As weddings become increasingly focused on curating unforgettable experiences, couples are seeking out new ways to personalize their special day and impress wedding guests. Although the opportunities to bring in distinctive touches are endless—from venue selection to dress code, decor, and music—one surefire way to dazzle your guests is with memorable food. For adventurous couples looking for something more unique than a traditional sit-down meal or buffet, food truck catering is a wonderful option. Not sure where to start, or are you deciding if a food truck fits your big day’s vibe? Zola has you covered with the essentials that you need to know, plus all the pros and cons of food truck wedding catering.
Food trucks, in case you’re unfamiliar, are restaurants on wheels serving street food. However, food truck offerings can range far beyond options such as hot dogs, grilled cheese, and tacos that may first come to your mind. In fact, food trucks cater a wide variety of cuisines (pretty much anything you can dream up), and they even branch out from full meals and appetizers to dessert, cocktails, and coffee.
Before booking a food truck, you must first take into account the number of expected guests attending your wedding. One food truck can roughly cater 100 to 150 guests; however, if you’re hosting a larger wedding or simply want the wait times to be shorter for your guests, reserving more than one food truck may be the way to go!
The next aspect to decide on is the course that you want to use the food trucks for. Do you want the main meal to be served by food trucks? Or, just the appetizer or desserts? Perhaps some other combination of these options? Knowing the course will help you narrow down your cuisine types. Remember to keep in mind the wait times associated with various courses. For example, a dessert or drinks food truck will likely serve guests more quickly than a food truck serving each guest a full meal. To ensure the best experience for your wedding attendees, try to keep the wait times to a minimum, or have seating options for guests to wait for their food nearby the truck.
Finally, when working with food trucks, make sure that you have a contingency plan in place when it comes to bad weather. Food trucks are often set up in flat parking spaces outdoors, so rain or harsh weather can pose an issue. If rain or other severe weather is in the forecast, we recommend renting a tent to keep the food truck area and your guests covered.
Ensure that you do plenty of research on food truck laws, permits, and regulations in relation to your wedding venues and state. Many food truck catering companies have travel distance limitations, venue accessibility rules, parking and food serving regulations, and more. Your venue may also have its own rules about the distance a food truck needs to be from it to legally operate, depending on your venue type.
Besides having a designated flat parking space for your food truck caterer, you will also want to discuss with them what they will provide versus what you need to supply them with. For example, will they need a power outlet, or will they have a generator? Will they bring their own large trash cans, or is that something you or your wedding venue need to supply? All of these are good logistics questions to have answered prior to your event.
Food trucks, especially in comparison to more traditional catering options, tend to be extremely cost-effective. Food truck costs per head tend to be $10 to $20 a person, while traditional catering averages $70 a head, according to The Knot. Therefore, the savings can be significant when swapping out buffet or sit-down catering for a food truck option. However, it is important to keep in mind that the comparison between food trucks and traditional catering is not direct. Catering companies will often provide services that food trucks may not, such as serving, cleaning, and bussing. They may even provide utensils, plates, and glassware. Ensure when you book your food truck that you know what the food truck will provide and what you and your SO will be expected to supply or accommodate yourselves.
Tons of character. The most obvious benefit of a food truck is the charm and excitement they bring. Food trucks definitely provide a lot of character to your wedding reception, especially when compared to more traditional catering. You can even choose a food truck that fits your wedding day aesthetic to help incorporate the truck seamlessly into your special day.
Fresh-air and flexible dining. Food trucks also give you the ability to entertain your guests outdoors and provide them with a chance to mingle in a relaxed setting. It’s the perfect opportunity for your guests to interact in a low-stakes environment that feels less stuffy than a sit-down dinner. Not to mention, food trucks allow for a flexible dining schedule for your guests, so they can eat whenever they are hungry within the window of time that the food truck is booked.
Money-saving. As mentioned above, food trucks can cut back on costs by roughly $50 a person, which adds up to a huge amount of savings on your overall wedding food costs.
Easy clean-up. Since food trucks often serve dishes in disposable containers with plastic utensils and cups, clean-up, once the food is finished, is easy. Just make sure that you have plenty of trash cans for your guests to dispose of their waste.
Fresh, made-to-order food. By literally bringing the kitchen to you, food trucks prepare food for guests as they order, so each and every meal is fresh and hot!
Wide variety of tasty options. Perhaps the greatest aspect of food truck meals is the sheer variety of options. Plenty of trucks serve easy, grab-and-go options such as tacos, sliders, sandwiches, and more. However, if you have a particular cuisine type that you’re looking for, such as Greek, Japanese, German, Italian, etc., there are food truck vendors in nearly every niche. Are you vegetarian or vegan? There are even food trucks that specialize in plant-based cooking. Not to mention, some food trucks will allow you to customize a special catering menu with several options geared toward your preferences.
Logistics, regulations, and restrictions. The largest challenge that food trucks pose is a logistical one. You have to ensure that your food truck has the appropriate permits in place, has venue accessibility and a flat designated parking area, and complies with your state’s laws and regulations regarding food truck operations. If your truck needs access to an outlet for power, you also need to ensure that its parking area accommodates this need.
Potentially long lines. Another pain point of food trucks is the longer wait times that can occur. due to the made-to-order nature of these trucks, especially if you have a lot of wedding guests getting food all at the same time. However, some food trucks offer options besides the traditional order window, such as buffet serving or certain pre-made appetizers.
Weather-dependent. Weather conditions, especially severe ones such as rain or snow, will affect your food truck catering. Make sure to have a contingency plan in place for harsh weather. Solutions can be as simple as renting a tent for the food truck and setting up guest’s tables underneath.
Dietary restrictions can be harder to accommodate. Food trucks generally specialize in one type of food or have just a few signature options on their catering menu. This can make accommodating dietary restrictions slightly more difficult. Cross-contamination can also be an issue in the smaller food truck kitchens. To mitigate this issue, ensure that you speak with the chefs you will be using prior to your wedding day to discuss their vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, or nut-free options, if any.
Looking for a trendy, convenient, catering option for your wedding reception? A food truck may be for you. With all the information above, you have everything you need to know to begin researching and booking your catering. If you are considering a food truck but don’t know where to start, services like Roaming Hunger give you a database of options to compare with easy ability to book. Regardless of your catering choices, your wedding food is bound to be noteworthy.