Canapes – essential or an unnecessary expense?

Many caterers offer a canape selection as standard to work alongside their main menus, and it’s quite usual to have something for guests to nibble on as they slurp a glass of champagne whilst the bride and groom have their pictures taken before the wedding breakfast – however with canapes costing on average anywhere between £5 to £10 per head, it’s quite reasonable to consider whether or not canapes are actually a necessary expense in addition to a main meal being served.

The main purpose of serving canapes is usually to keep guests content between the end of the wedding ceremony and the start of the wedding breakfast. If you’re serving a glass of champagne or other alcoholic drinks, it may also be to stop guests getting a little too tipsy before the main meal arrives. The range of canapes available are endless – anything from your traditional prawn vol-au-vent to the miniature favourites of mini fish & chips or mini-yorkshire pudding & beef or to the more adventurous, innovative, quirky canapes like savoury beetroot macaroons with creamed goat’s cheese or foie gras with apple sorbet en croute.

Goats Cheese Canape | Wedding Canapes | Ultimate Wedding Magazine

A key consideration as to whether or not you serve canapes is the time of the wedding and the length of time between the end of the wedding ceremony and the wedding breakfast. If you are getting married around lunchtime (say between 12 – 2pm), its likley guests will not have had time to eat lunch before the ceremony and by the time the pictures are finished, and the wedding breakfast is served, anywhere between 3pm – 5pm, guests are going to be very hungry and I would say that in this instance, canapes for your guests will be a necessity.

However, if you are having a morning or late afternoon wedding, a shorter ceremony or are leaving your photography session until after the wedding breakfast (or you plan for it to be quite short), then you may be able to get away without having canapes.

Mini Burger | Wedding Canapes | Ultimate Wedding Magazine

If you do decide to serve canapes, it’s essential that you get the correct balance. Too few canapes and guests are left feeling hungry, and may end up drinking more than you wish, too many and guests feel too full to really enjoy the wedding breakfast. On average allow between 5 to 8 canapes per person remembering to include some vegetarian options –  some guests will only have one or two canapes and others will quite happily eat 10 or more canapes to make up for it!

Canapes should only be a mouthful of food otherwise they can become too messy and people will shy away from eating them – remember the canapes are not there to fill people up, simply to keep guests going until the main wedding breakfast. With this in mind, whilst canapes such as miniature cones of fish & chips or miniature beef burgers are a nice idea for a drinks party, consider whether or not these may be too much if guests are about to sit down and eat a three-course meal.

Wedding Nibbles | Wedding Canapes | Ultimate Wedding Magazine

A final note is, remember to enjoy some of the canapes yourself! So many brides and grooms spend the whole wedidng reception talking to their guests they forget to eat – making sure you have a few canapes will give you plenty of energy to keep you going through the whole day and into the small hours of the next morning so you can enjoy the party.

 ~ Lucy is menu designer and chef at Mayflower Events – a company specialising in wedding catering in Sussex, Surrey and Kent ~