Non-traditional catering choices at weddings is a trend that is not going away! Food trucks, taco carts, and other styles of “station” catering is a popular choice, especially in Southern California where food trucks and tacos are a part of our culture!
A lot of couples opt for this type of fare because its cost effective, and many just because it’s different and the food is not your “average” wedding meal. Food trucks can be an amazing addition to the event and create a cool, casual ambiance but there are a few things to consider before making your decision!
PTC has coordinated many of these weddings and we’ve seen it work…and well, not really work. Here’s the straight scoop:
Food trucks are generally a cheaper option than a traditional, all inclusive caterer. When you are first researching, you see a $15/person price tag vs. an average $60/person price and of course a food truck seems like the best choice! What you need to know first and foremost is that price is only a portion of what you NEED to pull off a successful wedding.
The food truck quote generally includes no staff, no rentals, and service for only the time the truck is there for (usually 2 hours). The average wedding is 6 hours plus setup and teardown and there is table, bar, appetizers, and dessert cleanup that the food truck will have nothing to do with. Cocktail hour will either cost extra, or you will have to hire another vendor. Staffing is necessary- even if you are using disposable plates and silverware, your guests will not throw away their own trash (more on this later). Many couples still want to use real china and glassware which means that has to be rented separately and handled appropriately.
Be sure to get a quote for the additional staffing, additional food and rentals you will need for the whole event to be sure you are comparing apples to apples! Often a food truck is still more cost effective, but it may not be the budget-saver you originally hoped!
OK, so the price is right? Great! Will a food truck really work with your venue? Consider where the food truck will park and how guests will access the truck. Some venues lend themselves quite well to this, but some don’t have a logical flow or ample space. Many have rules against it completely! Is there space around the truck for guests to wait? Will the truck setup a separate buffet? Does that defeat the purpose of using the truck at all?
Also consider transportation to your venue location. We did a wedding in Joshua Tree where the food truck was over an hour late because it broke down on the hot drive there! We have also done weddings in remote areas where the truck struggled getting up a large hill, down a small driveway or a windy road! Taco and other catering carts also have limitations on where they can be transported or setup. Consider the logistics of all of these scenarios before making your decision!
Food trucks can be a super fun addition and really add to the overall guest experience of your wedding! Many guests love the unique food choices and appreciate the casual vibe a food truck provides. However, there are a couple things to consider. First off, food trucks and cart service WILL one hundred percent of the time take longer than a traditional caterer. Sometimes much longer. We have seen it take up to 2 hours to get all of the guests fed at a wedding. That is a very long time for guests to wait. This can be remedied by having multiple food trucks, or by preventing hangry-ness in the first place with a heavy cocktail hour spread or snacks at the table while guests wait. Also consider logistics again- does grandma have to climb up a steep driveway to access the truck or cart? Are groups going to be awkwardly standing in a space while waiting for their meals? Talk to the truck about how they serve the food and the smoothest, fastest way to create a good experience for your guests.
This is a big one and has many variables. The main thing you need to remember is that no matter how casual your event is, guests expect a certain amount of service at a wedding. They expect someone else to throw their trash away, they expect someone to serve drinks and fill their water. So even if you are using all disposable plates, you will need service staff to take care of bussing and trash (there is always SO much more trash than you think at a wedding!).
Many couples opt for a food truck but still want to use real china, silver and glassware. If this is the case you will need more staff, as bussing will take more time, and rentals will need to be cleaned and packed away. You will also need that staff for more hours as it takes time to create the place settings at tables, and clean up at the end of the night will take longer.
Some food trucks offer service options- so they are cooking on the truck, but will setup a more traditional buffet, or will even serve a multi course meal! No matter the form of service be sure you are accounting for having staff the entire number of hours the wedding will be plus at least 1 before for setup and 1 after for breakdown.
You can always incorporate a food truck-ish element without making it the main course, which could be a great compromise! In N’ Out makes for a great late night snack (hello drunk burgers yyuummmm) Or did you know there is a Margarita Truck?! – Oh yes and it is beautiful! Or how about a made to order ice cream sandwich cart for dessert? These are fun ways to make your wedding unique and give guests an experience without some of the hassle.
Any tips or tricks from couples who used a food truck?