Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wedding Reception Dilemma: Hand-Passed vs. Displayed Hors d'oeuvres

Thanks, ladies, for all of your help settling our cash vs. hosted bar dilemma a few months ago! I’m happy to say we now have some great news to share about this part of the wedding.

As long as our guest count ends up in the range we expect it to, and we also stay on track with our budget in other areas, we’ll be able to upgrade to a catering package that includes three hours of hosted wine and beer, plus a champagne toast. Complimentary soda, coffee and tea will be offered throughout the night, and we’re still hoping to feature our signature sangria, as well.

This new package also includes one cocktail hour display spread of cheese, fruit or veggies, as well as three hand-passed items of our choice. However, if we’re not able to work this out, it will be on to the next quandry – whether to offer a couple hand-passed appetizers during the cocktail hour, or stick with a display featuring a variety of gourmet cheeses and crackers, plus chips and salsa to help get everyone in the mood for the Mexican buffet to follow.

While the hand-passed options are definitely more “exciting,” with choices like tomato bruschetta and chicken satay, the downside is that guests would likely have to patiently wait to be served at the start of the cocktail hour. A display of cheese and crackers, plus salsa and chips, on the other hand, would allow guests to serve themselves immediately after arriving.

The display items strike me as being potentially more filling, too, compared with tiny bite-sized hors d'oeuvres. And while a guest might not like the hand-passed items that are offered, I think most guests would surely be able to find a couple cheeses they enjoy. And who doesn’t like chips and salsa?

As a guest, which option would you prefer? What are you planning to offer at your wedding?

(Photo Credits: Google Images)


  1. You know, I was just thinking the other day about passed appetizers and how if someone found one they really liked, they would then have to chase it around the room to grab another. While this is a funny picture in my head, I think I would prefer a station as a guest.

  2. I'd say I see more people reaching for stationary apps because it's hard to catch the waiter with passed hors d'oeuvres. BUT of the weddings I've gone to (purely anecdotal of course) cheese and crackers were the least touched if there were several stations. It's totally up to you and what you think your friends would eat and whether you want all the food to be eaten quickly or you don't mind some leftovers.

  3. I honestly dont think your guests would mind, especially since its just during the cocktail hour and you are having a buffet later for dinner.

    We are having 3 canapes which will be hand passed around by the waiters while our guests get their welcome drink.

    Maybe its just a british thing but guests here certainly wouldnt mind how the food was served and here also there isnt such a thing about a cash bar or not. We are doing what is usually done which is to offer a welcome drink, wine with dinner and a glass of champagne for the toasts. Everything else the guests will get themselves from the hotel bar.

    Sorry for waffling a bit!

  4. Hmm, this is tough one! As a guest, I have liked the passed apps better, just because I am usually waiting at the bar during the cocktail hour and can't be in two places at once (the buffet and the bar). However, I agree that it's best to allow guests to sort of pick and choose what they would like to eat. I agree with C 'n C that cheese and crackers tend to go untouched if the cheese isn't cut up into bite-sized pieces. Which is sooo crazy to me since I love cheese and usually fill my plate with it :)

  5. I'm a huge caterer chaser. IE: When I like a treat, I will subsequently follow the person holding it to get more. Please leave the food sitting in one place so everyone can get it when they want it!!

  6. I am so in love with this post! You have given me a totally new perspective on the idea of displayed versus hand passed appetizers. I have always preferred the hand passed so when we opted for a catering package that included only 'displayed' appetizers, I was a little worried about how guests might feel having to 'serve themselves.' I never thought about from the perspective you offered and now I am really happy with our choice. We actually are having a fruit and cheese and cracker display on one table, then a second table with have three hot hors d'oeuvres on display alongside a lemonade bar. So we are still able to provide some of our own selections for the hot appetizers, they just won't be tray passed. Thanks so much for this post :) I am sure either decision you make will be a great one and your guests will be happy.

  7. I think hand passes hor d'ouvres are elegant but sometimes I feel like I am chasing after the waiter! Displayed hor d'ouvres allows the guests to get the food at their own pace and continue to socialize. Thats just my opinion, do whatever you prefer. It will still be amazing.

  8. Personally I prefer to have the food in one place and can then go see whats available, what I like, and what I want to try. A lot of times when the food is being passed around there are items that you never see, or are finished by the time they get to where you are. Just a thought.

  9. I like the displayed...but that's probably because it's what we're doing.