weddings

June Real Bride | Kayla's Dress

Naturally, as a wedding gown store, this is our favourite segment for our monthly Real Bride series and we are so excited to share Kayla's bridal store experience with you today! Kayla said yes to the dress on April 16,  2016 and tied the knot with Eric on December 31st of the same year. We absolutely adore the lace wedding gown she chose and thought it paired so perfectly for her New Years Eve wedding and venue.

About how many dresses did you try on before you found 'The One'? 

"5."

Were you expecting to purchase your dress when you came in for your appointment?

"I was ready to buy, but also prepared not to get down on the experience if I didn't find my perfect dress."

Who was with you at your appointment?

"Grandma, mom, mother-in-law and sister. :)"

Did anyone have extra influence on helping you say yes to the dress?

"Not in particular no - I knew what I was looking for."

Was the dress you bought similar to what you came in thinking you wanted?

"A few similarities."

How was your experience at Once Upon A Time Weddings?

"It was great, Sharon was awesome and worked with me to find the best dress to fit my vision!"

Is there anything else you want to tell us about your story to finding the dress?

"I actually really loved the ballgown - I didn't think I would but surprisingly loved it! I ended up going with a more fitted figure which I love but the ballgown got me all teary eyed and excited!"

Join us next Wednesday to hear all out Eric and Kayla's wedding!

Are you still searching for your perfect bridal gown? Book your experience with us today!

Photography: Have Heart Photography

Meet Our February Real Bride Ashlan!

We are so excited to be featuring Ashlan as our first Once Upon A Time Weddings Real Bride through the month of February! Ashlan and Paul met through eHarmony, they talked for almost a month online before finally meeting in person and when they finally set up a date to meet they hit a few bumps but didn't let that stop them!

How did the two of you meet?

"Paul and I met through eHarmony. We talked for almost a month through the site before finally meeting in person. Paul actually had to cancel on me the first two times we had planned to get together; once he was stuck in Michigan for work, and the second time he needed to drive a family member out of town. It was so nice to see that family was important to him, even though I was disappointed. We finally got together for our first date on February 17, 2014 - a London Lightning basketball game on Family Day. I still tease him about our first two attempts – I remember sending him a text message that said, “Just remember. Three strikes and you’re out!” (I love baseball!) I guess he took it seriously!"

How'd you know Paul was the one?

"There were a couple of moments that showed me he was the one (besides the first time I made him dinner and he showed up with a 5lb bag of dried liver for my German Shepherd, Luna). When his niece (who lives in England) turned 10, Paul travelled all the way to England overnight to surprise her for her birthday by taking her to a OneDirection concert. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever witnessed, and you could tell how important that relationship is to her; he loves being an Uncle! I think he was on the ground in England for a total of 18 hours- tell me that doesn’t pull on your heart strings! I also dessert catered a wedding fairly early on into our relationship, and was up for close to three days straight. He was so supportive and understanding; not everyone has the patience to deal with that! I remember one night I was so tired, and I told him that maybe a kiss goodnight would help. At the time, he lived on the complete other side of the city from me, about a 30 minute drive. Sure enough, 30 minutes later – 11:30 at night on a weekday when he had to work the next day – there was a knock on my door and there he was, just for a kiss goodnight. He’s filled my life with little moments of love and affection like that ever since."
Ashlan Engagement11.jpg

How did your fiancé propose? - Ashlan's Point of View-

"In January 2015, Paul's parents were visiting from England for the first time and we took them to Niagara on the Lake for some site seeing and shopping. He knew that Niagara Falls/Niagara on the Lake holds a special place in my heart because it's where my maternal grandmother and grandfather got married and purchased their first home; and I have a very close relationship with them. I love the gazebo on the waterfront, so when our walk took us there, we were looking out at the beautiful frozen water, and when I turned around, there he was on one knee. He had written me the sweetest poem, with "You're my happily ever after" written on the other side. I was crying so hard I said, "ok" instead of "yes!" He still teases me about it to this day. I remember staring at my hand the whole way back to the car – I didn’t care that it was -15 outside and I could barely feel it anymore! It was so exciting to call everyone and share the exciting news on our way home from the car. I keep the poem on my desk at work – it makes me smile every time I see it."

