All The Dress Shopping Secrets Revealed

Have you ever wondered what the hype is about finding a gown at Once Upon A Time Weddings?  Today on the blog, owner Erin Bouchard will walk you through a typical appointment at OUTW + answer some of your questions we know you’re dying to ask!  Erin, along with her team of consultants are proud to have helped thousands of brides create their own gown finding story.  She truly believes that magic happens at OUTW and sometimes you just have to embrace the magic.

A typical bridal gown shopping experience.

Most brides book their appointment online or by phoning the store.  We love our online system because it shows you exactly what we have left available each day and you can choose the time that’s best for you.  Once you’re booked into an appointment, you’ll receive a confirmation email that has a link to our form for you to fill out before your appointment.  We’ll ask you questions about your venue, previous shopping experiences and style choices.  This helps your consultant prepare for your appointment and many times our consultants have picked out your gown before they’ve even met you!

On the day of your appointment, you’ll be greeted and welcomed warmly into the shop.  We’ll ask you a few quick questions and then get to the fun!  Your consultant will pull four to five gowns to begin with.  Many, many times you’re gown will be in those first four to five gowns {yes, we’re that good!}.  Sometimes it’s the first gown you put on and sometimes it’s the last.  We’ll walk you through the gowns and ask questions about what you like and what you don’t.  Even if you hate the gown, we’re going to ask some questions to help narrow down what it is that you don’t like so we can make better gown pulls.  We always say, “gowns don’t have feelings” so feel free to tell us the truth about what you like and don’t like!

Once we’ve found a gown you love, we’ll put the finishing touches on with accessories.  Sometimes the magic is honestly in the complete look and we want to help you picture it all together for that walk down the aisle.

After you’ve said yes, we’ll take a group picture with our She Said Yes signs.  This will be posted on social media and captures the excitement of the moment.

 Photography by  Amanda Kopcic Photography   Hair + Make Up:  Selah Vie

Photography by Amanda Kopcic Photography

Hair + Make Up: Selah Vie

There is no right or wrong time to say yes to the dress.

There are no magical number of gowns you HAVE to try on before you can say yes.  There aren’t a magical number of stores you HAVE TO visit before you can pull the trigger.  In life there are a lot of analytical decisions we have to make.  Have you ever made a pro/con list or listed out all your options before you could decide?  That’s an analytical decision and they are absolutely necessary for certain decisions in life.  But the gown you’ll get married in and look book on for the rest of your life – that’s an emotional decision.  You’re going to feel a whole bunch of emotions as you try gowns on.  You should however not feel:

1.     Like you’re being rushed or pressured.

2.     Like you’re settling for the best of what you’ve tried on.

If you truly love the gown and can picture walking down the aisle in the dress then it could be your gown.  Follow your heart.  You likely won’t know immediately that it’s your gown.  Most brides know it’s their gown by standing in it for a bit and just imagining it come to life.  That when the magic truly happens.

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Who should I bring to my appointment.

Or how many can I bring to my appointment.  I get asked this question a lot and it’s honestly one of the hardest questions to answer.  I’ve had appointments with three people go horribly wrong and I’ve had appointments with twelve people go incredibly awesome.  Therefore, I always say bring with you who you absolutely would want to be there if magic happened and you had your gown finding moment.  Jealous bridesmaid?  Struggling sister in law?  Leave them at home or let them be part of your bridal reveal after the decision has been made.  The thing is that every person who you bring with you will be thinking of their opinions.  It’s not that they mean to, but they have an idea of what they would like or what they think you should get and they project that opinion on you.  Again, it’s often not intentional at all.  The important thing is that no matter how many people you bring with you, your opinion needs to be heard loudest and most.  Our consultants are excellent at insuring that.

What to bring.

If you own a strapless bra, bring that along with you.  If you don’t that’s okay, no need to rush out and get one.  Just wear a nude or light coloured bra and we’ll tuck the straps down.  If you plan to wear heels on your day and have a pair that is of similar height, bring those along to try on with the gown. 



Why do we pull the gowns for you?

