The first year of marriage is hard for everyone, but it’s particularly hard when you’re a global pop sensation and everyone is watching. In 2018, off the heels of his final breakup with Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber tied the knot with Hailey Baldwin after a short two-month tour de PDA. The pair was spotted making out in Brooklyn’s Domino Park, going to church in Miami, grabbing fro-yo in the Hamptons, and getting engaged in the Bahamas.
From the outside, Justin and Hailey looked blissfully in love; the kind of celebrity couple who, for lack of better words, found each other irresistibly yummy. Most people expected the childhood friends, who first met in 2009 when Baldwin was around 12 or 13 years old, to burn brightly, but burn out fast. The pair’s first year of marriage wasn’t what anyone expected — including themselves.
Here’s a look inside the couple’s trying first year of marriage, a marathon race where they worked out past and present personal issues, testing the meaning of for better and for worse.
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin had a secret whirlwind wedding at an NYC courthouse
When Justin Bieber settled down with Hailey Baldwin, he was at a crossroads, struggling to grow up after a childhood raised in the spotlight. While it might seem like the couple got married in a whirlwind, the dating speculation stems as far back as 2014. According to Insider’s timeline, in November of that year, off the heels of his breakup with Selena Gomez, Bieber was spotted with Baldwin and Kendall Jenner at Hillsong Church, sparking the initial rumors. By 2016, the pair reportedly had a full-fledged, no-strings-attached romance (Baldwin told E! they weren’t “exclusive”). What could possibly go wrong?
Unsurprisingly, something did happen, and the pair split. Baldwin described it to Vogue as a “very dramatic excommunication,” though she didn’t speak on the exact reason other than labeling it “negative things.” It all seemed to come to a head when Bieber canceled the final 14 dates on his Purpose world tour, citing mental health and relationship concerns. At the time, he worried that both his career and mental health weren’t “sustainable.” Bieber then reconnected with Gomez, only to split a few months later. Two months after that, he and Baldwin ended up at church toghether, and the rest is history.
According to People, the pair secretly tied the knot at a courthouse in NYC in September 2018 after a two-month engagement. “They went ahead and did it without listening to anyone,” a source claimed.
They moved into Justin Bieber's massive, $6.8 million home outside of Toronto
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin admittedly rushed into marriage. In a February 2019 interview with Vogue, the singer revealed that their motivation was at least partially — but not fully — to do with his self-imposed celibacy, which had been going on for more than a year. He claims to have had a “legitimate problem with sex” (along with his risky substance use, which we’ll get to later) and used that time to focus on faith.
Not long after walking down the courthouse hallway, the pair settled down in Bieber’s home just outside of Toronto (an old-school move in a world where celebs move in well before tying the knot). Once there, the pair’s life seemed at least marginally similar to the leagues of non-famous newlyweds before them, aside from the fact that they were residing in a $6.8 million, 101-acre estate and Bieber was sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber. Per Vogue, which described their newfound “cohabitation” as “a test,” they spent their time “squabbling over decorating decisions” and searching for balance among their differing personalities.
“Fighting is good,” Bieber told the magazine. “Doesn’t the Bible talk about righteous anger? We don’t want to lose each other. We don’t want to say the wrong thing, and so we’ve been struggling with not expressing our emotions, which has been driving me absolutely crazy because I just need to express myself, and it’s been really difficult to get her to say what she feels.”
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin took a loved-up work trip to London
Mere weeks after Hailey Baldwin had the audacity to deny the marriage rumors in a tweet (which is now-deleted because obviously it wasn’t true), the pair set off on their first work trip as newlyweds. The couple jet set to the U.K. for London Fashion Week, where Baldwin fulfilled her model duties. According to Insider, she “attended the Adidas and JD shows” (she had previously collaborated with the brands) and carved out some downtime to play tourist with Bieber. They hit all the hot London tourist spots, including the London Eye — where they got in their own pod because they’re still celebrities even if they’re tourists — and Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth must’ve been busy that day, because Bieber wound up busking outside the gates.
It’s unclear if the gig was as lucrative as Bieber’s typical arena show, but we’re guessing it wasn’t. Nonetheless, it was super cute. Biebs called Baldwin “the love of my life.” A source told E!, “They were very affectionate, stopping on street corners to pull each other in close to kiss. They never let each other get too far and were always touching each other and laughing.” So far, so cute!
Now introducing, Mr. and Mrs. Bieber
Denying marriage rumors only lasted so long. The month following their secret wedding, the pair were seemingly outed by a local museum. In October 2018, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin stopped by the Stratford Perth Museum, a small gallery located in Bieber’s hometown. The Outline describes it as “a shrine to Justin Bieber,” and at the time, there was an on-going exhibit about the pop star. Baldwin ended up signing a wall at the exhibit, writing “I love you forever,” but most importantly, Bieber apparently called Baldwin “his wife” — and he did in public where everyone could hear! The museum spilled the details, begging the question, is it too late for them to say sorry?
