Wedding Reception Appetizers to Satisfy Every Eating Restriction

Tacos on a serving dish at a wedding reception.

These days, food allergies are becoming more commonplace. Of course, you should always remember to inquire about any food intolerances from your wedding guests and accommodate them as best as possible. While catering to everyone is impossible and trying to might seem like adding extra complications to your planning, with a few handy recipes in your pocket there will be nothing to stress about. Here are some simple suggestions for bite-sized appetizers that are vegan, gluten-free, and all-around healthy. Best of all, you can easily make them yourself, so they’re perfect for any pre-wedding event.

Think Simple Snacks

If you’re short on time or if you just want to add something that’s fuss-free, consider your most basic snacks such as veggies or corn chips with dip. However, make sure that the chips are truly wheat-free if gluten is a concern. For dips, some gluten-free and vegan-friendly suggestions include hummus, egg-free aioli, vegan pesto, olive tapenade, or guacamole. You can also find plenty of other interesting vegan dips to try here. To make things look a bit more high end, serve these in a shot glass or tiny bowls, with veggies sticking out on one side, and garnish with an herb or some spices.

Stuffed Mushrooms

You can play around a lot with stuffed mushrooms. They’re easy to make and easy to eat. Choose smaller ones to make bite-sized portions or opt for a large portobello if you’re serving these at a table. This recipe for Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms from Minimalist Baker is suitable for gluten-intolerant individuals and can be used as a base. Feel free to take out the walnuts if someone has a nut allergy and sprinkle gluten-free bread crumbs to add crunch.

Roasted Potatoes

A dish of roasted potatoes on a table at a wedding reception.

Similar to stuffed mushrooms, potatoes offer a healthy base with endless combinations. Use baby potatoes for finger-friendly food, and get creative with your toppings. You can top them with any of the dips suggested above, or try something more interesting such as this Tex-Mex inspired recipe from I Love Vegan. Because roasted potatoes are soft, add a crunchy element such as a radish slice as a garnish.

Mini Skewers

Whether warm or cold, skewer appetizers are both chic and fun to eat. For a refreshing summer treat, try pairing watermelon, feta (or vegan feta), black olives, and mint leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then drizzle with lime juice and olive oil. This is also a great way to serve grilled veggies; zucchini, onions, mushrooms, and eggplant all work well together in any combination. Just avoid potentially messy options such as tomatoes, which can leak if handled without a plate.

Sushi and Rolls

There are many variations on sushi, with a recipe for every taste and preference. You can use this vegan sushi recipe as a starter and then mix and match different ingredients. Instead of nori (seaweed), you can also use rice paper to make spring rolls, but they are best served with a sauce, such as a peanut satay or sweet and sour.

Alternatively, use a gluten-free wrap or tortilla, cover it in a dip such as hummus, and stuff it with various veggies. Make sure to roll it tight before you cut it into sushi size, and secure it with a toothpick.


Although it likely requires two hands to eat, popcorn provides you with a lot of options. If you want to add a fun element, you can even rent or buy a popcorn-making machine for your event and set up a station where your guests can mix in their own toppings. For some winning popcorn flavors, truffle oil and Parmesan go well together—and you can even have vegan parmesan available. For a sweet take, try brown sugar and cinnamon, or drizzle caramel on top. Of course, you can always just go modern classic with coconut oil and sea salt.

Advice for Wedding Guests

Wedding guests standing by a table of food at a reception.

Although whoever is hosting the wedding should try to take care of their guests, it’s also polite for guests to respect their hosts. Here are some tips if you’re planning on attending a wedding and have food restrictions:

  • If the RSVP cards inquire about food intolerances, only list them if they’re legit. Attending someone’s wedding is the wrong time to begin a high-maintenance eating regime. Plus, people who fake food intolerance are usually easily discovered, and you don’t want the newlyweds to get angry at you on their big day.
  • Even if you’re RSVPing to the wedding of your best friend who has known about your peanut allergy since grade school, always mention it on the response card, anyway. Your friend may be far too busy with wedding planning to deal with catering and might hand over those cards straight to the chef or someone else to deal with.
  • If they don’t ask about food intolerance on the invitation and you have a legitimate concern, do give the host or hostess a call when you say yes, or add a memo to the RSVP card.
  • When attending a pre-wedding event, things are generally much more casual and you might be able to bring your own food. If you’re a picky eater, prepare a plate of light bites or a dish to take with you, but make enough so you’re willing to share. The host or hostess will likely appreciate it, but do ask ahead if it’s OK to do so.
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