chatham bridal stores

5 Things I've Learned About Owning a Business.

 

Once Upon A Time Weddings has been opened for five and a half years.  I was twenty-four when I first opened the doors.  I was super excited, a little naïve and a lot underprepared for the journey that would be owning my own business.  It’s been a wild, crazy ride!  There are some things that I wish I knew then that I know now.  For those of you who own a business or are contemplating owning a business or for those who just like to know what it’s like to own a bridal store these five things are for you.

Photo by Nova Markina www.novamarkina.com

Photo by Nova Markina www.novamarkina.com

1.       Your life will never be the same. 

Last Saturday as I was getting ready to work a full day I was thinking about how my weekends are totally different than most peoples are.  I get up Saturday mornings and mentally and physically prepare to work all day.  Saturdays are our busiest days and I spend most of my weekend working!  When I opened the store I didn’t really think about how it would affect my life as I knew it then.  I love working a busy Saturday and meeting new brides and the hustle and bustle of the shop.  But my Saturdays {and my poor husbands Saturdays} look very different than most couples.

2.      You will become a bit bi-polar {and that’s ok}

Monday I was having a pretty crappy day!  Tax season does that to me every year!!  I was just frustrated with some dealings I had with one of our designers too.  Then I had one of my most fun & easiest bridal appointments.  I got to work with a bride whose getting married on New Years Eve and had one of the greatest wedding parties!  It was pure joy.  I went from super stressed and super frustrated to super elated in the time frame of about an hour.   I said to my husband, it’s amazing how a good bridal appointment can totally change your whole mood.  It sometimes feels a little bipolar.  I love, love, love my job.  But there is definitely high stress, high energy moments that can suck the life right out of you.  Somehow, someway you just have to find the balance each and every day.  It’s definitely something that I never really experienced before I owned my business.

3.      Don’t just trust everyone.

This one is hard to write.  I have a super trusting nature, especially when I first opened my business.  But I have definitely been burned by freely giving my trust out to people within the industry.  There is a lot of competition and a lot of store owners who just copy what you do rather than come up with their own ideas.  One of the hardest things I have learned is not to trust people until they have proven to be trustworthy.  I’ve been burned too many times.  Sometimes sharing the knowledge that you have, unfortunately comes back to hurt you in the long run.  You just have to be so careful with information.  But on the flip side, I’ve met some really cool wedding professionals that I’m blessed to be friends with.  I have just learned to proceed with caution.

4.      You will not ever truly be off work.

When I first thought about moving the store into my home, people told me that I would truly never be off work.  I laughed and thought and that would be different than my life now how?  For crying out loud, facebook now gives brides an estimate of how long I will take to get back to their message.  It’s part of the job and in our technology driven world, it’s just how it is.  People expect an answer back quickly.  I wouldn’t change it because I think it’s a necessary part of the job.  But I do wish that I could just turn my brain off at night and get a good night’s sleep, even once a week!!  It’s my entrepreneur nature to constantly be thinking about the business, thinking about things I could do differently, things I could improve on, things I need to do.  But again, wouldn’t change it for anything!

5.      It is hard to work independently.

I am a hard worker. I work long hours.  But sometimes it’s ridiculously hard to work when there’s no one asking you for work to be done or holding you accountable for hours spent on projects.  It’s all up to me to decide how to divide up my time and what I will work on next.  It’s a lot of freedom, which sometimes can be a bad thing.  It means I have to have a lot of self control and motivation.  I have to learn to be persistent and consistent.  Even more so now that my office is in my home, the distractions can be endless!

Photo by Soul Photography www.soulphotography.ca

Photo by Soul Photography www.soulphotography.ca

Owning a business has a ton of rewards, but it’s also a ton of work.  I love what I do and I love making a difference in brides lives.  If you are thinking about owning your own business, it has to be something that you are passionate about.  You also have to be realistic about the time commitment it will take and the sacrifices you will make to reach your dreams.  You also have to be willing to take risks and to do scary things. You will ride through some tough times, you will make some mistakes, but if you hang in there the reward will truly be more than you could ever have imagined.

