wedding planning London

Owner Blog | When to Shop For Your Gown

We’re seeing this trend in the store right now, of brides putting off coming in to shop for their gown.  And while sometimes we can make magic happen and find a gown that fits them or rush a gown in fast enough, it definitely limits your options as a bride.

At the bridal show this weekend we met some brides who did not want to shop for their gown until much closer to their wedding.  And I get it, it can feel overwhelming or you might feel like if you shop too early you’ll have dress regret.  However, wedding gowns take between five and six months to order in.  In order to have the most number of options of gowns to choose from, you should begin shopping for your gown about seven to nine months before your wedding.  Earlier is even better because that will give you time to enjoy the process and help everything else fall into place.

Because the worse thing that can happen is that you have to settle for a gown that fits you and you can buy off the rack instead of saying yes to the gown you absolutely adore.

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Here’s three reasons we see brides delaying shopping for their gowns and how to overcome them.

1.     Fear of Dress regret

Some brides are putting off shopping for their gown because they are afraid they may have dress regret.  They may even have a friend who ended up purchasing two gowns for their wedding day.  Here’s the thing about dress regret, if I can speak openly for a minute.  We live in an instant world.  We instantly have our emails on our phone, we instantly can connect with someone half way around the world on facetime, we can get something delivered the next with amazon prime.  So we’ve become accustomed to not waiting.  So when we purchase a wedding gown, and my goodness, we now have to wait five months for it to arrive, it’s hard!  I get it.  I do.  So if you start to second guess yourself or worry about your gown, do this:  First, think about all the reasons you loved that gown and said yes.  Remember how you felt in it.  Remember how it will look with all your alterations done, with your hair and makeup done, walking down that aisle to the love of your life.  Second, if that doesn’t work and you’re still worried, do not go shopping.  I repeat, do not go shopping.  Wedding gowns are beautiful.  They are made to be pretty.  You will find another one you love.  Instead head back to the store you purchased your gown, slip that gown back on and remember why you fell in love with it. 

2.     Losing weight

This one can be a bit tricky.  Because it’s obviously a sensitive subject.  Brides want to look their best on their wedding day.  And while we’re all for feeling beautiful, we want to make sure you can still have the dress of your dreams.  We can talk through sizing and alterations with you in the appointment.  But the thing here to remember is that your fiancé fell in love with you and proposed at the exact size you are right now.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in an already stressful season of life.  Embrace the shape you are and find a gown you love right now, not 20 pounds lighter.  If you are determined to lose a bit of weight, then give yourself some time.  Set a goal and track your progress.  That will help us choose the best size for you when you do shop.

3.     Orchestrating entourage

We get it.  You want your people there when you have your magical experience.  So sometimes brides will put off shopping until their mom is home or sister is back from school.  We totally understand.  Just make sure that it still leaves you with the suggested time frame of 7-9 months before your big day.

If it doesn’t then plan an appointment at a time that they are available and we’ll facetime them into the appointment.  This way they can to still be part of the experience and you still get all the gown options.  Then we can also do a bridal reveal the next time they are home or in this area.  You can slip that gown back on and show them and have them help with accessories.

 

We want you to say yes to the dress in absolute confidence.  We want you to love your gown and continue loving it until long after your wedding day.  At Once Upon A Time Weddings our goal is to walk with you through the whole experience.  That’s what makes our store different.  We know from past brides that once your gown decision has been made, so many other decisions are able to fall into place. 

If you’re ready to start trying gowns on, book your exclusive gown finding experience here.

Surviving the Guest List.

Most brides are surprised by just how hard creating and sticking to a guest list is. In fact, a large number of newly married couples say that was the hardest part of wedding planning.

How do you decide on the guest list? Do you allow dates for all your single friends? How do you tell your cousin that she can't bring her children? Do you have to invite all your co-workers?

These are just some of the issues that brides face as they plan their I Do's. This blog will look at all these issues so that you can eliminate some of the guest list stress.

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The first and most important aspect to deciding your guest list is how many people your venue can comfortably hold. Speak with your event coordinator at your venue and get a realistic idea of how many people you can invite while leaving enough room to dance and enjoy the party. Make sure to also think about budget here. Each person you invite will cost a certain amount of money, so discuss with your fiance and your parents just how many people you can afford to invite to the wedding.

Make a list of every person that you can think of that you'd want to come to your wedding. Keep in mind you will have to cut some people, but write down anyone that you'd even remotely think of inviting. Then highlight off the people you absolutely must invite. Once you have your list to this stage meet with your fiance's parents and your parents. Review both the highlighted list and the want-to invite list. Discuss with them who they would really like to invite. It is your wedding, but it's also their celebration so try to keep their opinion in mind as you move forward to the final selections.

