Ding! Ding! Ding! Showrooms and samples are not the same things. Know the difference between the two before you get to the wedding reception and panic sets in! And we all know that panic leads to sore disappointment. Tears streaming down a bride's face...not pretty.
Grab a chalice my dear and pour yourself a good ole glass of Pinot Noir, because Mama Nixon needs to explain a couple things.
I have to tell you that I have a love-hate relationship with showrooms. I love them for obvious reasons. They're always so beautiful. The decor and tablescapes are gorgeous. There's just a lot to adore. My biggest contention with showrooms, however, is that they're misleading. Showrooms are 99% over produced to over stimulate you.
The idea is that you'll spend, spend, spend. If you walk away with an order for just 25% of what was in a showroom, they've done their job. But when you get to your event and see everything you ordered, it can be a miserable experience because what you have on the table looks NOTHING like the showroom. So, not only did you break the bank, you didn't get the dreamy showroom look you experienced.
Now, let's talk samples. Samples are not the same thing as showrooms. Samples are precisely that--a sample of what your "look" will actually look like. Real china. Real linen. Real tablescape. All of it--real. Some design firms use artificial flowers and plants for samples, which is perfectly normal. Don't get freaked out by that.
The value in getting your tablescape sampled is to eliminate any surprises on the day of your wedding. Requesting your tablescape to be sampled is not unreasonable. Many reputable design firms offer the service complimentary; other firms charge. Regardless, if you find that your request for a sample is denied, then that is a big problem. Make sure an option to sample your design is in the contract, whether for an additional cost or for free.
I hope this helped at least one bride out there. What are your questions?