Strathroy is home to a number of amazing businesses that play a big part in the gorgeous weddings we see every year. To celebrate this we wanted to shine some light on vendors that we work with every year.
This #WeddingWednesday is all about the dress and Strathroy's own bridal store owner, Erin Bouchard made some time to answer our questions about Once Upon A Time Weddings and the experience that brides can expect when looking for the perfect gown.
AKPV: Tell us a little bit about your company and what you do.
ERIN: I own Once Upon A Time Weddings located in Strathroy. We create Say Yes Stories that brides will tell time and time again about the moment they said Yes to their Wedding Dress. Our main goal is that when it comes to a bride's gown, it’s not just a decision, it’s an experience. We created our entire store to reflect that goal. From our exclusive designs to our luxurious bridal suites, brides fall in love at Once Upon A Time Weddings & we love every minute of what we do!
AKPV: How long have you been in business?
ERIN: We have been in business for 7 ½ years which is crazy because those years have flown by. We are so proud to have created Say Yes Stories for thousands of brides from all over Southwestern Ontario.
-Fun Fact! We actually got the pleasure to photograph the wedding of the bride who bought the first dress sold at Once Upon A Time Weddings!
AKPV: What is your main goal when working with brides?
ERIN: To put a bride at ease. Brides come into the store with some excitement and some nervousness. They may be afraid they won’t find something that fits them or that they love. Sometimes they’re afraid that a friend or family member may have a different sense of style than they do. They may be just starting out on their journey or they may have tried several on already. We want that bride to feel relaxed, comfortable and educated in her decision. We want her to fall head over heels in love with her gown and - sometimes for the first time - picture that walk down the aisle. So no matter how her Say Yes Story is written, whether it’s the first gown or the last one, we want her to embrace her story and we want her to feel beautiful and confident. We don’t have much interaction with her fiancé, but we want them to be wowed and fall madly in love with this beautiful woman.
AKPV: Tell us a bit about your gowns, are many of them exclusive to your company?
ERIN: Yes, so many of our gowns are exclusive to our store in this area. We pride ourselves in sourcing the best gowns for the best value. Our designers put more of their money into the quality of the gown rather than the name of the tag. They don’t have expansive websites or do elaborate photo shoots with their gowns. This allows them to instead put money into construction, fit and details like beading and exquisite laces. It also gives our brides something that is all their own. Something that they don’t have to worry about their friend or cousin having the same gown.
AKPV: What sort of things will help brides feel prepared before coming to you?
ERIN: Oh yes! We love this question because we’re so passionate about helping you write your story without too many plot twists. We actually have an entire process dedicated to this. I won’t spill it all, but we ask several questions of the bride before her appointment including doing a phone call with her to dig deeper and prepare our stylist for her appointment. We often send the bride some pictures of what we’re thinking and we do our homework by checking out her Pinterest boards to not only get a feel for her bridal style but to also get a feel for her overall vision for her wedding day. We are often overheard asking, “What’s the three words that best describe your bridal style?” This question helps the bride narrow down what her style truly is and helps us as we pull gowns and help bring her vision into life.
AKPV: What is your favourite thing about working with your clients? Any favourite moments?
ERIN: I love brides. I love the excitement of seeing their vision come to life. I love that moment when she can picture walking down the aisle and getting married. I always say that so much of the wedding day is for others – your guests, your parents, your fiancé. But the gown, that’s all the bride. It’s the one thing that she decides on that hers. That makes her feel beautiful and confident. That shows off her style and personality. I love that. I love creating that moment for the bride.
I have so many favourite moments. I have the world’s greatest jobs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work and there are days when I come home tired and frustrated. But there are so many days that I come home with a huge smile on my face. I don’t get to work with brides as often as I used to. I mostly work with my team. Encouraging them, supporting them and teaching them. I love pouring into them and having them grow in confidence and skill.
Probably one of my most cherished moments was helping a bride show her grandma her gown. She had said yes to the dress and asked if she could come back into the store with her grandma to show off her gown. She didn’t think her grandma was going to make it to the wedding and she wanted to create that memory with her and get grandma’s advice on her gown and her journey to becoming a wife. That moment was so bittersweet. And while it was extremely sad, I was extremely proud that we could be such a small part in that bride’s, her mom and her grandma’s memory.
AKPV: What advice would you give a newly engaged bride when looking for a gown?
ERIN: Be open. Look at styles and save ideas. But go in with an open mind and don’t be afraid to tell us what you think. Sometimes brides don’t want to offend us and they struggle to tell us what they don’t like. This means that sometimes we keep pulling similar styles that you also don’t like. I always say that gowns don’t have feelings and they don’t go back into the stock room and cry (we might but gowns don’t). So don’t be afraid to tell us what you love and what you don’t love.
Really spend time thinking about who needs to be there for your Say Yes Story. I’ve seen brides utterly defeated because they invited someone whose opinion didn’t really matter to them. And then that person ended up being really rude or strongly opinionated. Which is frustrating to a bride and brings such negative energy to the appointment. Or they will bring a large amount of people and then the bride’s opinion is overwhelmed by everyone else’s. I’ve also had large groups of entourages who were extremely kind and sweet. So there’s no magic number of people to bring. Just bring those who truly will support and encourage you. Who know how to give their opinion without being mean, if you know what I’m saying.
AKPV: Anything else you'd like to add?
ERIN: We also carry bridesmaids in the store and have developed a whole process to make finding your maids gowns so easy and pain free. We’d love to create a fun experience for maids as well. OUTW also has a lot of gift items in the store.
We love working with Erin and her team and getting to see the dresses in action on some of their bride's wedding days. Check our website to see if you can find any gowns from OUTW!