There are a two important factors to consider.

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You may not be present for your entire cocktail hour (most couples take some photos during this time), but it's a very crucial time in between the ceremony and reception that needs to be planned out in detail. Without enough appetizers to go around, you might end up with cranky (and possibly over-served) guests by the time the reception start. Have you considered exactly how many appetizers you should serve while drinks are being distributed? Here, two important factors to keep in mind as you decide.

How Long Will Your Cocktail Hour Be?

The final number of appetizers served is dependent on how long your cocktail hour is. Is it truly an hour, or are you and your bridal party taking photos for the next few hours in between your wedding and reception? If you only have an hour in between, it's safe to only have a couple different options available, totaling about six pieces per guest. If you will be longer than an hour, more is always better. Consider having four to five different options during your cocktail hour, totaling eight to ten pieces per guest. You do not want to leave your guests hungry as they wait for the reception to start.

jessica aaron cocktail hour appetizer tray
Credit: Rachel Havel

Will Your Appetizers Only Be Passed, or Will You Also Have Food Stations?

Appetizers are typically served in one of two ways: Either via food stations that your guests can visit during cocktail hour or via waiters who pass small bites throughout the venue. If you're only serving passed appetizers, you'll want to make sure there are plenty of options that'll move throughout the space—guests gathering furthest from the kitchen will need to be served, too. If you're also having food stations, you can typically scale down the number of passed appetizers, as guests can grab food at their leisure.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
October 13, 2021
it should be three - I guess