bridal sarnia

On Growth | Where OUTW is headed.

Growth.

It’s a double edged sword.

You want your business to grow.  So you work hard, spend long hours doing more marketing and you become laser focused on growing your business.  You strive to deliver a great experience to your customers.

Then you grow.  And you're so grateful for that growth.  But you’ve got to make hard decisions.  Because if you don’t you won’t be able to keep growing.

And that my friends is where we’re at.  In the throes of making some BIG decisions.

We’ve been wrestling with this over the last few weeks.  We don’t ever want to do anything that will stagnate our growth.  We don’t ever want to do anything that will effect our customers in a negative way.  But the bottom line is we have outgrown our space.  We need to have the ability to do more than two bridal appointments at a time.  We need the space to grow our bridesmaids division and I need space to keep growing my coaching business.

Floor Plans!  I actually am a BIG nerd and love doing this.

Floor Plans!  I actually am a BIG nerd and love doing this.

It pains us deeply to have to move again.  Especially so soon.  This old house is filled with memories.  It’s filled with dreams.  It has represented to us a business reborn.

When we moved in, we had hoped to be here forever.  We had dreams of moving out and turning all the bedrooms into suites.  We had dreams of turning our loft into the coolest office space in the history of bridal stores.  But that’s just not possible with the number of parking spots we have as well as accessibility issues.

So we’ve scoured Strathroy in search of our new FOREVER home.  We've seen some great spaces and some, well not so great spaces.  And we’re SO close to being able to announce where we’re moving.

We’re dreaming of old doors, barnboard walls and multiple bridal suites.  And we can’t wait.

I can’t tell you everything, but I can tell you this:

·      We’re staying in Strathroy

·      We’re not moving far

·      We’re going to have more bridal suites than we do currently

·      We’re keeping the same feel to the store as we have now – each suite will have comfortable seating, a built in fitting area, your own mirrors and more!

·      One of the suites will be dedicated to bridesmaids with smaller fitting rooms

Most of our team at the bridal crawl!  Missing Blair our social media guru!

Most of our team at the bridal crawl!  Missing Blair our social media guru!

I also promise to include you along the way.  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and you'll see all the behind the scenes details.  We've got some cool contests in mind as we plan out the new space.  We've also got some great events that we're thinking of already for the new space!  So follow along the fun!  And if you have any questions please email me at info@onceuponatimeweddings.  I can't wait to continue serving brides from all over Southwestern Ontario at our new and expanded space!

Facebook - www.facebook.com/bridalstrathroy

Instagram - @outweddings

 

Bridal Inspiration - Book Themed Wedding.

The name of our store, Once Upon A Time Weddings has a bit of fairy tale theme to it.  So when I came across some pictures of a book themed wedding on Pinterest, I fell in love with the idea.  What a creative way to incorporate something you are passionate about into your BIG DAY.  Adorable.

The perfect start to any themed wedding is of course with the perfect invitation & save the dates.  They set the mood and tone for your wedding day.

How perfect is this backdrop for your book themed ceremony?  Imagine saying I do under an arch of your favourite books?

Sometimes, less is more.  As proven by these simple centerpieces of books wrapped with lace and a book page flower.   

Sometimes, less is more.  As proven by these simple centerpieces of books wrapped with lace and a book page flower.

 

Of course, no book themed nuptial would be complete with a book themed adorable cake, right?!  Love the mix of page flowers and gold.  

Of course, no book themed nuptial would be complete with a book themed adorable cake, right?!  Love the mix of page flowers and gold.  

How perfect is this guest book alternative?  Get your guests to sign a spine of a book that you can frame and keep.

How perfect is this guest book alternative?  Get your guests to sign a spine of a book that you can frame and keep.

Are you planning a themed wedding?  What do you think of them?  I think they can be done quite elegantly & fun.  I love to see couples plan a day that is a true reflection of them...

The Power of Our Words.

I love social media. My iPhone is never far from me. The ability to create and maintain a business page on Facebook has greatly increased the number of new/potential clients I am able to reach, and I love that I can feel connected to my existing brides through photos and messages posted on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I am a firm believer that social media can have a positive impact on our lives.

This week I wanted to quit Facebook. I wanted to walk away from all the drama that it can create. Here’s why. In the pre-social media days, if you had an issue with an individual or a business, you confronted them face-to-face and worked collaboratively on finding a solution. Sure you might complain about the business to a few friends. You might even boycott the business temporarily. Maybe you would feel justified because you felt ripped off. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong.

