wedding planner

A Real, Honest Blog.

DISCLAIMER: This is a bit of a more personal blog.  It's meant to show you a little glimpse into what running a bridal store is REALLY like.  I ADORE what I do and I LOVE working with brides.  This is just a bit of my real life.  

When I first opened the doors to Once Upon A Time Weddings I was shocked by how many bridal stores didn’t have great customer service.  I was shocked that anyone could be helping a bride during the most important & exciting time of her life and not LOVE their job.  Or at least smile.

Fast forward five years and now I kind of get it.  This business can be a bit ruthless.  Sometimes it feels overwhelming! {much like wedding planning does, but hang in there, the best moments are coming, I promise}  

Don’t get me wrong – I still love it and live and breathe it every single day.  But it can be oh so exhausting.  I’m not talking about working with brides, that part I love.  I’m talking about working with everyone else.

Here’s some examples of what I mean:

·       In my second year of business I attended a bridal show that also had a fashion show.  The other two stores were fighting and yelling about who had more space for the models to change in.  So the producer of the show had to literally put masking tape down to show whose side was whose.

·       In my third year of business I had a designer who I carried deeply in my store, go bankrupt and stop producing gowns suddenly.  I lost about $8,000 and for the first time had to call a bride and tell her that her gown wouldn’t be here before her wedding day and that she had to pick another one.

·       In my fourth year of business I had a designer who got so behind in production that we were unsure whether bridesmaids, mothers or prom gowns would arrive in time for their events.  We had to cover customer’s alterations, source the gowns through other stores and just pray that everyone got what they needed in time.

·       Last year I had to deal with my old landlord situation which destroyed a lot of my trust in people and ultimately cost me over $6000 in unnecessary rent.

·       I have also discovered this year that one of my competitors is transhipping gowns.  This basically means they don’t carry the line of wedding gowns, but they have another store order the gowns in for them and ship to their store.  Which means that although I’ve carried the line and have invested in the stock pieces that I have, they are telling brides to come to my store, try the gowns on and then they’ll order the dress for below what the manufacturer allows us to sell it. This kind of thing happens on all the time with designer gowns.  It’s so unethical and frustrating but unfortunately most designers turn a blind eye because at the end of the day they are still selling gowns.

·       This year I found out that someone who I trusted deeply in this business and whom I have talked openly about bridal gowns, designers and my business plan took that information and behind my back started a competing bridal business.  Then when I found out and called him out about it, he lied directly to my face.

Somehow, I have survived each and every one of these things and so many more that I could write about.  I’ve learned to work through brutal situations and keep on going.  After all I’m an entrepreneur.  It’s what we do.  But by the Grace of God.

So, why am I sharing all this with you?   I guess it’s a reminder that we’re human.  That even though I am the face of Once Upon A Time Weddings, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes.  So many things that I CANNOT control {even though the control freak inside of me wishes I could}.  So many designers, sales reps, UPS drivers, and more that I have to rely on to do my job.  Have I made some mistakes along the way?  Absolutely!!  Will I make more?  Most likely. But never the same ones, as I try my best to learn from them.  Every day I wake up and I’m so thankful for the job that I am entrusted with.  I’m so thankful that I get to spend a small window of time with each and every bride that comes into my store.  Sometimes after a particularly crappy day, I will sit and read through my facebook reviews.  The kind words left from brides means the world to me!  When I sit and reminisce about all the brides who said YES to their DRESS at Once Upon A Time Weddings, it makes me so proud.  They are why I keep pushing through the difficult situations.  I ask of you to remember that store owners are people too and if they have given you great service, let them know.  It can make a world of difference.

A Visit with Wendy of Soul Photography.

Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out with Wendy Hord of Soul Photography.  She stopped by the shop and of course brought her camera along!  Wendy has a creative eye and is really easygoing.  She's based out of Lucan, ON but will travel across most of Southwestern Ontario.  She photographs weddings, families, engagement, couples & babies.

She has a boudoir shoot coming up soon.  Check it out on her website.

It was nice to chat with Wendy about weddings, families, owning a business & how to find balance in the midst of all the craziness of life.    Wendy has  a very real, down to earth  personality.  She's great to work with and has an eye for detail.  Enjoy some pictures that she snapped while at the store!

