What a difference a year makes.
Last year, Hailey Baldwin celebrated her 21st birthday surrounded by her closest girlfriends. First, was a private birthday bash in New York City with Kendall Jenner, Justin Skye and others, then, the model jetted off to the Bahamas with her BFFs, including Bella Hadid. "I love my friends!!!!!!" served as one of her Instagram captions.
This year, however, her 22nd birthday celebration might look a little different, considering she is now married to Justin Bieber, one of the most famous pop star's in the world, with their whirlwind romance dominating headlines since they rekindled their on-and-off relationship in June. But this time, it was officially on...'til death do them part. And she's even changed her Instagram handle to @haileybieber, so you know this is the real deal.
The daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin, Hailey was just 12 when she met the then-14-year-old Justin when her awkwardly introduced them as Justin was heading into an appearance. Oh yes, it was caught on camera in all its awkward pre-teen glory, where you can see Hailey is clearly uncomfortable as she shakes Justin's hand. A meet-cute for the ages? We're not so sure.
But the two later posed for a photo on the red carpet at the premiere of his biopic Never Say Never...with her father. Yes, that's right: Hailey was totally a Belieber.
From that point on, Hailey and Justin maintained a friendship, often hanging out with friends like Kendall, Kylie Jenner and Jaden Smith. Of course, during this time, Justin began dating Selena Gomez, with "Jelena" becoming a pop culture phenomenon and the couple's every move, split and reconciliation being reported on. And Hailey was reportedly one of their many fans eating up every story and sighting.
As she reportedly tweeted back in 2012, "I gotta say I was really looking forward to seeing what color coordination Jelena was gonna do for this years VF party.. #sigh #ohwell."
But it was during one of Jelena's (many) breaks that romance rumors first surfaced about Justin and Hailey, with several Instagram posts raising eyebrows over whether or not their friendship had blossomed into something more.
"I've known him since I was so young—since I was like 13—and we've just been good friends over the years," Hailey told E! News in December 2014. "We have just stayed close and there's nothing more to it than that." Justin, meanwhile, would post photos of Hailey, calling her his "good friend" and saying he was "super single."
Still, denials and all, no one was exactly surprised when it was reported Justin and Hailey were actually an item around New Year's Eve 2015, vacationing in Anguilla together.
At the time, a source told E! News that the young pair's relationship is "more of a just a fling," adding, "They have a lot of fun together but don't know what will happen now. They aren't thinking too much about it and are just having fun."
But it seems Justin was clearly thinking of possibly spending forever with Hailey, even talking about marrying her on the record in a now-infamous GQ profile, which came out in 2016.
"What if Hailey ends up being the girl I'm gonna marry, right? If I rush into anything, if I damage her, then it's always gonna be damaged," he said of being cautious about his relationships. "It's really hard to fix wounds like that. It's so hard. I just don't want to hurt her."
He continued, "Right now in my life, I don't want to be held down by anything. I already have a lot that I have to commit to. A lot of responsibilities. I don't want to feel like the girl I love is an added responsibility."
Hailey also seemed to downplay their relationship status at the time, telling E! News that "we are not an exclusive couple" shortly after the article came out. "Relationships at this age are already complicated, but I don't really like to talk about it because it's between me and him."
Ah yes, relationships are complicated at any age really, especially in Hollywood. When Justin and Hailey cooled off, he rekindled his romance with Selena, while Hailey reportedly began dating Shawn Mendes, with the two walking the red carpet at the Met Gala in May 2018. (Though she later clarified she was "single.")
But just two years after the GQ profile, Justin was clearly ready to be held down, as the "Love Yourself" singer and Hailey back together, getting engaged and legally getting married in the span of one summer.
But for them and their friends and family, Justin and Hailey's journey to husband wife has been a long one.
"Most people don't know that my daughter has known him for 10 years, long time, so obviously, for these kids, they haven't always had the chance to have people understand the dynamics of their friendship," her father told told DailyMailTV. "So I am very happy for them, I am blessed, and I'm looking forward to a great future for the two of them."
And Stephen noted that his new son-in-law is "is not the kid he used to be. He is a man now and I think he is going to start making decisions for himself. He's grown up a lot, quick, and I am very impressed with him already for how he's caring for my daughter."
In an interview with the Times UK shortly before reconciling with Justin, Hailey reflected on their romance...and revealed they had ended their friendship "for quite some time" after their split.
