Wedding Theme | Modern

It's no secret that rustic weddings are all the rage right now.  And while we adore a good barn wedding just as much as the next gal, we're also digging the shift to more modern weddings.  And after this blog, you'll love it too.

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Like any wedding theme, the key is to find a theme that suits you + your fiancé.  Don't do something just because something is or isn't popular.  Browse themes on Pinterest or Brides website.  There's no right or wrong wedding theme.

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 Photograph by  HRM Photography

Photograph by HRM Photography

You can totally have fun with whatever theme you decide on for your wedding day!  Embrace the unique and don't be afraid to do something "out of the box".

Stick looking for your perfect gown?  Book an appointment now to write your Say Yes Story at Once Upon A Time Weddings.

Advice From A Real Bride | Heather

It's back! And it's one of our favourite blogs, we ask real brides who have already walked down the aisle for some of their best advice.  So if you haven't taken your walk down the aisle {or if you have and want to reminisce} then this blog is for you!

Full Name

Heather Doerbecker {Moir}

Wedding Date

September 16, 2017
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What is the biggest piece of advice you would give a newly engaged bride-to-be? 

Think about what you and your fiancé want and are looking forward to about your wedding. It’s about you two and starting a new life together. You will get opinions from lots of people but at the end of the day it is your decision that matters most.

What is the best advice you would give for a bride-to-be who is searching for her dream dress?

Do some research collect pictures of dresses you like. Don’t be afraid to try on a style you don’t think will suit you or you don’t want. I didn’t want a ball gown, I ended up with a ball gown but modified it to what I wanted and I loved my dress! Don’t have too many people come to the appointment it gets too crowded and too many opinions.

What is the best advice you were given as a bride-to-be?

At the end of the day, you want a marriage not a wedding. Focus on the relationship of you and your soon to be husband. Don’t get caught in all the little details.

What is something you regret when wedding planning?

Taking more time for myself, doing things I love and not always thinking, talking, dreaming about the wedding.
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What is one thing you're glad you did when you were planning your wedding/engaged?

Getting my husband involved, he was a huge help when I was stressed. Keeping each other on the same page, talking to him about the flowers (even though he admitted he didn’t care). He wanted to make sure it was our wedding day and about us. He wanted to make sure I was happy.

Is there anything else you'd want to tell a future bride?

Make sure you give yourself time if you are doing things yourself, the projects take longer than planned. If people ask for help use them! When dress shopping make an appointment at Once Upon A Time Weddings, you will not regret your choice they are all amazing! Take your time if you are stressed pamper yourself. Enjoy the planning of the wedding.
Photographs by Latte Productions.

Wow! Such great advice from Heather!  It feels so intense right now and like your whole life is consumed with wedding planning.  So it's important to remember the end goal: marriage!! And to spend some time being a couple and planning for your life after your wedding day!  Thanks for the great reminder and advice from Heather!

Want to be featured on our blog?  Shoot us an email info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca. 

Haven't found your perfect gown and want to follow Heather's advice?  Click here to book your appointment at OUTW!

How To Blog | Elopement

This is the time of year where we have some brides in the store who are planning epic elopements.  We know some of our brides dream of eloping about half way through the traditional planning!  But we also know that some brides just choose to elope from the beginning.  Today's blog, we're going to dive into how to plan an elopement.

There are a lot of reasons for couples to choose an elopement:

  • it's generally less expensive as you can do away with a lot of things that traditional weddings have.
  • you can choose a destination and have amazing pictures.  Think BC mountains, Maine oceanfront, Niagara Falls wine country, and so much more!
  • you avoid so much drama.  This is especially key if you have a lot of family members or friends with strong or opposing opinions.
 Kayla eloped with a few friends present in Maine.

Kayla eloped with a few friends present in Maine.

