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

By Hanna Flanagan and Emily Strohm
April 01, 2020 03:00 PM
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Bindi Irwin’s intimate wedding ceremony was all about family — even down to the dress!

The Animal Planet star, 21, wed longtime boyfriend Chandler Powell on March 25 in a long-sleeve gown, inspired by the one her mom Terri wore to marry Bindi’s late father, Crocodile Hunter star Steve Irwin, in 1992.

“I wanted something very similar because I’ve admired [my mom’s] dress since I was tiny,” Bindi tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday. “When I was about 12 years old, I put on mum’s wedding dress and it was a really, really special… it’s over 50 years old because it’s been in the family for that long.”

While she couldn’t wear the exact dress — it didn’t quite fit her and was too old to be tailored — Bindi was able to find a Paddington Weddings design that “mimicked” the family heirloom. What’s more, the sunflower lace sleeves on the dress, “reminded me of my family and my dad,” the Crikey! It’s the Irwins star says.

Credit: Australia Zoo Productions Pty Ltd. Copyright 2020

“When we would go on projects and drives together, we’d often drive through these huge sunflower fields in the middle of nowhere and we always stopped to take them in,” she explains. “[The dress] was really special and beautiful.”

And the second Bindi saw the A-line wedding gown, she knew it was the one.

“It was just perfect, I said, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s the dress,’ and we all started crying again,” she remembers.

  • For more from Bindi Irwin, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Credit: Australia Zoo Productions Pty Ltd. Copyright 2020

The star adds that her mom was “wonderful” on the day of the ceremony, despite the whirlwind circumstances. 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.

“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.”

As the pandemic reached Australia, unprecedented shutdowns were put into effect to slow the spread. (With 4,557 cases as of March 31, Australia has now banned most gatherings and limited weddings to five people.)

So Bindi and Powell, 23, cancelled the 200-guest event they had planned, and instead, married in an intimate ceremony in the garden at the Australia Zoo. “It was a tough decision but absolutely the right one,” says Bindi.

Credit: Australia Zoo Productions Pty Ltd. Copyright 2020

“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.

So on March 25, 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.