They met at a D.C. laundromat. Gretchen Graves was folding gold-colored sheets. Lonnie Scott, the attendant, leaned over and said gold was his favorite color.

Graves, 39, an Avon representative, and Scott, 35, who works for a dry-cleaning firm, are engaged to be married.

They want a formal wedding on a beautiful Saturday in July, with bouquets of fresh flowers, a fancy cake and an orchestra that will play "Always and Forever."

Because Graves and Scott do not know what else they want, they were among the thousands of couples who turned out over the weekend at the Washington Wedding Show, held at the Sheraton Hotel in New Carrollton.

More than 80 companies from the Washington area exhibited wedding-related products and services.

They offered everything from three-tiered cakes to Hawaiian honeymoons and lacy lingerie to a choice of more than 20 champagnes.

The two-day show was the inspiration of Richard Scott, 36, who got into the business by way of promoting a bridal show for a client.

Last January, he did it on his own, named it the Washington Wedding Show and moved it to the Sheraton, overlooking the Capital Beltway.

About 3,000 people came to that show, he said, some from as far away as New Jersey, including 800 brides-to-be.

"The rest were bridesmaids, husbands-to-be and moms -- most importantly, moms," he said.

Although the statistics are not reassuring -- one out of every two American marriages fails -- romance, not divorce, was on the minds of the mostly young husbands and wives-to-be who paid $3.50 to $5 to wander through the exhibits, sample wedding cookies and reception meatballs, admire limousines and worry about proper lipsticks.

Clothilde Mason, a 28-year-old accounting clerk from the District, arranged for her wedding to be videotaped and proceeded to another booth, to get ideas for limousines.

Patricia Smith, 25, of Laurel, an administrative assistant for a construction company, is not getting married until April 1986, but she was also there to get ideas. One that appealed: a fruit platter in the shape of a heart. "I've never thought of that before," she said.

One of the most original ideas was that offered by John L. Cowan, 52, pilot of The Love Song, a hot-air balloon. For $250, Cowan will take couples on a 1 1/2-hour champagne balloon flight.

Also out in full force were the video experts, including Jeff Davis, 27, owner of Discotechnicians. "The still photographer with a camera -- he can get a picture of the groom starting to push a piece of cake up into the bride's face, but I'll get it going into her hair," Davis said.

Present, of course, were the standard wedding show participants -- the purveyors of gowns and cummerbunds, bow ties and tuxedos. People such as Leonard Maites, 54, vice president of Royal Formal and Bridal, who has been in the business for 32 years.

Maites said couples these days are interested in making "fashion statements" at their weddings, and that the designers of tuxedos were trying to accommodate.

"Like, Oscar de la Renta is showing double-breasteds. And, Lord West is updating the traditional black cutaway to one in charcoal gray, and he's accessorizing it with an ascot," Maites said. "Calvin Klein has also entered the formal wear market, and his interpretation is a pink lapel."

But for Scott, the choice was easy: "I'd like everything in here," he said.

"What a fantastic wedding that would be," said wife-to-be Graves. "But what I'd really like is about three hours in that Rolls-Royce."