Today, however, social media has become the go-to outlet for personal expression, offering disgruntled customers an opportunity to rant and rave about an individual or business without having to experience the discomfort or awkwardness of a face-to-face confrontation. The result is that people end up saying things online that they would never, ever dream of saying to a business owner’s or employee’s face. These individuals need to be reminded that words, regardless of whether they‘re written or spoken, have the ability to cut, and to cut deep. Talking from personal experience, written and spoken words can and do have a direct and lasting impact on the livelihood of small business owners. People tend to forget that small businesses are run by actual people; people who have their time, money, and family all tied up in that business; people with feelings who cannot help but take insults against their business personally.

A while back I received a bad review from a customer I had personally worked with for over two hours. I felt we made a connection. I enjoyed working with this bride. I helped her find what I thought was a beautiful, flattering gown for her big day. After the appointment she went home and had second thoughts about her purchase. Maybe it made it real for her, maybe she didn’t think it should be or would be so easy, I don’t know. She picked up her gown a couple weeks later, tried it on again and realized she loved it and had made a good choice. But in between her first and return visits, this bride wrote a negative review about our store online, saying we were pushy. Perhaps this bride’s insecurities regarding her purchase made her feel justified in bad-mouthing us on the web.

I’ve been in business long enough to know that bad reviews happen. But this one hurt. I took it personally. Why hadn’t she called me or emailed me? Why hadn’t she come back into the store immediately and tried the gown on again? Why didn’t she let me know that she was having second thoughts? Was I supposed to call her the next day and ask if she still liked her gown she bought the day before? I wrote her a note following the appearance of her review and she graciously removed it, which I am so grateful for. But the sting was still there. Who else read that review and now doubts my ability to do my job well? Are other brides having second thoughts and not communicating them with me? Pick up the phone. Text me. Email me. Get in touch and I’m happy to help.

Am I saying that we should never, ever use social media to vent or rant about our feelings or experiences? Absolutely not. What really upsets me is when I see people discussing personal matters between a small business and themselves online before they’ve actually talked to the business first. Be courteous and give the business an opportunity to resolve the issue before venting online. Give them a chance to make things right or help you. When you purchase from a small business or have an interaction with them you are forming and developing a relationship with them. If you had a fight with your spouse or significant other, would you head over to the rant page or to your spouse’s Facebook page to discuss the fight or cause drama with them? I certainly hope not. All I’m asking is that you show the same respect for the small business owner.

Am I saying that the small business owner is always right or justified by her decisions? Absolutely not. We’re human. We make mistakes. We get up every day and we work hard, just like you do. Running a small business is hard. It’s extremely time consuming. Everyday you have to make decisions that effect your business. You have to wear so many hats - accountant, sales person, head of human resources, chief marketer, etc. And now we have to spend a great deal of time ensuring that no one is saying untrue or nasty things about us online.

So I encourage you, dear citizen, to challenge yourself to speak first with the individual or business that you feel has wronged you before taking to the web with false or nasty comments. If you’ve truly had a horrible experience with a business and found them unwilling to acknowledge or correct their mistake once confronted with it, then stick to the facts and be professional when writing your review. Think twice before using vulgar language and making personal attacks. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable with your child saying it to you when they disagree with you, then don’t say it. Words are powerful weapons that can do lasting damage, so let’s choose and wield our words wisely. Because at the end of the day, small business owners are people too.

Get Social To Win A FREE Wedding Gown

       Hey Brides!  We're so excited to kick off our Get Social To Win Contest, where one lucky bride will WIN the wedding gown of her choice.    So, how can you participate?! It's easy. The first thing you need to do is email us at  info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca  your name & wedding date to let us know you're in.  This way we can start to calculate your points.  Then start earning points! (see below)  The bride with the most points will WIN her gown on February 27th.      PS. If you purchased your wedding gown between September 1st, 2014 and now at our store, you can still participate :)    Stay tuned later this week for a full listing of which bridal shows we'll be attending so you can find us, take pics & earn even more POINTS!     * Like us on facebook, follow us on Instagram or twitter - 50 points each      * Text us your full name to 519.319.9441 – 75 points       * Book a bridal appointment    – 100 points      * Take a pic in our booth at a bridal show, tag us in it on Instagram, facebook, or twitter – 50 points      * Get a friend to like that picture – 1 point per like      * Share a pic of one of our gowns in the fashion show & tag us in it on Instagram, facebook or twitter – 25 points per picture      * Get likes on one of those photos – 1 point per like      * Email us at      info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca      to tell us you are in the competition -50 points      * Purchase your wedding gown from us – 125 points      * Purchase your accessories from us – 50 points      Competition will run until February 27th, 2015.          Standard text rates apply.    Winner determined by total number of points & will be announced on facebook & instagram. If winning bride has purchased gown from us after September 1st, 2014 then a full refund will be given to the bride.    All decisions regarding winner of the contest by Once Upon A Time Weddings will be final. Bonus points may be awarded through the contest so watch our facebook & Instagram for announcements!

