grow — the women crossed paths. For Mr. Landsberger, who was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the moment was electric. “I was pretty drawn to Alyssa,” he said. “I thought, Wait, how about I get to know this girl?”

Ms. Petersel is the founder and chief executive of MyWellbeing, a company formed in 2017 that matches people seeking mental health care with therapists. She had attended the Start Small Think Big party as a speaker — hers was among the businesses that had been helped by the organization. Mr. Landsberger’s date had helped start-ups, including Ms. Petersel’s, company with pro bono marketing consulting as a volunteer.

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Mr. Landsberger worked in marketing, too. He was the chief executive of Flimper, a social media marketing tool; he is now head of growth and innovation at Pumpkin, a pet insurance company. At the party, Ms. Petersel, who lived in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, asked him whether Flimper might benefit MyWellbeing. He left with her business card.

Asking Ms. Petersel for a date once he departed with his date, who he liked but didn’t feel much chemistry with, seemed like a fraught proposition. So he texted his sister, Morgan Edwards, for advice. “Do you think I can ask her out?” he asked. “Mmm, no,” she responded. “To me it shows that you’re not paying attention to the person you’re with.”

The next day, May 17, he messaged Ms. Petersel on LinkedIn anyway. “Hey Alyssa,” he wrote. “Want to grab a coffee sometime and talk about your social media strategy?” That late-May strategy session, at a Joe & the Juice in SoHo, landed him a first date with Ms. Petersel a week later, at Habana Outpost, a Cuban restaurant. “He was very charming and funny,” she said. By August, they were a couple.

Ms. Petersel grew up in Melville, N.Y., with her parents, Lois and Kenneth Petersel, and two older brothers. In 2013, she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and international studies from Northwestern University. In 2017, she completed a master of social work degree at N.Y.U. Mr. Landsberger was born in New York but at age 7 moved with his brother, sister and parents, Richard and Robin Landsberger, to London, where the family still lives. He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2007.

In October 2019, the couple briefly broke up. Mr. Landsberger’s frequent invitations to join him on spur-of-the-moment hikes or for concerts had been causing Ms. Petersel time management stress. “As a founder, she had a whole other life to solve for,” he said. “I didn’t appreciate that.”

But before Covid shut down the city, they reunited. Ms. Petersel moved into Mr. Landsberger’s apartment in March 2020, when both started working remotely. At the end of that year, they had planned a two-month trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but it ended up being seven months.

“Doing something unplanned and seeing where it takes you is not for everyone,” Mr. Landsberger said. But it was for them: “It felt like a magical shift in nature, in space, in boundaries,” Ms. Petersel said. They returned to Brooklyn in the summer of 2021 more devoted to each other than before.

On Oct. 22, 2021, Ms. Petersel’s 30th birthday, Mr. Landsberger proposed during a visit to the Hamptons. The following spring, they moved into a new apartment together in Williamsburg. And on Jan. 14, at Greenpoint Loft, an events space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, they were married in front of 180 guests. Guests had been asked to arrive vaccinated.

Their friend Mickey Campione, ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion, officiated a ceremony fusing traditional Jewish customs with a celebration of a passionate partnership, one that still makes room for Mr. Landsberger’s business expertise. Ms. Petersel said she relies on Mr. Landsberger as MyWellbeing’s behind-the-scenes chief operating officer, chief product officer and chief marketing officer.

But “more important,” she added, “he’s my No. 1 confidante, support system and inspiration.”