Her post was on florists providing samples of wedding arrangements. These can be bouquets or centerpieces. They can include the works- linens, glassware, lit candles- or can just be a loose arrangement to show color and style. Sarah says that her samples can cost her up to $300, and afterward there isn't much she can do with them to make up for this cost. Commenters from other parts of the country (Saipua is in Brooklyn) confirmed that estimated cost. While she has no trouble offering "the works" to clients with a budget of $10k or more, she must charge if the budget is less. I thought this post, and the comments, gave some great background. Although you are hiring your vendors to help you, they can't do everything to please you. It isn't economical for them.
When I tag along with my clients to floral appointments, this conversation almost always comes up. Often the florist offers before we have a chance to ask. Sometimes the offers are free, sometimes it is just a heads up so that we know the cost. I never ask for samples before booking because 1) it is rarely the same season as the wedding, and so the flower options will be totally different and 2) florists almost always provide a wealth of photos (digital or printed) of their work, and the client and I can get a good sense of her or his style. It is usually too early for even the client to know exactly what she or he wants.
I am always surprised when they are offered in advance of booking or shortly after. I know it is a big expense, both in money and time. After booking and close to the wedding, a sample with linens and glassware is so helpful so that we can see everything together and add or remove small touches. This isn't always in budget, however. It pays to do your research and hire good help if a sample isn't an option for you. Of all the things I love about my job, pulling it all together has to be the best- even if it is just photos on an inspiration board.
I think this demand for samples comes from bad advice. After being a bit of an addict as a bride, I am now totally out of the loop on message boards. I do, however, remember floral samples were brought up time and again. "Just ask for a sample!" This could apply to make-up artists, cake bakers, custom dress designers... Trust the relationship you have developed with your vendor rather than the advice you get from message boards. Being considerate will do more for you than being demanding. As Sarah said-
Trust is pretty important to me. If you trust me, and I love you than I'm going to go above and beyond for you... There is NOTHING more exhilarating in my work than making incredible flowers for clients who love what we do. Nothing. And no budgets, whether big or small will ever stop us from finding those people we can make happy with flowers.