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The romantic story behind Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell's early courtship

Their meeting was truly meant to be.

By Juliet Rieden
Their wedding was supposed to happen on April 4; a huge celebration which Bindi had been planning ever since Chandler proposed on her 21st birthday on July 24 last year, when he pulled a diamond ring from his pocket and went down on one knee.
Bindi's brother Robert was in on the surprise and watching on from behind some trees, secretly taking photos.
"I was so excited," Robert said afterwards, laughing.
In many ways the union felt as if it was destined, for in a curious mirror image of her parents' relationship, Bindi's beau was American, like her mum, and the duo met at the business her dad created, Australia Zoo, which was also where Terri and Steve met.
Chandler, a wakeboard champion, was in Australia competing when he visited the zoo as a tourist.
He later told The Australian Women's Weekly, "I'd grown up watching Steve and Terri's documentaries on TV ... I'd had my khakis from about four years old ... I loved seeing how Steve was able to inspire people, and Bindi and her family have kept that inspiration going."
It was 2013 and on the very day he visited, as luck would have it, Bindi was leading the private tour. The duo immediately clicked.
Bindi has since said that it was when she saw Chandler cuddling a koala that her heart skipped a beat. He clearly passed the animal lover's test.
They spent the day together and, "we could talk for ages right from the get-go," remembers Chandler, now 23. "It was as though we'd known each other for years."
The cute couple at home at Australia Zoo, on the Sunshine Coast. Image: Instagram
Their courtship was old-fashioned.
From his home in Seffner, Florida, Chandler asked Terri if he could write to her 15-year-old daughter.
She was a little taken aback at first, but after checking with Bindi, approved the correspondence and the special spark, so evident when you meet this couple today, was ignited.
They made their relationship public in 2015, so despite their youth, the couple's romance developed slowly.
"Why rush it?" Bindi said. "We have all of our lives ahead to enjoy the ride."
They maintained a long-distance relationship for three years before Chandler moved to Australia and started working in the zoo.
They were young and in love, and both in no doubt this was the real thing.
"We were lucky to have found each other," said Bindi.
Terri welcomed Chandler into the family, but has said that at the time she had a niggling doubt: "He's awesome and perfect ... was this too good to be true?" It wasn't.
Bindi and Chandler pictured just moments after their engagement. These photos were taken by her brother Robert. Image: Instagram
After Chandler proposed, the couple went on a special road trip into the bush to release a rehabilitated koala back into the wild, as a poignant celebration which Bindi says was a perfect reminder of that first encounter she'd had with Chandler.
It was also Chandler's first experience of a koala release and for him was the perfect engagement present.
"Every day when I wake up, I feel I have to pinch myself because I am living my dream. I get to do what I love with the person I love, continuing the work that Steve and Terri started," said Chandler.
"I'm so glad that I found my soulmate so early in life," responded Bindi.
Robert Irwin, Terri Irwin, Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell pictured just after Bindi got engaged. Image: Instagram
Fast forward to 2020 and the couple was all ready for a perfect wedding.
During a radio interview in the lead-up they joked that they wanted koalas walking Bindi up the aisle, and crocs and snakes involved.
Ironically it was the animals who ended up at the wedding in place of the planned 200 guests.
As the coronavirus reached pandemic proportions, Australia's wedding of the year transformed into a very different affair to the one they had hoped for.
Rather than postpone they went ahead with a ceremony on Wednesday, March 25, which though in keeping with the social distancing tenet of the government guidelines, proved to be a touching nuptial which was one hundred per cent Chandler and Bindi.
Robert walked his sister down the aisle clad in trademark khaki in front of Terri and late-father Steve's best friend Wes Mannion. A photo of Steve on an easel watched on.
They were gathered in the gardens of the place the couple love best – Australia Zoo.
"Mum helped me get ready, Robert walked me down the aisle, Chandler became my husband and together we lit a candle in Dad's memory. We shared tears and smiles and love. Thankfully, since we all live at Australia Zoo as a family, we could be there for each other. To everyone reading this – stay safe, social distance and remember LOVE WINS!" wrote Bindi on Instagram.
Bindi, 21, wore her hair long and loose with a lace hairband matching a stunning lace gown which echoed the one her mother wore to wed Steve in 1992.
Bindi and Chandler pictured on their wedding day. Image: Instagram
And while there was a hint of sadness that her father didn't live to see this day, his spirit was everywhere.
"I know Dad was with us," Robert wrote.
Bindi also shared her joy on social media with photos, a video and a special message to fans.
"[Today] we held a small ceremony and I married my best friend. There are no words to describe the amount of love and light in my heart right now. We've planned this beautiful day for nearly a year and had to change everything, as we didn't have guests at our wedding.
"This was a very difficult decision but important to keep everyone safe. We wish all of our friends and family could have been there with us, however it's lovely that we will be able to share photos and videos. Right now we're encouraging the world to hold onto hope and love, which will carry us forward during this profound time in history."
Chandler wrote: "The best day of my life. I love you so much".
WATCH BELOW: Inside Chandler and Bindi's wedding at Australia Zoo. Story continues after video.
And Terri posted a photo of Bindi looking cute as a button, age seven, in a bridesmaid's dress.
"My beautiful Bindi has loved everything about weddings since she was a little girl," wrote the proud mum.
"It seems like I just blinked my eyes and she was celebrating her own wedding with her soulmate, Chandler.
"I love you so much. Treasure each day of your happily ever after."
Congratulations and best wishes, Bindi and Chandler.

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