bridal store

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 I Want For Christmas Is...

We love Christmas time here at Once Upon A Time Weddings! We have some exciting things planned in the store that I wanted to share with you!

First of all, from the bottoms of our hearts we want to say thank you.

Thank you to all the customers who believed in us and shopped with us.

Thank you to all those who shared our store with their friends, family, co-workers.

Thank you to all the other wedding vendors who told their brides about us.

We love you all and appreciate you.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!


Next week, we’ll launch our 5 days of Christmas special! Each day a different item will be on sale. You can purchase in store or online. Online orders can be held for pick up at the store. Items will be limited quality so shop early for best selection!!

Day 1 - Monday

Day 2 - Tuesday

Day 3 - Thursday

Day 4 - Friday

Day 5 - Saturday

Watch our FB page each day for these sales!!

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The other thing we’re excited to share with you is that we are hosting a trunk show from now until January 8th.

What is a trunk show?

It’s where a designer, in this case, two designers, send us their sample gowns for us to showcase and use in the store for a limited time. This allows us to see what gowns will work in our location, and allows our brides to have first access to these gowns before they have even shipped to stores.

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Hurry and book your appointment now! Our Holiday Hours are as follows:

December 24th, 25th + 26th - CLOSED

December 27th + 28th Open 11-6

December 29th Open 10-4

December 30th + 31st CLOSED

January 1st + 2nd CLOSED

January 3rd + 4th Open 11-6

January 5th Open 10-4

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.

Erin's Journey | Our First Big Crisis.

This month, I'm sharing some of our story of how we built and grew Once Upon A Time Weddings.  If you missed our introduction story last week, you can read it here: http://bit.ly/2KrINeE

I was in year four.  The first few years had been bumpy, but we were finally finding our groove. And then our first big shipping crisis hit.

It was a designer we knew and trusted.

We had visited his stores.

And bought his sales trainings.
We carried his line for about a year and over half of our in-stock gowns were his line.

And then he stopped shipping gowns.

Wedding gowns were late, really late.

And we weren’t getting any answers from him.

For the first time in the history of my business we were going to miss a wear date.

I had to muster up the courage, dig deep inside of me and make phone calls that I pray I never have to make again.

I’m so sorry to tell you this, but your wedding gown will not arrive in time for your wedding.

We went into autopilot. 

Survival mode.

Full refunds.

Free alterations.

Switch to any in stock gown that you want to regardless of cost.

It was hard.

It was devastating on our business.

It was all so outside of our control.

Once the dust settled and I had personally worked with every bride affected by that designer it was time to learn some big lessons. And remove all those gowns from our racks and sell them off.

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I had a big choice to make.

I could become bitter.

Or I could become better.

You see, we had just gone through one of the worst experiences of my life.  A situation that I hadn’t created or could have changed in any way.  I could so easily have become bitter because of it. It was done to me after all.

Or I could find the lesson in the situation and I could learn.

I could use what I learned and grow my business.

And so we picked up the pieces of our business, prayed that we never went through anything like that again and continued on.

One of the biggest lessons that we learned during this crisis was to always take care of our customers.  To go above and beyond for them.  It’s one of our pillars of our business. 

We don’t always get it right, but we always make it right.

We care deeply about each of our customers.  We want them to love their experience and time with us.  So we spent lots of time perfecting the customer experience over the years.  
We’re not perfect.  But we constantly striving to be better.  To do better.  To be consistent.

Things started changing. 

Sales increased.

More and more brides heard about us.

And then we were facing crisis number two dead in the face.

This time however it was much, much worse.

Join me next week as I dive into that lesson.

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!.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.  

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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! 

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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.  

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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!

 

The Question That I Really, Really Dislike.

This is a blog that I originally wrote a couple of years ago.  However, I feel like it's time to share again.  As a business owner, I sometimes get asked a question that I dislike.  That question is, "is that the lowest price you'll go". Or some version of this question.  There's a few reasons that I don't like that question and here's why.

Sometimes you get what you pay for.

First of all, Once Upon A Time Weddings is not competing in the lowest price gown category. We carefully select our gowns {from literally thousands & thousands available for us to buy} based on the quality and workmanship of the gown itself. I am of the belief that you get what you pay for and sometimes spending a bit more to get a better quality is necessary. Sure, you can find gowns that are cheaper than ours at other bridal stores, but we want you to purchase a gown that’s well made so it alters easier and is comfortable to wear for an entire day. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you want to take your gown off before dessert has even been served.

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I spend a great deal of time and money developing my skills & honing my profession.

The second reason that this question bothers me is that I have spent thousands of dollars on my training. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to sell wedding gowns. I attend conferences twice a year and stay on top of industry standards and trends. I belong to a group of talented bridal stores from all across the world that I spend time networking with and learning from. We strive to be the best in our industry - an industry that’s highly competitive and constantly changing. It’s not a job we take lightly or do because it’s so much fun {although it is fun, well most days}. It’s not a hobby or an after school activity. We don't dare ask our dentists, lawyers, physiotherapists, “is this the best price you can give me?”. We wouldn’t dream of it, because we respect those professions, the schooling they have done and the work they do. But then, why do wedding professionals get asked that question all the time? Why is it okay in one industry, but no one would dream of asking it in another?

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I take it personally.

If I’m being completely honest, the third reason I dislike the question is because I take it personally. My entire life is wrapped into this bridal store. I spend insane amounts of time working, developing, planning, strategizing and so much more for our brides. Often when I get asked this question it’s after I have spent a good amount of time working with my bride. I feel like I have taken the time to get to know her and that I’ve connected with her. When the dreaded question comes up, I feel as though the amount of work I’ve spent both before she’s ever arrived to my store and during the appointment have in some way not been good enough. Or that maybe they don’t value my expertise.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m female, which means I’m all for getting a deal. The rush of getting something on sale. I’ve been known to purchase something simply because it was on sale. I tell my husband all the time, that I’m determined to be successful because I love pretty things. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get a good deal or save some money. It’s why if you have come to a bridal appointment at Once Upon A Time Weddings, you know we don’t like to put you in a gown above your budget without your expressed permission. It’s just that the question of, “what’s the best price you can give me on this gown” tends to be a bit insulting.

Photograph by Amanda Kopcic Photography: www.amandakopcic.com

Photograph by Amanda Kopcic Photography: www.amandakopcic.com

If you still dare to ask it, you’ll most likely be greeted with a warm smile and the response, the best price I can give you is the one that’s on the price tag. Because to be honest, I don’t run this business to be a millionaire. We take time to strategically price our goods to offer both good value to our customers and to make a living to us. This is our livelihood. It’s what we do to feed our family and make sure they have what they need. And it's not just my livelihood, I have a team that rely on me to make good business decisions and continue to be able to pay them.  

Think of it this way: if you would be offended by your boss strolling into your office and asking what’s the lowest you’ll accept on your next paycheque, then please think twice before asking that dreaded question.

We simply adore our brides & working with them.  The goal of this blog isn't to insult, but to educate you.  We love what we do each and every day.  We love the role we get to have in our bride's wedding days.   

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