Meghan Markle’s baby shower in New York City on Feb. 20 may have seemed like a Hollywood event from the outside, but for those inside, it was an intimate and warm gathering of many of the close friends who have supported Meghan throughout her first year of royal life.
“It was exactly what she needed, and it was a reunion for all of us, too, who hadn’t seen each other since the wedding,” Meghan’s longtime friend and wedding makeup artist Daniel Martin tells PEOPLE.
“Snow was falling outside, and it was so cozy — we all sat on couches or on the floor and told stories and caught up,” he adds. “It was like going to a family reunion.”
Adds another attendee: “It was all baby talk. She was getting tons of advice.”
Guests at the shower, which was also attended by Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, Gayle King, Jessica Mulroney, Misha Nonoo and Abigail Spencer, were even treated to a flower-arranging class. The blooms were then donated to Repeat Roses, a charity that gifts bouquets to hospitals and support centers.
For more about Meghan Markle’s shower fit for a princess, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
The gathering was a mini-homecoming for the Duchess of Sussex, who doesn’t get to see her friends as often as she’d like since moving to London. And after realizing that baby showers aren’t a popular tradition in the U.K., her friends decided to host one for her in one of her all-time favorite cities.
“She’s American, and New York is the place to do it,” says a palace insider.
Traveling without a palace press team, which is standard protocol for a private trip, Meghan returned to London just in time to jet off again for her three-day tour in Morocco with Prince Harry. Speaking to chef Moha Fedal at a cooking school in Rabat on Feb. 25, she said she would love to return—adding as she patted her baby bump, “with the whole family next time!”
And anyone who suggests Meghan should slow down doesn’t know her very well.
“She’s a worker; she loves to work,” says a source. “She loves to do good. So for her, it’s just fun.”
As Meghan and Harry eagerly count down the days until they meet their new baby, the friends who celebrated Meghan at her shower can’t wait to be her baby’s extended family.
“That baby is going to be loved by all of us,” says Martin.