It’s your day.  And we want you to just sit back and enjoy the moment with your family and friends.  Sometimes we need to sit back and let magic do it’s thing!  We also know our inventory well and we may think of gowns to pull that you never even imagined or would have walked right past if you saw it hanging on a rack.  Often we’ll ask during an appointment, “was there another style you had in mind that you really wanted to try on that we haven’t yet”.  If at any point in your appointment your consultant hasn’t asked and you or one of your entourages is wanting to see another style on you, just let us know! 

We do love our jobs at OUTW!  We love working with brides because honestly no two brides are the same, no two weddings are the same and no two gown finding experiences are the same.  Our biggest advice to you is to embrace what makes you unique.  Your story could be you tried on a hundred gowns before you found the one OR your story could be it was the very first gown I slipped into.  Neither of those stories would be right or wrong!  We’d love to work with you and help you say yes to the dress.  Schedule an appointment today and let’s get started!

Wedding Theme | Romantic

According to Brides.com, the Romantic theme is “Soft hues, delicate lighting, and plenty of florals typically make up a romantic wedding. For this theme, envision pastels, hanging lights (even chandeliers), calligraphy, and a flower wall.”

We think that this theme is perfect for brides who don’t love an over-the-top wedding theme. And because what wedding isn’t full of romance?

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 This beautiful gown from our store would be perfect for a romantic themed wedding. It has the perfect soft sparkle throughout the lace with beautiful, flowy tulle skirt. We also love the soft blush colour under the gown. It’s perfect for that romantic look.

This beautiful gown from our store would be perfect for a romantic themed wedding. It has the perfect soft sparkle throughout the lace with beautiful, flowy tulle skirt. We also love the soft blush colour under the gown. It’s perfect for that romantic look.

Owner Blog | When To Shop For Your Gown.

We’re seeing this trend in the store right now, of brides putting off coming in to shop for their gown.  And while sometimes we can make magic happen and find a gown that fits them or rush a gown in fast enough, it definitely limits your options as a bride.

At the bridal show a few weeks ago we met some brides who did not want to shop for their gown until much closer to their wedding.  And I get it, it can feel overwhelming or you might feel like if you shop too early you’ll have dress regret.  However, wedding gowns take between five and six months to order in.  In order to have the most number of options of gowns to choose from, you should begin shopping for your gown about seven to nine months before your wedding.  Earlier is even better because that will give you time to enjoy the process and help everything else fall into place.

Because the worse thing that can happen is that you have to settle for a gown that fits you and you can buy off the rack instead of saying yes to the gown you absolutely adore.

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Here’s three reasons we see brides delaying shopping for their gowns and how to overcome them.

1.     Fear of Dress regret

Some brides are putting off shopping for their gown because they are afraid they may have dress regret.  They may even have a friend who ended up purchasing two gowns for their wedding day.  Here’s the thing about dress regret, if I can speak openly for a minute.  We live in an instant world.  We instantly have our emails on our phone, we instantly can connect with someone half way around the world on facetime, we can get something delivered the next with amazon prime.  So we’ve become accustomed to not waiting.  So when we purchase a wedding gown, and my goodness, we now have to wait five months for it to arrive, it’s hard!  I get it.  I do.  So if you start to second guess yourself or worry about your gown, do this:  First, think about all the reasons you loved that gown and said yes.  Remember how you felt in it.  Remember how it will look with all your alterations done, with your hair and makeup done, walking down that aisle to the love of your life.  Second, if that doesn’t work and you’re still worried, do not go shopping.  I repeat, do not go shopping.  Wedding gowns are beautiful.  They are made to be pretty.  You will find another one you love.  Instead head back to the store you purchased your gown, slip that gown back on and remember why you fell in love with it. 

2.     Losing weight

This one can be a bit tricky.  Because it’s obviously a sensitive subject.  Brides want to look their best on their wedding day.  And while we’re all for feeling beautiful, we want to make sure you can still have the dress of your dreams.  We can talk through sizing and alterations with you in the appointment.  But the thing here to remember is that your fiancé fell in love with you and proposed at the exact size you are right now.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in an already stressful season of life.  Embrace the shape you are and find a gown you love right now, not 20 pounds lighter.  If you are determined to lose a bit of weight, then give yourself some time.  Set a goal and track your progress.  That will help us choose the best size for you when you do shop.

