The Apps Only Wedding Reception - Colorado Intimate Weddings

If you are looking for a unique, guest-friendly, and potentially more economical way to host a wedding, consider the apps-only wedding reception (yes, this is a 'thing', and no, it's not 'tacky')! 

Done correctly, 'appetizers only' is a way to treat guests to a huge variety of simple or gourmet foods, offered in a relaxed atmosphere that encourages mingling, taste-testing, and laughter. 

I know from experience that guests absolutely love the cocktail hour portion of the wedding. It's an opportunity for them to kick back, chat with long lost family and friends, and enjoy the beautiful Colorado (or destination!) scenery! 

Why not continue that relaxed atmosphere and jump right in with your guests over small bites, a stunning dessert table, and wine tasting? 


The Apps Only Wedding Reception 

Planning an apps only wedding reception doesn't require any additional planning, however, there are a few things to consider when putting together this type of event. As a Colorado wedding planner, I am able to offer some great tips and help you make this day perfect, so if you have questions, please get in touch! 

Benefits of the appetizer only wedding reception

  • It can be more cost-effective (or not, depending on your overall vision and budget)
  • Apps only is memorable and unique
  • Guests can try multiple different foods, rather than being served a standard entree
  • Beer flights, wine tastings, and signature drinks fit the vibe well and make a perfect addition!
  • Mingling is encouraged
  • Guests won't be tied to any specific table for the entirety of the meal

Read on for tips to plan the perfect apps, desserts, and drinks style event!


Apps Only Reception Planning Tips

Consider your personal heritage

The apps only reception is a perfect place to mix in a favorite food from your heritage. Anything goes from Indian Samosas to bite-sized pork street tacos! Get creative here and don't be afraid to ask your catering company if they can replicate an old family recipe. 

Offer up a unique piece of your history as a couple

If you like to frequent beer gardens, perhaps a small tasting flight and some pretzel bites dipped in beer cheese might be just the ticket! 

If you met at a ball game, some onion rings and mini-hot dogs passed around can make for a fun crowd-pleasing apps that honor how it all began.

If your first meal together was at a 5-star steakhouse, don't forget the possibility of rare steak served on a baguette with rosemary, olive oil, and a little bleu cheese!


Choose a theme (or not)

You can mix and match appetizer selections for variety and interest, OR you can choose a theme (examples; comfort food, Mexican, or tapas. The sky is the limit!)

Offer a variety

No matter what you do, offer a variety! Whether you stick to a theme, or want to have everything from a truffled goat cheese and fig crostini to a simple chicken wing dipped in fresh buffalo sauce, make sure your guests can turn down an app that they don't like, and still find their fill of other great food. 

Do the numbers

I have a lot of experience with apps-only receptions and can give you some great ideas for budget vs. 'apps-per-person'. As a full service wedding planner, I'm also happy to walk you through the process of choosing and working with a caterer that can offer the unique apps only wedding reception! If you are planning a wedding and interested in a little professional help, make sure to get in touch! 

Vary the table heights

With apps only receptions, the key is to offer an environment where guests are encouraged to mingle. Offer benches, comfy cozy chairs (even a couch!), and a variety of both tall tables (for standing) and regular tables (for sitting). 

Make sure there are plenty of places for guests to set drinks and small plates down, as well as friendly staff making sure that the dirty dishes aren't piling up on your tables! 

Don't forget dessert!

Dessert can be served as a beautiful display, offering small bites of everything from baklava to apple hand pies. 

Guests will love making their own s'mores on a rented s'mores table (Allwell Rents in Denver has them!). Ice cream with a toppings station is another fun option! 

You can still cut a cake, too. Make your wedding cake smaller and use it as the centerpiece to your dessert bites table. 

Drinks on the house

Beer flights, a signature drink, and wine tastings can all be a part of your open bar. Look into the possibility of offering stations for these, where guests can visit each station for a tasting to keep the mingling fresh and moving.

Decorate each station with a neat story and a photo of you and your new spouse!

Toasts and Dancing still work

Toasts, dancing, and any other traditional wedding activity you desire can still work with the apps only wedding reception. 

I highly recommend hiring live music and an M.C. or a great DJ to keep the flow of the evening moving along! 


The basic idea behind an apps-only wedding reception is to make it personal, make it fun, and make it yours. I can help you with this! 

The apps only reception can work through a meal time hour if you serve enough food. It's also a great option if you want to be more economical, and have your reception take place between regular meal times. 

Send me a note if you'd like to chat and get more information on planning your amazing Colorado or destination wedding!

The Best Colorado Wedding Catering options for Apps-Only Receptions

These are the catering companies that I personally recommend often for catering Colorado weddings. I also believe that they are your best options for planning an appetizers only reception! I've worked with them often; they serve great food and have wonderful staff to make your event amazing. 

Footers Catering

Three Tomatoes Catering

Occasions Catering



Wanda Bonner