What do you get when you combine lovingly prepared French cuisine and a distinctly New England sensibility? That would be 5 Corners Kitchen, the stylish bistro named for a certain unwieldy Marblehead intersection. Helmed by chef Barry Edelman, formerly of Aquitaine, the kitchen makes its own, well, everything, which translates to perfectly al dente house-made cavatelli with duck confit, and succulent mussels with basil-aioli-slathered grilled bread. 2 School St., Marblehead, MA 1945, 5cornerskitchen.com.
This makeup pro has been primping brides from the Back Bay to Bermuda for more than 20 years. During a consultation at her lofty Newbury Street studio, Hess will school you in skin maintenance and eyebrow shaping, and on the big day, she’ll travel to your venue to give you an absolutely flawless look. She’ll even stay through the night to make sure it lasts through the happy tears and cake smears. 115 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, katrinahess.com.
Dani Wagener's brides always look flawless in photos. Some of it is nature and the blush of true love, of course, and some of it is the result of Wagener's deft hand with airbrush foundation, custom-blended to perfectly match each client's complexion. After a relaxed prewedding trial in her airy studio, she'll travel to your bridal suite on the big day to get you gorgeous, killer lashes and all. 125 Newbury St., Boston, MA daniwagener.com.
Jill Goldberg's four-year-old shop perfectly captures the new Boston aesthetic: a charming balance of country chic (whitewashed woods, salvaged signs), old-money signifiers (vintage French settees), and a touch of modern chrome. Few homeowners can nail the upscale-casual look without a pro's help—Goldberg offers styling services, too—but a couple of well-placed items from Hudson are an excellent start. 12 Union Park St., Boston, MA 2118, hudsonboston.com.
Bike lanes are popping up everywhere, but two-wheeled travel is still the underdog in this town. Thankfully, Landry's is positioned to mainstream the biking lifestyle. The shop features a well-rounded selection of commuter, racing, and kids' models, and there are four convenient locations (critical when you're running on oatmeal rather than gas). Best of all, each Landry's store is staffed with cycling enthusiasts who'll happily shepherd you through decisions big (road bike? hybrid?) and small (U-lock or old-fashioned chain?). 890 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, .
In a highly competitive retail environment, Stel's refuses to play it safe. Instead, it cultivates an always cutting-edge cast of emerging and indie designers (most of them found only here): Alexander Wang, Rachel Comey, Society for Rational Dress. The spot-on buying ensures that one stop will produce all your staples (tees from Coven, denim by Rogan) as well as that truly standout item (like a Gary Graham leather vest). 334 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2115, .
East Coast Alpine boasts the broadest inventory of winter toys in the area, encompassing top brands (Völkl, Atomic, Ride, Mountain Hardware) and the latest technology. Rent skis and snowboards for your kids; snag new boots, poles, and helmets; or bring older equipment in for an evaluation and tune-up. You'll leave fully prepped, be it for black diamonds or bunny slopes. 860 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA eastcoastalpine.com.
With independent bookstores (and even national chains) falling by the digital wayside, it's all the more impressive that this classic soldiers on. The four-story Harvard Square behemoth peddles both bestsellers and literary classics, as well as arcane treatises on history, philosophy, music, and science—precisely what you'd expect from a store founded by Crimson scholars in 1882. 1400 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, thecoop.com.
Weddings come—ideally—but once a lifetime. Cheryl Richards makes sure the memories will last. Richards and her equipment dissolve into the background only to emerge with stunning black and white photojournalist-style images capturing the poignancy, humor, and beauty of the Big Day. How good is she? Even if the wedding doesn't turn out to be as perfect as your fantasy nuptials, Richards manages to make it seem as if it were. 224 Clarendon St., Boston, MA cherylrichards.com/.
Fear not, budget-minded brides: You can have your Vera Wang without having to cut the guest list in half. This outlet has high-end designer gowns at wholesale prices—50 to 70 percent off retail. Better still, you don't have to worry about being caught in a stampede or hoping the dress will fit. Vows takes appointments and has plenty of dressing room space. 334 Watertown St., Newton, MA bridepower.com/.
The boutique is a gold mine of designers-on-the-rise like Antonio Beradi and Lucien Pellat-Finet, as well as more established lines like Moschino Couture. For those who care about fashion, there's an interesting fusion of labels and attitudes for all ages. For those who care more about originality, the diversity of designs here reduces the chances that you'll bump into some wench wearing your dress at Aquitaine. 134 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Whether you're looking for a gift or for your own personal use, no other store is more fun to browse in for writing, wrapping, and special occasion papers. Rugg Road carries an unusual and beautiful selection— sold by the sheet or by the box— that is a nice departure from the ubiquitous Crane's stationary, and great for customized invitations. Its heavy stock writing paper is email's most valiant enemy. 105 Charles St., Boston, MA .
After starting her stylish housewares store, F.kia, Ned Hand launched a second store stocked with chic furniture. But mixed in are some smart choices for gifts. Look for the stainless steel kitchen accouterments, beautiful glass items, tablewear, and linens. The bedding and hand painted pillows can't be beat. Here's your chance to give a housewarming gift that will get you invited back. 58 Clarendon St., Boston, MA .
You can't walk by without looking twice. The cascade of color beckons from the pavement, and spontaneity pays. For the romantic gesture of the moment, or a few blooms to grace your dinner table, pick a few posies by the stem or grab a tiny basket of flowering plants and vines. The whole shopfront reeks of romance and fresh beauty from the wrought-iron filigree to the lush sidewalk display. 164 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Yes, we know: We look cute today. We looked cute yesterday, too. But really, we can't take all the credit. We had help from best-friend team Kelly DiNisco and Nilda Martin, who stock pleasingly anti-prep clothes and accessories out of New York and L.A.: Porridge wrap dresses, Nicholas K. trenches, and in-demand Tag Jeans among them. Prettying your pals? Why, that's what friends are for. 1248 Washington St., Boston, MA 2134, .