In an Instagram post showcasing Baldwin’s signature, the museum wrote, “We were so pleased to have such a warm and special guest visit the museum yesterday (along with her very special husband ).” Excuse us, but what do you mean? They subsequently clarified in a comment (captured by Elle) that “Justin very graciously introduced Hailey as his wife. Perhaps just a term of endearment?” Thus, the marriage rumors went into overdrive.
The following month — after weeks of making Beliebers squirm — the pop star finally came clean. Bieber casually shared a snap of the pair with the caption “My wife is awesome.”
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin went to marriage therapy
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s first year of marriage was not easy by any means. Baldwin said as much to Vogue, admitting outright that it was “really effing hard.” Bieber shared a similar sentiment to GQ, claiming it “was really tough.” While a lot of this had to do with the pair’s initial breakup (whatever unspoken terrible thing happened), Bieber also had a lot of trauma to work through, particularly regarding his upbringing.
As GQ put it, the star was brought up “by two unreliable and overwhelmed parents who split up,” and he lacked “the tools” he needed “to seek out a quieter or more peaceful life for himself.” In his “Seasons” YouTube documentary series (via Insider), he also admitted that he’s since “been diagnosed with anxiety, chronic mono, and Lyme disease.” Combined, this took a toll on the couple’s bond, so Bieber and Baldwin enlisted a marriage counselor to help them cope.
“There was a lot, going back to the trauma stuff,” Justin told GQ of the pair’s first year. “There was just lack of trust. There was all these things that you don’t want to admit to the person that you’re with, because it’s scary. You don’t want to scare them off by saying, ‘I’m scared.'”
As of this writing, the couple has soldiered on, proving they still intend, at least for now, to be in it for the long haul.
Justin Bieber stepped back from music to work on his marriage issues
In February 2019, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin graced the cover of Vogue, but behind the scenes, the pop star was struggling more than ever. About six months after the couple got hitched, the singer revealed on Instagram that he was “struggling a lot” and “feeling super disconnected and weird.” He continued, “Just wanted to reach out and ask for your guys to pray for me. God is faithful and ur prayers really work thanks .. the most human season I’ve ever been in facing my stuff head on..”
As it stood (which was later revealed in his “Seasons” YouTube documentary via Insider), he was already taking antidepressants to “help [him] get outta bed in the morning,” sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, and getting IV infusions to combat his mental health issues. A couple weeks after the post, Bieber — who hadn’t released an album since 2015’s “Purpose” – announced that he was stepping back from music to fix his struggling marriage.
“I am now very focused on repairing some of the deep rooted issues that I have as most of us have, so that I don’t fall apart, so that I can sustain my marriage and be the father I want to be,” he wrote in an Instagram statement. That year, he limited his music career to a collaboration with his close friend Ed Sheeran. “I Don’t Care” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Hailey Baldwin supported Justin Bieber through his recovery from risky drug use
Hailey Baldwin appears to be a grounding force in Justin Bieber’s life. In some regards, the pair are opposites. According to Vogue, the model “has never touched a drug” because of her father’s cocaine addiction (though he’s been sober since before she was born). The magazine even claims that friends describe her as “secure, steady, and strong”; the polar opposite to Bieber’s heart-led approach. This came in handy as she supported him during their first year of marriage, through his recovery from risky drug use.
In an interview with GQ, Bieber admitted he used drugs as a “numbing agent” to help him through his mental health problems — but fans didn’t know just how bad Bieber’s issues with substance use had gotten until he opened up during his “Seasons” YouTube documentary. Per reports from NBC and Insider, he developed a dependency on weed, codeine cough syrup, pills, MDMA, and mushrooms, taking just about anything he could get his hands on throughout his late teens and early 20s. In his darkest moments, his security guards would come into his room to check if he was still breathing.
Bieber only decided to give up his drug habit when he “felt like [he] was dying.” Though he still drinks socially, Baldwin has supported him throughout. “I’m really proud of him,” she told Vogue. “To do it without a program, and to stick with it without a sober coach or AA or classes — I think it’s extraordinary.”
A new marriage led to new businesses
Newlyweds can only stay in their blissful love bubble for so long — even if your reported $285 million net worth allows you to take more vacation than the average person. Eventually, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin had to get back to work.
Though Bieber had hit pause on his music career, he launched his clothing line, Drew House, in December 2018. According to Vogue, he tapped his stylist and road manager, Ryan Good, for the role of creative director. The pair designed each item — from $5 hotel slippers to hoodies and tees — by themselves (though, as of this writing, the brand is taking a break).
Not long after, Baldwin geared up to create her own makeup line. According to Allure, the model applied for a trademark for “Bieber Beauty” in April 2019. This has been a process, and according to The Blast, her own husband inadvertently stood in her way. Why? The “Justin Bieber” trademark he filed in 2003 included cosmetics like shampoo and body lotion. As a result, her application was rejected by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. According to TMZ, she’s also sought trademarks for “HB Beauty by Hailey Bieber,” “Rhode” (her middle name), “Rhode Beauty,” “HRBeauty,” “Dew,” and “Dewy Beauty.” Based on Instagram, it looks like she settled on “Rhode.” Though there’s no official launch date, Baldwin premiered her beauty-related YouTube channel in 2021, which could signal that her brand is on the way.
