wedding gowns sarnia

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!

The 12 Rules Every Bride Should Live By to Avoid Stress

12 Rules For Being A Stress-Free Bride.

By: Erin Bouchard

1.    Sizes suck.  

Remember that dress sizes are so different than real life sizes.  I’ve seen so many brides stress out over the size that is on the tag on the inside of their gown.  They do whatever they can to order a smaller size.  While I get that it’s frustrating to see a bigger number than you’re used to on the tag, it’s just a number.  Order the size that fits you and embrace the shape you have.

2.    Be realistic

If you want to lose weight be realistic about how much you can lose before the wedding.  We’ve had a few brides who have wanted us to order them smaller sizes and then didn’t lose the weight.  Making it extremely difficult to alter their gown and even have to choose another gown mere months before their wedding day.  We know brides have the best intentions, but wedding planning can be stressful.  Be realistic about how much weight you can lose with so much else going on.

Photography by  Michelle A Photography

3.    Embrace the chaos

There are going to be times of chaos.  There are going to be times of overwhelm.  Try to remember that those moments are short lived.  That you will make it through this period of chaos.  

4.    Ask for help

Sometimes as women we’re a bit stubborn and think we can do everything ourselves.  But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help throughout your wedding process.  Most of the time your mom and your friends will be so happy to jump in and help.  So don’t hesitate to ask.

5.    Be kind

I remember wedding planning.  I remember at times feeling like a totally different person. I remember the periods of extreme happiness and the periods of extreme stress.  A good rule of thumb to remember is that kindness goes a long way. Frustrated with a vendor? Overwhelmed with your fiancé?  Try to still treat them with kindness and remember they are just people too.

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6.    Plan early

Brides right now seem to have this feel of changing their mind, especially when it comes to their wedding gown.  So we see them leaving it later and later to try gowns on. This extremely limits their choices in gowns to what fits them off the rack.  Sometimes it works out beautifully and sometimes it’s way too much stress.  A rule of thumb is to shop for your gown about a year in advance.  If you start to doubt your choice, come back in and try your gown on again or think about all the reasons you fell in love with it.

7.    Include your fiancé

This is your wedding day.  But it’s also your fiancé’s.  Try to include him in your wedding planning.  Ask for his opinions and delegate some aspects to him.  Think about what they would like throughout your planning process.

8.    Keep the end goal in mind

It’s easy to get so wrapped in all the little details of their wedding day that sometimes you forget the end goal.  The wedding is a day, but the marriage is forever.  Keep that end goal in mind and let some of the little things slide.

9.    Communicate well

A lot of the problems you will face while wedding planning will be from a lack of communication.  Make sure that you are communicating regularly with your fiancé, your wedding party and your wedding vendors.  Create a closed facebook group for your wedding party members and post all the important details in there.  Invite your parents and your fiancé parents to the group too.  That way you’ll have an information hub and no one will feel like they are missing important information.

Photography by Amanda Kopcic Photography

Photography by Amanda Kopcic Photography

10.  Take time off

Spend some time not wedding planning.  Go on a date night.  Get your nails done with MOH.  Go to a movie.  Take some time to be a couple without focusing just on wedding planning.

11.  Be organized

The more you can get done early the better.  The better organized you are with the details the less stressed out you will be.  Get an app or a binder and keep all your information in one place.  Create a note on your phone and update it with all your RSVP’s.  Whatever little things you can do to stay organized will greatly help especially as you approach the big day.

12.  Enjoy the process

You’ll only be a bride for a short time.  One day you’ll look back on this time and miss it.  So live in the moment and enjoy the process. The things that are stressing you out now will make you laugh in 5, 10, 15 years.  So try to enjoy the wedding planning process.

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Vintage Themed Wedding

Vintage, antique, old-school, retro...all themes that take us back in time to an earlier era. This is one of those themes that has become exceptionally trendy. Thrift stores are no longer a thing of the past, it is actually cool to shop and wear clothing from decades ago. This is no different when we take it to wedding planning. From those antique suitcases, to the rustic window frames and doors that look like they need a new paint job, floral china sets, used wine barrels, and classic cars to ride off in; we are loving these up-cycled decorations!

Today we are planning a vintage themed wedding! The dress below is one we have here at Once Upon A Time Weddings that is inspiring this vintage theme.

This dress gives us all the Gatsby vintage feels!

