For most guests, the wedding cocktail hour is the best, most delicious part of the entire celebration. After all, those 60-plus minutes following the ceremony are a chance for guests to mix and mingle while sipping cocktails and sampling a wide variety of foods. The cocktail hour also sets the tone for the rest of the evening and warms guests up for the reception. Plus, the atmosphere is usually more relaxed and laid-back, which means couples have an opportunity to get creative with the cocktail-hour menu and choose dishes that really let their personalities come through.
One of our favorite hors d’oeuvres ideas is to serve small, bite-size versions of your favorite foods, like sliders, corn dogs, or even pizza. It’s also the perfect time to be adventurous and serve less-familiar dishes—think appetizer-size portions of foods you love that might be a bit too bold a choice for the main course. You’ll also want to impress your guests with surprising, unexpected food presentations. For example, instead of serving mac ’n' cheese in ramekins, you could deep-fry a bite-size portion and serve it on a lollipop stick.
Here are our favorite, most creative hors d’oeuvres and finger foods we’ve seen to give you some serious wedding appetizer ideas and inspiration.
Feta Watermelon Cubes
Keep the season in mind as you plan your wedding hors d’oeuvres. Go for lighter, refreshing options in the summer months and hearty and warm with thicker sauces in the winter.
Beef Biscuit Sliders With Crispy Fried Onions
Serve beef sliders open-face on a biscuit to show off all their savory goodness. Top each with a crispy onion for some extra flavor. The single garden bloom adds an elegant touch.
Pollo Asado Tacos
Blend street food with elegant cuisine with these tasty Pollo Asado tacos. Make them miniature-sized for the most delicious wedding appetizer. We love how the cilantro topping can double as a pretty garnish.
Fried Mac 'n' Cheese Lollipops
Fried mac 'n' cheese lollipops? Everyone is going to love ‘em, guaranteed. They're just as tasty as the traditional stuff, minus the mess.
The best thing about flatbread is its versatility. You can serve your absolute favorite flavor combo, or opt for a few different varieties that you know will please the crowd. This makes an especially great option if you know some of your guests will have food restrictions.
One-bite snacks are always a win with cocktail party hors d’oeuvres. Serve these saucy bites on skewers so your guests can hold their drink in one hand and go for seconds with the other.
Fill your family and friends up on hearty veggies with some large, fried asparagus. Kick the presentation up a notch by serving them standing up on small pegs.
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Have servers pass out tomato soup shooters topped with a wedge of grilled cheese. Like the mac 'n' cheese, this childhood classic will be a crowd-pleaser. Plus, they're sure to hold your guests over until dinner.
Step up a basic fruit platter by serving a variety of fresh berries on skewers and displayed on wood serving blocks. Get creative and switch up the fruits being served on each skewer. On a hot day, everyone will be thankful for the refreshing snack—and the hydration.
Button mushrooms are the perfect savory, one-bite appetizer for cocktail hour. Here, they're served alongside caprese crostini, which looks just as yummy. Be careful with these—make sure to leave room for dinner!
Tiny Chicken Sandwiches
Nothing says 'comfort food' like fried chicken on a biscuit—with a pickle on top. These tasty bites make the perfect addition to a backyard barbeque themed wedding. Take them to the next level by serving them on tiny glass dishes.
This seafood bar is a total showstopper and allows your guests to serve themselves. The marinated shrimp here is clearly the star.
You can't go wrong with a bacon-wrapped—well anything. We'll try our best not to overindulge in these (a date is basically a sweeter version of a prune). These bites are the perfect balance of sweet and smoky.
Deviled eggs are one of the most simple—yet tasty—appetizers around. Elevate their appearance with a uniform garnish or even a dash of salmon caviar.
Your appetizers don't have to be expensive to look luxurious. Add upscale toppings to simple dishes for an overall expensive-looking effect.
Sweet Potato Slices
Hearty and healthy, these sliced sweet potatoes are a nutritious alternative to a bruschetta hors d’oeuvre. Here they are served with a topping of cream cheese, ramson cream, goat cheese, cress, and cranberries.
Miniature burgers and sliders are the quintessential finger food. Dress them up by serving them open-faced, with bread on the bottom and all the fixings on top. Offer tiny cups of assorted sauces on the side for your guests.
A bite-sized version of the classic spectator's snack, pretzels with a cheesy dip is salty and satisfying. The spicy cheesy salsa con queso dip served with these doughy bites looks especially tasty.
Serve mini corn dogs on skewers with your favorite dipping sauces. Get creative and offer versions with different 'dogs. Brauts and assorted sausages are sure to impress your guests.
These fun (and eco-friendly) bamboo-leaf boats are the perfect serving containers for salads. These are caprese boats, but the same idea could be used for salad favorites like caesar, Greek, or Cobb. Take this idea even further and use an edible serving container for a zero-waste treat.
Scallops are already finger-food sized and always a hit for some cocktail hour grazing. Use your serving details (in this case, painted imitation oyster shells) to add color to appetizers like these seared sea scallops. Yum!
What's better than pizza at a wedding? Miniature pizza at a wedding. The best thing about these teeny-tiny slices is they can double as super-cute edible wedding favors.
Amp up oysters by serving them your favorite way. On the half shell with a dash of Tabasco, or fried up with a rémoulade sauce for dipping. Just another way to add personality to the menu.
