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Food and drink ideas for welcoming wedding guests

07 Apr 15 By: Lene McGuinness

As guests arrive at your wedding reception, it is customary to provide drinks and refreshments. There is a long day ahead, and before they sit down to dinner, those guests will socialise, pose for photographs and work up a real appetite.

That’s why it helps to provide them with a warm welcome, on arrival, although that welcome is often best served chilled.

What drinks should I serve on arrival?

Popular arrival drinks include champagne, Pimm’s, wine and bottled beer, although if you’re hosting a winter wedding mulled wine is also well received.

In the summer, Pimm’s goes down well and there is always a willing reception for beer and wine. Non-alcoholic options are also important. Try sparkling elderflower cordial, with fresh apple juice, lemon and ginger.

Non-alcoholic drinks are quite often served in champagne flutes, but with the addition of some frozen fruit, like a raspberry or grape, in the base of the glass. This will allow the service staff to identify non-alcohol drinkers when topping up their drinks.

Whilst putting so much thought into your drink options, it can be easy to forget that guests may be hungry too, particularly if they’ve already joined you at the ceremony and stood for the photographs which come afterward.

Canapes will keep smiles on faces and tummy rumbles at bay until it’s time to sit for dinner.

What canapés should I serve?

There are a wide variety of canapés to choose from. They could be crackers, toast or pastries topped with various sweet or savoury toppings.

Some event planners serve their canapés in a way which mirrors the three course meal format. The first tray consists of seafood, melon and parma ham, the second tray features roasted meat and vegetables while the third tray contains, sweets, fruit, chocolate or cheesecake.

In wedding scenarios, one variety should suffice to tide people over until dinner, but as always vegetarian options are essential.

As with beverages, you can choose between warm and cold canapés.

Cold canapés:

  • Pastrami and Asparagus on Rye Bread
  • Sun-dried Tomato Shell filled with Taramasalata
  • Tartlets of Roasted Sweet Peppers
  • Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese on Rye Bread
  • Parma Ham on a Toasted Croûte with Basil Oil

Hot canapés:

  • Honey Glazed Cocktail Cumberland Sausages with Grain Mustard Dip
  • Cocktail Vegetable Samosas
  • Butterfly King Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dip
  • Sesame Prawn Toasts
  • Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls with Ho Sin Dip

How long should I plan to welcome guests?

Wedding planners should allow between one and a half hours and two hours for arrival drinks and refreshments. You might be surprised how quickly two hours can pass during the hubbub of the wedding reception.

A further half an hour should be allowed for once guests are invited to take their seats for dinner.