The List & Grad Gowns...

We changed up our store windows.  We wanted our customers to know that all in stock grad gowns are greatly reduced!  Help us clear them out.  Gowns marked down to $99-139!

   We also wanted to create a fun bridal wedding as we know a lot of brides are just recently engaged & I'm sure are busy making lists of things they need to do as they wedding plan!  Check it out.

 

We also wanted to create a fun bridal wedding as we know a lot of brides are just recently engaged & I'm sure are busy making lists of things they need to do as they wedding plan!  Check it out.

   A special thanks to Wendy Hord of Soul Photography for these pictures!  www.soulphotography.ca

 

A special thanks to Wendy Hord of Soul Photography for these pictures! www.soulphotography.ca

What I Wish Every Bride Knew, Part 2

What I Wish Every Bride Knew About… Shopping for Her Gown

By: Erin Bouchard

Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings

Happy Friday!  Have you ever wondered where to begin shopping for your gown?  Have you searched Pinterest and have no clue what style of gown to choose or where to begin?  Are you so excited about being able to Say Yes to YOUR Dress?  Then you’re in the right place! Today, Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings will dive into four things you need to know before shopping for your gown, three things to keep in mind while shopping for your gown and two things you have to know after you say yes to the dress!  READY?!

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Four Things You Need to Know Before You Try Your First Dress On.

One of the most important things you need to know before you start trying gowns on is how much you want to spend on your gown.  Before you can do that you have to know how much wedding gowns cost.  At Once Upon A Time Weddings, our gowns range in price from $799 up to $2299.  The average bride spends about 1200-1500 on her gown at our store.  We chose our gowns based on the quality of them and they have corsets & crinoline built into them.  So before you come to our store discuss with your fiancé and your parents how much you want to spend & who will cover what.

Another thing you need to keep in mind before you book your bridal appointment is to be realistic about pinterest.  I could seriously write a whole blog on this one point! I love pinterest, I really do.  It’s so fun, addicting and I’ve gotten some great ideas off of it.  But the problem is when we pin all these beautiful wedding ideas, gowns & wedding decor that are way out of our price range.  There’s no shame in having a budget and sticking to it.  The problem is when we imagine all these expensive, elaborate details being part of our wedding day and then when we realize we can afford ¼ of it, we’re disappointed.  Same is true of gowns.  I hear brides say I want all over lace, fully beaded with a cathedral train and a sparkly fully beaded belt and I want to spend $500.  Your budget doesn’t match your expectations.  You can’t have all those details in a well -made, easy to alter gown.  You are going to have to sacrifice something to remain at that price point.  There’s no shame in only wanting to spend $500 on your gown or wanting to keep your budget at a certain place, just be realistic about what your budget will get you. 

Another thing to keep in mind before you book your first appointment is to think about the overall theme or feel that you hope to accomplish for your day.  Your dress should incorporate into that feel.  It helps to have your venue booked or at least narrowed down so you can think about your venue while choosing gowns.

Finally before you attend your first bridal appointment you should decide who to bring with you to your appointment.  I get asked this question all the time and it can be a tricky question!  You should bring those people with you who you would want there when you make a decision – your mom, grandma, mother in law, sisters, maid of honour, etc.  But only bring them if you believe they will be supportive and will allow your opinion to matter most.  Now that you’re ready to book your first appointment, here’s what you need to know while shopping for your gown.

Three Things to Keep in Mind While Shopping For Your Gown

Stick to your budget – if you’ve determined a budget or a price point you want to stay in before coming to your bridal appointment then stick to it.  Sometimes brides ask me if they can try on a gown outside their range “for fun”.  This is so difficult because what happens if you fall in love with that gown & you can’t or don’t want to spend the money on it.  You will compare everything else to that gown and it won’t make it easy on you.  So my advice is and always will be only try something outside of your initial price range if you’re willing to go up to that amount.  If the answer is no, skip the gown and stick to what is in the range you want to spend.  It will be easier on both of us!

