Surviving the Guest List.

Most brides are surprised by just how hard creating and sticking to a guest list is. In fact, a large number of newly married couples say that was the hardest part of wedding planning.

How do you decide on the guest list? Do you allow dates for all your single friends? How do you tell your cousin that she can't bring her children? Do you have to invite all your co-workers?

These are just some of the issues that brides face as they plan their I Do's. This blog will look at all these issues so that you can eliminate some of the guest list stress.

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The first and most important aspect to deciding your guest list is how many people your venue can comfortably hold. Speak with your event coordinator at your venue and get a realistic idea of how many people you can invite while leaving enough room to dance and enjoy the party. Make sure to also think about budget here. Each person you invite will cost a certain amount of money, so discuss with your fiance and your parents just how many people you can afford to invite to the wedding.

Make a list of every person that you can think of that you'd want to come to your wedding. Keep in mind you will have to cut some people, but write down anyone that you'd even remotely think of inviting. Then highlight off the people you absolutely must invite. Once you have your list to this stage meet with your fiance's parents and your parents. Review both the highlighted list and the want-to invite list. Discuss with them who they would really like to invite. It is your wedding, but it's also their celebration so try to keep their opinion in mind as you move forward to the final selections.

Keep in mind that just because you were invited to a friend's wedding doesn't mean you absolutely have to invite them to yours. Friendships evolve and you might not be as close as you once were. Or their venue may have accomodated more people than yours does.

Everyone has an opinion about kids at a wedding. Some people think it's great to invite them, while others feel like weddings are not a place for kids. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you need to make sure you are consistent. It may cause more tension if you decide to invite some kids and not others. At the end of the day, parents of young children will enjoy themselves at the wedding alot more if they aren't chasing after little ones or trying to keep them quiet during the ceremony. Once your decision has been made, then stick to your guns. If you decide against having children at the wedding then don't apologize or allow others to make you feel guilty for having a kid-free wedding. A good idea is to make sure that you have it clearly stated on your invitations that kids will not be allowed at the wedding or who exactly out of the family you are inviting.

Photography by Nova Markina

Photography by Nova Markina

Should you invite all your co-workers? I believe this firmly depends on your work environment. If you only work with a handful of people then I think it's best to invite either all of them or none. If you work with many people, then think about whether or not you socialize with your co-workers outside of the office. Do you consider them friends? Do you know their personal cell number and use it? Then they should probably be on the guest list. If not, you can probably skip them. Again, don't let co-workers bully you into giving them an invitation. Stick to your guest list and don't apologize for it. After all, it's your wedding.

As far as dates for single and unmarried friends is concerned, if a friend is in a serious relationship or engaged to be married then you should invite their significant other. If they are casually dating or single, then don't feel like you have to give them a plus one, especially if numbers are tight. Good rule of thumb, you should never write "and guest" on an invitation, you should know their name. If you don't know and feel like they should be invited then find out. There usually is quite a few singles at a wedding, seat them with friends and people they will be comfortable with and they will have fun without a date.

Guest lists can be quite a headache. But if you work together with your fiance, your parents and your fiance's parents, you will survive! Remember to breathe. Keep the end goal in mind. A beautiful marriage!

Be Beautiful!

Erin Bouchard
Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings located in downtown Strathroy. If you have found this blog to be helpful, please share the love! Also please subscribe to this blog to receive even more great articles and helpful advice as you go from MISS to MRS.

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.


To apply, please email your resume and why you think you’d be a perfect match to

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.

Bachelorette Planning

It's almost summer time!! Which means it's the perfect time to plan your bachelorette party!  Today on the blog, we've got some tips for planning the ultimate bash!

Make It Personal:

This event is of course for the bride, so make sure to take your time and ask specific questions to clarify the vibe. Reserve a quiet day at the spa? Or fancy dinner out with your girls? It is important to pay close attention to what the bride’s preferences are, even if they don’t necessarily match with your vision and clash with your personal expectations. Some want an all nighter bar experience, but maybe she sees herself doing a casual wine tasting weekend with her best friends in cute outfits.

Try taking this same approach to other elements of the party, like games, food and drink, presents and so on. It is important to make sure it’s tailored to who she is as an individual and what she prefers. Ultimately the bride will love you for taking the time to actually fulfill your bridal party duties and plan something special for her!.


The Sooner The Better:

Start planning early, there is a lot of organization and communication that needs to take place during bachelorette planning. Your best option is to be on top of your game by researching options, and be flexible to feedback. There is no set rules when to throw a bachelorette party, however approximately a month in advance of the wedding is a good timeframe to follow. It’s not so close to the big day which means the bride will be able to have more fun and not be so stressed and busy, but it’s also not so far away that the occasion starts to take a back seat.