This dress gives us all the Gatsby vintage feels!

We love this unique, up-do bling. We carry similar hair accessories here!

We love this unique, up-do bling. We carry similar hair accessories here!

We love how this bouquet really draws attention back to that head piece with the pearls.

We love how this bouquet really draws attention back to that head piece with the pearls.

Seeing lots of antique books as centre pieces and decor around the reception!

Seeing lots of antique books as centre pieces and decor around the reception!

It's so fun to see our brides on their wedding day! How great their dress fits their venue + decor, what colours they styled with their dress, to see her next to her groom, and how absolutely stunning she looks in it!

Carlene and Gord Ficht,  A Once Upon A Time Weddings bride with her groom, using an antique car as decor at their wedding.

Carlene and Gord Ficht, A Once Upon A Time Weddings bride with her groom, using an antique car as decor at their wedding.

Loving this Gatsby dress? Book your appointment with us to try it on!

Pink & Gold Enchanted Forest Shoot.

Sometimes, right in the middle of ordinary life, love gives you a fairy tale.

We had the amazing opportunity to participate in a magical photoshoot at the end of May.  The location was Fernwood Hills which is hidden away in the woods outside of Komoka, Ontario.  This venue is absolutely enchanted.  From wooden benches for your guests to sit on during a rustic ceremony to dancing under the stars all night, this venue has it all!

For this shoot, we used our new exclusive, romantic skirt from our private collection.  We paired it with our blush, sparkly top.  This is part of our separates collection, so we can mix and match top and skirts together!

Rosemary from Time 4 Flowers created the perfect bouquet for this enchanted forest photoshoot.  The colours were a perfect match for the blush & gold theme and it smelled delicious. 

Rosemary from Time 4 Flowers created the perfect bouquet for this enchanted forest photoshoot.  The colours were a perfect match for the blush & gold theme and it smelled delicious. 

Invited by Dani made beautiful stationery that were perfect for this show stopping photo shoot!  

Invited by Dani made beautiful stationery that were perfect for this show stopping photo shoot!  

It was a pleasure to meet Anna from Devorah Beauty for the first time at this shoot.  She created a flawless look in our model, Sarah's makeup.  Liz from Hairstream Beauty swept up her hair in a romantic up-do.

It was a pleasure to meet Anna from Devorah Beauty for the first time at this shoot.  She created a flawless look in our model, Sarah's makeup.  Liz from Hairstream Beauty swept up her hair in a romantic up-do.

Stephanie from Bright Eyes Bakery created the most stunning naked cake and macaroons.  To be honest, this was the first time I had ever tasted a macaroon and they were DELICIOUS!!

Stephanie from Bright Eyes Bakery created the most stunning naked cake and macaroons.  To be honest, this was the first time I had ever tasted a macaroon and they were DELICIOUS!!

Jess from Bonafide Events pulled all the magic together with decor pieces and kept us all on schedule throughout the shoot!  Wedding planners have such  attention  to detail & it really paid  off  in this shoot!!

Jess from Bonafide Events pulled all the magic together with decor pieces and kept us all on schedule throughout the shoot!  Wedding planners have such attention to detail & it really paid off in this shoot!!

Michelle A. Photography captured all the moments from the day perfectly!  She was a gem to work with and pulled the whole shoot together flawlessly!

Michelle A. Photography captured all the moments from the day perfectly!  She was a gem to work with and pulled the whole shoot together flawlessly!

Venue:   Fernwood Hills   Photographer:    Michelle A Photography   Dress and Accessories:   Once Upon a Time Weddings   Model:   Sarah Cur   Hair:   Liz from Hairstream   Makeup:   Devorah Beauty   Florals:   Time 4 Flowers   Cake and Macaroons:   Bright Eyes Bakery   Invitations and Stationary:   Invited by Dani   Decor:   Bonafide Events Studio   Linens (Napkin):   A & B Party and Tent Rentals

Venue: Fernwood Hills
Photographer:  Michelle A Photography
Dress and Accessories: Once Upon a Time Weddings
Model: Sarah Cur
Hair: Liz from Hairstream
Makeup: Devorah Beauty
Florals: Time 4 Flowers
Cake and Macaroons: Bright Eyes Bakery
Invitations and Stationary: Invited by Dani
Decor: Bonafide Events Studio
Linens (Napkin): A & B Party and Tent Rentals

3 Reasons Why A Pop Up Bridal Shop or Sale Might Not Be For You.

One of the latest bridal trends are these pop up bridal shops.  Sometimes they pop up in a particular city, sometimes they appear at a bridal show.  I have worked so hard to understand brides over the last few years.  With that in mind, I wanted to share three reasons why you might not be the pop up sale kind of bride.