How did you propose? - Paul's Point of View-

"Driving down to Niagara, I felt what I’m sure most guys do – I was excited, but nervous. I couldn’t tell if she knew what was happening or not, and I kept trying to catch her eye without making it obvious. It was good to spend time there; I know she loves Niagara on the Lake and we’re there a lot. I remember it being cold that day, so wearing gloves made things a bit complicated. I decided to leave them in the car, and she kept telling me, “you’re going to get cold!” Clearly, she had no idea! I was worried I was going to drop the ring, so I left it in the box in my coat pocket. But on the walk I remembered that the rings were a set, so the entire time we were walking down to the water, I kept trying to separate the engagement ring from the wedding band and get it out of the box on it’s own without her noticing. Thankfully, it all worked out and she looked so surprised. And she’s right, I do still tease her about saying, “OK”. The day before the wedding I reminded her that she had to say, “I do” in the ceremony for it to be legal, haha! It was also really nice to have my parents there be a part of it all, plus we got photos of it which are nice to look back on."

Next week we'll be talking about how Ashlan said yes to the dress here at Once Upon A Time Weddings!

Photographer: One-12 Photography

Location of Photos: Arrowwood Farm

Dress: Once Upon A Time Weddings

Want to know more about becoming a Real Bride of Once Upon A Time Weddings, then click here to learn about the magic.  Ready to become a real bride?  Click here to book your appointment today!

Want to be featured as Real Bride of Once Upon A Time Weddings?  Email us at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca.

 

Do Scary Things.

Do Scary Things.

 

This week I wanted to take a break from our regular blogging to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart.  Entrepreneurship. 

 

Last week, as I sat in class and listened to what could arguably be the worst presentation on entrepreneurship, I got all worked up.  The speaker {who happened to fall into owning a business} didn’t present what being an entrepreneur is all about.  He spoke about failing and taking huge risks.  He said he leveraged everything to move his business forward.  Our professor then proceeded to teach that most small business owners starting a business are between the ages of 23-28.  She taught that this was because young people have nothing to lose so we’re willing to take big risks.  I couldn’t help but shake my head.  This was not what I wanted my classmates to think that being an entrepreneur was all about.

 

If I could teach on entrepreneurship these are the four things I would teach on:

 

1.     You must have passion for what you’re doing.  You must wake up each day and believe in what you do.  You must remember why you chose your field because you will doubt why you went into business for yourself.  In those moments of doubt, you must be able to remember why you started your business.  You must choose joy when you want to give up.  You will put in more hours than most people.  But if you love what you’re doing, it won’t matter how many hours you put in.  There are moments of extreme happiness and moments of extreme sadness and hardship.  To be successful at being an entrepreneur you must ride out the two extremes.

 

2.     You must take risks and learn from your mistakes.  I tell my staff when I’m training them, I don’t expect you to sell EVERY time but I do expect you to LEARN every time so you don’t make the same mistake twice.  As an entrepreneur, you’ll learn to love research.  That’s how you take risks.  You research, ask questions, do surveys and take very precise, calculated risks.  You must be able to do the scary things that running a business requires of you.  You must learn to keep going, keep making decisions, and never, ever give up.

 

3.     The thing that separates those who make it as an entrepreneur and those who don’t is cash flow.  It’s the single hardest part about owning a business.  Profit and loss statements show how much money a business made, but not whether cash will be available when bills become due.  Most businesses operate like most Canadian families, paycheque to paycheque.  The businesses that survive learn how to manage their cash flow and become as passionate about their finances as they are about their respective field of business.

 

4.  You have to be okay with change.  It's pretty much a given with owning a business.  I actually love change.  My staff will sometimes come in and I've changed things around.  I've learned that I do need to reign it in and follow through with some of my changes better. 

 

Entrepreneurship.  It’s about developing your weaknesses and playing off your strengths.  It’s about working hard no matter what.  It’s about constant learning, constant growing, constant improving.  It’s about taking risks, but it’s about so much more.

On Adoption.

Adoption.  It’s all about adoption and yet it’s not.  That sentence rings true for our life.  Today, on the blog I’m going to share a little bit about our journey to adoption and some of the things we have learned along the way.  In honour of National Adoption Month, I thought I would share with you a little bit about our adoption journey.   People often make assumptions surrounding adoption, and I thought I would take this opportunity to clear up some of those assumptions.

 

My husband Joel and I adopted Ethan and Arianna on December 12th, 2014.  However, our story starts long before that.  Ethan and Arianna moved into our house on May 4th, 2013.  We started the paperwork and process for them to move into our house in September of 2012.  Lesson #1: Nothing moves fast in the world of social workers, adoptions or child welfare.

