Natural Nuptials

Two environmental scientists tie the knot in a wedding full of personality.

She won’t confess to smooching any of them, but the fact remains that Tara Bodeux was catching frogs the summer she met her handsome prince.

It was 2006 and she was 21, working on an amphibian research project at a camp near Peace River, radio tracking toads and rounding up frogs while studying their habitat.

She recalls a buzz around camp in advance of the arrival of Brett Bodeux, who came to study the biodiversity of the trees in the area. When he showed up, he didn’t disappoint. She wanted to talk to him right away. “But I waited for several days. We were both too shy to make the first move,” says Tara.

Brett, too, noticed Tara immediately. “The first time I saw her she was in field clothes, sitting in a pick-up, and I remember asking her partner, ‘Who’s that really good-looking girl in the truck?'”

“We were really dirty in gross field clothes,” says Tara, “If you can fall in love with someone when they look like that, it’s probably going to be OK.” Despite dating while surrounded by 20 colleagues – who sometimes felt more like chaperones – the pair became an item in a couple of months.

Tara hasn’t thought much about whether her research subjects had anything to do with her falling in love, though, come to think of it, “The toads were my favourite, and we only caught one toad that summer …”

That lone toad would have been in good company years later at Tara and Brett’s wedding reception, where an owl, a white-tailed deer and a moose, all stuffed, peeped out among trees and faux snow, creating a photo op for friends and family on the Freemasons Hall’s stage.

While most couples wouldn’t even use the words “taxidermy” and “wedding dcor” in the same sentence, the photo booth was a logical choice for Tara and Brett, who had bonded over their shared passion for nature, the outdoors and antiques. “This was a way to pull the outdoors, indoors,” says Tara, “especially because our wedding took place during the winter.”

They wanted the romance of the snowy outdoors for photographs, along with the beauty of the woods for their reception. So, their dcor combined an outdoors feel with vintage elements. Antlers – collected over many years by Tara’s grandmother on the family farm near San Clara, Man. – decorated the tables in the reception hall, along with old books (many nature-themed) and vintage brass animals Tara found in thrift stores, antique shops and on eBay.

All of the brass animals were fauna of North America except a giraffe, which foreshadowed the couple’s safari honeymoon in Tanzania.

For a pair who loves winter, they chose their wedding date well. Feb. 11, 2012, was a true February day in Edmonton, -9 C with the wind chill holding at -18 C for the 1 p.m. ceremony at the historic McKay Avenue School.

With the weather in mind, Tara had a white suede bolero with purple flowers – purple is her favourite colour – made to keep her warm in her rose-appliqued wedding gown during the frosty post-ceremony photo shoot. And her five bridesmaids wore white coats personalized by Tara with pearl detail and lace-covered buttons, over their dresses of varying shades of purple, pink and nude.

At the reception, a sign-in table with moss, bark pieces, driftwood and flowers made of reclaimed wood greeted the 120 guests, who were called upon to make animal sounds instead of the traditional clinking of glasses to elicit a kiss or two from the newlyweds.

“It turns out people aren’t that shy about going up and making animal sounds,” says Brett.

Tara changed into a shorter, one-shoulder dress for the evening, making it easier to dance the night away and to make her way up to the photo booth and sit back on the old green couch she’d found at a Salvation Army thrift store.

But one of the highlights for the new Mrs. Bodeux was finally laying eyes on her wedding cake. The five-tier cake from Over the Top Cakes was “almost as tall as Brett and I,” she recalls. On top of the buttercream covered confection, a pair of porcelain birds perched on a birch tree branch cut by Brett’s dad.

A month later, while on their honeymoon in Tanzania, the couple was surrounded by birds of all kinds. In fact, they saw at least 78 different species. “We always joke that we’re like old people – we love to curl … go antiquing, play golf,” says Tara. “And go bird watching.” And the best part is that they’ve only just begun their lives together.

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