 

 

Hey Brides!  We're so excited to kick off our Get Social To Win Contest, where one lucky bride will WIN the wedding gown of her choice.

So, how can you participate?! It's easy. The first thing you need to do is email us at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca your name & wedding date to let us know you're in.  This way we can start to calculate your points.  Then start earning points! (see below)  The bride with the most points will WIN her gown on February 27th. 

PS. If you purchased your wedding gown between September 1st, 2014 and now at our store, you can still participate :)

Stay tuned later this week for a full listing of which bridal shows we'll be attending so you can find us, take pics & earn even more POINTS!

* Like us on facebook, follow us on Instagram or twitter - 50 points each

* Text us your full name to 519.319.9441 – 75 points

* Book a bridal appointment  – 100 points

* Take a pic in our booth at a bridal show, tag us in it on Instagram, facebook, or twitter – 50 points

* Get a friend to like that picture – 1 point per like

* Share a pic of one of our gowns in the fashion show & tag us in it on Instagram, facebook or twitter – 25 points per picture

* Get likes on one of those photos – 1 point per like

* Email us at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca to tell us you are in the competition -50 points

* Purchase your wedding gown from us – 125 points

* Purchase your accessories from us – 50 points

Competition will run until February 27th, 2015. 

Standard text rates apply.  Winner determined by total number of points & will be announced on facebook & instagram. If winning bride has purchased gown from us after September 1st, 2014 then a full refund will be given to the bride.  All decisions regarding winner of the contest by Once Upon A Time Weddings will be final. Bonus points may be awarded through the contest so watch our facebook & Instagram for announcements!

What I Wish Every Bride Knew, Part 1

What I Wish Every Bride Knew… About Being Engaged.

By: Erin Bouchard
Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings

 You’re engaged!  Whether you’ve been waiting for a long time for that shiny ring of yours or your fiancé completely surprised you, you are about to embark on a new journey together.  This is the first of a 5 part blog series that will help you navigate through some of the big decisions you will need to make now that you’ve gone from girlfriend to fiancé!   In this first part we’ll tackle what to do first, how to announce your engagement in style, as well as cover three important decisions you should make ASAP.  So grab a glass of bubbly and get ready to jump in!

The Essential Thing You Must Do Now That You’re Engaged.

The very first thing that you should do is call your insurance company and add your engagement ring to your policy.  Because if heaven forbid something happens to your ring, I’m betting your fiancé doesn’t want to have to buy you a second one!  Insurance can be purchased as an extension or sometimes called adding a rider, to your renter’s or home insurance.  Call your insurance company today to get it added on.

Announcing Your Engagement

There are so many cute ways to announce that you’re engaged.  Before you post it on social media make sure you have let all close friends & family members know personally.  Send them a quick email, text or give them a quick call.  Then post away on facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc.  Be prepared for lots of questions regarding date, venue, etc!  Throwing an engagement party is a good way to celebrate with family, friends and a great way to introduce members of the wedding party.  Or it might even be a fun way to ask your guys & girls to be part of your wedding party.  An engagement party can be as low key or as formal as you want it to be.

engagement announcement.jpg

Three Important Decisions to Make Right Away

The first important decision to make is where the wedding will be held at.  This is crucial because it will determine your wedding date.  Start researching wedding ceremony and venue locations right away.  Draft a rough draft or your guest list so you have an approximate idea of number of guests before narrowing down your list of potential venues.  Schedule a few tours and get some more information on your top choices.  If you’re planning a backyard wedding or a wedding at the family farm, call a couple rental companies and ensure availability of a tent.

The second important decision is to decide on your wedding party.  Talk to your fiancé about how many people they are planning to ask to stand up with them.  Then ask your wedding party to be part of your big day.  Search pinterest for this as there are a ton of cute and fun ways to ask.

ask bridesmaids.jpg

The final decision you should do right away is research local wedding shows.  Bridal shows are a great thing to attend when you’re first engaged as they are a great way to meet local wedding vendors, chat with other local brides and see some fun bridal fashions.  For a list of bridal shows in Southwestern Ontario check out the Wedding Ring’s list http://www.theweddingring.ca/year.listevents/2011/03/23/.  Browse through your local bridal shows and choose a couple to attend.