Keep in mind that just because you were invited to a friend's wedding doesn't mean you absolutely have to invite them to yours. Friendships evolve and you might not be as close as you once were. Or their venue may have accomodated more people than yours does.

Everyone has an opinion about kids at a wedding. Some people think it's great to invite them, while others feel like weddings are not a place for kids. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you need to make sure you are consistent. It may cause more tension if you decide to invite some kids and not others. At the end of the day, parents of young children will enjoy themselves at the wedding alot more if they aren't chasing after little ones or trying to keep them quiet during the ceremony. Once your decision has been made, then stick to your guns. If you decide against having children at the wedding then don't apologize or allow others to make you feel guilty for having a kid-free wedding. A good idea is to make sure that you have it clearly stated on your invitations that kids will not be allowed at the wedding or who exactly out of the family you are inviting.

Photography by Nova Markina

Photography by Nova Markina

Should you invite all your co-workers? I believe this firmly depends on your work environment. If you only work with a handful of people then I think it's best to invite either all of them or none. If you work with many people, then think about whether or not you socialize with your co-workers outside of the office. Do you consider them friends? Do you know their personal cell number and use it? Then they should probably be on the guest list. If not, you can probably skip them. Again, don't let co-workers bully you into giving them an invitation. Stick to your guest list and don't apologize for it. After all, it's your wedding.

As far as dates for single and unmarried friends is concerned, if a friend is in a serious relationship or engaged to be married then you should invite their significant other. If they are casually dating or single, then don't feel like you have to give them a plus one, especially if numbers are tight. Good rule of thumb, you should never write "and guest" on an invitation, you should know their name. If you don't know and feel like they should be invited then find out. There usually is quite a few singles at a wedding, seat them with friends and people they will be comfortable with and they will have fun without a date.

Guest lists can be quite a headache. But if you work together with your fiance, your parents and your fiance's parents, you will survive! Remember to breathe. Keep the end goal in mind. A beautiful marriage!

Be Beautiful!

Erin Bouchard
Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings located in downtown Strathroy. If you have found this blog to be helpful, please share the love! Also please subscribe to this blog to receive even more great articles and helpful advice as you go from MISS to MRS.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know {About A Gown Shopping Experience at OUTW}



Have you ever wondered what the hype is about finding a gown at Once Upon A Time Weddings?  Today on the blog, owner Erin Bouchard will walk you through a typical appointment at OUTW + answer some of your questions we know you’re dying to ask!  Erin, along with her team of consultants are proud to have helped thousands of brides create their own gown finding story.  She truly believes that magic happens at OUTW and sometimes you just have to embrace the magic.

A typical bridal gown shopping experience.

Most brides book their appointment online. But you can also text us or call us.  We love our online system because it shows you exactly what we have left available each day and you can choose the time that’s best for you.  Once you’re booked into an appointment, you’ll receive a confirmation email that has a link to our form for you to fill out before your appointment. Within this email you’ll find a link to begin our find-your-style process. We’ll ask you questions about your venue, previous shopping experiences and style choices.  This helps your consultant prepare for your appointment and many times our consultants have picked out your gown before they’ve even met you!

On the day of your appointment, you’ll be greeted and welcomed warmly into the shop.  We’ll ask you a few quick questions and then get to the fun!  Your consultant will pull four to five gowns to begin with.  Many, many times your gown will be in those first four to five gowns {yes, we’re that good!}.  Sometimes it’s the first gown you put on and sometimes it’s the last.  We’ll walk you through the gowns and ask questions about what you like and what you don’t.  Even if you hate the gown, we’re going to ask some questions to help narrow down what it is that you don’t like so we can make better gown pulls.  We always say, “gowns don’t have feelings” so feel free to tell us the truth about what you like and don’t like!

Once we’ve found a gown you love, we’ll put the finishing touches on with accessories.  Sometimes the magic is honestly in the complete look and we want to help you picture it all together for that walk down the aisle.

After you’ve said yes, we’ll take a group picture with our She Said Yes signs.  This will be posted on social media and captures the excitement of the moment.


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There is no right or wrong time to say yes to the dress.

There are no magical number of gowns you HAVE to try on before you can say yes.  There aren’t a magical number of stores you HAVE TO visit before you can pull the trigger.  In life there are a lot of analytical decisions we have to make.  Have you ever made a pro/con list or listed out all your options before you made a decision?  That’s an analytical decision and they are absolutely necessary for certain decisions in life.  But the gown you’ll get married in and look back on for the rest of your life – that’s an emotional decision.  You’re going to feel a whole bunch of emotions as you try gowns on.  You should however not feel:

1.     Like you’re being rushed or pressured.

2.     Like you’re settling for the best of what you’ve tried on.

If you truly love the gown and can picture walking down the aisle in the dress then it could be your gown.  Follow your heart.  You won’t know immediately that it’s your gown.  Most brides know it’s their gown by standing in it for a bit and just imagining it come to life.  That when the magic truly happens.

