strathroy weddings

Finding Balance.

One of the hardest tasks of being an entrepreneur is finding balance in life.  Learning to find time to accomplish all that I would like to accomplish can be challenging.  It’s been almost four years since the doors to Once Upon A Time Weddings have opened.  We have literally helped hundreds and hundreds of brides.  I have been so committed to running Once Upon A Time Weddings and have made many sacrifices throughout the years. 

Last May, my life changed forever.  I drove to Brantford with my husband and picked up my two little babies and brought them home.  Yes it was a long time coming, but nothing could have prepared me for those early days.  I remember falling into bed at nine exhausted from the day’s events.  I had to learn how to juggle running a business and being a mom.  I had to deal with the guilt of leaving them to go into work.  I had to deal with the sadness I felt when I came home and they were already in bed.

This past year has been hard on our business.  We’ve had to deal with the frustrations of two designers not coming through for us.  We have had to deal with some staff turnover.  We have been knocked down and had to get back up again.  But we’re still here, still learning to better our business.  We’ve developed new processes to ensure that the mistakes that we made in those early days don’t get made again.  And we’ve had to do some pruning.  Some changes.

Part of building a lasting business is learning what is successful and what isn’t.  You have to make changes.  You have to take risks.  It’s why we made the decision to stop carrying bridesmaids and mother’s gowns.  It’s why we’ve changed our hours to only be open by appointments.  We want to be available when it’s convenient for our brides.  We want to be reachable when they need us.  But we want to maintain balance in our individual lives. 

We would love your feedback on the recent changes we’ve made to Once Upon A Time Weddings.  We would love to hear your thoughts.  Send us an email to or text us at 519.319.9441.  So far brides seem to enjoy that they can make an appointment whenever is convenient for them.  They like our small, quiet atmosphere.  We try our best to schedule appointments one on one.  It ensures that you have our full attention for the duration of your appointment.  We’d love to hear your thoughts as we continue to develop, grow and serve our customers.

                       Packing up bridesmaids gowns - the end of an era at Once Upon A Time Weddings.

                       Packing up bridesmaids gowns - the end of an era at Once Upon A Time Weddings.

During the fall our store operating hours will be Tuesday & Thursday 3-7 and Saturday 10-3.  Our store appointment hours will be Monday-Friday 10-8, Saturday 9-7 & Sunday 1-7.  To book an appointment visit or text us at 519.319.9441 or call the store at 519.245.7997.  We look forward to helping you find YOUR gown.

All things finances with Shannon Cushman

I'll be honest. I feel as though I cannot write a weekly blog sharing the joy of all things weddings and not discuss the whole 'financial planning of a life together' thing as well. Kind of an important topic wouldn't you think? Well most couples get caught up in the excitement of wedding planning, few couples spend time planning for their marriage. What matters right now is you are beginning your new life with your partner and all the joy and life experiences you have ahead. So today I'm not exactly talking all things weddings…I'm talking all things healthy marriage. And one of the biggest stressors of marriages is finances.

Just as promised, I went to the pros for a little more insight on this one. I sat down with financial expert, Shannon Cushman to ask her what steps we can all take to move forward into a healthy, contributing partnership. Shannon has been working over ten years in finance and as a busy working mom of four, she and her husband understand the importance of planning for not only your future but the future of those you love. Being that the average cost of a Canadian wedding is $23,330 (2012 Globe and Mail) we're not exactly planning for a small expense here, either. I wanted to hear Shannon's thoughts on planning ahead and what couple can do (couples in any situation, engaged or not) to be financially healthy and on the right track.

 1) Is there any particular 'Golden Rule' of finances and planning for your future that you always embark on those you work with? 

There is no specific rule, and that is exactly the first thing I teach people! Every situation is unique, every couple is unique and most of all, we all have different goals in life. The most important thing is talking to your partner early on in the relationship about money, finances, goals, etc. and making sure that you are on common ground when it comes to financial matters. If you aren’t, find out what you can start doing as a team to work towards this. Many times that does involve sitting down with a qualified financial professional. This will help you understand your unique situation- not what you heard from a friend or saw on television about money.

 2) What would you suggest as the first steps in financial planning for someone who hasn't yet begun this process?

The first steps are to asses all of your assets and liabilities, basically what do you have and what do you owe. This gives you an idea of a term you may hear a lot in the past- “net worth”. As you build a life together, the goal is for your net worth to grow. When we are young it is normal to have a negative NW, however as we get older, own a home, pay down student debts, our NW grows.

3) What can anyone start doing today for a better financial well being in 6 months? 

Saving, Saving, Saving! Starting a regular, automatic savings plan (even just $25 a pay period) into a separate account that you cannot debit out of can grower faster than you think. Also, and very important- go online and view your credit report. Equifax is the most commonly used company and you can get a copy of your report for around $15. Now, really check it out – are there any errors? Has something been reported wrong that could stop you from getting a new car, house, even job in some cases? Finally, make sure you DO have established credit . If you do not, it is time to get a small credit card and start establishing. No credit can be just as hard as bad credit when trying to get approved for something – and you don’t want mom to have to co-sign forever. Just keep in mind, it's okay to still live your life! Treat yourself, reward an accomplishment, celebrate the small victories. It's all about balance.

 4) What consequences should couples be aware if one individual has less than ideal credit? How much does this hurt the stronger ones?

Every situation is different, and there are varying degrees of 'bad'. When there is a large variance in credit scores, the person with the stronger credit is going to have to be prepared to be the primary applicant in most cases. They will perhaps need to co-sign for their spouse for such credit as a car loan or school tuition and will probably be required to have most of the couples credit cards in his/her name. Ideally the person with the weaker credit should work hard at re-establishing better credit in order for both to contribute to carrying an equal amount of the credit. If one person is always doing the borrowing it could actually hurt their score as it may appear they are over-utilizing credit, credit seeking, and using large amounts of revolving credit.