So if you want to elope, here's some things to consider:

  1. Location.  Where will you elope to?  Just head down to city hall or make a trip out of it!  Some place have elopement packages where they take care of everything for you.  So do some googling and figure out where you want to go.
  2. Guests. Who will you take with you?  Just the two of you or bring along a maid of honour + best man?  Ask your parents to attend?  There are no right or wrong answers and this is a personal choice.  Talk to your fiancé and decide together who you want to be there.
  3. Party.  Lots of brides + grooms who choose to elope decide to have a party later on to celebrate the wedding.  This again is a personal decision but this party can be more casual and laid back than a traditional wedding.

If you're going to elope, here's some things you shouldn't skip out on:

  1. Your bouquet.  Order a beautiful bouquet or make your own.  But having a bouquet will make you feel and look like a bride in your wedding pictures.
  2. Your gown.  Your pictures are what's going to last forever.  No matter where you get married or how many people are present, you are still a bride! Your gown will help you feel and look like a bride.  You can find a gown that makes you feel like a bride while not being over the top for the location of your wedding.
  3. Your photographer.  Your pictures are the only thing that will last beyond your day.  So no matter where your wedding is, you choose always invest in a good photographer.  Consider using one who has experience with elopements or photographing a small wedding.

The best thing about doing an elopement is that you can tie some kind of adventure to it.  Go for a hike in the mountains and get some epic photos.  Go on a wine tour and snap some pictures along the way.  Go snowboarding afterwards.  Whatever it is that you and your fiancé are into, find a way to incorporate that into your elopement.

 Tiffany eloped with her kids present!

Tiffany eloped with her kids present!

If you're considering eloping or having a smaller wedding, our staff at Once Upon A Time Weddings can totally help you out with your gown.  Almost all of the gowns in our store can be sold off the rack.  This means that no matter what timeframe you have, we can help! And we have some beautiful gowns that would be perfect for an intimate elopement.

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Personal Blog | Endometriosis

Today on the blog I'm sharing something that's been on my heart for a while now.  

Endometriosis + Infertility.

It’s a chronic illness that affects 1 in 10 women.
The official definition of endometriosis is:

a condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus and causing pelvic pain.

Basically endometrial tissue that should be in the uterus somehow grows outside of it.  Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

This causes extreme pain.
Painful periods.
Pain in between periods.
Pain during intercourse.
Pack in your back, neck, legs.
Pain with bowel movements.

Currently there’s no known cause.
And, there’s no way to diagnose without laparoscopic surgery. 

It's a disease that an estimated 1 in 10 women suffer from and it's the most common reason for infertility.

On February 14th of this year I underwent laparoscopic surgery for the diagnosis and removal of endometrial tissue.  Both ovaries were completely covered in endometrial lesions.  

Why am I sharing this with you?

Three reasons.

1. This is a very real disease and it's time to shine a light on it and improve the health of those living with it.  It's time to talk about it.

2. It's time to find a way to diagnose endometriosis without surgery.  McMaster University is working on finding a connection between a blood protein and endometriosis.  You can read about their study here.  I'm extremely interested in helping find a way for doctors to diagnose and to help educate doctors on signs and symptoms.

3. We're doing a fashion fundraiser in September to raise funds for research + education.  We're not 100% sure how this will look exactly.  Whether we'll partner with an established endometriosis charity or create our own.  But we do know that all proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards endometriosis research.  On top of that a portion of all future profits of Once Upon A Time Weddings will go to fund this goal.

Want to get involved? Shoot us an email info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca

Save the Date: Sunday, September 23rd

More details to follow.

If you'd like to read more of Erin's journey you can follow along on her endometriosis journey here.

Erin's Journey | Crisis Two

After surviving crisis one, learning the lessons that I needed to learn, we began to pick up the pieces.

We found some other designers to pick up to replace that designer.
We moved our store from 6 Front St. W to 2 Front St. W at the request of our landlord.

We found our new normal.

 Image by Soul Photography.

Image by Soul Photography.

Until our second big shipping crisis hit.