Mozzarella and Tomato Bites
Marinated mozzarella with candied tomatoes? Yes, please. We love how this fresh snack is light enough to indulge in several skewers.
Wild Mushroom-Stuffed Puff Pastries
Stuff a savory app in a puff pastry to save on dishes: you can totally eat the container when it's made of bread! This is a total hit for any French-style affair.
These bite-size lobster rolls are perfect for a New England wedding—or for North Easterners who want to bring a little taste of home to their far-flung reception. This summertime-fine menu item can also be swapped out for an alternate filling like chicken or a chickpea salad for those with an aversion to seafood.
A sweet offering like this can be served as cocktail hour finger food, or mini dessert bites. Or, our choice: both!
Korean Rice Cakes
These assorted Korean rice cakes made the perfect tasty snack during the Paebaek ceremony at this multicultural celebration. The rice cakes make an excellent complement to some green ginseng tea.
Burrata With Heirloom Tomatoes
Perfect for Italian affairs, surround a dish of burrata with tasty heirloom tomatoes. The soft cheesy center is especially delicious with fresh, local fruit.
Snap Pea Sushi
This decadent concoction is impressive in presentation and flavor. The light and healthy snack is a choice that everyone can enjoy and is especially great for vegetarian or vegan guests.
Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Spread
A charcuterie bar with assorted cheeses and fruits adds a decadent touch to a Mediterranean-style celebration. It's the perfect blend of sweet and savory and bonus—the brightly colored foods photograph oh-so-beautifully.
Pulled Pork Sliders
A laid-back barbecue wedding would simply be incomplete without some tried and true pulled pork. Turn them into finger food by sandwiching them between miniature-sized buns and serving with cups of barbecue sauce.
Vegetarian Summer Rolls With Sweet Thai and Chili Sauce
Summer rolls are a refreshing, nutritious choice that will keep guests super happy during a hot wedding cocktail hour. Prop up these tasty rolls with wooden pegs for a beautiful presentation.
Put a twist on the most classic of all cocktail foods and skewer the cocktail shrimp. This makes for easy sauce-dipping and it's a more hygienic approach to finger foods.
Peking Duck Summer Rolls
This is not your average sushi. A Peking duck summer roll is the perfect option if you want to treat your guests to something extra special. The prized crispy Beijing specialty is especially luxurious when served on a carbon-black wooden slab.
Oysters don't suit your fancy? Try your liking with its mollusk cousin and have a clam spread. Or, offer a full raw bar with both and a side of lobster like this couple did at this nautical wedding in Montauk.
Bacon-Wrapped Veggie Kabobs
Wrap up skewers of perfectly grilled vegetables with a few savory slices of bacon. This dish looks incredible when displayed on a wooden plank.
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Tartare of any kind will always be one of those hors d’oeuvres that look expensive—especially when served in oversized spoons. Raw salmon not a favorite for all of your guests? Offer an option of roasted beet tartare.
Spring Pea Bruschetta
Tired of avocado toast? Top fresh bruschetta with smashed spring peas instead for a tasty and bright offering.
Now, these tacos are miniature. So small, in fact, that they fit in a wedged out lime. This is genius in so many ways: It looks adorable and inventive, and it soaks the tacos up with all the delicious lime flavor.
Gougères and Salmon Bites
These cheesy bites are a staple of French cuisine. Choux dough is baked with cheese resulting in savory little pastry bites. They look extra yummy paired with salmon and crackers.
Roasted Vegetable Assortment
Keep it simple with a mix of roasted veggies (bonus if they're locally harvested). Guests can snack on these for the entire cocktail hour without getting too full for the entrée.
Apple Slices and Brie
Fruit and cheese go hand in hand and look luxurious served in ceramic spoons. These thinly sliced apples with brie are the perfect mix of salty and sweet.
Bacon-Wrapped Cocktail Shrimp
Kick up your cocktail shrimp's flavor profile with a slice of bacon to wrap around its center. We love the way they display on a simple cedar wood cutting board.
Fried Chicken Wings
For fun, picnic vibes, offer up some finger food fried chicken. We love how on-theme this appetizer was in this lakefront Americana wedding.
For the health-conscious, small cups of quinoa salad are an excellent choice. The best part about quinoa is you can add in whatever you want for a bespoke salad. Here, they are toped off with a bite of shrimp.
Classic Mediterranean food makes the perfect hors d’oeuvres at a boho-style wedding. Falafel balls served on a rustic wooden tray was the choice during cocktail hour at this San Diego wedding.
Avocado Toast on Bruschetta
Avocado toast is always tasty, but when served on mini slices of toasted bruschetta? What a treat.
Hamachi Crudo Salad
Hamachi crudo is deeply flavorful and is paired well with fresh ingredients. Here, it's mixed in single-serving salads with shaved daikon, radishes, cucumbers, jalapeños, and ponzu.
Chicken and Waffles
Skewer popcorn-sized fried chicken with a small waffle square for a delicious taste of southern comfort food. Use food coloring to dye the waffles for a decorative spin and don't forget the syrup.
Cucumber and Salmon Slices
Another excellent option for summer nuptials, fresh cucumber slices with raw salmon is easy to prepare and can be customized for any taste. It looks absolutely delectable with avocado, seasoning, and dill.