Set The Guest List:

You want to keep most of the details a surprise, but a good rule of thumb is to discuss the invite list with the bride-to-be. If there is one thing to remember.. don’t ask anyone who isn’t also invited to the actual wedding. If the bride also has future sister-in-laws, it’s best to just include them even if they aren’t super close.

After the list is all set, aim to get the word out at least two months before the party, this gives people time to clear their schedules or make travel arrangements. You don’t need all the details finalized, but it’s best to know sooner than later if there are any serious conflicts with anyone on the guest list. This would also be the time to mention how much you expect the occasion to cost, per person, this saves anyone feeling resentful later on when they’re paying $200 for dinner and drinks when they hadn’t even really planned on spending half of that.


Set A Budget:

Everyone’s favourite conversation among friends.. money! It can be an awkward conversation but with other bridesmaids in the mix it needs to be discussed. Talk with the other members of the bridal party about how much each of you can realistically afford to spend on the bash, there are usually some negotiations that take place until everyone is on the same page. Knowing now what you can spend later will help with the options on what a kind of party you want to throw.

While we are on the topic of finances, don’t make it about the gifts. Presents are not a pre requisite to gain admittance to this party. There seems to be a misconception that every wedding-related activity has to involve some form of gifts. It is always fun watching your friends open boxes of every type of intimate wear imaginable, but it definitely isn’t a mandatory party of a bachelorette.


From Point A To Point B:

Depending on where you’re going or what you’re doing transportation can be crucial. You may want to consider hiring a limo driver, car service or a party bus. Whatever you decide to invest in, it is essential to have a way to safely transport a large group of girls who, let’s be real, will most likely be drinking over the duration of the night. Don’t leave this last minute either, call around for rates and book your service at least a month in advance.


All in all it is important to also accept help, if the other girls in your party are volunteering their services to pick up decorations, buying food and drinks, setting everything up, you take it! 

Happy Planning!

Burgundy + Slate Blue Wedding Theme

Last year, the colour Marsala exploded on the wedding scene and popped up in everything from decor to bridesmaids gowns to florals.  This year, the colour Slate Blue has quickly taken the wedding industry by storm.  Today, on the blog, I thought I would feature the two colours together and the effects are beautiful!

These colours look amazing mixed with a touch of gold in the accents.

These colours look amazing mixed with a touch of gold in the accents.


For this colour combo you could put the men in either grey or navy.  Throwing in some pops of blush and creams make the colours pop that much more.


We loved the dusty blue flowers with pops of other colours.  We are loving the trend of creating a bouquet that has multiple colours within it.  This bouquet would also look amazing with your maids in the wine colour.


Who doesn't love a floral crown?  They are such a fun way to incorporate your colours and achieve that Boho look.


We matched this Slate Blue gown with some blush & burgundy florals that we had in the store.  Such a beautiful look.  This bouquet also has touches of lace in it as well.  


Another option would be to keep your bridal bouquet a bit simpler and do the girls with more accent colours.  We love the pops of the darker burgundy mixed in with the softer shades.  Against a white or ivory gown this bouquet would be stunning! 


We love this decor.  It's a great reminder that less is sometimes more.  I love that the main colour is the dusty blue and then there are some splashes of gold and subtle hints of burgundy in the flowers.  I love the candles and that it's fancy without being too over the top.  


And of course, we couldn't do a theme without showcasing a gown from OUTW that we thought would fit in perfectly with this colour scheme.  This is a new arrival for us and the back and train are equally as stunning.  We adore the classic ivory with this colour to make the burgundy + slate blue be the focal point.

Do you have a theme or colours picked yet for your wedding day?  Tell us about it!


3 Ways To Make Sure Your Wedding Is Unique.

1.     Start with an unique gown.

Choose a wedding gown that reflects you and your personality first and foremost.  Choose a gown that you haven’t seen walk down the aisle fifteen times already.  Don’t be afraid to try something on that might be outside of what you thought you would wear.  It’s true, that you just never know until you try gowns on.  The worst that can happen is that you don’t like it and you move on to the next gown!



2.     Choose elements that reflect you & your fiancé

It’s your wedding day after all.  Think about things that reflect your personality.  Do you both love hockey?  Are you all about books? Travel? Cooking?  Whatever it is, find ways to incorporate touches of the two of you.  An ode to where you met, the timeline of your love story, there are so many ways to corporate small details into your wedding day.  Don’t feel like you have to do certain elements because it’s “tradition”.  There used to be a lot of rules when it came to wedding days, but now, there’s not as many.  Find what makes your heart get excited and follow that.

