PAPER PUSHER: When I was going to college, I studied electrical engineering. After entering the workforce, I just wasn't fulfilled. Stationery had always been a great love of mine. I was always making notecards or invitations for friends' weddings and baby showers. In 2000, I decided to make it a business. With Fingers as a maiden name, Fingers in Ink (www.fingersinink.com) seemed like a logical choice for the shop. You can purchase anything from a birthday card to invitations and stationery.

HOT TRENDS: You know how video killed the radio star? Well the Internet has made us very lazy and has virtually killed the art of letter writing. But I think that there's a revival on the horizon, and people are starting to get back to placing ink to paper to correspond, although it probably won't ever be what it was. There are lots of enticing paper styles out there to help you get back into letter-writing mode. This season, purple is the new pink. Mint green is also a big color, and all the polka dots, stripes and Bohemian themes you see on the runway are mirrored in stationery.

PARTY TIME: Send out invitations at least three weeks in advance. If you are sending out wedding invitations, mail them eight weeks prior to the big day, unless you sent Save the Date cards -- then four to six weeks. It is best to send Save the Dates when the event falls during a holiday, if it is a destination wedding or if you have a lot of out-of-town guests. You should send Save the Dates within eight to 10 months before your event.

R.S.V.P. -- SERIOUSLY: Guests not responding to an invitation is the number one pet peeve that I hear from clients. People either show up thinking the host would know that they would attend or don't respond at all. Proper etiquette says that as soon as you get the invitation and check your calendar, respond in whatever manner the invitation requests. Generally it is as simple as licking a prepaid envelope, but there are still people who don't have the courtesy to do so. Even people who receive Evites don't respond -- it's amazing.

PAPER WORK: When a client comes to me, I first gather all of the fundamentals -- how many people, where the event is going to take place, when, the theme of the occasion if there is one, and how much they want to invest in their invitations. Once I have that information, it gives me a good idea of how to guide and direct them. My invitations range from $1 each for a generic invite to $25 each for a custom design. Imprintable invitations come blank and are filled in with computer printing or freestyle handwriting. I can turn those around in one to three days depending on the quantity a client is requesting. For customized invitations, it can take anywhere from a week to four weeks depending on the complexity of the project.

TAMING THE PAPER TIGER: To ensure that you are able to have the stationery items that set the tone for your event, give yourself time. I once had a client getting married in Richmond who chose some very ornate programs, menu cards, table signs, escort and place cards. The paper was ordered from India, and it was a rush job. The paper company said they could get it to me in three days rather than the customary five. Unfortunately, we didn't count on it getting held up in customs, and it took the full five days. I was up all night to meet the deadline. Everything turned out beautifully and the client never knew what I went through, but I was sweating bullets.

-- As told to Karen Hart

Evites leave you flat? Try the good old written word.