Sarnia weddings

A Real, Honest Blog.

DISCLAIMER: This is a bit of a more personal blog.  It's meant to show you a little glimpse into what running a bridal store is REALLY like.  I ADORE what I do and I LOVE working with brides.  This is just a bit of my real life.  

When I first opened the doors to Once Upon A Time Weddings I was shocked by how many bridal stores didn’t have great customer service.  I was shocked that anyone could be helping a bride during the most important & exciting time of her life and not LOVE their job.  Or at least smile.

Fast forward five years and now I kind of get it.  This business can be a bit ruthless.  Sometimes it feels overwhelming! {much like wedding planning does, but hang in there, the best moments are coming, I promise}  

Don’t get me wrong – I still love it and live and breathe it every single day.  But it can be oh so exhausting.  I’m not talking about working with brides, that part I love.  I’m talking about working with everyone else.

Here’s some examples of what I mean:

·       In my second year of business I attended a bridal show that also had a fashion show.  The other two stores were fighting and yelling about who had more space for the models to change in.  So the producer of the show had to literally put masking tape down to show whose side was whose.

·       In my third year of business I had a designer who I carried deeply in my store, go bankrupt and stop producing gowns suddenly.  I lost about $8,000 and for the first time had to call a bride and tell her that her gown wouldn’t be here before her wedding day and that she had to pick another one.

·       In my fourth year of business I had a designer who got so behind in production that we were unsure whether bridesmaids, mothers or prom gowns would arrive in time for their events.  We had to cover customer’s alterations, source the gowns through other stores and just pray that everyone got what they needed in time.

·       Last year I had to deal with my old landlord situation which destroyed a lot of my trust in people and ultimately cost me over $6000 in unnecessary rent.

·       I have also discovered this year that one of my competitors is transhipping gowns.  This basically means they don’t carry the line of wedding gowns, but they have another store order the gowns in for them and ship to their store.  Which means that although I’ve carried the line and have invested in the stock pieces that I have, they are telling brides to come to my store, try the gowns on and then they’ll order the dress for below what the manufacturer allows us to sell it. This kind of thing happens on all the time with designer gowns.  It’s so unethical and frustrating but unfortunately most designers turn a blind eye because at the end of the day they are still selling gowns.

·       This year I found out that someone who I trusted deeply in this business and whom I have talked openly about bridal gowns, designers and my business plan took that information and behind my back started a competing bridal business.  Then when I found out and called him out about it, he lied directly to my face.

Somehow, I have survived each and every one of these things and so many more that I could write about.  I’ve learned to work through brutal situations and keep on going.  After all I’m an entrepreneur.  It’s what we do.  But by the Grace of God.

So, why am I sharing all this with you?   I guess it’s a reminder that we’re human.  That even though I am the face of Once Upon A Time Weddings, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes.  So many things that I CANNOT control {even though the control freak inside of me wishes I could}.  So many designers, sales reps, UPS drivers, and more that I have to rely on to do my job.  Have I made some mistakes along the way?  Absolutely!!  Will I make more?  Most likely. But never the same ones, as I try my best to learn from them.  Every day I wake up and I’m so thankful for the job that I am entrusted with.  I’m so thankful that I get to spend a small window of time with each and every bride that comes into my store.  Sometimes after a particularly crappy day, I will sit and read through my facebook reviews.  The kind words left from brides means the world to me!  When I sit and reminisce about all the brides who said YES to their DRESS at Once Upon A Time Weddings, it makes me so proud.  They are why I keep pushing through the difficult situations.  I ask of you to remember that store owners are people too and if they have given you great service, let them know.  It can make a world of difference.

What to do if you panic...

Not all brides do it. But it’s not completely uncommon. What happens if you get home, your heart starts pounding and you start regretting the decision that you just made? Let’s talk about bridal panic for a minute.  If you didn't panic, don't panic now, that's ok too :)

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It’s been a day you’ll remember for a while. You went dress shopping. It was a great day with mom and maybe a friend or two. Maybe you even dragged grams along for the ride. You found the gown. You pictured walking down the aisle. You said yes. Maybe mom cried, maybe she didn’t. {it’s still your gown either way} Then you get home. You are excited but then the finalization of what you just did hits you in a wave of sheer panic. Shut the front door! Did I just really find a gown? WHAT DID I SAY YES TO!? There are a number of reasons why this panic might be hitting you and they’re not bad reasons and it’s not uncommon.

The first reason is you might feel like you didn’t shop enough. How can it be this easy? Shouldn’t I have dragged mom and grams to every store there is before I decided. Many brides, partially thanks to good, old reality tv shows feel like every bride must try on every single dress to be found before making a decision. Or they see their drama tv shows and think that it must really be that hard to find a gown. But it’s not. It doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to try on 22 gowns to know FOR SURE. Because the truth is once you find one you love, you’ll just keep searching for something so similar to that one that you may end up getting frustrated or overwhelmed. So remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be difficult and just because it was easy, doesn’t mean that it was wrong.

Another reason is that sometimes that purchase suddenly makes the whole wedding feel real. A lot of times it’s not even about the dress, it’s about the realness of the decision that you are committing to. Remember to breath and remember all those reasons you said yes to the proposal. You are getting married. Don’t let that scare you, let it excite you.

Whatever reason you are panicking, reach out to us. We’ve helped brides who have felt the same way, and we’re HERE for you. Call, text, email, Facebook message, morse code us. It’s part of our job and if you have any questions or concerns then reach out to us. It’s a sad part of our reality, that brides think to hop online and write a negative review or complain publicly before they’ve even chatted with us. We can’t fix a problem we don’t know exists If you are able to, come back into the store and slip that gown back on and you’ll realize all over again why you love it and why you said yes.

If you do think you want to change your mind take the high road. You are signing a contract and you are agreeing to abide by the outlines of the contract. If you change your mind or want us to alter that contract for any reason, remember you are asking us to change. Don’t treat us like we did something wrong by selling you, your gown. Be respectful and remember we are human beings too. Calling us names or being rude won’t get you anywhere. Every single one of us working at Once Upon A Time Weddings cares so much about our brides & our customers that we want the absolute best for you. We want you to love your gown and be so, so happy with your choice long after the I Do’s. But we are a business and we have contracts in place for a reason. All we’re asking is that you be mature about the decision you are making. We agree to take the journey with you and be there every step of the way.

Don’t have a gown yet? We'd love to walk with you through your gown shopping experience... Click here to book your bridal appointment and start enjoying the benefits of our expertise right away.

New Accessories Line!

Ever since we returned from Chicago Bridal Market, Sharon & I have been anticipating the arrival of our new accessory line.  We're super thrilled to carry this line in the store for two reasons...

1.) They are sold exclusively at our store.

2.) They are made in England. {instead of China}.  This means they are of higher quality and more of a handmade look than a rhinestone look.

To book your personalized accessory finding experience visit www.onceuponatimeweddings.ca/appointments