 

Ethan and Arianna are my biological second cousin’s children.  Which I guess makes them my third cousins?!  They were removed from their biological family for very good reasons, which is kind of their story to tell.  Lesson #2: Don’t ask a lot of personal questions in front of them.  They are aware their biological family couldn’t take care of and that they are adopted.

 

We didn’t choose adoption because it was our only option, we chose adoption because it’s something we’re both super passionate about and something we felt compelled to do.  People choose adoption as a way to start their family for many different reasons.  Lesson #3: Don’t assume that all families who adopt do so because it’s their last resort to start a family.

 

Adoption is messy.  It impacts a lot of areas of our lives, whether we like it or not.  We have to constantly be thinking and talking about it.  And that’s okay.  Our kids do things slightly different or have different emotions because of their history.  Because we don’t have any biological children sometimes it’s hard to know if they are acting the way they are because they are adopted or because they are children.  Sometimes it feels like it’s all about adoption and sometimes it’s not.  That’s okay.  Lesson #4: No adoption is the same.  Just like no children are the same.  Parents of adopted children don’t always need to hear a story about how your friend who adopted and their child turned out horrible.  Just like we don’t tell you that our friends had a vaginal birth child and they turned out horrible.

 

Photograph by Amanda Kopcic Photography www.amandakopcic.com 

Photograph by Amanda Kopcic Photography www.amandakopcic.com 

Adoption is beautiful.  I remember the first time I thought of how I would dance with Ethan at his wedding or how I would help Arianna pick out her wedding gown.  I remember the first time it hit me that I was a mother and they were mine.  Maybe parents who birth a child have a similar experience.  Maybe not.  But I remember feeling like a mom for the first time.  Lesson #5: Not everyone feels the same about situations.  That does make one person right or wrong.  It just means we’re all human and all feel things differently. 

 

Our adoption process was long, exhausting and extremely frustrating.  We just wanted to be a family and be done with the paperwork, visits, ongoing court chaos.  But at the end of the day we’re so glad we stuck it out and that we are now officially a family.  And yes I would do it all over again.  Our system is very broken but it’s the one we have to work with.  Lesson #6: If you want to adopt, be prepared for frustrations, paperwork until you feel like nothing is private and lots of frustrations.  Hang in there!  Joy and beauty are coming, I promise you.  Adoption through Children’s Aid is free unlike international or private adoption.  It’s just a lot of time and energy.

 

My kids mean the world to me.  I can’t imagine life without them.  I love them whole heartedly.  I am excited to continue watching them grow and watching their personalities develop more and more.  I truly believe they are the resilient and brave people I know.  They have overcome so much in their little lives and parenting them truly is my greatest blessing.

Photograph by Amanda Kopcic Photography www.amandakopcic.com 

Photograph by Amanda Kopcic Photography www.amandakopcic.com 

A Love that Survives.

You guys, I just had the most adorable encounter today.  A service technician was here to inspect my fire extinguisher {oh the glamourous parts of owning a business}.  He was telling me that he & his wife are celebrating their 30th anniversary this month & he’s taking her to Ireland on Monday.  #relationshipgoals 

This got me thinking about love & marriage.  You guys it’s a lot easier to fall in love than to stay in love.  To fall madly, deeply in love with someone.  So much so, that you decide to spend the rest of your lives together.  Man, that kind of love is exciting.  It leaves you feeling all tingly inside.  But those feelings kind of fade after a bit.  Real love, the kind that lasts thirty years and has you all excited about a trip to Ireland with your wife, it’s a bit different.  It actually takes work.  It means waking up every day dedicated to your relationship.  It means putting someone else first, when what you really want to do it put yourself first.  It means realizing that your spouse’s needs are different than yours.  And then waking up the next day and learning those lessons all over again {we can be a bit of a slow learner sometimes cant we}.  It means choosing to stay faithful to the one you chose.  It’s not all glamourous and Instagram worthy.  It’s real.  It’s messy.  It’s beautiful.

I adore that we get to be part of so many love stories.  That so many magical experiences happen right here at Once Upon A Time Weddings.  But long after that magic feeling starts to fade, I hope you realize that there is a love so much greater.  A relationship so much deeper.  If you’re stuck in a rut or feeling like this isn’t the fairytale you imagined, hang in there.  Do the work.  Love your spouse deeply.  Make a renewed commitment to your relationship.  A true relationship doesn’t just happen, it takes love, patience and forgiveness.

