What To Serve During Wedding Cocktail Hour

If you don’t know what to serve during wedding cocktail hour, try five ideas for the appetizers and hors d’oeuvres that your guests will love. These wedding food ideas suit different wedding themes and budgets so that the cocktail hour will be enjoyable but practical. 

And if you don’t have a drink menu yet, we’ve included some alcoholic and non-alcoholic ideas best served during the cocktail hour. But first, do you fully understand what is cocktail hour at a wedding


5 Easy Recipes If You Don’t Know What To Serve During Wedding Cocktail Hour


Classic hors d’oeuvres

The most common foods to serve at any wedding cocktail hour are hors d’oeuvres. They can be hot or cold and serve as the starters to prepare your guests for the heavier meal. 

Your wedding reception menu can inspire hors d’oeuvres to serve at the cocktail hour, or ask the caterer their recommended combinations with the drinks you’ll have at the cocktail hour. Here is some classic favorites that you can modify according to your budget, types of attendees, and wedding cocktail hour theme: 

  • Mini tacos
  • Mini sliders
  • Devilled eggs
  • Crostinis
  • Cold seafood selection
  • Croquettes
  • Tarts
  • Profiteroles
  • Gnocchi 
  • Canapes


Mini comfort foods

Some weddings may choose not to serve a full-course meal for their reception. Therefore, the foods to eat during the wedding’s cocktail hour should be filling and satisfying. 

Think of comfort goods to serve during cocktail hour. It should be easy to create a menu based on what you think your guests can find hearty and delicious: 

  • Mac and cheese balls
  • Meatballs
  • Hush puppies
  • Mini cheese sandwiches with tomato soup
  • Mini pizzas
  • Onion rings
  • Empanadas
  • Rolls
  • Mini burgers
  • Stuffed veggies
  • Mini casseroles


Light proteins

Have your guests eat light proteins if you don’t want something heavy to be served at the cocktail hour. The advantage of serving different proteins like meats and seafood is they can be filling, but the guests’ appetites won’t be ruined for the upcoming meals. 

They are also easy to prepare if you’re catering your own wedding. The only consideration would be the selection of proteins to serve. 

  • Bacon-wrapped veggies
  • Prosciutto
  • Jerky
  • Satay
  • Cocktail shrimp
  • Meat skewers
  • Cured meat selection
  • Sushi 
  • Baked seafood
  • Beef Teriyaki
  • Grilled thin meat slices



A healthy selection of foods to serve during cocktail hour would be a fruit platter. You might even know someone who can give you the fresh produce or perhaps some specific fruits are in season during your wedding. 

Fruits also pair well with drinks served during cocktail hour. Think of citrus slices or cubed fruits for a refreshing appetizer at cocktail hour. 

  • Citrus slices
  • Watermelon cubes
  • Fresh peaches
  • Assorted berries
  • Dried fruits
  • Fruit salad station
  • Fruit skewers
  • Fruit and cheese
  • Candied fruits 



If you and your partner are both sweet tooth, it can reflect on your wedding’s cocktail hour menu. Consider desserts for cocktail hour to showcase your favorite sweets to your guests. 

You should plan what pairs well with your cocktail menu when you serve sweets and desserts. You can even get creative with the desserts and customize them with your wedding theme. 

  • Brownies
  • Mini cupcakes
  • Assorted macarons
  • Cookies
  • Tiramisu
  • Truffles
  • Mini parfaits
  • Cookies
  • Assorted chocolates


What Drinks Are Served at Cocktail Hour?

Besides knowing what foods to serve during the cocktail hour, it’s also helpful to plan the beverages you’ll serve the wedding guests. The foods and drinks should complement each other, but remember to still decide based on your wedding budget. 


Alcoholic drinks

Beer and wine are classics to be served at cocktail hour. The specific type of beers and wines will depend on the wedding season and what you think your guests will love. 

Whiskey, rum, gin, and other drinks can also be available for your guests. Just be mindful of the number of drinks to have, especially since an open bar can be pricey. 

You can even use the cocktail hour to showcase your signature cocktail. Here’s how to create a signature cocktail for a wedding


Non-alcoholic drinks

It’s acceptable to have a dry cocktail hour if it’s your preference or you know most of your guests don’t drink alcohol anyway. But generally, it’s better to have non-alcoholic options for the guests. 

Think of mocktails, colorful punches, and sparkling drinks to have your guests still enjoy the cocktail hour without getting drunk. You can make big batches to save on costs and time by making your non-alcoholic wedding drinks.  


Do You Need Appetizers During Cocktail Hour?

It’s not mandatory to serve appetizers during cocktail hour. However, providing food to the guests is more common, especially when they have to wait a significant amount of time between the ceremony and reception.

You don’t need to serve heavy appetizers. Some finger foods and bite-sized snacks can accompany their drinks as they mingle during cocktail hour. 

Read how many different appetizers for a wedding to help you create a menu for the cocktail hour or reception dinner itself. 



Was this guide helpful? You just learned what to serve during wedding cocktail hour, which can be classic hors oeuvres, mini comfort foods, light proteins, fruits, and even sweets. 

Appetizers are not required for the cocktail hour, but your guests will surely appreciate something to munch on, especially when the reception dinner will take some time to start. 

Leave a Comment