Thanks Wendy for capturing some great shots!  To contact Wendy of Soul Photography you can visit her  website here , follow her work on  facebook here , or email her at  contactsoulphotography@gmail.com .

Thanks Wendy for capturing some great shots!  To contact Wendy of Soul Photography you can visit her website here, follow her work on facebook here, or email her at contactsoulphotography@gmail.com.


Get Social To Win A FREE Wedding Gown

       Hey Brides!  We're so excited to kick off our Get Social To Win Contest, where one lucky bride will WIN the wedding gown of her choice.    So, how can you participate?! It's easy. The first thing you need to do is email us at  info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca  your name & wedding date to let us know you're in.  This way we can start to calculate your points.  Then start earning points! (see below)  The bride with the most points will WIN her gown on February 27th.      PS. If you purchased your wedding gown between September 1st, 2014 and now at our store, you can still participate :)    Stay tuned later this week for a full listing of which bridal shows we'll be attending so you can find us, take pics & earn even more POINTS!     * Like us on facebook, follow us on Instagram or twitter - 50 points each      * Text us your full name to 519.319.9441 – 75 points       * Book a bridal appointment    – 100 points      * Take a pic in our booth at a bridal show, tag us in it on Instagram, facebook, or twitter – 50 points      * Get a friend to like that picture – 1 point per like      * Share a pic of one of our gowns in the fashion show & tag us in it on Instagram, facebook or twitter – 25 points per picture      * Get likes on one of those photos – 1 point per like      * Email us at      info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca      to tell us you are in the competition -50 points      * Purchase your wedding gown from us – 125 points      * Purchase your accessories from us – 50 points      Competition will run until February 27th, 2015.          Standard text rates apply.    Winner determined by total number of points & will be announced on facebook & instagram. If winning bride has purchased gown from us after September 1st, 2014 then a full refund will be given to the bride.    All decisions regarding winner of the contest by Once Upon A Time Weddings will be final. Bonus points may be awarded through the contest so watch our facebook & Instagram for announcements!

 

 

Hey Brides!  We're so excited to kick off our Get Social To Win Contest, where one lucky bride will WIN the wedding gown of her choice.

So, how can you participate?! It's easy. The first thing you need to do is email us at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca your name & wedding date to let us know you're in.  This way we can start to calculate your points.  Then start earning points! (see below)  The bride with the most points will WIN her gown on February 27th. 

PS. If you purchased your wedding gown between September 1st, 2014 and now at our store, you can still participate :)

Stay tuned later this week for a full listing of which bridal shows we'll be attending so you can find us, take pics & earn even more POINTS!

* Like us on facebook, follow us on Instagram or twitter - 50 points each

* Text us your full name to 519.319.9441 – 75 points

* Book a bridal appointment  – 100 points

* Take a pic in our booth at a bridal show, tag us in it on Instagram, facebook, or twitter – 50 points

* Get a friend to like that picture – 1 point per like

* Share a pic of one of our gowns in the fashion show & tag us in it on Instagram, facebook or twitter – 25 points per picture

* Get likes on one of those photos – 1 point per like

* Email us at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca to tell us you are in the competition -50 points

* Purchase your wedding gown from us – 125 points

* Purchase your accessories from us – 50 points

Competition will run until February 27th, 2015. 

Standard text rates apply.  Winner determined by total number of points & will be announced on facebook & instagram. If winning bride has purchased gown from us after September 1st, 2014 then a full refund will be given to the bride.  All decisions regarding winner of the contest by Once Upon A Time Weddings will be final. Bonus points may be awarded through the contest so watch our facebook & Instagram for announcements!

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  info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca  with the subject line Four Factors.

Learn the four factors that influence the cost of your gown at your appointment or by emailing info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca 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

Returning to Our Roots..

If you’ve been hanging around Once Upon A Time Weddings for a bit now, you’ll know we’ve undergone a few changes.  We’ve made the decision to stop carrying bridesmaids & mother’s gowns.  We’ve changed up our store hours & the way we do bridal appointments.  It’s all part of our strategic plan to become the experts at bridal.  Sometimes you have to prune away healthy layers to get to the best part of the tree. 

