It’s the restaurant that launched a thousand meze plates—and it’s still the one to beat. Culinary sorcerer Cassie Piuma infuses warm, traditional flavors with whimsy, whether it’s in pork schnitzel brightened by mustard-and-caper brown butter, escarole, and rosemary za’atar, or burnished quail shish kebabs balanced with earthy walnut sauce and chanterelles. Somewhere in the swirl of those blue lanterns and dim sum–style trays gliding through the dining room, you forget you’re in Somerville and just embrace the magic of it all. 249 Pearl St., Somerville, MA 02145, sarmarestaurant.com.
Find everything from lobster Benedict to big-as-your-face pancakes at this cheery diner, which also serves an excellent lunch. (Beware the enormous Daily Paper burger, topped with onion rings.) Service is beyond cheerful—our waitress handled an unwieldy party of 10 with genuine care. 644 W. Main St., Hyannis, 508-790-8800; 546 Main St., Hyannis, 508-775-9711. 644 W. Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601, dailypapercapecod.com.
This international label caters to footloose folks with sandals and canvas kicks while delighting strait-laced types with leather loafers and refined cap-toes worthy of a suit. The possibilities are as varied as those at an upscale boutique; the atmosphere, far more laid-back. 133 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, camper.com.
E-mail, e-vites, e-cards—you've been there, e-done that. Lend your correspondence some off-line heft with a pilgrimage to this epistolary shrine, with its formidable collection of paper, cards, and craft supplies. Initially you may feel overwhelmed, so take advantage of the design-savvy staffers (many of them art school students), the nifty DIY invitation and letter-writing kits, and personal stationery consults—all of which can help give your every missive a signature style. 1361 Beacon St., Brookline, Boston, Cambridge, Wellesley, MA 2446, paper-source.com.
Elyse Etling is Boston's hottest caterer, and for good reason. Her presentation is sublime, her service is flawless, and her fare is serendipitous, tapping into ethnic dishes and unusual spices. 301 Reservoir Street, Needham, MA .
Your wedding caterer should be, above all else, a perfectionist. You don't want boring and bone-dry chicken any more than you want poorly timed service or cheesy table settings. The Catered Affair owner Holly Safford is just that—a perfectionist who runs her tight ship with equal parts creativity, fabulous taste, efficiency, and soul. What's more, she's been doing it for decades, and her seamless organization and calming demeanor has kept many a girl from turning into Bridezilla. Take that, Martha Stewart. Accord Park, Hingham, MA thecateredaffair.com/.
Located just a few blocks from the Porter Square T stop, this store beckons with a welcoming allure. Once inside, the right side of your brain is in overdrive. You may find yourself suddenly wanting to throw a party or wishing you were moving to a new address, just as an excuse to buy the unique invitations and announcement cards. In the back of the store is a separate room filled with a huge selection of stationery and in every possible shade and paperweight. An added plus: Workshops in bookbinding and paper-making are offered. 1810 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA paper-source.com.
The owners of this local company, Emily Hostetler and Anna Fenno, use environ-mentally friendly cotton paper and soy-based inks to craft letterpress suites with quirky typefaces and motley patterns, ensuring couples look as good on paper as they do on their wedding day. Boston, MA
More than 20 years ago, Holly Safford decided that celebrations deserved better than the substandard fare served by many caterers. That may have been a revolutionary notion at the time, but these days, brides and grooms expect spectacular food for their spectacular Big Days—and Safford delivers. With executive chef Robert Smith and a smart, hard-working staff behind her, Safford provides impeccable service and foods that go far beyond formula menus—picholine olives stuffed with sweet sausage and goat cheese, chocolate profiteroles with caramel chip ice cream, and practically anything else a couple might desire. 70 Reservoir Park Dr., Rockland, MA thecateredaffair.com/.
Gorgeous papers, including hand-printed wrapping paper from Zimbabwe, raffia, ribbons, and a wide assortment of stamps and pads make this a shop worth seeking out. Plus, an array of wonderful classes, from creating a wedding journal to designing 3-D greeting cards, from advanced origami techniques to desktop publishing. 1810 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Partnering with some of the area's most exclusive venues, this catering company turns out artfully plated fare that would be at home in the city's finest restaurants: chorizo beignets with romesco, espresso-roasted lamb sirloin. Maybe that's because executive chef Shane O'Neill, a L'Espalier alum, is the culinary genius behind the seasonally inspired menus. 70 Ledgewood Place, Rockland, MA 02370, thecateredaffair.com.
First impressions count, especially when it comes to wedding invitations, which set the tone for the entire event. Work with designers Emily Hostetler and Caitlin Snyder to create custom letterpress or flat-printed pieces jazzed up with on-trend hand lettering, funky geometric patterns, or intricate maps. Don’t have enough time (or budget) to go bespoke? Paper Moss’s ready-to-order collection offers just enough customization options to make it feel personal. papermoss.com.
70 Reservoir Park Dr., Rockland, MA thecateredaffair.com/.
Mark Gallagher has fed the cast of Love Story, the Kearns-Goodwin wedding party, the Harvard Lampoon's centennial guests, Henry Kissinger's pals, and a bunch of People's Republic scientists with particularly fussy palates. He has done Iranian banquets, dinners based on Thomas Jefferson's personal recipes . . . but never turkey and mashed potatoes. Burlington, MA