Union Oyster House
Oysters on the half shell at the Union Oyster House, 41 Union St., Boston. Straight from the Cape, fresh daily. Stay at the raw bar ($2.95 for six); upstairs they cost more. 41 Union St., Boston, MA .
Drawing from an arsenal of locally sourced produce, Chive whips up such mouthwatering dishes as apple-and-wine-braised short ribs and decadent cocoa-caramel cream puffs. Need another reason to book? To avoid wasting food, the company delivers leftovers to local composting businesses. Virtue never tasted so good. 30 Rantoul St., Beverly, MA 01915, chiveevents.com.
Chef-owner Ben Elliott, whose grandparents started the family farm in the 1940s, grows garden staples and lesser-known heirloom veggies and raises sheep for meat, chickens for eggs, and bees for honey, which translates to the freshest ingredients possible on your wedding plate. His stint as chef de cuisine at Barbara Lynch’s No. 9 Park, meanwhile, translates to creative, beautifully plated dishes—from wild striped bass with tomato agrodolce in the summer to handmade tagliatelle with white-wine-braised rabbit and charred baby onions in the fall. 84 Commonwealth Ave., Concord, MA saltboxkitchen.com.
Boston Unique Events
It's your wedding and all you got was this lousy, rubbery chicken. Make your special day special by hiring Boston Unique Events. Owner Susan Callender puts together wedding menus with a chef s eye, and her seasonal dishes lemon-marinated grilled scallops, warm pumpkin-ginger bisque, seafood crêpes with thyme cream made with fresh ingredients and plated with a subtle flair, ensure the food looks as good as you do. 498 Pleasant St., Watertown, MA bostonuniqueevents.com.
East Meets West
As challenging as combining two families may seem to a bride and groom, the caterer has an equally tough job: feeding them. East Meets West's creative menus promise to keep both sets of in-laws happy—chicken stuffed with mozzarella and pesto for his Mediterranean clan, mushroom ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes for her vegetarian relatives. Now, if only there were a way to get everyone on the same page about the reception music... 212 Old Colony Ave., Boston, MA eastmeetswestcatering.com.
Season to Taste
Season to Taste’s creative farm-to-table menus make a big impact at wedding receptions without creating a big carbon footprint. Chef-owner Robert Harris is passionate about sustainability in catering, showcasing the season’s bounty in ever-creative ways: take his summer heirloom-tomato bar, which offers six or seven varieties prepared to order with mozzarella, basil purée, balsamic-cider reduction, and crusty bread. Staffers will even deliver leftover food to a homeless shelter upon request, making sure absolutely nothing goes to waste. 2447 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2140, seasontotastecatering.com.
Max Ultimate Food
The sadly standard wedding victuals (banal cheese selections, limp veggie platters) find no place on the menus of MAX Ultimate Food, provider of both impeccable service and outstanding cuisine. The company's repertoire marries the creative with the classic: grilled shrimp with blood orange glaze, roasted duck and caramelized shallot tartlet, and lobster blini tied with chive. There's no taste too exotic, no request too outlandish for the indefatigable crew headed by good veterans Neal Balkowitsch and Dan Mathieu—from tiny weddings to big fat Greek blowouts. 100 Magazine St., Boston, MA maxultimatefood.com.
Nouveau Fashion Gallery
Wallflowers need not apply: Made from materials such as Lucite and even recycled paper, the bold, chunky necklaces at this Copley Place boutique owned by the ultra-stylish Ophelia Bakon and her sisters are conversation pieces that can turn even the simplest outfit into a showstopper. Throw one on with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt or your favorite LBD, and you’ll be hearing “Where did you get that?” all day long. Copley Place, Boston, MA 02116, stylenu.com.
Crane & Co. Papermaker
Dalton-based Crane's 100 percent cotton paper has been used exclusively to make U.S. currency since 1879. And while your wedding invitations may be slightly less official than that, they're no less important—and should be no less grand. Crane's seasoned staff sees to it that your stock and print quality are the finest possible, and that you've got everything covered, from save-the-date cards to envelope linings and thank-you notes. Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston, MA crane.com.
If the location in Menemsha's western cove feels a bit desolate, rest assured: The Bite's bright blue picnic tables will beckon like a desert oasis. You'll quickly find yourself tearing through brown paper bags turned translucent with grease to get at overflowing cartons of oysters, clams, zucchini, and shrimp delicately fried to a flavorful crisp. Grab a cup of the creamy quahog chowder to complete what might be the quintessential summer meal. 29 Basin Rd., Chilmark, MA 2535, thebitemenemsha.com.
The 900-pound, umpteen-carat gorilla of the region's jewelry scene, Long's caters to North Shore treasure-hunters with 12,500-square-foot showrooms in Burlington and Peabody—and that's on top of five equally brilliant locations elsewhere in New England. With the 130-year-old company growing strong, customers reap the benefits in the form of a dazzling array of designer jewelry (John Hardy, Marco Bicego), rock-solid Swiss timepieces, and gifts that now include the famed Shreve gurgling cod. 35 Cross St., Peabody, MA 1960, longsjewelers.com.
Year after year, we find new winter gear we can't live without. So year after year, we revisit Ski Market. The store caters to everyone from bunny slopers to the black-diamond crowd with snowboards, snowshoes, and skis from A-list manufacturers like Salomon and Rossignol. It also carries sleek wear from the North Face, Burton, and Nordica that will keep enthusiasts looking cool—no matter how often or hard they fall. 860 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2213, skimarket.com.
Essentially a shrine to all things bath-related, Waterworks stocks handcut crystal sink accessories, refreshing grapefruit and ginger soaps, seductively quilted robes, and chrome faucet spouts so shiny you can see yourself in the reflection. With everything from cast-iron claw foot tubs to matte nickel toilet-paper holders, it's little wonder this temple of clean calls its tempting contents "jewelry for the bath." 103 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Aching for downward dog? Eager for a sun salutation? Stop by this frills-free Boylston Street studio. Yogi David Vendetti transforms himself from teacher to comedian to storyteller to motivator, all while delivering precise, clear instructions. His 90-minute classes cater to both beginners and advanced students. Every body leaves Back Bay Yoga in balance. 1112 Boylston St., Third Floor, Boston, MA backbayyoga.com.
Wine stores tend to cater to either experts or idiots. If, like most of us, you're somewhere in between, head to the Wine Gallery, a shop as welcoming to neophytes as it is to Robert Parker wannabes. The knowledgeable staff will happily guide you to a hard-to-find amarone or the best 10-buck malbec. And if you still can't decide, try before you buy at the store's 'wine jukebox,' which dispenses free half-ounce samples of 32 reds and 16 whites. 375 Boylston St. (Rte. 9), Brookline, MA 02445-6007, wine-gallery.com.