How to Choose Your Wedding Appetizers

A few things to consider as you select your hors d'oeuvres.

You might even need help determining which hors d'oeuvres you should or should not serve at the cocktail hour. Take a look at the following suggestions to help you finalize your options.

Photo: Katie Shuler Photography

After your guests witness a beautiful ceremony, many brides and grooms opt to then usher their loved ones into a cocktail hour. This portion of the day is a great way for friends and family from different areas of the couple’s life to meet, socialize, and engage in merriment before they are seated for their main courses. Depending on the time of day – for example, if it’s around 6PM, dinnertime – they might be quite hungry during this time. Or, it might be in between lunch and dinner, where lighter fare will be served. Either way, appetizers are an excellent way to keep your attendees feeling content and comfortable throughout the festivities.

There are many way to serve these scrumptious bites. Whether you decide on a buffet table, stations arranged around the area, or would prefer to hire servers to tray pass, you should speak with your caterer on finding the fine line between ensuring your guests aren’t feeling hunger pangs and are not feeling overly stuffed before dinner is served.

Tuna in crispy cone appetizer wedding reception cocktail hour food ideas

Photo by Joe Marie Photography

As you create your appetizer menu and make appointments for tastings, you may begin to wonder which selections are best for your event. You might even need help determining which hors d'oeuvres you should or should not serve at the cocktail hour. Take a look at the following suggestions to help you finalize your options.

- Consider your guests’ allergies or dietary restrictions. This is crucial not only for the appetizers but for the main course as well. You want all guests to feel comfortable with the fare they are served, and you also want to minimize the risk of any health-related emergencies. You might also consider gluten-free and vegan choices; a vegetarian option should, really, always be available.

- Think about selections that all guests will enjoy. Even if you and your husband love oysters, it does not mean every attendee will enjoy the shellfish as part of dinner (though it can be a great idea for a station during cocktail hour). Instead of focusing too much on your own tastes, settle on classic foods that most will devour – and feel free to take unique spins on how you serve these favorites.

- Select bite-sized hors d'oeuvres. If you want your guests to feel satisfied but still hungry enough to finish their plate during dinner service, elect for mini servings of scrumptious fare, such as sliders, cheese and fruit pairings, empanadas, dumplings, or anything else that is easy to eat in one large bite or may be served with a miniature utensil.

- Say no to messy finger foods. Your guests will be dressed nicely or possibly even in formal attire for your celebration. Do not put them in the position where their only option is to nosh on excessively saucy, greasy finger foods that will be messy and ruin their ensembles or makeup.

- Be creative with the appetizer menu. Many vendors are willing to customize your appetizers, such as creating a whimsical presentation of tea sandwiches or combining two types of food genres into one excellent fusion option. The choices are endless and all your own, so have fun arranging your menu with your catering team!

For more advice, discover tips for a productive food tasting and learn what mistakes to avoid at cocktail hour and for your wedding menu.