1.)    It robs you of that say yes to the dress experience.  We know you are craving it.  Every bride wants to have that “moment” when they are standing in a gown and they can picture walking down the runway to Mr. Right and saying I do.  That’s okay, it’s part of the experience.  We know you’ve been secretly imagining that moment.  I mean what’s not to love about standing on a pedestal and having all the people you adore and cherish tell you that you’re beautiful!  For many brides it’s the first time that they feel like their getting married and it’s the only part of wedding planning that’s all about you!!

 I bet that when you imagined it, that it didn’t include 200 other women pushing and shoving to get a deal.  I bet it didn’t include changing in a fabric changing room with high school students or other brides who are just there to earn their own cheap gown the ones helping you.  I bet it does include having someone who lives and breaths weddings and bridal fashion assisting you every step of the way.  I bet you imagined having time to think, picture it all come together and finalize every detail to perfection.

Photograph by Soul Photography (www.soulphotography.ca) 

Photograph by Soul Photography (www.soulphotography.ca) 

2.)    You are more fashionable than you give yourself credit for.  Yes, saving money is great.  Yes, staying on budget is even better.  But the gowns you’ll find at a pop up shop average between 5 and 10 years old.  Bridal fashion changes a lot in 5 to 10 years.  Take my wedding gown for instance, I got married 9 years ago this June and while I loved my gown at the time, it’s definitely not the style that brides are looking for today.  And that’s okay because I’m not trying to sell them my gown.  Even if you aren’t the type of bride whose being pinning gowns on Pinterest for a decade you can recognize that styles have changed substantially in the last few years.  And while your gown budget may not afford you that Pnina Tornai that you see on TV, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for something that a designer or bridal store couldn’t sell themselves for the last five years.

Photograph by Rebecca Nash Photography (www.rebeccanashphotography.com) 

Photograph by Rebecca Nash Photography (www.rebeccanashphotography.com) 

3.)    You want to 100% love your gown.  A lot of brides go on to resell the gown they’ve purchased from a pop up shop because they made a hasty decision that was based principally on the price of the gown.  It appeared to be a good savings.  They got a designer gown for a fraction of the price.  But then once they begin planning the rest of the day, that style of gown doesn’t suit their overall feel of their wedding day.  Or they realize that they settled primarily because of cost.  While cost of gown is definitely a factor in choosing your wedding gown, it shouldn’t be the only factor.

Don’t be discouraged though, there are lots of way to save money on your gown without sacrificing your experience, your fashion sense and your sanity.  Here are three tips:

1.)    Be honest with your consultant about your price point.  It’s okay if you want to stay under a $1000, just tell her before she puts you in that $2200 gown you fall in love with.

2.)    Decide on what’s really important to you.  If you want lace maybe you can opt for less beading, or if you want a lot of beading, maybe you can opt to borrow your friend’s veil.

3.)    Realize the importance of your gown.  Your wedding gown will really set the tone for the rest of your day.  There are so many ways you can cut back on other areas, after all no one will remember if you served three vegetables or just one.  Decide what’s most important for you & your fiancé and then work towards those things.

Three Reasons That A Bridal Boutique Might be For You:

1.       It’s a calm, relaxed atmosphere.  There aren’t brides pushing out of their way and you don’t have to share mirrors.

2.       Your consultant is highly trained and can give you guidance for alterations, custom changes and colors available for your gown.  She has literally thousands of hours logged in working with brides.  And she’ll be there to answer any questions you have throughout the entire process.

3.       Your gown will be handled with utmost care.  You can bring it back {and we’ll still be here, not on to the next city} and we’ll press and steam your gown to perfection.

Where and how you purchase your bridal gown is a very personal decision.  We understand that not everyone will chose a bridal boutique and that's okay.  Just make sure you do some research and make the best decision with all the information that you can.  At Once Upon A Time Weddings we love working with brides and helping them say yes to the dress in the most magical bridal shopping experience.  To book your own bridal experience please click here.