'RHOA' Star Cynthia Bailey Talks Newlywed Life, Dishes on the New Season and Relationship With NeNe Leakes (Exclusive)

Cynthia Bailey is loving life as a newlywed after marrying Mike Hill in a stunning ceremony last month. Ahead of the Dec. 6 return of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Bailey opened up to PopCulture.com about the first month of married life, what they can expect in the new season and where her relationship stands with NeNe Leakes after their fallout.

"[Newlywed life is] great. It’s really great," she told PopCulture. "I have to say, Mike and I are very happy, and I actually feel married. I was a fiancée for a while, and people keep asking, 'Do you feel different?' I do. I feel like I have a partner. I feel like we’re in this together."

While Hill "agonized" over writing his vows to his new wife, Bailey admits she got so busy with wedding planning and COVID-19 precautions that she only had time to jot down a few bullet points before walking down the aisle. It wasn't hard to express her love for the Fox Sports commentator, she noted. It came down to sentiments such as, "I like you. You're my best friend. When I hear you laughing downstairs doing your show, it makes me smile."

While Bravo wasn't able to film the ceremony itself due to a last-minute indoor venue change forced by a hurricane, Bailey assured fans that there will be plenty of wedding footage to show them the ins and outs of her special day, as well as all the planning and preparations leading up to it. She's looking forward to seeing the footage herself, as she was so busy the day of that she didn't even get to cut the wedding cake!

Bailey was disappointed to miss out on the sweet treats on her wedding day, but got to indulge in a delicious McDonald's apple fritter, blueberry muffin and cinnamon roll during a virtual Instagram Live brunch with former co-star Eva Marcille earlier this week. Through Friday, Nov. 9, you too can get one of the pastries for free with a purchase of a McCafé Premium Roast Coffee or Iced Coffee on the McDonald’s App at any time of day.

Marcille made her exit from RHOA after Season 12 shortly before Leakes would also announce she would not be returning for Season 13. Bailey said that she holds no ill will towards her longtime friend, despite them being "not in the best place," and even invited her to the wedding. "I'm not saying we have to be best friends again," the model noted. "You don't fall out of love with people if there was ever love for them." Of extending an olive branch, the newlywed added, "Wherever that leads, it leads. I'm not gonna force anything, and she’s not gonna force anything. My heart is full of love."

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Filming this season was "different" for many reasons, not just the exits of Marcille and Leakes. "I knew this season would be a little different because the world is changed. We’ve all changed," the Bravo star reflected, joking that with all the filming the cast had to do in their homes amid COVID-19 filming precautions, they would be "literally Housewives for real."

Spending so much time at home, Bailey said she and Hill managed to weather the tests of the "pandemic relationship crisis" experienced by so many couples suddenly spending more time together than ever before. The Bailey Wine Cellar had to shut down for three months during the early days of the pandemic as well, and while employees were still kept on the payroll, the experience opened the reality star's eyes to the plight of small Black-owned businesses in her community. Moving forward, Bailey vowed to use her platform to help these businesses get back on their feet, urging fans to keep their eyes out for pop-up shops and other efforts on her social media to give back. The Real Housewives of Atlanta returns for Season 13 on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.