This guide is meant to help event planners and engaged couples to determine if and how to choose appetizers for their big day. With lots of options, appetizers are more flexible for unique event functions but that also makes them a tad more complicated than serving a meal.
When to Choose Appetizers
Contrary to popular belief, appetizers aren’t the thrifty alternative to serving a full meal. Choosing them for budgetary reasons doesn’t usually work out because they require more labor to create beautiful bite-sized morsels than a full plate. Appetizers are an excellent choice for a variety of other reasons:
Fill Gaps in the Event Timeline -
- give guests an experience during a time where hosts are occupied such as during wedding party/family photography
- prior to the wedding ceremony, especially if the ceremony is long
Help Achieve Certain Goals -
- promote the movement of guests throughout an event space for mingling or hosted activities such as a silent auction for non-profit events or dancing
- to help curb alcohol consumption
Give a Unique/Upscale Flair -
- give an element of flair to events that might otherwise feel sterile (aka boring!)
- an added opportunity for expression of a couples’ style
What about serving appetizers instead of a meal? Moderns weddings are departing from tradition in huge ways - many couples are skipping long ceremonies, traditional seating arrangements, and processionals. One thing you can’t skip is providing something substantial for your guests to eat. You can skip the traditional three-course meal, but you’ll have to replace it with heavy appetizers. The benefit of serving up some heavy hors d'oeuvres allows guests to skip the designated meal time and go straight to dancing while they snack throughout the evening.
Choosing How to Serve Appetizers
If you aren’t sure whether to select passed or stationed appetizers, consider the style of your event, planned activities, and budget. Passed appetizers are more formal and encourage guests to move around. They’re ideal for serving during silent auctions, meet and greets, and other standing events. Passed appetizers can also increase the cost of your event because they require individual preparation and additional serving staff. Stationed appetizers are also suitable for elegant or casual events and ideal for less structured agendas like cocktail hours and receptions.
How Many Appetizers to Select
If you’re looking to serve appetizers during a cocktail hour, prior to serving a meal, choose 2-4 pieces per guest (2 per 30 minute period). If you want to replace a regular meal with heavy hors d’oeuvres, consider ordering 12-15 per guest. Somewhere in-between are longer pre-meal periods during which 4-5 for every 2 hours will suffice.
What Appetizers to Select
We recommend to our clients that they choose a variety of appetizers that include choices for guests with dietary restrictions - vegetarian, pork-free, gluten-free, shellfish-free and a range of heavy to light bites. Don’t forget to include something sweet!
We work with our clients to create menus the reflect the vision they desire and make suggestions for optimal logistics and style. Check out our sample menus or contact us to start planning your ideal menu.
Venue | Cerulean Wine
Photographer | Lauren Miles Photo
Videographer | Gavin Brown Media
Planner + Stylist | Peachy Keen Coordination by Cindy Lindsley
Florist | TopaFlora
Tablesettings | The Party Place
Caterer | The Hive Catering Co.
Cake | Cake Nouveau PDX
Dress | Grace Loves Lace
Makeup + Hair | Jovana Combs Beauty
Jewelry | River City Jewelers
Paper Goods | Everglow Handmade
Ring Box | The Mrs. Box
Ribbons | Tono + co.
Models | Steph K. Bauer-Mullins + Lance Curtis Jay Bauer-Mullins