 5) What steps can be taken to merge finances together and when is the most acceptable time for couples to do this? 

Every couple is different and the best time is when both people are ready, comfortable and don’t feel any pressure to do this. Many couples now like to have one joint account for “bills”, “house stuff” etc. then each their own account for some spending money. There are many different ways to merge your finances, and it can be something you do in small steps or all at once – there is no right or wrong way to do it. Just ensure that you and your partner have had important discussions first and feel confident you are on the same page with managing your finances. This is not the conversation you want to have after you have merged everything!


Meeting up with Shannon really makes me think about my goals and next steps. Engaged or not, the topic of money seems to light a fire under a lot of us! Most people can use a financial health check from time to time, especially to re-evaluate our goals and the goals of our partner. Just remember, all situations are unique and just as Shannon pointed out, it is important to be completely open when discussing finances with those we love, but it is absolutely essential to have professional guidance as well. If you would like to talk to Shannon, I have included her professional contact information below. Shannon is a hard working mother and wife and I must say this really comes through when discussing money and goals with her. She makes people feel comfortable and so positive when looking towards their future. I don't often shed such opinion on rather personal topics but I highly encourage you to really think about the importance of planning for your future and the resources available through hard working, dedicated professionals.

Let me know what you thought of today's article. I hope this has helped couples (and individuals alike) understand the importance of meeting with a professional to fully discuss and understand your needs. I can give you all the DIY and budget friendly tips in the world, but at the end of the day, we are all different with different needs. But one thing remains the same; we all deserve the wedding of our dreams and while it may be a lot for one day, it is your day.

Dana xo






All About Moms...

While most of you know our store for our impressive selection of exclusively designed wedding gowns, there's a lot more to us than just beautiful wedding gowns. We are able to take care of the needs of your bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen and of course, the mother of the bride and mother of the groom! We love when the moms come in to search for their perfect dress. Mother of the bride/groom dresses are more fashion forward than ever and finally designers really understand what women are looking for. At Once Upon a Time Weddings we are currently receiving our new, exclusive designed formal wear, perfectly suited for weddings, dinner parties, cruises…you name it! It feels like Christmas has come early at the store, and since we know so many of you are curious of our new styles, this week's blog will feature a sneak peak of our newest dresses in store now. Read on to hear my tips for finding your perfect dress: Mom's Edition!

 For so long the standard 'MOB' or "MOG' look has consisted of the long, formal gown usually paired with a bolero or some kind of sleeve. While this is a classic and beautiful look, many of the current styles that still feature the same formality and tradition now are embracing new fabrics, embellishments and cuts. While I personally think a sleeve or bolero can have a very elegant and sophisticated look, I absolutely love the more modern styles too. The dress featured below is one of my favourites in store! I love how the light reflects on the fabric, without looking 'shiny'. The neckline on the bolero is beautiful. It gives this dress a very regal appeal. The shorter sleeves lend to the modern style and where the jacket hits perfectly complements the waist embellishment.  This style would be perfect for any style of wedding really. It is modern, yet elegant. The construction of this dress allows you to be comfortable since it is designed to fit your silhouette this way, without the additional effort of 'Spanx' or similar products. This attention to the inner construction is similar to how our wedding gowns are designed and we are proud that quality continues in all designs we offer.

So often, mothers come in explaining their daughter or daughter in-law's gown in hopes to compliment it, while not being too 'matchy'. This dress has a black lace overlay on the bodice, with subtle beadwork featured here in a gorgeous, rich purple hue. A style like this would look beautiful paired beside a bride in lace. It just hints at the bride's lace gown, while the flowing fabric glides with you as you dance the night away! This neckline is very flattering too, especially when finished with a statement necklace or some kind of sparkle. Don't think because you have a higher neckline you have to instantly think 'bracelet' or 'earrings'. While I love all bling equally, the necklace featured here would beautifully bring (and keep) the eye up towards the neckline and shoulders, and of course, your beautiful smile.


If you're looking for a dress that will best compliment your curves, styles like this soft lilac gown (with or without jacket) are a definite home run! The cut, the placement of the embellishment, the gathered ruching…it all simply works in perfect dress harmony. Starting from the neckline, this dress has a supportive, yet natural feeling, allowing those with a larger bust to feel, as I like to call it, 'locked and loaded'.  The ruching at the natural waistline will give you a defined waist, and trust me, whether you are a size 2 or 22 this is a tried, tested and true way to slim and flatter anyone! You simply cannot not look good in a dress like this. The placement of the beadwork all works in your favour too. Keeping the eye following a clean line, the placement falls along the slimmest part of you and similar to the last dress, the key is knowing where you want to draw the eye and keeping the rest simple. Simple is not boring and frankly, its not really 'simple' at all. Creating a balance is what allows a style to look effortless and lets you stand out in the dress, not the dress stand out on you. This is the ideal example of a strapless style being curve-friendly and oh so stunning.

These are just a few of the styles we have in store, but if you would like to see more, feel free to drop by this week and check them out! Remember we have styles suitable for not only weddings, but various formal and/or holiday events. December we are very excited to host an in-store viewing of our newest styles, and you can check back here for all the details. Our talented bridal consultants are more than able to meet all of your needs when looking for the perfect dress, and we always enjoy spending time with the other very important members of the bridal party!  So give the store a call at 519.245.7997 or email us at to book your very own mothers appointment.   After all you deserve to look your best on this big day!  Hope you all have a good week!


Dana xo