When we started this business over four years ago we began with the hope of helping brides and becoming the best in bridal.  We began as wedding planners.  Somewhere along the way we lost sight of that and we added gifts, bridesmaids, mothers, tuxedos, graduation, special occasion gowns & more.  While we have genuinely loved these avenues {well most of them anyways J} we have decided it’s time to get back to our roots.  It’s time to get back to the basics.  Sometimes as a business you can do a whole bunch of stuff, but never really do any of it well.  We don’t want to be the one stop shop, the box store feel.  We believe brides buy from us because not only do they love the gown, but they love the feeling that they get meeting us, entering our store.  It feels like home.

We’re not the store for every bride.  We don’t want to be.  But if you’re looking for a different approach to bridal, then you’ll find it at Once Upon A Time Weddings.  If you’re looking for the experts in all things bridal, then you’ll love our expertise.   If you want an experience, not just a gown, then you need to check us out.

With these changes in mind and looking forward we’ll be offering wedding planning services again.  This is where I started the business.  I helped couples plan their weddings & I loved seeing it to completion.  We’ve created a few different options because we know no two weddings are the same.  Please be aware that due to the nature of coordination wedding planning & operating a bridal store, there were only be a select number of weddings we can take on each season.  Be sure to book early to save your date!

We so appreciate our customer’s feedback as we embrace these changes.  Our goal is to serve you and to make your wedding planning a bit easier & a lot more fun.  If you would like more information please visit www.onceuponatimeweddings.ca/weddingplanning.  Feel free to call me at 519.319.9441 or 519.245.7997 or shoot me an email at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca. 

What's a Bride To Do If She Panics?

Not all brides do it. But it’s not completely uncommon. What happens if you get home, your heart starts pounding and you start regretting the decision that you just made? Let’s talk about bridal panic for a minute.

It’s been a day you’ll remember for a while. You went dress shopping. It was a great day with mom and maybe a friend or two. Maybe you even dragged grams along for the ride. You found the gown. You pictured walking down the aisle. You said yes. Maybe mom cried, maybe she didn’t. {it’s still your gown either way} Then you get home. You are excited but then the finalization of what you just did hits you in a wave of sheer panic. Shut the front door! Did I just really find a gown? WHAT DID I SAY YES TO!? There are a number of reasons why this panic might be hitting you and they’re not bad reasons and it’s not uncommon.

The first reason is you might feel like you didn’t shop enough. How can it be this easy? Shouldn’t I have dragged mom and grams to every store there is before I decided. Many brides, partially thanks to good, old reality tv shows feel like every bride must try on every single dress to be found before making a decision. Or they see their drama tv shows and think that it must really be that hard to find a gown. But it’s not. It doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to try on 22 gowns to know FOR SURE. Because the truth is once you find one you love, you’ll just keep searching for something so similar to that one that you’ll end up getting frustrated or overwhelmed. So remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be difficult and just because it was easy, doesn’t mean that you made the wrong decision.

Another reason is that sometimes that purchase suddenly makes the whole wedding feel real. A lot of times it’s not even about the dress, it’s about the realness of the decision that you are committing to. Remember to breath and remember all those reasons you said yes to the proposal. You are getting married. Don’t let that scare you, let it excite you.

Whatever reason you are panicking, reach out to us. We’ve helped brides who have felt the same way, and we’re HERE for you. Call, text, email, Facebook message, morse code us. It’s part of our job and if you have any questions or concerns then reach out to us. It’s a sad part of our reality, that brides think to hop online and write a negative review or complain publicly before they’ve even chatted with us. We can’t fix a problem, we don’t know we have. If you are able to, come back into the store and slip that gown back on and you’ll realize all over again why you love it and why you said yes.

 

If you do think you want to change your mind, be a grown up about it. You are signing a contract and you are agreeing to abide by the outlines of the contract. If you change your mind or want us to alter that contract for any reason, remember you are asking us to change. Don’t treat us like we did something wrong by selling you, your gown. Be respectful and remember we are human beings too. Calling us names or being rude won’t get you anywhere. Every single one of us working at Once Upon A Time Weddings cares so much about our brides & our customers that we want the absolute best for you. We want you to love your gown and be so, so happy with your choice long after the I Do’s. But we are a business and we have contracts in place for a reason. All we’re asking is that you be mature about the decision you are making. We agree to take the journey with you and be there every step of the way. So let’s get going on that journey. Click here to book your bridal appointment and start enjoying the benefits of our expertise right away.