"Everybody knows that at a certain point in time that turned into something else, but that just happens when you're 18, 19. It was what it was. We went through a long period of time when we weren't friends. We didn't speak for quite some time and there was a lot of weirdness that went on. We've moved past that."
As Justin , the timing was clearly right for the two to rekindle and take their love all over, beginning with an "inseparable" weekend in Miami for the VOUS Church Conference,
"They both have two things in common; they love to party and they love their church organization," an insider told E! News at the time. "They have finally cleared the air and rekindled their friendship, and realized they genuinely have a lot of fun together."
But clearly, things were more serious, as the two then traveled to Los Angeles, the Hamptons, and New York City, engaging in PDA every stop of the way.
It seems for Hailey, she was patiently waiting for Justin to figure things out, choosing not to pressure him.
"Hailey's always had a thing for Justin and wanted them to be together. She would happily be his girlfriend and would like something more serious and long term," a source told us just prior to the engagement...which no one saw coming when it happened. Not even Hailey.
In front of a crowd, Justin got down on one knee and publicly proposed to Hailey, with a source telling us she was "was taken off guard," the source said. "Her face was in shock but you could tell they are both so in love."
Another source added, "Ever since they reunited, they have been inseparable and Justin knows he can't live without Hailey. Justin and Hailey had talked about marriage before but Hailey didn't think it would happen so quickly."
After the news got out, Justin took to Instagram to confirm the happy news.
"Was gonna wait a while to say anything but word travels fast, listen plain and simple Hailey I am soooo in love with everything about you! So committed to spending my life getting to know every single part of you loving you patiently and kindLY. I promise to lead our family with honor and integrity letting Jesus through his Holy Spirit guide us in everything we do and every decision we make," he shared with several photos. "My heart is COMPLETELY and FULLY YOURS and I will ALWAYS put you first! You are the love of my life Hailey Baldwin and I wouldn't want to spend it with anybody else."
And while a source close to Justin told us "it was a sudden decision," the designer of Hailey's 18 karat yellow gold engagement ring said he "had a sense that [Justin] was very, very ready for this decision."
Jack Solow of Solow & Co. Inc. Diamond Jewelers told E! News, "There was one moment when he looked into the diamond and I said, 'What do you see inside that diamond?' He goes, 'I think I see Hailey's face,' so that was kind of cute."
Another sign the young couple was more ready for marriage than many thought? They actually got married in ...allegedly.
Justin and Hailey were spotted at a courthouse in New York City in mid-September, sparking marriage rumors, which Hailey originally denied (before deleting her denial tweets).
A source told E! News, "Justin and Hailey told friends and family they were going to get paperwork and inquire about a marriage license but decided to tie the knot right at the courthouse. No one knew about their plan. They thought it would be better that way so no one would try and talk them out of it. They wanted it to be a special moment just between the two of them."
And judging from all of the social media breadcrumbs the couple has left--including Hailey changing her Instagram handle to @haileybaldwin and Justin referring to her as "my wife"--it seems they are officially man and wife, even if they are they are planning on "doing a separate ceremony out of the country with a few family members soon as well," according to an insider.
Need even more proof these two are in it for the long haul?
Justin publicly serenaded his Hailey when the couple visited London. Hailey has been spotted wearing a custom Levi's jacket bearing varsity letter patches spelling out "Bieber," and in October, Hailey filed to trademark "Hailey Bieber" to be used on a potential clothing line.
Of course, their first months of marriage hasn't been all happy social media snaps and fun clothing decisions.
They were photographed arguing and seemed "upset" after lunch with her father in October. There were photos of Hailey comforting a clearly distraught Justin, who later told fans, "You've got good days and you got bad days. It's not real if it doesn't have any bad days."
"Justin and Selena are not in touch but him hearing the news about Selena definitely upsets him," an insider told E! News. "Justin also feels guilty. He wants to help everyone. He truly wants Selena to be happy, and it's upsetting to know she's battling health issues."
Plus, another source admitted Justin and Hailey's decision to get married at the courthouse was the "No Brainer" crooner showing Hailey he "was serious time and wasn't going to split up with her."
But an insider insisted to us that Justin is taking his marriage "very seriously" and things are going well for the couple. "Hailey has made Justin more spiritual and they are happy to be on the same religious path together," our source shared. "Life as newlyweds have been going well, but they are also in the stage of figuring out real-life/marital situations together, which are hard adjustments."
And in the November issue of Harper's Bazaar, Hailey gushed, "He's incredible."
So, seven years after their first meeting, Justin and Hailey found their happily ever after.