Skip the traditional.  Having a more laid-back affair? Skip the traditional wording.  Have a favourite song?  Incorporate the lyrics into your vows.  There are tons of ways to make sure that the wedding reflects you + fiancé.

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3.     Don’t let fear stop you.

Don’t be afraid to do something different.  It’s your day.  If you want to have food trucks, then do it! If you want to play lawn games and then have a bonfire, do it! The best weddings I have been to have been where the bride and groom truly enjoyed the day.  That joy will radiate in your pictures and you’ll look back on the day with fondness.  It’s okay to be the first of your friends to try something new!  



June Real Bride | Kayla's Dress

Naturally, as a wedding gown store, this is our favourite segment for our monthly Real Bride series and we are so excited to share Kayla's bridal store experience with you today! Kayla said yes to the dress on April 16,  2016 and tied the knot with Eric on December 31st of the same year. We absolutely adore the lace wedding gown she chose and thought it paired so perfectly for her New Years Eve wedding and venue.

About how many dresses did you try on before you found 'The One'? 


Were you expecting to purchase your dress when you came in for your appointment?

"I was ready to buy, but also prepared not to get down on the experience if I didn't find my perfect dress."

Who was with you at your appointment?

"Grandma, mom, mother-in-law and sister. :)"

Did anyone have extra influence on helping you say yes to the dress?

"Not in particular no - I knew what I was looking for."

Was the dress you bought similar to what you came in thinking you wanted?

"A few similarities."

How was your experience at Once Upon A Time Weddings?

"It was great, Sharon was awesome and worked with me to find the best dress to fit my vision!"

Is there anything else you want to tell us about your story to finding the dress?

"I actually really loved the ballgown - I didn't think I would but surprisingly loved it! I ended up going with a more fitted figure which I love but the ballgown got me all teary eyed and excited!"

Join us next Wednesday to hear all out Eric and Kayla's wedding!

Are you still searching for your perfect bridal gown? Book your experience with us today!

Photography: Have Heart Photography

OUTW Takes on Chicago Bridal Market!


Last week, Sharon and I headed down to Chicago to purchase our Fall 2017 stock for the store.  It’s one of my favourite things about owning a bridal store, because it gives us a chance to analyze our stock before we go.  It’s also cool to meet with other store owners, hang out with friends and check in with owners of the lines that we carry.  While it’s a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of decisions in a short amount of time.  Today on the blog, we're taking you on a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to go to market and purchase stock for the store.


            Fun fact: 46% of the gowns we sold last year were ivory!


            We headed down to Chicago on Sunday morning.  I am not a morning person at all {something I’m trying to change} so the 4 am wake up was not a highlight for me.  In true Erin- fashion we made it out of town when I realized I forgot my visa card at home, so we turned around and headed back.  Once we got to Chicago we checked into our hotel and headed over to market.  Day one is always just a browse and see what’s new.  Check in with some of our designers, find out whose showing where and get a lay of the land.  We had dinner with some friends and crashed early!


            Fun fact: We sold more size 16 wedding gowns than any other size last year!


            On Monday morning some of my coaching stores came over to our hotel and we did a live webinar on selling to different personality types and then went for a group breakfast.  I love the stores that I’m coaching right now and getting to hang out in person with them is always an added bonus.  Then we hit the market floor and got ready to buckle down and make some decisions.  We ended up picking up a new line of gowns that I’m SO excited about.  I almost picked up a different new line, but something was off.  It’s so weird but I feel like my intuition is right sometimes.  {Do you ever feel like that or am I just cray cray?}  I’m so glad I held off because the line that I found is going to be a perfect fit for our store and I cannot wait for them to come in!


            Fun fact: We sold more blush colored gowns last year than we did white!


            We wrapped up market on the Monday so that we could have Tuesday in the city.  We finished the day Monday with deep dish pizza and great company!  Tuesday we enjoyed sleeping in and then headed off for pedicures and shopping.  The perfect last day before we head back to the grind.  A quick but very productive trip!  I’m always anxious to get back into the store and get back to work after being away for a few days!!


            Fun fact: We currently have more fitted gowns in stock than any other shapes!

Holy train batman!!  Many booths at market have live fashion shows throughout the day!

Holy train batman!!  Many booths at market have live fashion shows throughout the day!

Super excited to get this chiffon gown with beaded straps in to the store!

Super excited to get this chiffon gown with beaded straps in to the store!