PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE. The flowers

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The bride carries an armful of dramatic French tulips - or long-stemmed roses - or exotic amaryllis. For the boutonniere, the groom may wear at least one of the flowers found in the bridal bouquet. It's one of the times he doesn't have to worry about looking macho!

Or the bride may be elegant with one spray of tissue-thin, butterfly orchids.

Some brides may go ``natural'' with striking sprays of picked wheat from a roadside field, combined with lavender from the family garden.

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Some may carry a big bunch of long-stemmed white daisies or Queen Anne's lace and blue-and-white delphinium, tied with real lace into a country bouquet - fresh, pretty, simple, and different.

``Today's brides have all these choices and more,'' says Bill Rouvalis, owner of Rouvalis Flowers, on Charles Street in Boston. ``They can choose flowers from all over the world for their bridal bouquets and other wedding flowers.''

For years the prescribed, acceptable flowers for the bride were mostly white blooms, such as freesia, stephanotis, ranunculus, spirea, orchids, lilies of the valley, and other white blooms.

``White flowers, although they can be stunning, are not by any means the only way to go,'' Mr. Rouvalis adds.

``Today's bridal flowers can be just about anything - from an armful of pink-and-white snapdragons or long-stemmed tulips to pastel tea roses, tied with curls of satin streamers.

``Using just white stephanotis by itself - no foliage, nothing else - can be very stunning.

``Tuberose and hyacinth can also be beautiful. And euphorbia is one of my favorites for a bridal spray.

``The armful bouquet - flowers that look as if the bride has just gathered them from the garden - is popular and very endearing, but not a style for every wedding.''

Today's florists have artistic styles and ideas of their own, and the shops are full of unusual and indescribably beautiful blooms from far-away gardens.

Lisa Llewellyn, manager of the shop, says: ``The bride's bouquet must be expressive and romantic. There are absolutely no rules to dictate her choice, beyond its harmony with her personality, her gown, and the setting.

``I think the predominant trend is towards elegance, simply stated.''

The choice of bridesmaids' bouquets is unlimited - except that they must not overshadow the bride's. Vibrant colors are often used.

For example, bridesmaids in Laura Ashley blue-lavender prints may carry velvety-soft pansies in stained-glass colors.

``On occasion, we use an intense color like deep red roses,'' Ms. Llewellyn remarks. ``In one recent wedding party, the long-stemmed, red blooms were lovely with purple velvet bridesmaids' dresses.

``On another occasion the bridesmaids at a Christmas wedding carried two foot-long candles with clusters of amaryllis and trailing ivy.''

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