Finger Foods for a Wedding Reception

Updated December 14, 2018
gourmet finger foods

The cost of food to serve for a wedding reception can be astronomical, but by investigating wedding reception finger food ideas, a couple can cut their budget without cutting their menu. Couples can discreetly print "finger food reception to follow" or "hors d'oeuvres reception to follow" on their invitations so guests will know what to expect.

Wedding Finger Food Menu Ideas

From succulent dishes to savory sauces to sweet treats, there are dozens of options for delicious finger foods suitable for a wedding reception.

Finger Food List

Popular choices include:

  • Individual desserts such as cookies, petit fours, cream puffs, or fruit tarts
  • Cupcake wedding cakes to continue the finger food theme even with this all-important dessert
  • A selection of sliced breads, bread sticks, or rolls
  • Attractive fruit trays with chocolate, cheesecake, or whipped topping dips
  • Fondue stations or chocolate fountains for dipping
  • Deli trays with assorted meats and cheeses
    appetizers for wedding
  • Small snacks such as pillow mints, chocolate candies, or nuts
  • Wings with a hot buffalo glaze or barbeque sauce
  • Popcorn chicken or shrimp
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Mini quiches, stuffed mushrooms, or vegetable rolls
  • Assorted cheese and cracker trays with mustards or other sauces
  • Meatballs with assorted savory sauces
  • Dainty tea sandwiches, such as cucumber or chicken salad
  • Deviled eggs

When choosing a finger food menu, the couple should always consider the varied tastes of their guests by providing a wide enough selection so anyone with unusual diets can enjoy the wedding feast. Furthermore, offering both classic comfort foods and more exotic gourmet treats gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy their favorite food as well as sample new dishes.

Sample Themed Menus

Any wedding menu should have dishes that taste good together, and a finger food reception is no exception. Consider these sample themed menus for your wedding:

  • Hawaiian: Tropical flavors are the perfect choice for a beach wedding. Serve mango and pineapple chunks on skewers, glazed ham bites, coconut shrimp, and ahi poke on individual spoons.
  • Backyard Barbeque: At a casual reception, nothing beats the down-home tastes of traditional favorites. Serve grilled veggie kebabs alongside beef and pork kebabs. Serve mini hotdogs on a stick, put out a veggie and cheese tray and have plenty of cookies and bars on a dessert buffet.
  • Perfect Pastas: Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, so why not build a reception menu around it? Start with a skewered salad and have small "shooter" sized glasses filled with favorite pasta dishes. Break larger noodles up into smaller pieces where necessary. Fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti with marinara sauce, bowties in a lemon garlic sauce and classic macaroni and cheese are yummy choices.

Why Choose a Finger Food Reception?

A finger food menu is desirable and attractive for several reasons, depending on a couple's reception plans.

  • Cost: Generally speaking, a selection of finger foods - even gourmet hors d'oeuvres - will be less expensive than a fully catered meal. Couples can save even more if they choose to make many of the dishes themselves. Finger foods also save money on rental china and cutlery and require less labor to serve. Couples should note, however, that extremely elaborate hors d'oeuvres can be more costly than simple full service meals.
  • Formality: Finger foods can be suitable for either a formal or a casual wedding, depending on the exact menu selection. Cheese and crackers is great for a casual event, while more exotic pates may be best for a formal affair.
  • Timing: Finger foods are best for receptions that fall between regular meal times, such as late morning or early afternoon events. They are also the perfect choice for shorter receptions, which may in turn lower rental costs for the location.
  • Variety: By opting for small finger foods, a couple can offer a greater selection of culinary treats for their guests to sample, rather than selecting only two or three main dishes. This can be especially valuable for a large reception with many diverse tastes, as well as multicultural celebrations that can introduce new foods to everyone.

Hired Caterers vs. DIY Options

Many finger foods can be easily prepared, and couples may wish to save money by creating the reception food themselves. While this is possible, it can be difficult to estimate the amount of food necessary for a large guest list - caterers, in fact, frequently prepare ten percent more food than the proposed head count in order to account for varied appetites and unexpected guests. In general, if the couple is having a smaller reception and opts for simpler foods - deli meat and cheese trays instead of individual quiches, for example - they can easily create the menu themselves. If they have a larger number of guests or prefer more exotic hors d'oeuvres, a caterer may be the best option.

Wedding Reception Food Stations

While a traditional buffet is a great idea for finger foods, you can add more interest to your reception area by setting up stations. This is done by grouping similar foods together on one table and then using another table for other foods. For example, you may have a station for appetizers or sliced meats, cheeses, and crackers, another station for sliders and meats, a salad station, and a dessert station. Spread these out throughout the reception so guests can mingle as they move from station to station.

Decorating a Wedding Finger Food Reception

The food may be the centerpiece of the reception, but how it is displayed can make even the simplest finger foods seem like luxurious appetizers. Consider these decorating tips:

  • Decorate the buffet table to highlight the individual dishes.
  • Vary the heights of dishes with a multi-level display.
  • Arrange foods attractively by varying color contrasts and types of food as well as the patterns different foods make on their individual trays.
  • Garnish individual dishes as well as the table as a whole for a coordinated look.
  • Choose more expensive linens, cutlery, and serving dishes for a more elegant appearance.
  • Arrange platters so they are all easily accessible without guests needing to stretch, which could increase the possibility of spills.
  • Choose edible centerpieces such as chocolate or ice sculptures, frozen punch bowls, and carved fruits for even more elegance.

Delicious Finger Food Dishes

A wedding finger food reception can be delicious, economical, and beautiful all at once. With a wide range of dishes to choose from as well as many options for display and luxury, a couple can enjoy a complete menu of finger foods to celebrate their union without condemning their budget with an elaborate gourmet meal.

Finger Foods for a Wedding Reception