This time instead of impacting wedding gowns it was our bridesmaids + mothers gowns that weren’t shipping.

Bridesmaids.
Mothers.
Prom.
Graduation.

We had wedding parties where there were seven bridesmaids and the designer shipped us six gowns.   We were faced with a frustrating situation.  Refund all seven girls?  We had already paid for six gowns.  But we couldn't expect one bridesmaids to wear a different gown.

Stores all across North America banded together in an attempt to fill as many orders as we could with each other’s stock.

We did full refunds.
We covered alterations.
We threw in accessories.

One phone call I’ll never forget.  I had to call a mother and tell her that her gown wasn’t going to arrive in time for her daughter’s wedding two weeks later.  She hung up abruptly.  I would later learn that the shock of the news made her already weak heart weaker and she was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.

I cannot type that without tears coming to my eyes.

It was hard.
I was so worried about the impacts that this would have our small business' reputation.
I pray to God that no designer ever puts a single bridal store through that ever again.

We survived. 
And once again I had a choice to make.

Bitter or better?

Was there something to learn in this situation?
Absolutely.

I learned how important communication was.  The way the owner of this line handled this situation was atrocious.  She worked from home and avoided all phone calls and didn’t reply to emails.

It was a nightmare. 
But it was a nightmare that could have been handled so much better.
And I learned the crucial aspect of good communication through crisis.

I also took a good hard look at our business.
I decided to pair back my business to only bridal + accessories for a while.

I wanted to create an experience unlike any other and do bridal really well before I added back in bridesmaids.  Which we did about a year ago.

I’m not perfect.
I have made mistakes along the way.
I’ve left customers down.

But the lessons that I learned during this experience have shaped who I am as a business owner.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these blogs as I’ve reminisced about the early years in the business.  I truly believe that it was through the fire that our character and grit was built.

Running a business is no joke.
But it’s also so rewarding.

While I shared some of the struggles that OUTW has faced, there are hundreds of beautiful moments that we’re so proud to have been part of.

The 12 Rules Every Bride Should Live By to Avoid Stress

12 Rules For Being A Stress-Free Bride.

By: Erin Bouchard

1.    Sizes suck.  

Remember that dress sizes are so different than real life sizes.  I’ve seen so many brides stress out over the size that is on the tag on the inside of their gown.  They do whatever they can to order a smaller size.  While I get that it’s frustrating to see a bigger number than you’re used to on the tag, it’s just a number.  Order the size that fits you and embrace the shape you have.

2.    Be realistic

If you want to lose weight be realistic about how much you can lose before the wedding.  We’ve had a few brides who have wanted us to order them smaller sizes and then didn’t lose the weight.  Making it extremely difficult to alter their gown and even have to choose another gown mere months before their wedding day.  We know brides have the best intentions, but wedding planning can be stressful.  Be realistic about how much weight you can lose with so much else going on.

 Photography by  Michelle A Photography

3.    Embrace the chaos

There are going to be times of chaos.  There are going to be times of overwhelm.  Try to remember that those moments are short lived.  That you will make it through this period of chaos.  

4.    Ask for help

Sometimes as women we’re a bit stubborn and think we can do everything ourselves.  But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help throughout your wedding process.  Most of the time your mom and your friends will be so happy to jump in and help.  So don’t hesitate to ask.

5.    Be kind

I remember wedding planning.  I remember at times feeling like a totally different person. I remember the periods of extreme happiness and the periods of extreme stress.  A good rule of thumb to remember is that kindness goes a long way. Frustrated with a vendor? Overwhelmed with your fiancé?  Try to still treat them with kindness and remember they are just people too.

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6.    Plan early

Brides right now seem to have this feel of changing their mind, especially when it comes to their wedding gown.  So we see them leaving it later and later to try gowns on. This extremely limits their choices in gowns to what fits them off the rack.  Sometimes it works out beautifully and sometimes it’s way too much stress.  A rule of thumb is to shop for your gown about a year in advance.  If you start to doubt your choice, come back in and try your gown on again or think about all the reasons you fell in love with it.

