Just a couple of months before the Animal Planet star was set to walk down the aisle in her dream wedding at the Australia Zoo on April 4, Covid-19 began to spread around the globe.
“We had been planning for almost a year,” says Bindi, “but as soon as this all started happening, we had to look at different options to make sure everyone was safe.”
Public gatherings were banned a few days after the ceremony, and the Irwin family has temporarily closed the zoo where they live and work. Bindi and Chandler were forced to cancel their planned April 4 wedding with just days to go.
“It was a tough decision but absolutely the right one,” says Bindi of calling off their 200-guest event. “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.’”
Having loved ones cheering them on from afar also helped put the pair at ease with their decision. When Chandler’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 Chandler. Adds Bindi: “He wanted the play-by-play. It was so cute.”
So on March 25 the couple exchanged handwritten vows in a small ceremony at
the zoo officiated by a local celebrant. In attendance were “lots of animals” and just three guests: Bindi’s mum Terri, her younger brother Robert, and her late father’s best friend, Wes Mannion. “The first time I saw Bindi in that dress was the most beautiful sight in the world,” says Chandler, who proposed to her last July after nearly five years of dating.
“I immediately teared up. Nothing has ever felt more right than that moment in time.”
Says an emotional Bindi: “My dad would be so happy.” When it came to decorating the garden space where they held their nuptials, the bride and groom rolled up their sleeves. “I set up my own wedding,” says Bindi. “I helped with all the flowers because we were the only ones there. We had so much fun doing it, and it looked beautiful!”
As Robert, 16, walked her down the aisle, the bride wore a custom long-sleeved lace gown by Paddington Weddings.
Honouring her dad, Steve – who died September 4, 2006, at age 44, after he was pierced 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 Bindi. “So Mum 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.” Bindi’s bouquet was also tied with a khaki ribbon to represent Steve. “Most brides have something blue; I had my khaki,” Bindi says.
Now officially husband and wife, the pair have much to look forward to as they run Australia Zoo and work to carry on Steve’s legacy.
“It’s lots of love, wildlife and of course, khaki,” Chandler says. “Just getting to spend our years doing what we love with the person we love.”
“One day in the future it would be wonderful to have a family of our own,” says Bindi. “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. Every day will be an adventure.”