A new wedding showroom is opening in downtown Orillia this weekend.
Ever After Bridal Boutique opened its 3 Royce Avenue location about a year ago. Owner Shelby Stock has decided her expanding business needed more space and more visibility and has found that at its spacious new home at 23 Mississaga St. E.
“We are opening this one-stop shop showroom for planning and browsing services and a lot of aspects that have to do with the wedding industry,” Stock explained, noting her mom, Tami Williams, will be operating StoneBridge Design Co. out of the same location.
Ever After will offer local brides wedding gowns, bridesmaids gowns, evening and mother-of-the-bride dresses, wedding décor, event rentals, wedding planning and coordination services, and an in-house florist who specializes in weddings.
Stock opened her wedding business about a year ago; she was inspired to do so after her own wedding experience back in 2014.
“When I got married I realized I really wanted to shop local. My family is seventh generation Orillia, so we wanted to keep everything as close as possible, but the services just weren’t here,” Stock explained.
Stock says Ever After has been a successful venture so far due to their ability to let brides personalize their perfect wedding day.
“We work closely with a lot of the venues in town to make sure everybody has a nice coordinated soft look that allows the girls to put their personal touch on it afterward,” Stock said.
“We’ve really listened to our (customers) over the past year to figure out what they want and those are the things we’ve brought into our new location.”
The Mississaga Street location will allow Ever After to blossom into "one of the best bridal boutiques in the region," Stock believes. With more change rooms and space, the boutique now carries about 100 evening gowns and 40 bridal gowns.
“We have a gorgeous open concept showroom. There is a huge selection, especially for evening and bridal gowns which weren’t possible to find here in Orillia before,” Stock said.
Even though the business continues to grow at a rapid pace, Ever After did have to take a step back during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they have learned how to adapt to offer brides the same top-notch services - safely.
“COVID has devastated the entire wedding industry, but we choose to use this as an opportunity to take a step back and streamline our services,” Stock explained.
“We are allowing our customers to shop for everything they need for their wedding under one location, which minimizes contact," Stock explained. "We only allow one appointment in the shop at a time, which allows them to bring the people they need with them to make the best decisions for what they would consider the most important days of their life.”
While Stock says weddings are happening less frequently now than ever before, she still encourages couples that they can have a meaningful and special wedding day amidst the pandemic.
“It’s really interesting to see some of the brides who are coming in now that are doing everything they can with these micro weddings. They are done with creativity and inspiration,” Stock said.
"You get the people who are closer to you there, it’s actually turned out to be a little bit less stressful for people who don’t want to be that focus of attention," Stock explained. "The feedback that we’ve heard from girls who have decided to go that way has been nothing but positive.”
Stock and other wedding industry leaders are already preparing for life after COVID-19.
“The buzz around the industry is everyone is going to have the big flashy dresses, the big parties (after the pandemic). The focus is going to be on everyone being together again,” she said.
“It’s going to be a very loud industry once we get past the pandemic."