Having been married before, I knew I wanted to do all of the pre-wedding rituals differently this time. I am deeply grateful for all of my bridal showering in the past — I had beautiful, bi-coastal bridal showers years ago, replete with flowers and favors and gorgeously wrapped gifts and personalized treats. And I loved every minute of each of them. But I was intent on infusing all of the pre-wedding hoopla this time with more meaning. Plus, I felt funny about having everyone shower me with gifts again.

When I shared my vision with my mom (who runs a personal development company and coaches clients in plugging into their passions and living a life of purpose), my sister (who owns a hair salon and teaching company in SF – inspiring women to achieve their personal and professional goals), and one of our close friends, Barbara Bizou (a global ritual expert and coach), I was met with great enthusiasm. They loved the idea of creating a pre-wedding gathering of the special women in my life and shifting the focus from gift-giving to something deeper, and I couldn’t find more perfect people to plan it. I was excited that they were excited, and I had no idea what was in store.

Fast forward six months and I flew in to New York City to meet my mom and sister at the Sofitel, where they had set up camp in a suite. Thankfully the suites are bigger than most people’s NYC apartments; I arrived to a living room full of bags of goodies for the “shower.”

What unfolded was beyond my expectations.

My mom and sister — ever the gracious hosts — crafted delicious drinks, made cute little tea sandwiches and snacks, and created a color-themed display of all the of deliciousness and goodie bags for the guests (just because it was going to be meaningful, they told me, they weren’t going to skimp on their Martha-Stewart-esq hosting). And

After we all had some time to catch up, chairs were arranged in a circle in Barbara’s beautiful living room, a space filled wall-to-wall with significant relics from Barbara’s extensive travel the world over.

We gathered around as Barbara facilitated rituals to help me embrace a new chapter of my life, let go of my past to step into my future, clarify and honor my intentions and plug into gratitude for the incredible women in the circle who supported me in getting where I was.

There was lots of laughter – the women in the circle shared fun memories of my single life and funny recollections of my herculean efforts to find my now husband – and some happy, gushy tears, as each woman shared their own personalized blessing for me, infusing their love into a gorgeous crystal as they shared. Barbara even put me on the spot, asking me to go around the circle and express something I love and appreciate about each participant; that evoked some happy tears, too.

By the end of the afternoon together, I felt deeply supported and nurtured. I felt so lucky to have this incredible community of women who had my back — who were there for me no matter where I was in my journey.

It was a perfect pre-wedding “shower.” A reminder of where I’ve come from, intentionality about what I was embarking upon and where I’m going, and the gift of a community of women who would walk alongside me with great love and care.

Though I needed a second (and last!!) go-round on the wedding-go-wheel to inspire this idea, it illuminated something deeply important to me about how we mark our special occasions, and what really matters when we do.  We honor most of our special moments with big meals, cakes and gifts. But what if we were to mark these moments with connection and meaningful ritual like this? How much more supported and fulfilled and would we all feel, as we transition from one chapter to the next?

I would urge you to think about how to mark your next special occasion – a birthday or holiday – in this way, too. (Though of course, keep the buttercream – it’s still a celebration, after all).