wedding budget

The Question I Really, Really Dislike.

I was at the dentist a few weeks ago doing a routine cleaning. If you know me at all, you know I am not really a sit still kind of girl. As I was sitting up in that big old chair, I got to thinking about how customers sometimes ask if that’s the best price that I can do on a wedding gown or accessory. This little blog, like blogs often do, has been rolling around in my mind ever since. I seriously dislike the question, “is that the lowest price you can do“. And here is why…

                                        An inside look at one of our beautiful wedding gown.

                                        An inside look at one of our beautiful wedding gown.

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.


I spend a great deal of time 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 spent 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. As I sat in my chair I thought of what would happen if I got to the counter at the dentist office and asked, “is this the best price you can give me?”. I wouldn’t dream of it, because I respect the dentist, the schooling he has and the work he does. 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?


I take it personally.

If I’m being completely honest, the third reason I hate 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 this store. 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.

store shot smaller.jpg

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. So, 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.


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.

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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  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, 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 Hiring Professionals for Your Big Day is Crucial.

I love the wedding industry.  I love connecting with other people who work in the wedding field and chatting about brides and weddings.  Today, I had the opportunity to talk with Amanda Kopcic of Amanda Kopcic Photography, who I believe is one of Strathroy’s hidden gems.  She is knowledgeable, personable, relatable and a heck of a good photographer.

She was discussing with me the frustration she feels when brides & grooms just don’t understand why you need to hire a wedding photographer.  This then, of course led to a discussion on why couples just don’t understand the difference between hiring a professional and having a relative be involved in their big day.

The struggling economy has taught us this – we should be more aware and careful how we spend our good, hard earned dollars.  This is an undoubtedly a great lesson for us.

This begs the question, how can you as a bride & groom be aware of your spending and still have an amazing wedding day?  How can you politely tell great Aunt Sue that as yummy as her cupcakes are, you’ll hire a professional to make your wedding cake?  Or what about that good friend who likes to tinker with photography, how can you politely turn down her offer to shoot your wedding?

Bah, being a grown up sucks some days, don’t it?!

There are tons of ways to cut expenses while still planning a beautiful day.  There are literally thousands of good DIY’s on pinterest.  I love this trend.  I love seeing brides own personal influence on their wedding day.  I get that you have a budget and you really want to stick to it.  I totally do.

But, {you so knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you}, there are some areas of wedding planning you just shouldn’t cheap out on.  Or try and do yourself.

  1. Wedding photography – ok, this one should be fairly obvious, but it amazes me to hear people say things like; well your aunt is great with her camera.  Or we could just ask a few friends to take some pictures.  YOUR PICTURES ARE THE ONLY THING YOU KEEP FROM YOUR WEDDING DAY!  The décor is gone, the favours go home with guests, the flowers wilt away, but your pictures are the only thing you have to look back on.  A good wedding photographer will give you the shots that will last your lifetime.  She’ll also keep you on schedule and make sure that no shots get forgotten.  Allow your family & your friends to enjoy themselves at your wedding and hire a professional.  Someone who specializes in wedding photography and comes highly recommended by other brides.  Someone who is trained, qualified and knows the pressure of shooting a wedding.  Do your research and don’t skimp out on this one.

  2. The food – your guests will remember the food at your wedding.  You’ve spent all this money on your big day, feed everyone well.  While it might be cheaper to try and do some of the food yourself, it’s going to be a lot more stressful.  So enjoy your wedding day and let your family do the same, by hiring someone who has the right equipment, knows all about timing of food preparation, presentation and who has catered weddings before.  If you’re choosing a venue that has in house catering, make sure you go for a sample meal before booking the venue.

  3. The cake – along the same lines of the food, remember to hire a professional to do your cake.  A good baker knows how to make a cake look pretty but also how to make sure that the tiers are properly supported and will last until you cut it.  Imagine having your cake fall to the ground during your reception {don’t laugh, this has happened to someone we know}.

  4. The dress – of course I couldn’t write a blog like this without talking about the DRESS! Remember how important those pictures are?  What you are wearing in those pictures is equally important.  Not all dresses are created equally.  Make sure you pay attention to the inside of the gown, as well as the outside.  The more boning and inner structure there is, the more secure and comfortable your gown will be.  I had a friend who purchased their gown from a chain store {before they knew me or knew my store existed}.  The gown was made so poorly and with so little boning, one of the few pieces of boning on the inside bust snapped before she walked down the aisle.  She literally had to hold her gown up all day with her arm.  Do you think she looks back and is glad she saved $300-400 on her gown?  Her whole day was spent trying to keep her gown from falling off.  There are ways to get a great gown, at a great price, but sacrificing on quality shouldn’t be one of them.  The inside matters.

Learn the four factors that influence the cost of your gown at your appointment or by emailing  with the subject line Four Factors.

Learn the four factors that influence the cost of your gown at your appointment or by emailing with the subject line Four Factors.

This is all great information, but what happens when someone who you love volunteers to do one of these for you so you can save some money?  It might be hard to just straight out say no.  After all, they probably mean well and you don’t want to hurt their feelings.  So, try to find some way they can help out or be involved in the wedding planning process without having to just say no.  If an aunt volunteers to make your cake, ask her to make cupcakes for your shower or for your rehearsal dinner instead.  Or ask her if she’s ever made a supported wedding cake before.  It’s different if your relative is a professional in their field and has been doing weddings for many years.  Try to think about whether they run a business or do it as a hobby.  For your wedding day, the most important day of your life, you want to hire people who are in the business of weddings.  Individuals you know the pressure of being involved in a wedding, yet still succeed.

I think this is such an important topic; I would love to spend the next couples of blogs discussing ways to cut back for your wedding.  Stay tuned for more to come.  Follow our blog so you don’t miss anything!  If you have topics you’d like me to discuss or you have an idea of how to budget for your wedding, please email me at info@onceuponatimeweddings.  I’d love to hear from you!

Be Beautiful!

Erin Bouchard

Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings

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