DIY Wedding Reception Finger Food Ideas

Tips For Planning Your Own Finger Food Buffet

Ideas for a DY wedding finger food reception.

Aug 9, 2017

If you are like many couples planning a wedding on a tight budget you may have been shocked to see the prices quoted to you by wedding caterers and could quite possible start to worry about what to do.

Well, have you thought of a wedding finger food reception.

Finger foods are fantastic way to feed many guest and this can be done on just about any budget.

It allows you to cater for more people and it enables your guests to mingle more freely, eating and chatting when they wish.

When serving finger foods for your wedding you want to find ways to save time without sacrificing the quality, this can be done by:

  • Finding recipes such as frittatas and pizzas that can be made in one large pan and then cut into bite sized portions.

  • Making the most of readymade items that can be used as toppings or fillings. For example, a good bottle of pesto can be spread on crostini and topped with a scallop, and then garnished with a fresh sprig of herb; these delightful morsels can be assembled in minutes.

  • There are also a variety of desserts can be used as finger food, and occasionally an entire party can be focused on them.

Wedding Finger Food Buffet Menu Ideas

If you are planning on a diy wedding reception finger food consider the time that is available to you and your helpers both before the wedding day and on the wedding day.

  • If you have limited time don't plan to serve many time-consuming items, such as wraps and rolls.

  • Instead look for finger food recipes such as whole frittatas and savory quiches which can then be cut into smaller portions.

  • Select dishes that can be made in advance and frozen. Serve platters of lightly cooked vegetables with dips (most vegetables can be cut up in advance and be kept in the fridge the night before).

  • Have a variety of hot and cold dishes.

  • If you are serving the finger food before a meal, make sure that these are not to filling and you only need to serve two or three varieties.

  • If you are serving the food for an evening party or cocktail party these can be more filling because they will be the main meal. Serve about six or more dishes; some could be high protein based, vegetables or carbohydrates.

  • For dessert serve fresh fruit, chocolates, small biscuits, and small cakes.

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Theme For The Buffet

You can have a theme for the wedding food such as Italian, French or Mexican or you can have a variety of foods from different countries.

The most important thing to remember is that the food should be easy to handle. Serve finger foods that can be eaten with one hand and in a couple of bites.

Do provide places for your guests to place their drinks in case they need to use their other hand for food and plenty of napkins.

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Menu Ideas For A Wedding Finger Food Reception

You could either have people pass the food around on platters or you could set up a table or two where the guests can help themselves, when presenting the food:

  • You should use attractive platters, plates, baskets and bowls for displaying food. The food should be presented in such a way that it looks colourful and appealing on the buffet table.

  • Fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, chilies or lemon wedges can be used to garnish foods that are not naturally bright.

  • Have someone pass around some dishes on smaller plates so that not everyone is crowding around the buffet table.

  • Refill the platters as soon as they are half empty by bring out the replacement food on smaller plates.

  • Have someone regularly remove empty bottles, plates and full ashtrays.

  • You might also like to read our page on catering your own wedding for more ideas on planning.


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How Much Food To Prepare?

When planning your diy wedding reception finger food you will need to ensure that you have enough food to keep everyone happy. Below you will find some advice to help you decide on how much food you will need:

  • Pre-dinner nibbles serve about 4-5 pieces of food per person.

  • Cocktail party lasting about two to three hours allow 4 - 6 pieces of food per hour for each guest.

  • Where finger food is replacing a full sit-down meal allow 13 - 15 pieces of food per person for the length of the whole party.

However, when planning your finger food menu also consider the following.

  • The time of the year as people do eat more when the temperatures are colder.

  • The age of your guests. If you have young guests they will eat more than older guests.

  • And the eating habits of your guests, you may be aware that most of your guests tend to eat more – it might be wise to make more.

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How Much Variety Should You Have

Have a variety of food and keep it simple and concentrate on only a few fabulous dishes than having many average dishes. You can use the following charts below as a guide, these will give you a good start when it comes time to plan your menu.
When working out quantities per dish variety keep in mind what was discussed in the above section.

Wedding Reception Pre-Dinner Nibbles

Prepare about two to three different varieties perhaps two cold dishes and one hot or the other way around, these should be light because you will be providing a meal afterwards.

2 Hour Wedding Reception Cocktail Party

Have a mixture of light and filling dishes as some people will fill up on these rather than going home and having a meal later.

Chart giving suggested number of varieites of finger food for a wedding cocktail party.

Lunch or Dinner Wedding Finger Food Reception

For a whole evening occasion start with light canapes, then move onto more substantial food (this would be when you would serve the hot food) and then finish with sweet nibbles.

Chart giving suggested number of varieites of finger food for a wedding lunch or dinner.

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Inform Your Guests

When sending out your wedding invitations it is always a sensible idea to give your guests a rough idea of what to expect, food - wise.

So, if you are planning on having a two-hour cocktail party, it's a good idea to put a start and assumed finish times on the invitation; this way people will be expecting nibbles and not a full meal.

If it is an evening reception, let them know that you will be providing food equivalent to an evening meal. You might also like to read our article on catering your own wedding.