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Who or how many people should I bring to my appointment.

I get asked this question a lot and it’s honestly one of the hardest questions to answer.  I’ve had appointments with three people go horribly wrong and I’ve had appointments with twelve people go incredibly awesome.  Therefore, I always say bring with you who you absolutely would want to be there if magic happened and you had your gown finding moment.  Jealous bridesmaid?  Struggling sister in law?  Leave them at home or let them be part of your bridal reveal after the decision has been made.  The thing is that every person who you bring with you will be thinking of their opinions.  It’s not that they mean to, but they have an idea of what they would like or what they think you should get and they project that opinion on you.  Again, it’s often not intentional at all.  The important thing is that no matter how many people you bring with you, your opinion needs to be heard loudest and most.  Our consultants are excellent at insuring that.

What to bring.

If you own a strapless bra, bring that along with you.  If you don’t that’s okay, no need to rush out and get one.  Just wear a nude or light coloured bra and we’ll tuck the straps down.  If you plan to wear heels on your day and have a pair that is of similar height, bring those along to try on with the gown. 

Why do we pull the gowns for you?

It’s your day.  And we want you to just sit back and enjoy the moment with your family and friends and let magic do it’s thing!  We also know our inventory well and we may think of gowns to pull that you never even imagined or would have walked right past if you saw it hanging on a rack.  Often we’ll ask during an appointment, “was there another style you had in mind that you really wanted to try on that we haven’t yet”.  If at any point in your appointment your consultant hasn’t asked and you or one of your entourages is wanting to see another style on you, just let us know! 

We do love our jobs at OUTW!  We love working with brides because honestly no two brides are the same, no two weddings are the same and no two gown finding experiences are the same.  Our biggest advice to you is to embrace what makes you unique.  Your story could be you tried on a hundred gowns before you found the one OR your story could be it was the very first gown I slipped into.  Neither of those stories would be right or wrong!  We’d love to work with you and help you say yes to the dress.  Schedule an appointment today and let’s get started!

Filmed and produced by Amanda Kopcic Photography & Videography http://www.amandakopcic.com http://www.facebook.com/amandakopcicphotography

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!

How To Enjoy Being Engaged.

So you’re engaged?!

A lot of brides find themselves wishing their big day was just here already. Or they spend so much time fielding questions about their wedding and listening to other opinions on what they should do at their wedding, that they lose some of their excitement.

So we came up with some ways for you to spend time enjoying being engaged. After all, it’s such a short time in comparison to the rest of your life. You really want to capitalize on the excitement and soak up every moment as a fiancé.

1) Throw an engagement party! Celebrate this huge step in your relationship with all your friends and family! It's not a hassle for anyone, people love a reason to celebrate and get together. Find some cute decorations and get to celebrating! 

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2) Take engagement photos! This is a super fun way to celebrate with just the two of you. You get to dress up and be all lovey dovey for the pictures! You can even make a date night out of it! If you choose to do them with your wedding photographer it gives you an extra chance to get to know them and their style before your wedding day.

Photography by  Red Button Photography

Photography by Red Button Photography

3) Get some fiancé swag!  The best part of being engaged? Showing off that new status. It’s the perfect excuse to buy a wifey in training t-shirt, bride water bottle, or new wifey-to-be mugs. Cause why not?!

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Both items are available from OUTW!

Both items are available from OUTW!

4) And remember! When it comes to wedding planning, the day is about your love for one another. Don't let the nitty, gritty details of planning take the joy of being engaged away from you!

Are you recently engaged and starting to look for your dream dress? Look no further!

We'd love for you to book your wedding gown experience today!

Here’s what recent bride Stephanie said about her experience at OUTW.

I had been to 5 other stores before finally making the trip out to Once Upon A Time, and I was blown away by the difference here! The care, attention, and effort that they put into making sure each bride has a great experience was completely unique and refreshing. Definitely worth the visit - even if they don't have the dress for you, it's a wonderful, personalized experience that will remind you of how wedding dress shopping is supposed to be :)

20 Things You Might Not Know About Erin Bouchard.

Happy Friday! It’s hard to believe that it’s December already. As we head into a busy season, surrounded by family, filled with food and love, I wanted to take a minute to share some things about me. I’ve been at the helm of Once Upon A Time Weddings since we opened our doors on September 20th, 2010.

And although I don’t work as much in the store as I once did, hello three kids and another part time business, I absolutely love that I get to own Once Upon A Time Weddings.

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So here’s 20 things you might not know about me. I’d love to share in the comments one things I might not know about you.

  1. I am a huge introvert. I work with people all day and I totally can do it. But it drains me and I need to recharge before more people interaction.

  2. I have endometriosis. I’ve spoken about this a few times on our social media and blogs. But I have stage 2 endometriosis and had laparoscopic surgery last February. I’m waiting to have excision surgery with a specialist.