3.     Orchestrating entourage

We get it.  You want your people there when you have your magical experience.  So sometimes brides will put off shopping until their mom is home or sister is back from school.  We totally understand.  Just make sure that it still leaves you with the suggested time frame of 7-9 months before your big day.

If it doesn’t then plan an appointment at a time that they are available and we’ll facetime them into the appointment.  This way they can to still be part of the experience and you still get all the gown options.  Then we can also do a bridal reveal the next time they are home or in this area.  You can slip that gown back on and show them and have them help with accessories.

We want you to say yes to the dress in absolute confidence.  We want you to love your gown and continue loving it until long after your wedding day.  At Once Upon A Time Weddings our goal is to walk with you through the whole experience.  That’s what makes our store different.  We know from past brides that once your gown decision has been made, so many other decisions are able to fall into place.

If you’re still looking for your gown, register now for our upcoming webinar on Wednesday November 28th at 7pm. In it, we’ll cover the 5 things you must know before you say yes to your dress.

1| Colours of gowns
2| Shapes of gowns
3| Who to bring to your appointment
4| When to shop for your gown
5| Why shopping at a boutique is best

 If you’re ready to start trying gowns on, book your exclusive gown finding experience here.

Advice From Past Bride | Mikaela Vandenberk

Mikaela + Luke
Wedding Date: September 2, 2017

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give a newly engaged bride-to-be? Please explain:)

Relax and enjoy the process. The engagement high only lasts for so long, so when it's there enjoy it. Enjoy being engaged, because it's fun to go around showing off that new bling(lets me honest). Don't stress wedding planning, it doesn't need to be stressful, it honestly should be fun and exciting. I truly believe people put way to much pressure on wedding planning. When I got engaged I got the big decisions done ASAP (venue, photographer, etc), then let the little details go until the 3 or so months before. I didn't want the entire year or so to be wedding this wedding that. I didn't want to feel overwhelmed and I wanted to enjoy being engaged not feeling stressed the entire time.

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

First - Go to Once Upon a Time Weddings their amazing to work with and you feel so special. Secondly, have your ideas but don't be limited. I went in with 2 full sheets of paper of my inspiration from Pinterest and ended up getting a dress that was completely out of my comfort zone. I am really happy about it thought because it was unexpected which I wanted.

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

Stop worrying about all the materialistic things. The most important thing is the commitment that you are making with your partner and that should always remain number one.

What is something you regret when wedding planning?

I only had a couple things that I regret not doing or thought people may have thought it was lame. My main advice is do the wedding of YOUR dreams nobody else.

What is one thing you're glad you did when you were planning your wedding/engaged?

Included my husband as much as he may have not been to interested. Remember its your wedding together not just you. I hate when people say its the brides day, no its both of yours. I wanted my husband included in everything even if he just wanted me to be happy with the decision. Some decisions are fairly big and should be a couple decision.

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

Have fun, enjoy the journey and don't lose site of the main event and thats the marriage the commitment to be long life partners.

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Thanks Mikaela for sharing your advice for all those who haven’t walked down the aisle just yet. If you’re still looking for the perfect gown, follow Mikaela’s advice and come to Once Upon A Time Weddings. Book your appointment today!

On Growth | Where OUTW is Headed.

Over a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog with the same title. We were anticipating our new move to the store. We were busting out of our old space and needed to expand.

And here we are a year and a half later and we continue to grow.

And we’re so, so thankful for that. We’re extremely thankful for all of our customers who shop with us, tell their friends about us, and share our posts on social media.

We’ve had several staff meetings over the last few months digging into what’s next for Once Upon A Time Weddings and really looking at what we do well and what we need to work on. Because in the business world, growth can be a double edge sword.

We want to keep growing to serve more and more brides. But we also want to make sure that the brides that we have are served well.

So, first things first. We are looking for another part time bridal stylist for the store. We are not necessarily looking for someone with experience in bridal. We are looking for someone who is hard working, open to learning, passionate about fashion and available Saturdays and weekday evenings.

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To apply, please email your resume and why you think you’d be a perfect match to info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca.

