Justin Bieber at the Cannes festival palace in Cannes, southeastern France, left, and model Hailey Baldwin at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on May 20, 2018. Bieber, 24, and Baldwin, 21, are engaged after a month of dating. Bieber confirmed the engagement in an Instagram post Monday, July 9, 2018, that included a photo of Baldwin kissing him. He promises in the post to put Baldwin first and calls her the love of his life. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Stratford mayor encourages Justin Bieber to hold wedding in his hometown

TORONTO — Justin Bieber’s hometown of Stratford, Ont., is prepared to host the pop star’s wedding — should he decide to hold it there.

Dan Mathieson, mayor of the southwestern Ontario city, said Tuesday he hopes Bieber includes the picturesque region in the nuptial conversations with his new fiancee Hailey Baldwin.

The 24-year-old singer confirmed his engagement to the American model in an Instagram post on Monday, sparking instant speculation about where they might hold the event.

“We would be happy to host that and do whatever we had to do to make it a special day,” Mathieson said.

“In due time, I think everyone in Stratford will be reaching out asking them to come. We will make a formal offer.”

While Stratford doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of a city like Los Angeles or a tropical locale, the mayor said it’s not unthinkable the couple might consider Stratford for their big day.

The city of around 31,000 people has a number of characteristics that could prove enticing for the famous singer and his fiancee: it’s quaint, far away from the usual hotbeds of paparazzi and a place where Bieber still has his roots.

“He plays soccer with his high school friends, he plays pickup hockey on Saturday nights,” he said.

“He flies in on a private plane and is treated like every other citizen — with respect. People have come to accept that Justin is part of our community.”

Stratford keeps Bieber close too, even when he’s away.

A few years ago the tourism office created a walking tour devoted to landmarks from Bieber’s past, including an ice cream shop he frequently visited and the steps outside the Avon Theatre where he performed as a young busker.

The city, home to annual repertory theatre Stratford Festival, has also hosted an array of famous people, ranging from prime ministers to royalty, presidents and stars, Mathieson said.

“We’re not backwater,” he added.

John Kastner, general manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, also offered his support to the family.

When rumours began swirling about the singer’s engagement over the weekend, Kastner says he texted Bieber’s grandparents, Diane and Bruce Dale, to suggest a potential venue for the wedding or any related events.

The museum, which opened an exhibit dedicated to Bieber in February, hosted five weddings last year.

His grandparents responded thanking Kastner, he says, but said they weren’t aware of their grandson’s wedding plans.

Kastner says there won’t be any hard feelings if the couple chooses elsewhere for their wedding.

“We want him to be happy,” he says. “And he certainly seems happy with this.”

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