How will you know it’s the one – what if you don’t cry?  What if your mom doesn’t cry?  Guess what, it will still be okay and it might even still be YOUR gown.  Wedding gown shopping is just like any other shopping or life experience – everyone is going to react differently.  Some brides know right away.  Some take longer.  Some brides cry.  Some brides don’t want to take it off.  Some brides have to picture walking down the aisle and imagine getting married in the gown before they know.  There’s no right way to react and there’s no wrong way.  You want to love your gown & you want to feel amazing when you say yes to the dress, but remember that each & every bride’s experience is their own.

Simply become who you are.  It’s not a coincidence that this is posted in our fitting rooms.  Your bridal appointment and your bridal gown purchase is about who you are.  Not who your mom or maid of honour, or fiancé or best friend from high school wants you to be.  It’s okay to choose a gown that everyone won’t be expecting.  It’s okay to think outside the box.  It’s about becoming who you are meant to be.  While all your entourage’s opinions matter, at the end of the day the opinion that matters most is YOURS!

Two Things You Need to Know After You Say Yes to the Dress

Now you’ve set your budget, found your gown, what’s next?  Now is a great time to choose bridesmaids gowns, book in your tuxedos and meet with your decorator.  Your gown will set the theme for the rest of your day so happy planning!

What if you second guess your decision when you get home?  Sometimes this happens. Sometimes brides freak out or get overwhelmed with their decision.  That’s okay.  Take a deep breath and think about what it was about your gown that made you fall in love.  It’s okay to feel scared or overwhelmed.  Purchasing your gown makes your marriage real.  It’s really going to happen & that’s okay.  Think about falling in love with your fiancé and all the reasons why you said yes when he proposed.  If you still feel overwhelmed, call us or text us and pop back into the store to try your gown on again & remember why you fell in love with it!

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Thanks for joining us this week through this blog post.  We love walking with our brides through their gown shopping experience and would love for you to join our Once Upon A Time Weddings family.  You can book online here, call us at 519.245.7997 or text us 519.319.9441.  Join us next week as we discuss Everything I Wish Brides Knew About Setting {& Sticking to} A Budget.

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.

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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.

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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.

Why You Should Say Yes to a Private Line Dress..

Another advantage to not advertising in bridal magazines or doing elaborate websites means huge advertising savings for our private lines, which in turn means savings for our brides.  Some brides mistakenly think that private lines would be more expensive because they’re more exclusive, but that just isn’t the case. 

When you’re not paying more for the name attached to the gown, then your hard earned money can going into paying for a gown that’s built properly from the inside out.  The gowns in our store meet our very high standards in regards to fabric, structure, construction and high quality beadwork.  When we purchase our gowns at market we aren’t just looking at the outside of the gown.  We pay very close attention to the construction of the gown.  This will save you money in the long run as well as well-made gowns are easier to alter.

One of these ball gowns is from a traditional designer and the other is from one of our private, exclusive lines.

One of these ball gowns is from a traditional designer and the other is from one of our private, exclusive lines.

Purchasing from our store you know you are supporting a small, local, family run business.  But you’re also supporting several small businesses when you purchase a private line gown.  You’re quite literally helping families put food on the table rather than helping a CEO buy his third vacation home.

Smaller, private lines care about their stores.  They don’t sell to every store in every city so they need to make sure the stores they sell to are happy and well taken care of.  One of our private gowns came in with a flaw to it.  The designer had it remade as top priority (less than a week) and the head of the company (who just so happened to be in China when it was finished production) personally flew it back from China so we’d have it faster and correctly.  You just don’t get that kind of service from big designers.

Choosing your wedding gown is a very personal and emotional decision.  I would encourage you to look to think small when you’re purchasing your gown.  If you aren’t the type of bride to wear a mass produced, totally-seen-it-before gown then we’d love to have you in the store and show you our wonderful selection.  If you’re the type of bride who cares more about the quality that goes into the gown, than the name written on the inside, then we’re the store for you.  If you’d like to book an appointment click here or call 519.245.7997.

PS.  As we make this transition some of our not so private lines will be sold to accommodate room for our private lines.  So if you’re looking for a great designer gown at a great price, then now is your time.  Some of these gowns have not been in the store long!