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Getting married? Very cool, much congratulations. Now, for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of your wedding guests before cocktail hour begins. Yes, you’re very excited about the beautiful love you just witnessed. You’re also frazzled from the travel you had to navigate to make it to ceremony in time. Plus, you’re slightly uncomfortable because for the umpteenth time, you convinced yourself Spanx were a good idea. Now, your stomach hurts. Then again, you haven’t even eaten since breakfast. And that was a banana. When’s dinner again?

For most guests, cocktail hour boasts two major perks: the most exciting food of the night and the most memorable food of the night. (After all, they haven’t had any cocktails to impair their judgment yet.) Cocktail hour food should be the best food of the evening. Why? When guests have had deviled eggs topped with a fried oysters as an appetizer, they’re not likely to complain about any chewy filet later in the evening.

Because hors d’oeuvres are usually on the smaller side, cocktail hour also allows you to get creative with the food you serve. Whether you’re doing all passed food or setting up multiple food stations, here are eight cocktail hour food ideas your guests will totally love.

1. A Charcuterie Situation

If you have a plethora of quality meats and cheeses at your wedding cocktail hour, you could honestly serve soup for dinner and people would still leave happy. While charcuterie and fine cheeses aren’t cheap, they’ll be worth it. Add baguettes and mini toasts to accompany your spread. And speaking of spreads, don’t forget the fig spreads, mustards, quince paste, and chutneys.

2. Mini Tacos

Sliders are expected. Mini tacos are excellence. Most people you know love a great taco, but tacos can be incredibly messy. A taco station — or truck, if your cocktail hour is outside — that can concoct tacos on small tortillas will be a giant hit. (Don’t forget the margaritas!)

3. Grilled Cheese

There’s nothing like a triangle of grilled cheese to keep children happy (and to keep adults from getting too drunk at cocktail hour). To reinforce an earlier point: putting cheese and bread together is a solid bet with just about any crowd. (You’ll have a vegan, gluten-free option, too, of course.) Mini tomato soups to accompany the grilled cheese is also a great move.

4. Falafel Balls

Falafel is like a vegetarian meatball, but better. Fittingly, the best way to serve falafel at a cocktail hour is to treat it like a meatball — pop a toothpick in it and provide tahini for dipping.

5. Soup Dumplings

The caveat to including soup dumplings on this list is that you absolutely must only serve them if you have someone making them who knows what they are doing. Cool? Great. Then soup dumplings (as long as they aren’t so piping hot they’re going to burn mouths), or any other quality dumpling are a great move at cocktail hour.

6. A Raw Bar

An oldie, but a goodie — raw seafood makes crowds go wild. However, providing oysters for your entire guest list can be pricey. Consider splurging on some seafood towers that also include mussels, clams, and scallops if you know your crowd is all about the bivalve mollusks.

Written by: Kimmy Foskett

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