  3. I love reading. Seriously the queen of reading over here. My favourite way to pass time is to read. I believe there’s always more information out there for us to learn.

  4. I love my family. My husband is amazing and I have the three greatest kids in the world. Our oldest, L is 13 and has been with our family since March. Ethan is 9 and Arianna is 6. Every year I think these are the best ages, the most fun.

  5. I have always wanted to have 5 kids. We’re 3/5 of the way there. And we can’t say too much, but we’re working on filling those last two spots. So keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

  6. I love the beach. I love the sound of the waves. I’d love to live on a lake one day and walk the beach every night.

  7. I can be really blunt. If you’ve been around me for more than like 5 minutes, you likely already know this. I sometimes, okay, most of the time, say it like it is. I work hard to soften the bluntness but sometimes that’s a fail.

  8. my husband is the exact opposite of me, personality wise. I make really quick decisions and am super fast-paced. He’s more analytical and likes to take his time making decisions. We somehow work, now that we understand each other’s personality types better.

  9. I’m addicted to coffee.  Like serious problem addicted.  I drink way too much. It’s a real problem.

  10. I have a degree in counseling which I use a lot in this line of work. I went to Heritage College {where I also graduated with a MRS. because that’s where I met Joel}.

  11. I am organized in some ways, and a total work in progress in others. I’m trying to get better.

  12. I coach other bridal store owners, sharing some of the things I have learned in the last 8 years of running my store with them. I love it.

  13. I am the queen of starting things but not finishing them. Another huge work in progress for me. I am the idea queen. I have shiny new project syndrome.

  14. I am not a morning person, but my days go better when I get up and work an hour before my kids get up, so I make myself. I use this time to work on myself. I listen to podcasts, watch video trainings or read.

  15. My husband’s family lives on St. Joseph Island {near Sault Ste. Marie} and one day I’d love to own a home or cottage up there. It’s just a different way of life up there. If you’ve never been, you should.

  16. I’ve been trying to drink more water. I can’t believe what a difference it makes in energy levels when I do.

  17. I enjoy being busy.  I like the fast pace of a busy Saturday and I thrive on having lots on the go at once. I love a challenge. Tell me I can’t do it and I’ll show you I can.

  18. I love shopping.  My two favourite online companies are Grace & Lace and Evy’s Tree. I have to cut myself off frequently and have no spend months.

  19. I skipped kindergarten and went right into grade one.

  20. My daughter is exactly like me, which is a bit fascinating since she’s adopted and all.  But she couldn’t be more like me if she tried.  She’s stubborn, independent and one day she’ll rule the world.

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A Non-Cheesy Way to Include Thanksgiving into Your Wedding Day

Love Thanksgiving? What a perfect theme to incorporate into your wedding! It’s a season of love and food! There are ways to add that homey holiday flare without constructing some form of a paper turkey. Especially if your wedding day happens to “fall” right on the holiday weekend!.


For your table settings think harvest theme, use thanksgiving inspired ingredients in a fresh way for your menu, while expressing thanks to your loved ones in a number of ways throughout the celebrations.

For your table decor don’t be afraid to add multiple elements such as candles, fresh produce, foliage garlands and any other autumn-ish decor items. To add even more of your traditions or to make your guests feel more at home, add touches such as various household items, rugs and comfy furniture.

For escort cards adding something such as pairs with your guests names on the leaves adds a personal touch for your family and friends (you could do this with any fruit to match your theme/venue)


For venue spaces, nothing says the holidays like a family home or a rustic barn space. You can also use an outdoor space (weather pending). Adding area rugs to your aisle can also add warmth and compliment your colour palette.

Bring your furry friends, having the family dog be part of the wedding couldn’t make it feel anymore like you’re at home on the holidays.

For entertainment, you can always go with a traditional band or DJ. However, if you do have any musical talent in the family add them into the mix and bring that personal touch to your special day while making it really feel like the holidays.

Now for cocktail hour, the fall season brings plenty of options for drinks and desserts! For beverages you can do a seasonal punch or even a mulled cider which is delicious served hot or cold.

For an eclectic flare, use mismatched plates and serve ware to add more rustic charm and family tradition to your place settings. Even using some of your family’s china will bring a personal touch. Rental companies also offer great options for this style.

Other than a traditional wedding cake/cupcakes , there is one other dessert alternative that we love to indulge during the holidays… PIE. Some brides have even had a specific pie station with multiple classic flavours. But don’t forget about our good autumn friend the apple, there are so many options. The most popular is an apple dipping table for guests to have fun and create their own take home snack!

Leave us a comment on ways you included Thanksgiving into your wedding day, we'd love to hear!

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Still searching for that perfect wedding gown? Book your experience with us today!

*All photographs curtesy of Pinterest*