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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.