7.    Include your fiancé

This is your wedding day.  But it’s also your fiancé’s.  Try to include him in your wedding planning.  Ask for his opinions and delegate some aspects to him.  Think about what they would like throughout your planning process.

8.    Keep the end goal in mind

It’s easy to get so wrapped in all the little details of their wedding day that sometimes you forget the end goal.  The wedding is a day, but the marriage is forever.  Keep that end goal in mind and let some of the little things slide.

9.    Communicate well

A lot of the problems you will face while wedding planning will be from a lack of communication.  Make sure that you are communicating regularly with your fiancé, your wedding party and your wedding vendors.  Create a closed facebook group for your wedding party members and post all the important details in there.  Invite your parents and your fiancé parents to the group too.  That way you’ll have an information hub and no one will feel like they are missing important information.

 Photography by Amanda Kopcic Photography

Photography by Amanda Kopcic Photography

10.  Take time off

Spend some time not wedding planning.  Go on a date night.  Get your nails done with MOH.  Go to a movie.  Take some time to be a couple without focusing just on wedding planning.

11.  Be organized

The more you can get done early the better.  The better organized you are with the details the less stressed out you will be.  Get an app or a binder and keep all your information in one place.  Create a note on your phone and update it with all your RSVP’s.  Whatever little things you can do to stay organized will greatly help especially as you approach the big day.

12.  Enjoy the process

You’ll only be a bride for a short time.  One day you’ll look back on this time and miss it.  So live in the moment and enjoy the process. The things that are stressing you out now will make you laugh in 5, 10, 15 years.  So try to enjoy the wedding planning process.

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Erin's Journey | Our First Big Crisis.

This month, I'm sharing some of our story of how we built and grew Once Upon A Time Weddings.  If you missed our introduction story last week, you can read it here: http://bit.ly/2KrINeE

I was in year four.  The first few years had been bumpy, but we were finally finding our groove. And then our first big shipping crisis hit.

It was a designer we knew and trusted.

We had visited his stores.

And bought his sales trainings.
We carried his line for about a year and over half of our in-stock gowns were his line.

And then he stopped shipping gowns.

Wedding gowns were late, really late.

And we weren’t getting any answers from him.

For the first time in the history of my business we were going to miss a wear date.

I had to muster up the courage, dig deep inside of me and make phone calls that I pray I never have to make again.

I’m so sorry to tell you this, but your wedding gown will not arrive in time for your wedding.

We went into autopilot. 

Survival mode.

Full refunds.

Free alterations.

Switch to any in stock gown that you want to regardless of cost.

It was hard.

It was devastating on our business.

It was all so outside of our control.

Once the dust settled and I had personally worked with every bride affected by that designer it was time to learn some big lessons. And remove all those gowns from our racks and sell them off.

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I had a big choice to make.

I could become bitter.

Or I could become better.

You see, we had just gone through one of the worst experiences of my life.  A situation that I hadn’t created or could have changed in any way.  I could so easily have become bitter because of it. It was done to me after all.

Or I could find the lesson in the situation and I could learn.

I could use what I learned and grow my business.

And so we picked up the pieces of our business, prayed that we never went through anything like that again and continued on.

One of the biggest lessons that we learned during this crisis was to always take care of our customers.  To go above and beyond for them.  It’s one of our pillars of our business. 

We don’t always get it right, but we always make it right.

We care deeply about each of our customers.  We want them to love their experience and time with us.  So we spent lots of time perfecting the customer experience over the years.  
We’re not perfect.  But we constantly striving to be better.  To do better.  To be consistent.

Things started changing. 

Sales increased.

More and more brides heard about us.

And then we were facing crisis number two dead in the face.

This time however it was much, much worse.

Join me next week as I dive into that lesson.