For those of you not yet married and still in the planning, exciting stages.  Soak it in.  Live every moment. But spend time preparing for the marriage and not just the wedding day.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

XO Erin.

What I Wish Every Bride Knew, Part 2

What I Wish Every Bride Knew About… Shopping for Her Gown

By: Erin Bouchard

Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings

Happy Friday!  Have you ever wondered where to begin shopping for your gown?  Have you searched Pinterest and have no clue what style of gown to choose or where to begin?  Are you so excited about being able to Say Yes to YOUR Dress?  Then you’re in the right place! Today, Owner of Once Upon A Time Weddings will dive into four things you need to know before shopping for your gown, three things to keep in mind while shopping for your gown and two things you have to know after you say yes to the dress!  READY?!

wedding magazines.jpg

Four Things You Need to Know Before You Try Your First Dress On.

One of the most important things you need to know before you start trying gowns on is how much you want to spend on your gown.  Before you can do that you have to know how much wedding gowns cost.  At Once Upon A Time Weddings, our gowns range in price from $799 up to $2299.  The average bride spends about 1200-1500 on her gown at our store.  We chose our gowns based on the quality of them and they have corsets & crinoline built into them.  So before you come to our store discuss with your fiancé and your parents how much you want to spend & who will cover what.

Another thing you need to keep in mind before you book your bridal appointment is to be realistic about pinterest.  I could seriously write a whole blog on this one point! I love pinterest, I really do.  It’s so fun, addicting and I’ve gotten some great ideas off of it.  But the problem is when we pin all these beautiful wedding ideas, gowns & wedding decor that are way out of our price range.  There’s no shame in having a budget and sticking to it.  The problem is when we imagine all these expensive, elaborate details being part of our wedding day and then when we realize we can afford ¼ of it, we’re disappointed.  Same is true of gowns.  I hear brides say I want all over lace, fully beaded with a cathedral train and a sparkly fully beaded belt and I want to spend $500.  Your budget doesn’t match your expectations.  You can’t have all those details in a well -made, easy to alter gown.  You are going to have to sacrifice something to remain at that price point.  There’s no shame in only wanting to spend $500 on your gown or wanting to keep your budget at a certain place, just be realistic about what your budget will get you. 

Another thing to keep in mind before you book your first appointment is to think about the overall theme or feel that you hope to accomplish for your day.  Your dress should incorporate into that feel.  It helps to have your venue booked or at least narrowed down so you can think about your venue while choosing gowns.

Finally before you attend your first bridal appointment you should decide who to bring with you to your appointment.  I get asked this question all the time and it can be a tricky question!  You should bring those people with you who you would want there when you make a decision – your mom, grandma, mother in law, sisters, maid of honour, etc.  But only bring them if you believe they will be supportive and will allow your opinion to matter most.  Now that you’re ready to book your first appointment, here’s what you need to know while shopping for your gown.

Three Things to Keep in Mind While Shopping For Your Gown

Stick to your budget – if you’ve determined a budget or a price point you want to stay in before coming to your bridal appointment then stick to it.  Sometimes brides ask me if they can try on a gown outside their range “for fun”.  This is so difficult because what happens if you fall in love with that gown & you can’t or don’t want to spend the money on it.  You will compare everything else to that gown and it won’t make it easy on you.  So my advice is and always will be only try something outside of your initial price range if you’re willing to go up to that amount.  If the answer is no, skip the gown and stick to what is in the range you want to spend.  It will be easier on both of us!

How will you know it’s the one – what if you don’t cry?  What if your mom doesn’t cry?  Guess what, it will still be okay and it might even still be YOUR gown.  Wedding gown shopping is just like any other shopping or life experience – everyone is going to react differently.  Some brides know right away.  Some take longer.  Some brides cry.  Some brides don’t want to take it off.  Some brides have to picture walking down the aisle and imagine getting married in the gown before they know.  There’s no right way to react and there’s no wrong way.  You want to love your gown & you want to feel amazing when you say yes to the dress, but remember that each & every bride’s experience is their own.

