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Heather McMahan’s Bridal Style Was: “Vegas Showgirl Meets Italian Movie Star Who Has a Weekend House in Tuscany”

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Brooke Johnson

|Planning by 

Tuscan Wedding and Nicole Spagnola

“For those of you who are unfamiliar with our love story, it began in a gay bar in New York City 11 years ago,” actress, writer, and comedienne Heather McMahan says of how she met her husband, Jeff Daniels. Years later, he proposed in the pool at the Wymara Resort in Turks & Caicos. “Jeff pulled the ring right out of his wet swim trunks,” Heather recalls. “I gasped—not because I was surprised, but because I was afraid the ring was going to fall into the pool and be lost in the drain forever.”

Once engaged, the couple decided to host their wedding weekend in Italy. “I knew I wanted to get married in Florence. It’s my favorite city in the world,” Heather shares. “As soon as Jeff made it legit, I flew with my mom to Italy and the planning began.” 

Their venue was originally booked for September 2020, but as the pandemic continued, the pair moved from New York City to Heather’s mother Robin’s basement in Atlanta to quarantine, pushing back their wedding date and changing venues. There, she documented living everyday life as an extended family unit throughout the pandemic—her dog Rigatoni Cannoli Gandolfini Daniels (named after her favorite pasta, her favorite dessert, and the late great Tony Soprano) and her mother and sister Ashley all feature heavily on Instagram Stories alongside Jeff.

Months after the move, on December 21, 2020, Heather and Jeff tied the knot in a civil ceremony in the States and reassured their guests that the party in Italy was very much still happening. “I was grateful for the extra time to plan,” Heather explains. “A lot of the aesthetic of what I had originally ‘wanted’ for my 2020 wedding was completely different by 2022.”

After shifting plans, Heather leaned into color, texture, and fun. “I put feathers on my wedding dress, and my mom wore a tux to walk me down the aisle,” the bride says. To help bring her new wedding vision to life, the couple hired Jill Romanelli of Tuscan Wedding and Nicole Spagnola. Anna Moore set the tone for the weekend with a beautiful Italian-inspired invitation suite.

If you follow Heather on Instagram, you know that this was billed as the “wedding of the summer” by followers and that when her best friend—who she often refers to as her “son”—personality Raymond “Ray” Padilla’s passport expired just weeks ahead of wheels up, shit got real fast. Ray put out a bat signal on Instagram in the form of a well-known Legally Blonde meme, and fans from far and wide chimed in to help. Ray documented the entire saga in his IG Stories, which culminated in a trip to D.C. and enlisting the help of congressional aids to secure a new passport right before the wedding and restore his position as a “pillar of the community,” to use his hilarious words.

Once all of the necessary documents had been secured and guests landed safely in Florence, a party at Societá Canottieri kicked the wedding weekend off. Heather highly recommends having a pre-wedding day event. “Everyone got to know each other, and it set the energy of the whole weekend up for success,” she says. “The party was so fun, I couldn’t believe I still had a full wedding the next day.”

For her bridal look, Heather knew she wanted to work with wedding dress designer Xay Vongphachanh of Watters. “When I told them my style was ‘Vegas showgirl meets Italian movie star who has a weekend house in Tuscany,’ they got it,” the bride jokes. Xay also designed Heather’s “Aperol Orange” welcome party dress. “Now I must have that dress made in every color because I’ve never felt more beautiful and dramatic in my life!”

On the day-of, Heather got ready with makeup artists Jamie Greenberg and Jillian Gregory and hairstylists Brittany and Amber Harrington. “There is nothing better than genuinely laughing your ass off the morning of your wedding with the people you adore and who know how to turn you from a troll under a bridge into the supermodel I felt like walking down the aisle,” Heather jokes.

While getting ready, Heather opened gifts sent over from Jeff—diamonds hoops and a stunning tennis bracelet from Highland Diamond, the couple’s jeweler in Atlanta. “If you thought I was going to wear anything BUT hoops on my wedding day, you wouldn’t really know me,” Heather notes.

The couple decided against a traditional wedding party, but Heather decked her best friends out in Show Me Your Mumu dresses that they each loved.

Jeff worked with Jon Mallen to create his custom wedding looks, and Jon also hand-crafted the tuxedo that the mother of the bride, Robin McMahan, wore to walk her daughter down the aisle.  

On June 24, 2022, Heather and Jeff met at the al fresco altar on the grounds of Villa Medicea di Lilliano. For the processional, the pair’s mutual best friend who introduced them, Christina Tompkins, sang “That’s Amore” with a view of the Duomo in the distance. The bride’s sister, Ashley McMahan, officiated the ceremony in a wildly funny, thoughtful manner that was exactly how the couple wanted.

After recessing down the aisle, the newlyweds snuck away for a 20-minute portrait session while their guests enjoyed cocktails crafted by Mercury Events, and then rejoined everyone for the party. “My photographer, Brooke Johnson, was great,” Heather says. “She knew I wanted a few posed shots, but I really like candid-spur of the moment photography.”

Kitchen Wishes served a delicious al-fresco, multi-course Italian meal, and singer and musician Marco Schwaiger entertained everyone. Tables were decorated with sweeping, romantic florals from Violamalva. During dinner, opera singer Freddie De Tommaso surprised the party with a breathtaking performance, which made the ambiance that much more romantic.

At the end of the reception, the couple cut into their traditional Italian millefoglie cake and surprised everyone with a fireworks show, put on by Pirotecnica Soldi. The after-party moved indoors with a bar featuring a cheeky neon sign reading, “Holy Spirits.” And DJ Remo Giugni, saxophonist Marco Caponi, and trumpeter Nicola Cellai kept the energy up with upbeat music. Never one to pass up the opportunity for a fashion moment, Heather changed into another feathered look also by Watters nd danced the night away until the early hours of the morning.