17 Hors d’oeuvre Ideas for the Best Cocktail Hour Ever

These creative appetizer ideas will make your wedding’s cocktail hour the highlight of the night!

Updated 04/12/18

Shaun Menary Photography

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’oeuvre 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.

So, if you’re planning your cocktail-hour menu and need some inspiration, we've got you covered. Here are 17 of our favorite, most creative hors d’oeuvres and finger foods we’ve seen to give you some serious wedding appetizer ideas and inspiration.

01 of 17

Mini Tacos

Kate Webber Photography for Taste Catering & Event Planning

Tacos aren't going anywhere! These, by Taste Catering & Event Planning in San Francisco, combine Kalua pork, pickled green papaya slaw, and scallion aioli in a taro root taco — plus, they're gluten-free!

02 of 17

Fruit Skewers

Erin Jean Photography

Step up a basic fruit platter by serving a variety of fresh berries on skewers and displayed on wood serving blocks.

03 of 17

Fried Mac and Cheese Lollipops

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

Michelle Lindsay

Fried mac 'n cheese lollipops? Everyone is going to love ‘em, guaranteed.

04 of 17

Flatbread

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.

05 of 17

Oysters

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

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.

06 of 17

Meatballs

Photo by Belathée Photography

Serve these saucy bites on skewers so your guests can hold their drink in one hand and go for seconds with the other.

07 of 17

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Have servers pass out tomato soup shooters topped with a wedge of grilled cheese.

08 of 17

Stuffed Mushrooms

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

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!

09 of 17

Tiny Chicken Sandwiches

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

The Umstead Hotel & Spa

Nothing says 'comfort food' like fried chicken on a biscuit—with a pickle on top!

10 of 17

Marinated Shrimp

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

Photo by Studio Castillero

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

11 of 17

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

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

Carina Skrobecki Photography

While we don't recommend overindulging in these (a date is basically a sweeter version of a prune), this bite is a perfect balance of sweet and smoky.

12 of 17

Sliders

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

Jessica Craig-Martin

Dress up miniature burgers and sliders by serving them open-faced, with bread on the bottom and all the fixings on top.

13 of 17

Lobster Rolls

food, hors d'oeuvres, passed, cocktails, fun food, mini food, party food, new england food, seafood

Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography

These bite-sized 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.

14 of 17

Corn Dogs

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

Serve mini corn dogs on skewers with your favorite dipping sauces.

15 of 17

Salad Boats

Caprese appetizers and risotto balls at wedding reception

Karen Kristian

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.

16 of 17

Seared Scallops

Oyster Appetizers

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Use your serving details (in this case, painted imitation oyster shells) to add color to appetizers like these seared sea scallops. YUM!

17 of 17

Mini Pizzas

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

Birds of a Feather

The best thing about these teeny-tiny slices is they can double as super-cute edible wedding favors.

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