I hope you enjoyed this article and got some good information on what you should do now that you are engaged.  Next Friday I`ll tackle What I Wish Every Bride Knew About- Setting A Budget for the Wedding.  If you have any questions, concerns or need to reach me you can email me at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca, call me at 519.245.7997 or text me at 519.319.9441.

Be Beautiful!


Erin Bouchard

Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings.

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again!

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again…

Sometimes you have to try things to know if they will work.  Take a risk.  Step outside the box.  We tried a little experiment over the summer months & September to see if it would be better for brides at Once Upon A Time Weddings.  We decided to not have regular business hours and allow brides to book appointments whenever was convenient for them.  We thought it would be more beneficial to our brides.  However, after attending a few bridal shows we have discovered that some brides were coming to the store when we weren’t there.  They felt uncomfortable calling or missed seeing our cell number on the door.  So we want to listen to these brides and better serve our customers.  We know it’s confusing to keep changing things up on you all.  We try to keep on innovating and changing to better serve you!  As always, if you’d like to make a comment or let us know your opinion please email us at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca. 

Photograph by Mark Scherle Photography { http://www.scherlephotography.com/ }

Photograph by Mark Scherle Photography {http://www.scherlephotography.com/}

As of Monday, October 27th our store hours will be as follows:

Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 11-7

Saturday 10-4

Sunday 1-4

We still strongly suggest you make an appointment for bridal so we can walk with you through your personalized bridal gown shopping experience.  We look forward to helping you say yes to the dress!

When We Fall Short.

When We Fall Short…

Working in this industry is hard. I’m not going to lie or sugar coat things. Before we opened the store, I wondered at bridal shops who had gained such poor reputations for customer service. Seriously, how hard is it to offer good service to your customers, especially during such a joyous time in their life?? Now that we’re almost four years in, I realize why. It’s really hard to operate a business within an industry that relies on international partnerships and production and still maintain control over every aspect of that business. I’m not making excuses. I’m not placing blame. What I am trying to do is keep in touch with the changing nature of the bridal industry so that I can make smart and timely decisions that will lead to an improved customer service experience for our clients.

The last few weeks have been difficult. We’re working with a designer who is behind in production and unreachable by phone. We receive production updates via email, but they are few and far between. As a result, we have customers whose gowns are coming in later than anticipated and it’s beyond frustrating! We’re struggling to keep you, our customers, informed, but are not receiving satisfactory answers ourselves. It’s not a secret that most bridal and special occasion gowns, including those we carry, are made overseas. Unfortunately, this means we don’t have the luxury of phoning the factory directly to get an update. It’s frustrating for you, for us, for the designer, for all involved. So we would like to publicly apologize for the stress, for the anxiety, and for not having all the answers.

In the midst of dealing with production delays, we’ve got other business-related responsibilities to attend to: ordering tuxedos, running bridal appointments, ordering and tracking accessories, serving walk-in customers, and prepping for graduation which is just around the corner. We are a small store with a small staff and some days it feels like we’re carrying a mountain of responsibility. That being said, we want to apologize to those of our customers who have not received the best service experience in recent weeks.

We do take this job seriously. We do care about each of you. I wish I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee or welcome you back into my office and chat. While that may not be possible, writing a public letter to apologize is. I hope you’ll hear my heart and my passion in my apology and consider that my staff and I are only human, that sometimes we make mistakes, and that sometimes things are simply out of our control. But we must learn from our mistakes and our experiences and move forward. So that’s what we’re doing.

Our ultimate goal is that every interaction with a member of the Once Upon A Time Weddings team meets and exceeds your expectations and that your experience at our store is exemplary every step of the way. In order to do that, we will be streamlining our merchandise over the summer so that we can focus primarily on bridal. This means we will no longer be carrying gowns for other occasions (grad, prom, bridesmaids, mothers, etc.) Of course, all customers who have ordered gowns from us will still receive them. We don’t anticipate any delays if we haven’t spoken to you about your order, then your gown should still arrive according to plan. If you have a question about your order, don’t hesitate to call us!

We love working with our brides and want to create a store environment that will offer brides a personalized and exclusive experience where they receive individualized customer service, care, and attention.

If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca, text me at 519.319.9441 or call the store at 519.245.7997. We sure do appreciate you, our customers.

The key to success, become an expert at ONE thing: Live it, Breathe it, Become it.