Church wedding

Outback town Dirranbandi attracts visitors with Elvis-themed wedding vow renewals

It’s a far cry from the bright lights of Las Vegas, but a small white chapel in outback Queensland has become the perfect backdrop for couples to rekindle their burning love in front of the king.

Elvis impersonator Steven Minhinnick has never ventured this far west, but his vocal cords worked overtime as he officiated at a mass ceremony for nine couples renewing their vows .

“Coming down to a place like Dirranbandi is a real experience,” the Sunshine Coast-based artist said of the town, around 580 kilometers southwest of Brisbane.

“Not in a crisis that I ever dreamed I would be here.

“It was intimidating but I loved it.”

Elvis (aka Steven Minhinnick) came to the outback town of Dirranbandi.(Southern Queensland ABCs: Georgie Hewson)

Brisbane couple Ken and Dorene Ord have been married for 31 years but couldn’t resist the chance to walk down the aisle again on their road trip through West Queensland.

“We actually renew our vows every chance we get,” Ord said.

“Sometimes when you’re on a cruise and the captain says he will, we line up, but we always wanted to be married by the king, so we couldn’t pass up this chance.

“I thought the conga line through the confetti was the best part.”

A man and a woman kiss
Dorene and Ken Ord say they always wanted to be married by the king.(Southern Queensland ABCs: Georgie Hewson)

The Ords said they looked forward to telling the story to their children and grandchildren.

“They won’t be surprised. They’ll say, ‘Did you renew your vows again?'” Ord said.

“We are lucky,” Ms. Ord said.

“We know that doesn’t happen to a lot of people. [staying together] but it happened for us.”

A real laugh

Kelly Walters from nearby Mungindi donned her quirky wedding dress to recommit to husband Nathan.

It brought back many happy memories.

“I started training at the feedlot and Nathan was already there and we were kind of looking at each other and getting to know each other and it just snowballed from there,” Ms Walters said.

“[Sunday was] actually our second wedding anniversary and we saw that it was, so we thought, well, we’ll go for it,” Mr Walters said.

“It was a real laugh.”

Nikki Pulfer, owner of Dirranbandi Caravan Park and Chapel, said the mass ceremony was more than a celebration of love and music.

Ms Pulfer has spent a lot of time during the pandemic restoring the chapel, only for flooding to impact the area’s high tourist season this year.

She then decided to do something different to attract visitors.

An elderly couple are sitting outdoors with a bouquet of flowers
The gray nomads stopped in their travels to take part in the ceremony.(Southern Queensland ABCs: Georgie Hewson)

“Honestly, I couldn’t think of a funnier way than to have a renewal ceremony.

“When road closures happen, it isolates us and it causes this sense of fear in travelers; they don’t want to be stuck here.

“But maybe if we can show them how beautiful it is, and how we have quirky events like this and have fun – it’s not all bad, that’s what ‘it’s about.”

love in the air

nikki and elvis
Nikki Pulfer hopes this unique event lifted spirits in the community.(Southern Queensland ABCs: Georgie Hewson)

Covered from head to toe in rhinestones and with an Elvis soundtrack as the backdrop, Mr Minhinnick was hard to miss as he brought a show to town.

“The outfits…I put the costume on and I kind of get into character and transform into him and then I know it’s show time,” he said.

While Elvis has now left the building, Ms. Pulfer plans to host the event again to bring some Las Vegas glitz to Dirranbandi.

“Absolutely, if I had anything to do with it,” she said.

“Love is definitely in the air.”