Everything You Need to Know About Food Truck Wedding Catering
Now more than ever, couples are focused on making their weddings an unforgettable experience for their guests. While some to-be-weds are opting for interactive food stations or live performances, others are thinking even bigger. Food truck wedding catering, more specifically, is an extremely unique addition to your nuptials. Not only will it provide your guests with delicious, authentic food, it'll also create a completely Insta-worthy photo opp.
"Food trucks are so fun at weddings—each one typically specializes in a delicious food and is such a fun experience," says Jove Meyer, owner and creative director at Jove Meyer Events. "You can have multiple trucks with various food specialties to serve dinner, or one or two trucks for cocktail hour, desserts and or late night snacks."
However, there's more to food truck wedding catering than meets the eye. There are a few things to consider before you book your dream Mexican taco stand, grilled cheese mobile bar or ice cream truck. You'll need to work with your wedding planner and coordinate with your venue in order to ensure everything (from parking to scheduling) is taken care of. But the end result will be totally worth it—trust us. See everything you need to know about food truck wedding catering, below.
How do food trucks work at weddings?
You get to decide how you want to set up your food truck wedding catering. You can hire a food truck for cocktail hour (hot dog or empanada appetizers, anyone?), dinner (think: fresh bbq or lobster rolls), dessert (like cupcakes or gelato) or late night snacks (hello, midnight waffles). However, Jennifer Price, owner of Event Shoppe Chicago, strongly encourages couples to use them for pre- or post-dinner entertainment only for several reasons. "We always recommend using food trucks for late night snacks when there's not a huge rush and people aren't starving," she says. "When you have a food truck for your wedding dinner or wedding entree, you're going to have very long lines."
Those long lines mean it could take a while for your food truck chefs to prepare enough food for everyone too. "A lot of people pick food trucks because they want a casual wedding and they don't want it to be stuffy. But when you have 150 guests, it's going to take that food truck at least 45 minutes to an hour to feed them and they're going to be in line versus being seated and served."When your guests are seated and the food is being served by the catering team, you can do your first dance and speeches," Price explains. "But when they have to get up and go to the food truck, you can't do speeches and dances—you have to wait." Read: Your casual wedding reception will turn into an extra-long affair. Wondering how many guests your wedding food truck catering can accommodate? Price says a general rule of thumb is to expect a single food truck to serve 100 to 150 people. If you have more guests than that, you'll likely need to bring in a second food truck.
Another factor to consider when booking food truck wedding catering is the service. "A food truck cannot replace a full-service caterer, as caterers typically manage rentals and have staff to set up, buss, clean up and break down," Meyer says. "A food truck doesn't typically do those things, so be sure to have staffing to help with the rest." If you want to bring on a food truck and traditional catering, be clear on who's responsible for what and be sure they both know what is expected of them.
Is it cheaper to have food trucks at your wedding?
There's no straightforward answer to this question. It may seem as though food truck wedding catering is a more economical option, but there can be hidden costs. "Oftentimes with food trucks, you have to budget a little bit more because you either have to meet a minimum for them to come out on a weekend or some people have to use more than one (and they often have minimums for two trucks).
And, as mentioned above, you might need to bring on a wait staff to help bus tables as well as a bartender. Both of these costs could put you over your budget, so we recommend working with your partner to calculate costs ahead of time.
6 Things Pros Want You to Know About Food Truck Wedding Catering
If food truck wedding catering is an absolute must for your nuptials, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. We tapped experts to compile a list of everything you need to know about this fun, interactive experience.
Know the Limits of the Food Truck Before Booking
"When exploring food truck options be sure to know the limits of the truck before you book them," Meyer says. Can they prepare full meals or only snacks? If they're preparing full meals for your guests, you'll need to find out how long it will take them to cook up the food too. "If the food truck is serving your meal, have staffing to set up, clean up and break down the party, as food trucks typically don't do anything outside of their truck."
Even if your food truck is serving a full-on meal, Meyer says couples need to be realistic about what these vendors can really do. "A common mistake couples make is to expect one truck to feed the entire wedding with cocktails, dinner and dessert," he says. "Most trucks specialize in one food type and or style, not full service catering. Food trucks roll up, prepare and hand out amazing food and then roll away."
