But just four weeks before the daughter of Crocodile Hunter star Steve Irwin and his wife, Terri, 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 tells PEOPLE, “but as soon as this all started happening, we had to look at different options to make sure everyone was safe.”
As the pandemic hit country by country, 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.) The Irwin family has temporarily closed the Australia Zoo, and Bindi and Powell officially canceled their wedding with just days to go. “It was a tough decision but absolutely the right one,” says Bindi.
Australia Zoo Productions Pty Ltd. Copyright 2020 Chandler Powell and Bindi Irwin
“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.
Australia Zoo Productions Pty Ltd. Copyright 2020
For more from Bindi Irwin, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
So on March 25, the Crikey! It’s the Irwins star, 21, and Powell, 23, exchanged “I dos” in an intimate ceremony attended by “lots of animals” and just three guests: Bindi’s mom, Terri; her younger brother, Robert; and her late father’s best friend, Wes Mannion.
“Even if it wasn’t by-the-book perfect, it was our perfect,” says Bindi, who first met Powell in 2013, when the Florida native and former professional wakeboarder traveled to Australia for a competition. While there, Bindi gave his family a tour during a visit to the zoo.
Bindi Irwin/Instagram Chandler Powell and Bindi Irwin
Now, more than six years later, the pair is enjoying every moment of newlywed life.
“The first time I saw Bindi in that dress was the most beautiful sight in the world,” says Powell. “I immediately teared up. Nothing has ever felt more right than that moment in time.”
Says Bindi: “These last few days have been amazing reflecting on our whirlwind of a day and also looking forward to the future. My dad would be so happy.”
Crikey! It’s the Irwins: Bindi’s Wedding special premieres April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on Animal Planet.