The Animal Planet star tied the knot to longtime boyfriend Chandler Powell on March 25

By Mary Honkus and Emily Strohm
April 02, 2020 09:00 AM
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Bindi Irwin incorporated nature all throughout her wedding ceremony, even when it came to the design of the cake.

The creative dessert was made up of four tiers, each decorated to look like bark, and was finished off with pink and white roses. “The cake could have passed for a tree trunk,” Bindi tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “It was fantastic.”

Bindi, 21, and Chandler Powell, 23, — who tied the knot on March 25 in an intimate ceremony in the garden at the Australia Zoo where they live and work — enlisted the help of Bindi’s younger brother Robert to select the flavor. “If there’s one thing Robert loves, it’s cake,” says Bindi.

They selected a simple vanilla cake with strawberries to commemorate where Powell grew up in Florida. “It’s sometimes called the strawberry capital of the world, so the cake was an ode to that,” says Powell.

The outdoorsy-themed creation “fit the day perfectly,” he adds. “Conservation is who we are. It’s not just what we do. We love it. It’s our life.”

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Though Robert has since “eaten most of it,” admits Bindi, there was an incident that almost prevented anyone from getting a taste of the cake. During the cutting ceremony, Powell nearly toppled the whole thing over. “He doesn’t know his own strength, so he almost sent it flying across the room,” says Bindi, laughing.

From there, “the only thing I had on my mind was food,” she says. “As soon as we finished the formalities, I got into my PJs and we all ate copious amounts of pizza.”

  • For more from Bindi Irwin, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
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Though the wedding ended up being their dream day, it was not as previously planned. Just four weeks before Bindi was set to walk down the aisle on April 4, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, began to spread around the globe.

As the pandemic reached Australia, unprecedented shutdowns were put into effect to slow the spread. (With 4,862 cases as of April 1, Australia has now banned most gatherings and limited weddings to five people.)

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“We had been planning for almost a year,” Bindi says. “But as soon as this all started happening, we had to look at different options to make sure everyone was safe.”

So Bindi and Powell, cancelled the 200-guest event they intended on having. “It was a tough decision but absolutely the right one,” says Bindi.

“We thought about postponing, because you want to share this day with everyone, but when it boiled down to it, we both just said, ‘Look, we desperately want to get married, and no matter what the future holds, at least we’ll be husband and wife. We can take on the world together,’” Bindi shares.

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So she and Powell — who first met in 2013, when the Florida native and former professional wakeboarder traveled to Australia for a competition — exchanged “I dos” in a ceremony attended by “lots of animals” and just three guests: Terri, Bindi’s younger brother, Robert; and Steve’s best friend, Wes Mannion.

“Even if it wasn’t by-the-book perfect, it was our perfect,” Bindi says.