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Popular Finger Food Ideas

When it comes to planning the menu, it can be difficult to think of ideas so I have complied a list of some popular finger food to help you get started.

Ideas For Easy Appetizers

  • Mini bruschetta – with a variety of toppings.
    Make your own bruschetta using sliced baguette style Italian bread which are toasted in the oven. The bread can be toasted several days in advance and stored in air tight containers. Choose a variety of toppings that can be made the day before and assemble the bruschetta on the day just before serving.

  • A selection of dips served with pita chips, breadsticks or crackers.
    Golden deep-fried ravioli served with a warm marinara dipping sauce.
    You can buy readymade ravioli and deep fry them just before serving, use a decent quality store bought pasta sauce for dipping.

  • Stuffed Mushrooms
    Stuffing mushrooms takes time so choose a recipe where the mushrooms can be prepared the day before then stored in the refrigerator and bake on the day.

  • Smoked Salmon Canapes
    Make or buy a cream cheese spread (I like a sour cream and chive flavoured cheese spread) spread this onto slices of fresh bread (baguette) top with a slice of smoked salmon and garnish with a little parsley.

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Ideas For Cold Finger Foods For Weddings


  • Liptauer (Austrian cheese dip) served with pumpernickel or rye bread.

  • Tapenade (French dip using olives, capers, basil leave, lemon juice and olive oil) serve with grissini (thin, crisp Italian breadsticks).

  • Herbed ricotta spread this can be used for dipping or spreading on tiny bites of toasted bread.

  • Mixed bean and salsa dips served with tortilla chips.

  • Tuna salad dip on pita crisps.

  • Turkish spinach dip served with toasted pita chips.

Cold Finger Foods

  • Cucumber croutes

  • Prawn canapes

  • Parmesan cheese wafers

  • Baba Ghanoush

  • Aioli Platters

  • Frittata’s

  • Devilled eggs

  • Blini with toppings such as sour cream and onion dip topped with smoked salmon or slices of smoked chicken and mustard.

  • Gougeres - savour filled choux pastries (profiteroles).

  • You can fill radicchio or green witlof leaves with spoonsful of crab salad, tuna salad or another salad of your choosing.

  • Mini toasts topped with a dip or spread or make BLT’s by spreading toasts with mayonnaise, pieces of lettuce leaf, bacon and a slice of grape tomato.

  • Smoked salmon cones

  • Bocconcini, olive and cherry tomato skewers can be drizzled with olive oil or served with a pesto dip.

  • Pepper, sesame seed, parsley, or other flavouring coated cheese balls.

  • Finger sandwiches

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Hot Finger Foods

  • Freshly made crispy wonton cups with a savory filling

  • Lamb koftas with spiced yogurt dip

  • Tikka prawns with raita

  • Cheeseburger sliders

  • Samousas

  • Spring rolls, deep fried or oven baked

  • Curry puffs

  • Wontons

  • Dumplings, prawn or pork

  • Buffalo wings

  • Honey soy wings

  • Savory stuffed tiny baked potatoes

  • Meat balls in sauce

  • Mini cottage pies

  • Oysters with pesto butter

  • Mini sausage rolls

  • Deep-fried mozzarella sticks

  • Cheese scones

  • Mini salmon or tuna patties

  • Fish cakes

  • Mini quiches or large quiches cut into bite size pieces

  • Bite sized pizzas

  • Savory palmiers

  • Savory filled filo triangles

  • Meat skewers

  • Dolmades

  • Hot chips

  • Lamb cutlets

  • Mini pies

Sweet Finger Food

  • Cookies

  • Mini cakes or bite sized cake slices

  • Fruit skewers or platters with sweet dips

  • Brownies

  • Mini cheesecakes, squares or in jars

  • Mini tarts

  • Cream puffs

  • Mini meringues

  • Chocolates

  • Cake pops

  • Macaroons

  • Baklava

  • Cupcakes

  • Apple and cinnamon turnovers

  • Mini S’mores

  • Rocky road squares

  • Mini strudels

  • Chocolate cups with mouse or cream filling

  • Individual trifles

  • Truffles

  • Donuts and donut holes

  • Sweet coated popcorn

  • Ice-cream cones or cups

  • Chocolate dipped strawberries

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Be Well Organized

The key to a successful wedding finger food reception is in the planning. Once you have made a final decision on your menu, make lists.

Make a shopping list of all the ingredients that you require for each dish, and a timeline of all the tasks assigned to a particular helper and days.

It is also wise to make a list of equipment and serving dishes and utensils that will be needed on the day. Try to get all this in place far ahead of time.

If you are having dishes that can be frozen make these at least one to two weeks in advance.

If you can, set up the buffet table and bar the evening before.

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Your Wedding Finger Food Reception Checklist

  • Date and time of wedding reception.

  • Number of guests.

  • Plan your menu.

  • Check recipes that can be made in advance and freeze.

  • Reception venue.

  • Hire tables and chairs if necessary.

  • Number of serving dishes, glasses, plates, cutlery and dishes, napkins.

  • Make your shopping list for food and drinks (don't forget the tea and coffee).

  • Ice.

  • Prepare the food.

  • Chill wine and soft drinks.

  • Flowers.

  • Decorate reception venue.

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