See the Stunning, Animal-Filled Photos from Bindi Irwin's Private Wedding to Chandler Powell
On March 25, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Irwin and Powell exchanged handwritten vows in a small ceremony at Australia Zoo officiated by a local celebrant. In attendance were lots of animals and just three guests: Irwin's mom, Terri; her younger brother Robert; and her late father's best friend, Wes Mannion.
"We didn't really have a schedule, so we were like, 'Well, let's just have breakfast then get ready whenever we feel like it,'" says Irwin. "It was almost like we were eloping. Kind of crazy and certainly not what we had planned, but I think that made it even more special. Even if it wasn't by-the-book perfect, it was our perfect."
"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,' " Irwin recalls.
Having loved ones cheering them on from afar also helped put the pair at ease with their decision. When Powell's family couldn't make the trip, "they said, 'We fully support you, we love you, just get married,'" he explains. Their only request was a video call on the day of the wedding. "My dad had to see every detail," says the groom. Adds Irwin: "He wanted the play-by-play. It was so cute."
"I think it's an interesting parallel that Steve and I first met at Australia Zoo, and Bindi and Chandler first met at Australia Zoo," Terri says. "So many memories came flooding back. It was a day where I wish Steve was there, but I think he really was. He would have been the first to cry happy tears."
Honoring Irwin's dad, Steve — who died Sept. 4, 2006, at age 44 after he was attacked by a stingray while working on an underwater film — was an important part of the ceremony. "We had Dad's picture with his dog Sui blown up on an easel," says Irwin. "So Mom and Robert were standing right next to Dad as we exchanged vows. We had a candle-lighting ceremony for him, and it really felt like he was there with us. It was a lovely moment of peace and happiness." Irwin's bouquet was also tied with a khaki ribbon to represent Steve. "Most brides have something blue; I had my khaki," she says.
"The first time I saw Bindi in that dress was the most beautiful sight in the world," says Powell, who proposed to Irwin last July after nearly five years of dating. "I immediately teared up. Nothing has ever felt more right than that moment in time." Says Irwin: "My dad would be so happy."
Now officially husband and wife, the pair have much to look forward to as they run the Australia Zoo and work to carry on Steve's legacy. "It's lots of love, wildlife and of course khaki," Powell says. "Just getting to spend our years doing what we love with the person we love."
They'd also love to have kids — eventually. "One day in the future it would be wonderful to have a family of our own," says Irwin. "We've already started our family by getting married, but maybe one day we'll have our own little wildlife warriors. For now I just feel lucky I get to call this guy my husband. There's so much life to live. Every day will be an adventure."