Simply become who you are.  It’s not a coincidence that this is posted in our fitting rooms.  Your bridal appointment and your bridal gown purchase is about who you are.  Not who your mom or maid of honour, or fiancé or best friend from high school wants you to be.  It’s okay to choose a gown that everyone won’t be expecting.  It’s okay to think outside the box.  It’s about becoming who you are meant to be.  While all your entourage’s opinions matter, at the end of the day the opinion that matters most is YOURS!

Two Things You Need to Know After You Say Yes to the Dress

Now you’ve set your budget, found your gown, what’s next?  Now is a great time to choose bridesmaids gowns, book in your tuxedos and meet with your decorator.  Your gown will set the theme for the rest of your day so happy planning!

What if you second guess your decision when you get home?  Sometimes this happens. Sometimes brides freak out or get overwhelmed with their decision.  That’s okay.  Take a deep breath and think about what it was about your gown that made you fall in love.  It’s okay to feel scared or overwhelmed.  Purchasing your gown makes your marriage real.  It’s really going to happen & that’s okay.  Think about falling in love with your fiancé and all the reasons why you said yes when he proposed.  If you still feel overwhelmed, call us or text us and pop back into the store to try your gown on again & remember why you fell in love with it!

store shot 3.jpg

Thanks for joining us this week through this blog post.  We love walking with our brides through their gown shopping experience and would love for you to join our Once Upon A Time Weddings family.  You can book online here, call us at 519.245.7997 or text us 519.319.9441.  Join us next week as we discuss Everything I Wish Brides Knew About Setting {& Sticking to} A Budget.

When We Fall Short.

When We Fall Short…

Working in this industry is hard. I’m not going to lie or sugar coat things. Before we opened the store, I wondered at bridal shops who had gained such poor reputations for customer service. Seriously, how hard is it to offer good service to your customers, especially during such a joyous time in their life?? Now that we’re almost four years in, I realize why. It’s really hard to operate a business within an industry that relies on international partnerships and production and still maintain control over every aspect of that business. I’m not making excuses. I’m not placing blame. What I am trying to do is keep in touch with the changing nature of the bridal industry so that I can make smart and timely decisions that will lead to an improved customer service experience for our clients.

The last few weeks have been difficult. We’re working with a designer who is behind in production and unreachable by phone. We receive production updates via email, but they are few and far between. As a result, we have customers whose gowns are coming in later than anticipated and it’s beyond frustrating! We’re struggling to keep you, our customers, informed, but are not receiving satisfactory answers ourselves. It’s not a secret that most bridal and special occasion gowns, including those we carry, are made overseas. Unfortunately, this means we don’t have the luxury of phoning the factory directly to get an update. It’s frustrating for you, for us, for the designer, for all involved. So we would like to publicly apologize for the stress, for the anxiety, and for not having all the answers.

In the midst of dealing with production delays, we’ve got other business-related responsibilities to attend to: ordering tuxedos, running bridal appointments, ordering and tracking accessories, serving walk-in customers, and prepping for graduation which is just around the corner. We are a small store with a small staff and some days it feels like we’re carrying a mountain of responsibility. That being said, we want to apologize to those of our customers who have not received the best service experience in recent weeks.

We do take this job seriously. We do care about each of you. I wish I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee or welcome you back into my office and chat. While that may not be possible, writing a public letter to apologize is. I hope you’ll hear my heart and my passion in my apology and consider that my staff and I are only human, that sometimes we make mistakes, and that sometimes things are simply out of our control. But we must learn from our mistakes and our experiences and move forward. So that’s what we’re doing.

Our ultimate goal is that every interaction with a member of the Once Upon A Time Weddings team meets and exceeds your expectations and that your experience at our store is exemplary every step of the way. In order to do that, we will be streamlining our merchandise over the summer so that we can focus primarily on bridal. This means we will no longer be carrying gowns for other occasions (grad, prom, bridesmaids, mothers, etc.) Of course, all customers who have ordered gowns from us will still receive them. We don’t anticipate any delays if we haven’t spoken to you about your order, then your gown should still arrive according to plan. If you have a question about your order, don’t hesitate to call us!

We love working with our brides and want to create a store environment that will offer brides a personalized and exclusive experience where they receive individualized customer service, care, and attention.

If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email at info@onceuponatimeweddings.ca, text me at 519.319.9441 or call the store at 519.245.7997. We sure do appreciate you, our customers.

The key to success, become an expert at ONE thing: Live it, Breathe it, Become it.