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin got married again
After a brutal first year, nothing shows true commitment like getting married a second time. Since Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin initially tied the knot at a courthouse, they celebrated their one-year anniversary with a blow-out second wedding in South Carolina at the Montage Palmetto Bluff.
Per People, the pair exchanged “vows and Tiffany wedding bands” in front of 154 family and friends (including major A-listers Kris, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Jaden Smith, and Usher, who initially took Bieber under his wing when he skyrocketed to fame after posting videos on YouTube in 2007). After the ceremony, guests were treated to a “cocktail hour” and “formal reception.” Grammy winning artist Daniel Caesar serenaded the crowd as guests enjoyed Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut in custom bottles blinged out “with 9,682 Swarovski crystals.”
As for the outfits, Biebs bought himself an Audemars Piguet watch as a wedding gift, and Baldwin wore diamond Tiffany earrings worth an estimated $123,000. According to Vogue, her ceremony dress was a custom, lace-embroidered, long-sleeve gown designed by Virgil Abloh for the streetwear brand Off-White, a unique choice for formal wear. “From day one, I said I wanted Virgil,” Hailey told Vogue. “I didn’t want somebody who was a wedding dress designer. I just feel like my style and my street style is such a part of who I am.” That was, according to USA Today, just one of three custom dresses she donned for her big day.
Faith plays a major role in their relationship
Since the beginning, faith has played a major role in Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s relationship. According to Vogue, the pair first developed a genuine friendship when the model started going to Hillsong church, a Christian megachurch known for its devout A-list followers. After their bitter 2016 breakup, church is also where they reconnected. Again, it happened at a faith-based conference. “The common denominator, I promise you, is always church,” Baldwin told the magazine of the pair’s relationship.
Nonetheless, in 2019, the Biebers left Hillsong for good. According to Page Six, this came in the wake of now-disgraced pastor Carl Lentz’s cheating scandal. GQ reports that Lentz was fired in 2018, but before that, he was widely known as Bieber’s spiritual counselor. In 2014, he took the singer into his New Jersey home for several weeks to help detox from drugs. During that time, Bieber even interned for Lentz.
With Lentz excommunicated, Bieber found solace in Judah Smith, a pastor from the Seattle-based ministry Churchome, who he’s known since he was 15 years old. In his GQ cover story, Bieber revealed that Smith opened him up to a new way of life — one that’s stable and filled with love. “My whole life, I had a broken family,” he said. “And so I was just attracted to a family that eats dinners together, laughs together, talks together.” This was his first step to a whole lot of healing.
Of course, there was bound to be some Selena Gomez drama
When you’ve got two rounds of nuptials, where’s the line of the first year of marriage? All we know is that about a year after Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber’s blow-out South Carolina wedding, Selena Gomez dropped a bomb — happy anniversary!
In October 2020, Gomez released her first solo single following a four year hiatus. “Lose You to Love Me” was, quite obviously, about Justin Bieber (or so fans say). Admittedly, the lyrics “in two months you replaced us” certainly seem like a pointed remark at the “Sorry” singer, who got back with Baldwin ASAP after finally splitting with Gomez for good.
The single allegedly ignited a feud between Baldwin and Gomez. We say allegedly because there’s some hard evidence this was created by Selenators, Gomez’s sometimes overzealous fan base. According to Refinery29, the day Gomez released her track, Baldwin posted a screenshot of the song “I’ll Kill You” by Summer Walker on her Instagram Stories. Selenators presumed this was a slight on the former Disney Channel star, but Baldwin told Just Jared that the rumors were “complete BS.” Like a true queen, Gomez promptly told her subjects to cease fire. Alas, seemingly invented stories of a rivalry still regularly grace the tabloids. Jailey might be forever, but so is the tabloid ghost of Jelena.
How Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin went from 'eggshells' to solid ground
Despite Justin Bieber’s immense success as a musician, the singer actually believes his true “calling” is being a husband. The star told GQ that he felt “compelled” to “get married and have babies and do the whole thing” (babies forthcoming). Hailey Baldwin made the former a reality, but his ideation was shattered during his first year. In the time that they should’ve been spending as blissful newlyweds, Bieber admitted their marriage was “on eggshells.”
Fortunately, the pair put the work in, and the therapy paid off. As of this writing, Bieber is singing a different tune, and more importantly, just singing. The star released his sixth studio album “Justice” in March 2021. Beyond that, he managed to cultivate the type of stable family he never had but always wanted.
“We’re just creating these moments for us as a couple, as a family, that we’re building these memories,” Bieber told GQ. “And it’s beautiful that we have that to look forward to. Before, I didn’t have that to look forward to in my life. My home life was unstable. Like, my home life was not existing. I didn’t have a significant other. I didn’t have someone to love. I didn’t have someone to pour into. But now I have that.”
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