Don't Forget Other Essential Details
Preparing the food is just one aspect of your wedding meal. You'll need to account for serving, bussing and cleaning—not to mention utensils, plates and napkins. Our advice? Ask the food truck what they provide ahead of time so there are no surprises on your special day. "When you book a food truck, book it for all that it is, including its disposable serving ware like plates and cutlery," Meyer says. "If you want to upgrade the food service, ask if you can provide nicer plates and cutlery, as they may not have space for them (and they surely will not wash them, so be sure to talk through those logistics in advance)."
Understand the Risks
Food trucks are mobile, which means they're fluid by nature. Price says it's important for couples to understand that there is a possibility your food truck may not show up on your wedding day. "With the food truck industry being hit so hard with COVID, it comes down to where they're going to make the most money that night," she explains. "If there's a random concert with lots of potential customers, they might not show."
Price cautions couples that many food trucks may not even sign contracts or will include a clause that gives them the right to skip out on your wedding at the last minute. "All of these things come into play when you book your food truck, which is why I suggest working with an established company because they've worked with the best food trucks before."
Be Mindful of Your Venue and Guests
The idea of food truck wedding catering is exciting, but don't forget about the logistics. Where the food truck is going to be parked, for example, is an essential detail you need to nail down before the big day. "A lot of venues already know if they're food truck accessible," Price says. "There are venues that have garage doors that invites the food truck right inside, while others require the food truck to part outside on the street." If there isn't a spot inside the venue, Price says parking nearby on the street works just fine. In fact, she recommends working with your DJ to make announcements about the food truck so your guests can enjoy. Another ingenious idea? "Make sure guests have wristbands or tickets that identify them as part of the wedding."
The location of your food truck will also depend on its electricity needs. "Food trucks need power to operate: Some can plug in, some have generators and some need to be running their engine," Meyer says."If you plan to have a food truck running, it should be outside and well-ventilated with the fumes pointed away from guests. If you want your food truck inside, be sure they can pull in and that their exhaust faces out and that they can plug in and that you or they have the right size extension cord and power needs."
Do Your Research Ahead of the Wedding
So you're set on bringing in a food truck for your wedding catering, but you're not sure how to find one. "The best way to find food trucks is to go taste them when they are open to the public," Meyer says. "Many food trucks have locations they are often at, so make a plan to go try their food out in the wild and make sure you love it!" He adds that many trucks are on social media and post where they'll be ahead of time, so make sure to follow along.
Another way to find amazon wedding food truck catering is to ask your loved ones. "Ask them if they've tasted any food trucks during festivals or during their travels," says Desireé Dent, owner of Dejanae Events. "Also, reach out to catering companies that interest you and ask them if they offer food trucks or if they could recommend some." And finally, ask other wedding vendors you've already hired for referrals.
If you're nervous about using wedding food truck catering, Price recommends going through a reputable company. Businesses like Chicago Food Truck Hub or New York Food Truck Association are dedicated to connecting people to trusted food trucks. Partnering with a trusted source on this will help ease your mind and mitigate stress around any no-shows.
Have a Weather Plan
If you're hosting an outdoor wedding, creating a rain plan for all aspects of your nuptials is essential. Rain on your wedding day doesn't mean you have to cancel your food truck wedding catering experience, but you need to have a plan of action. Dent suggests finding out how close the trucks can get to the entrance of the venue in case of inclement weather.
Price adds that most food trucks have pop-up tents they can set up. If that's not available, work with your planner to secure one just in case. "It would be great to add on one of those so people can have a nice walkway to the food truck so they can enjoy the special food you've brought in," she says.
Avoid Long Lines at Your Wedding
Nobody likes lines—but especially not at weddings. "The most common mistake I have found when working with food trucks are the lines," Dent stays. "If you have a smaller guest count, food trucks work wonderfully and the lines are minimal. But for larger wedding guest counts, I would highly consider mixing food trucks in with passed hors d'oeuvres, snack stations or even a plated meal." Alternatively, Dent recommends using food truck wedding catering during cocktail hour or for an end-of-the-night snack so there isn't a huge rush to the food. Another idea? Book a food truck for your rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch.