55 Wedding Appetizer Ideas for the Best Cocktail Hour

From savory hors d’oeuvres to sweet bites, these finger foods pack a tasty punch.

server handing out puff pastries to guests

Photo by Mike Larson; Catering by Jessica Lasky Catering

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 inspiration.

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Feta Watermelon Cubes

Tray of cubed watermelons with feta

 Photo by Sergio Sandoná

We could eat several of these watermelon and feta bites. Refreshing and crisp, they make the perfect snack for summer weddings. They're also a great option to feed your bridal party as you get ready.

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 alternatives with thicker sauces in the winter.

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Beef Biscuit Sliders With Crispy Fried Onions

Beef biscuit sliders with crispy fried onions on a white plate

 Photo by Mary Meck Weddings

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.

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Pollo Asado Tacos

Tray of pollo asado tacos

 Photo by Biancca Wallace Photography

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.

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Fried Mac 'n' Cheese Lollipops

passed hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, server, mac and cheese, cheesey, lollipops, fun food, comfort food

Photo by Michelle Lindsay

Fried mac 'n' cheese lollipops? Everyone is going to love ‘em, guaranteed. They're just as tasty as the traditional stuff, minus the mess.

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Photo by Michael Stephens Photography

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.

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Photo by Belathée Photography

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.

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Fried Asparagus

Wood brick of fried asparagus standing upright on pegs

Photo by Matt Mendelsohn Photography

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.

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Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Getty Images 

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.

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Fruit Skewers

Fruit Skewers

Photo by Erin Jean Photography

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. We promise we won't tell if you decide to add chocolate to the mix.

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Mini appetizers (caprese crostini and stuffed mushrooms) at wedding reception

Photo by Hopkins Studios

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!

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Tiny Chicken Sandwiches

chicken, biscuit, apps, appetizers, small plates, passed, server, waiter, skewer, mini food

Courtesy of The Umstead Hotel & Spa

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.

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Marinated Shrimp

Wedding Reception Seafood Station, shrimp, oysters, lemons, food bar, eat

Photo by Studio Castillero

This seafood bar is a total showstopper and allows your guests to serve themselves. The marinated shrimp here is clearly the star.

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Bacon-Wrapped Dates

bacon wrapped dates, glaze, mini food, fun food, skewers, cocktail hours, passed hors d'oeuvres

Photo by Carina Skrobecki Photography

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.

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Deviled Eggs

Aluminum tray of deviled eggs

 Photo by Sylvie Gil

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.

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Sweet Potato Slices

Black plate of sliced sweet potatoes with a cream cheese and cranberry topping

 Photo by Westend61 / Getty Images

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.

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Classic Sliders

sliders, food, meat, fun food, cocktail hour, passed hors d'oeuvres

Photo by Jessica Craig-Martin

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.

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Pretzel Bites

Above view of a tray of pretzel bites with a bowl of queso dip

 Photo by LauriPatterson / Getty Images

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.

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Corn Dogs

comfort food, corn dog, passed hors d'oeuvres, appetizer, fried, fun food, mini food, skewer

Getty Images 

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.

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Salad Boats

Caprese appetizers and risotto balls at wedding reception

Photo by Karen Kristian

These fun (and eco-friendly) bamboo-leaf boats are the cutest 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.

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Seared Scallops

Oyster Appetizers

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

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.

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Mini Pizzas

appetizer, hors d'oeuvres, passed, food, mini food, fun food, edible favors

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

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.

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oysters, seafood, on ice, citrus, lemons, garnish, fresh seafood, aphrodisiac

Photo by Bill Phelps

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.

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Mozzarella and Tomato Bites

Platter of mozzarella and tomato bites

Photo by Rebecca Yale



Marinated mozzarella with candied tomatoes? Yes, please. We love how this fresh snack is light enough to indulge in several skewers.

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Wild Mushroom-Stuffed Puff Pastries

A plate of puff pastries on a wood table with a blue runner and a flower arrangement

 Photo by Pat Furey Photography

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.

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Lobster Rolls

Plate of lobster rolls

 Photo by Chi-Chi Ari Photography

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.

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Custard Tarts

Hand holding a plate of custard tarts over a dinner table

 Photo by Erich McVey

A sweet offering like this can be served as cocktail hour finger food or mini dessert bites. Or, our choice: both!

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Korean Rice Cakes

Assorted Korean rice cakes on a plate

 Photo by Flora & Fauna

These assorted Korean rice cakes made the ideal tasty snack during the Paebaek ceremony at this multicultural celebration. The rice cakes make an excellent complement to some green ginseng tea.

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Burrata With Heirloom Tomatoes

White dish filled with burrata surrounded by heirloom tomatoes

 Photo by Maya Maréchal

Perfect for Italian affairs, surround a dish of burrata with tasty heirloom tomatoes. The soft cheesy center is especially delicious with fresh, local fruit.

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Snap Pea Sushi

Green plate of snap pea sushi

 Photo by Matt Mendelsohn Photography

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.

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Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Spread

Charcuterie, fruit and cheese spread

 Photo by Kindred Wedding Storytellers

A charcuterie bar with assorted cheeses and fruits adds a decadent touch to a Mediterranean-style celebration. It's the ideal blend of sweet and savory and bonus—the brightly colored foods photograph oh-so beautifully.

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Pulled Pork Sliders

Wood block holding pulled pork sliders

 Photo by O'Malley Photographers

A laid-back barbecue wedding would simply be incomplete without some tried and true pulled pork. Turn them into finger food by sandwiching between miniature-sized buns and serving with cups of barbecue sauce.

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Vegetarian Summer Rolls With Sweet Thai and Chili Sauce

Wood box with vegetarian summer rolls and a sauce

  Photo by O'Malley Photographers

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.

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Skewered Shrimp

Plate of skewered shrimp

 Photo by Sara Lobla

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.

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Peking Duck Summer Rolls

Black wooden slab holding Peking duck summer rolls

 Photo by Sylvie Gil

This is not your average sushi. A Peking duck summer roll is the finest 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.

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Raw bar of clams and lobsters with lemon on top

 Photo by Heather Waraksa

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 their nautical wedding in Montauk.

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Bacon-Wrapped Veggie Kabobs

A wood plank of vegetable kabobs wrapped in bacon

 Photo by Henry + Mac

Wrap up skewers of expertly grilled vegetables with a few savory slices of bacon. This dish looks incredible when displayed on a wooden plank.

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Ahi Tuna Tartare

Spoons on a black napkin laying on a white plate with ahi tuna tartare bites

 Photo by Amy & Stuart

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.

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Spring Pea Bruschetta

White plate of spring pea bruschetta

 Photo by Amy & Stuart

Tired of avocado toast? Top fresh bruschetta with smashed spring peas for a tasty and bright offering.

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Miniature Tacos

Plate of miniature tacos inside limes

 Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography

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.

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Gougères and Salmon Bites

Tray of gougères and salmon bites

 Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography

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.

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Apple Slices and Brie

A white tray with spoons filled with sliced apples and brie and grenn garnishes

 Photo by Unique Lapin Photography

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.

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Bacon-Wrapped Cocktail Shrimp

Cutting board of cocktail shrimps wrapped in bacon

 Photo by Madeline Broderick

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.

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Fried Chicken Wings

Plate with two fried chicken wings

 Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

For fun, picnic vibes, offer up some finger food fried chicken. We love how on-theme this appetizer was in this lakefront Americana wedding.

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Quinoa Cups

Table with white cups lined up full of quinoa and topped with a shrimp

Photo by Chris and Ruth Photography 

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 topped off with a bite of shrimp.

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Falafel Balls

Wooden tray of falafel balls

 Photo by Whitney Darling Photography

Classic Mediterranean food makes the best hors d’oeuvres at a boho-style wedding. Falafel balls served on rustic wooden trays were the delectable choice during cocktail hour at this San Diego wedding.

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Avocado Toast on Bruschetta

Wooden tray holding avocado toast

 Photo by Courtney Dueppengiesser Photography

Avocado toast is always tasty, but when served on mini slices of toasted bruschetta? What a treat.

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Hamachi Crudo Salad

White tray of hamachi crudo appetizers

Photo by Nirav Patel Photography

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.

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Chicken and Waffles

Black tray of chicken and pink waffle bites

Photo by Taralynn Lawton

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.

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Cucumber and Salmon Slices

Marble tray of cucumber slices with salmon and avocado

 Photo by Angel Sheree Photography

Another excellent option for summer nuptials, fresh cucumber slices with raw salmon are easy to prepare and can be customized for any taste. It looks absolutely delectable with avocado, seasoning, and dill.

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Mexican Street Corn

Mexican street corn hors d’oeuvres

Photo by Lacie Hansen Photography

Sweet, salty, and mouthwatering, nothing says celebration quite like Mexican street corn. These tiny iterations were spiked with skewers for more demure bites.

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Tropical Fruit Salad Bowls

Coconut-half bowls filled with fruit salad

Photo by Dierdre Alston

These coconut bowls are the sweetest tropical vessels for a colorful fruit salad. On a hot day, everyone will be thankful for the refreshing snack—and the hydration.

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Duck Samosas

duck samosas with plum sauce on glass plate over bare wooden table

Photo by Sharyn Hodges Photography

While most hors d’oeuvres tend to be light and airy, these duck samosas with plum sauce are far more comforting. Plus, they're easy to pop in your mouth while socializing without too many additional accoutrements.

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Mobile Raw Bar

Oyster shucker at wedding cocktail hour


We thought we'd seen it all, but this mobile raw bar is certainly fresh. Mix a few expert shuckers with garnish belts into the crowd for a cocktail snack that doubles as entertainment.

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Mini Donuts

Tiny donuts sprinkled with edible flower petals

Photo by Anna Delores Photography

Those with a sweet tooth needn't look any further than these tiny donuts. The sprinkling of petals makes them picture-perfect for a nuptial fėte.

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Caviar Bites

Caviar and creme freche bites on elegant dessert stand

Champagne and caviar are the epitome of elegant festivities. Velvety crème fraîche and a generous dose of caviar are standard, but we're loving the crunchy chip base on these delectable bites.

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