Secondly, we have some really exciting events happening at the store in the next few months. We did a Facebook live today explaining them. Click here to watch it.

And we have some other big news that we are working on. So be sure to follow along on our instagram + Facebook pages for more information.


A Non-Cheesy Way to Include Thanksgiving into Your Wedding Day

Love Thanksgiving? What a perfect theme to incorporate into your wedding! It’s a season of love and food! There are ways to add that homey holiday flare without constructing some form of a paper turkey. Especially if your wedding day happens to “fall” right on the holiday weekend!.


For your table settings think harvest theme, use thanksgiving inspired ingredients in a fresh way for your menu, while expressing thanks to your loved ones in a number of ways throughout the celebrations.

For your table decor don’t be afraid to add multiple elements such as candles, fresh produce, foliage garlands and any other autumn-ish decor items. To add even more of your traditions or to make your guests feel more at home, add touches such as various household items, rugs and comfy furniture.

For escort cards adding something such as pairs with your guests names on the leaves adds a personal touch for your family and friends (you could do this with any fruit to match your theme/venue)


For venue spaces, nothing says the holidays like a family home or a rustic barn space. You can also use an outdoor space (weather pending). Adding area rugs to your aisle can also add warmth and compliment your colour palette.

Bring your furry friends, having the family dog be part of the wedding couldn’t make it feel anymore like you’re at home on the holidays.

For entertainment, you can always go with a traditional band or DJ. However, if you do have any musical talent in the family add them into the mix and bring that personal touch to your special day while making it really feel like the holidays.

Now for cocktail hour, the fall season brings plenty of options for drinks and desserts! For beverages you can do a seasonal punch or even a mulled cider which is delicious served hot or cold.

For an eclectic flare, use mismatched plates and serve ware to add more rustic charm and family tradition to your place settings. Even using some of your family’s china will bring a personal touch. Rental companies also offer great options for this style.

Other than a traditional wedding cake/cupcakes , there is one other dessert alternative that we love to indulge during the holidays… PIE. Some brides have even had a specific pie station with multiple classic flavours. But don’t forget about our good autumn friend the apple, there are so many options. The most popular is an apple dipping table for guests to have fun and create their own take home snack!

Leave us a comment on ways you included Thanksgiving into your wedding day, we'd love to hear!

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more wedding inspiration and behind the scenes bridal store moments!

Still searching for that perfect wedding gown? Book your experience with us today!

*All photographs curtesy of Pinterest*

Wedding Theme | Rustic Autumn

Pumpkin spice and everything nice! Fall weddings and its decor selection haven’t appeared to go down in popularity. So if you like a pinch of cinnamon , apples and the colour orange then this is the theme for you!

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Autumn weddings give you the ability to use the natural elements as your decor canvas. Being surrounded by beautiful earth tones and bold accents, you definitely have the option of keeping things minimal. Playing with fabrics and textures are a great way to add detail without overwhelming your venue space.

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Escort cards really do add a personalized touch to your venue space and overall wedding theme. You can design it to be a “take home” item for your guests or even just a great conversation piece during your wedding reception.

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With your table settings… just because the weather has cooled down a tad doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with pops of colour and elegant floral arrangements. Adding things like gold accents and candles can really bring the whole table arrangement together and add a sense of warmth to the decor.

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Sparkling champagne cider, s’mores… the choices are endless! Cocktail hour is always a great way to show you and your fiancés personality. This year a big trend is “guest experience” you could even have a small fire pit in the outdoor section of your venue to give guests a cozy feel while celebrating your big day.

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For your ceremony space you can go in any direction with your style. Here in this theme we stuck with rustic/modern which is achieved by adding structured metals and earthy toned floral arrangements with candles. Adding different heights in your ceremony space will allow your guests eyes to follow the leading lines of your space with minimal distractions.

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For wedding favours if you’re looking for an alternative route, you could try adding a cute play on words with a delicious treat or something homemade with the happy couples personal touch on it that family and friends would love to take home!

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 This dress from our store would work perfect for a fall themed wedding!

This dress from our store would work perfect for a fall themed wedding!

But regardless of trends, pick what works best for your style and what is the most attractive to you and your fiancé... Happy wedding planning! 

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