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How Many Canapes Per Person Wedding Guide [All You Need To Know]

One of several things that you will need to consider and plan on your wedding day is the food. What will you serve, when, and how much are you going to need. Canapés are a great option; keeping hunger at bay for your guests during the drinks reception following the ceremony. But how many do you need per person and what is the optimal amount? I spent some time researching canapés in preparation for our own wedding. I would like to share my findings with you here today.

So, how many canapes do you need per person for a wedding? It is generally advised to offer 3-4 canapes per person for an hour long drinks reception, if a wedding breakfast is to follow. If you are having a 2 hour drinks reception, then you may want to consider an additional 1-2 canapes per person, being sure that they are offered at various intervals throughout the reception. If you prefer canapes over a starter in the wedding breakfast, then 8-10 canapes per person is usually recommended.

The canapes that you decide to serve are ultimately a decision that you will need to make. Factors to consider during this process include, what foods you as a couple enjoy, what can caterers provide, what is your budget and what do you think your guests would like.

Either way, it is best practice to provide a combination of both sweet and savory canapes to suit everyone’s tastes.

Getting the right amount of canapes can be quite a challenge. Ordering too little and your guests will likely be too hungry, any more than they need could mean they are too full for the wedding breakfast that is soon to follow.

Let us now take a closer look at those questions you may be having, including whether you need them, the types available and how they will be served. This way, you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision about what you want on your special day.

How Many Canapes Should I Allow Per Person?

The amount of canapes that you will need per person will depend mostly on the schedule, the length of drinks reception, and the rest of the menu at the wedding breakfast.

While a wedding planner can help you to get the right amount, along with suggestions from the wedding venue or coordinator, many couples either decide not to employ these services, or want to know how to run the calculations by themselves. That’s completely fair – we are one of those couples too!

Here are some good general guidelines to follow:

  • It is generally advised that you serve 3-4 canapes for a 1 hour drinks reception.
  • 4-6 canapes for a 2 hour drinks reception,
  • 8-10 for a drinks reception where the wedding breakfast does not include a starter (instead serving a main and a dessert)

So, when it comes to the order and the total amount of canapes, it works out as following:

For A One Hour Drinks Reception

Number of GuestsCanapes To Order

For A Two Hour Drinks Reception

Number of GuestsCanapes To Order

For A Wedding Reception Without A Starter At The Wedding Breakfast

Number of GuestsCanapes To Order

As you can see, depending on the size of your wedding will largely dictate how many canapes you need to order.

The trick is not to show that you can afford too many or too extravagant canapes, but to design a menu that has broad appeal, is appetizing and leaves guests with energy left to celebrate.

How Are Canapes Served?

Canapes are normally served on trays with no knives, forks or spoons, although sometimes a toothpick or skewer may be necessary.

Equally, guests may sometimes be given a small plate or cutlery depending on the complexity of the canape. Although this is generally the exception rather than the norm.

Instead, canapes by design should be easy for your guests to eat. They should be able to do so in one bite.

What Are The Types Of Canape?

There are many different types of canapes, with various different tastes and textures.

Nevertheless, canapes are small, bite-sized nibbles, which are designed to provide interesting flavors.

Many are served on bread or pastry, but not all are and many caterers provide dozens of different options to choose from. Let us now take a closer look at what you will commonly see and find.

Examples of Canapes Catering Companies Provide

Below you will see a list of the different commonly provided canape options, in both hot and cold categories:


  • Crab Cakes and sweet chilli dipping sauce,
  • Crispy shrimp/prawn with sweet chilli dipping sauce,
  • Crispy pork,
  • Miniature beef wellingtons,
  • Mini burgers,
  • Fried Calamari,
  • Mini Quiches,
  • Wild mushroom tarts,
  • Vegetable spring rolls,
  • Vegetable, or meat, samosas.


  • Cheese straws,
  • Grilled prawns on gem lettuce leaves,
  • Oysters,
  • Salmon tartar
  • Smoked salmon bilinis,
  • Sushi rolls.

Do You Need Canapes At A Wedding?

Canapes are not a requirement for your wedding day, although serving some food during the drinks reception is advised and is somewhat of a tradition.

Not only because guests will have not likely eaten in several hours, but they will be having drinks on what would otherwise be a relatively empty stomach. Not such a good idea!

Instead of canapes, some couples decide to serve different types of food to their guests during this time.

It does depend on the venue, caterers and your budget, but these are some other commonly suggested items you could consider:

  • Crisps,
  • Crudités and dips,
  • Olives,
  • Mixed nuts,
  • Strawberries, other fresh fruit.

Ultimately what you choose should be something that suits your theme and the type of wedding you have arranged.

It also depends on your own timeline and schedule, and when you are looking to hold the ceremony and rest of the wedding reception. These are things you need to take into account; they’re highly individualized.

Equally, is important that whatever you decide you want to do, you provide options for everyone invited; whether this be vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options.


Canapes are an excellent, versatile option, and one that can be a welcome addition to any drinks reception.

Before we finish up we would just like to provide some final tips and suggestions to ensure you get your canape order right!

We suggest that you choose your canapes after you have chosen what you will be having for your wedding breakfast. You do not want to duplicate foods and you want them to compliment one another. For example, you do not want salmon roll canapes followed by grilled salmon at dinner!

If in doubt, the wedding breakfast should always take presedence!

When it comes to ordering, consider that canapes are typically charged per piece. So ordering too many is simply going to be a waste of your budget. You may be fortunate enough to have your canapes included in your meal package, but it is worth being aware of and perhaps discussing with your supplier nonetheless.

Lastly, be sure to consider both hot and cold options, as some guests will have a preference for one or the other and it is always nice to have the option!

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