bridal gown

How to Plan An Epic Destination Wedding

What’s not to love about a destination wedding?

A week’s vacation, an escape from freezing temperatures, unlimited drinks all week long, it’s a brides dream come true! Often times we find that brides choose a destination wedding because it seems easier, more fun and more relaxing! And while it can be all those things, there is still some planning involved to orchestrate a beautiful destination wedding that runs smoothly.

Today on the blog, we’re sharing some of our best tips to help those planning an epic destination wedding!

Kerri in a beautiful Once Upon A Time Weddings gown in Collingwood.

Kerri in a beautiful Once Upon A Time Weddings gown in Collingwood.


1. Research the chosen location for a venue, vendors, hotels, and things to do. 

-Block off rooms for guests at hotel once you've received a head count.

-Determine if you need transportation to and from the hotel to venue. 

-Find a local florist, rental companies, DJ, suit rental, officiant, and other wedding vendors.

2. Send save the dates a little earlier than usual to give guests time to mark off their calendars, plan the vacation, and get passports if needed. 

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3. Research legalities of the region: 

-Are there different marriage requirements in that country, will you require insurance, etc. Make sure that you research this early. You don’t want to be a few weeks out from the wedding and realize that your wedding won’t be legal or that there’s extra hoops you have to jump through.

- Also research any day excursions or activities that you + your guests may want to participate in during the week of fun.

4. Stay in touch with confirmed guests: 

- Email them the weather predictions, send them a generic packing list, let them know name of hotel that you've blocked off rooms for, send them some flight options, include a welcome package at resort with a list of local things to do and itinerary for the week, etc.

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5. The 'things you really don't wanna forget' packing list:

-Proper paperwork to obtain marriage license, passport, drivers license, birth certificate...

-Copies of vendor contracts

-Cash/credit cards (only take the cards you need)

-Wedding day attire: Undergarments, make-up, hair products, jewelry, wedding rings, etc.

6. Selecting an on-site wedding planner can make your lives a lot easier when planning because the planner will know vendors and can do almost all the leg work for you leading up to your arrival.

7. Confirm all travel arrangements + vendor dates a month before leaving.

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8. Give your guests a gift upon arrival as a thank you for traveling + attending.

-A package in their hotel room with mini sunscreen, a customized shirt or hat to wear that week, chapstick...things that would be fitting for your location; along with a schedule for the week + list of things to do in that area!

-Maybe throw them a welcome dinner party or a brunch the morning after your wedding as a thank you or schedule an outing the next day with those guests who are still around!

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And no matter what type of wedding you’re having, if you’re still on the hunt for the perfect gown, we’d love to have you in the store. You can book an appointment below or text us at 519.319.6623.

Happy Planning!

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!

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!

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.

Styling Your Maids.

Here at Once Upon a Time Weddings our main goal is helping you find your dream dress along with offering our unique in-store experience. But, what can we offer after you 'say yes to the dress'? What else is on your wedding to-do list that we can help you check off? How about finding dresses for those most important girls standing next to you on your day! We offer a wide selection of colours and styles for your bridesmaids along with that same in-store experience all over again!

We combined four of our wedding gowns with some of our bridesmaids dresses to show how your maids dresses can help enhance your gown!

This first one we wanted to show case how different necklines and colours can draw your attention to your gorgeous gown. While staying in a fall colour palette, with this plum tone dress you can absolutely have the same neckline as your wedding gown… its simplistic yet elegant style only accentuates your wedding gown and brings out its blush undertones and sparkle.

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Now with the halter neckline you cannot lose, its the complete opposite of your gown and still adds a great colour while playing on texture with this chiffon fabric. Both silhouettes bring a great shape to any body type.

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Next, we show a way to 'bring out your bling' even more by accenting your dress with maids dresses that have fall inspired colours and lace accents. Here we are keeping more in mind for the cooler season with deep Burgundy and a Navy colour palette. It allows the ivory tone in this horse hair skirt to really pop and be an absolute show stopper.

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Thirdly, we are breaking out the lace! This maids dress helps bring out your lace texture and your Ivory wedding gown colour without over doing it. These dresses come in a variety of colours and can make a great statement for any season. (P.S. the blue dress has pockets.. who doesn't love those!?)

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Lastly, the boho look! We have combined a long flowing gown with a deep v-neck and a short flirty and fun lace v-neck. Different shades, lengths, and styles; who ever said your girls had to be matching in these categories! This neutral colour scheme goes great for a boho theme, and compliments any skin tone.

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So whatever look you're going for with your maids, the stylists at Once Upon A Time Weddings can help pull it all together for you!  Click here to book your maids experience! 

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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May Real Bride | Jordan and Daniel's Wedding

We have loved sharing Jordan and Daniel's story throughout the month, from the proposal to Jordan finding her dream dress here at Once Upon A Time Weddings and today we are talking about their wedding day! These two got married on November 26, 2016 with their little man by their side. 

What's your favourite memory from your wedding day? 

"Most definitely seeing Dan see me for the first time that day, he was so overcome with emotion. Our vows brought us both to tears. Sharing this special day with so many that we've shared in their weddings, was a truly special day!"

Who were your favourite vendors from your wedding day?

"Our photographers, C& T Photography and Corey Leckie of Frameworks Media who captured our ceremony so beautifully."

Any other unique details or stories about your wedding/love story you want to tell us?

"We welcomed our son, John in July 2016, before we got married. Having a family was always the bigger plan, neither of us ever expected to make one day all about our love. After two agonizing years of waiting, we were so happy to share the news of an arrival with our family and friends. His arrival was so anticipated that a wedding just topped an amazing year for us all!"

Photography: C&T Photography

Dress: Once Upon A Time Weddings 

If you are still searching for your dream dress, come book your experience with us today, we can't wait to meet you!