Forget the Caterer, Try a Food Truck?

by Jennifer Reitmeyer on July 29, 2011

The Capital Macaroni truckpic credit: justgrimes via Flickr

Many of us in major cities like San Francisco, New York and Washington DC are more than familiar with the food truck trend, and if you work downtown in any of these major cities, you’ve probably lunched at one more than once. Here in DC, we’ve got Red Hook Lobster, the Fojol Brothers, Tasty Kabob and dozens of other delicious options.

But would you ever consider using a food truck to cater your wedding? That’s exactly what one New York bride decided to do.

Via the Wall Street Journal (so you know they’re serious with this suggestion):

Amy Maureen Yee had all the trappings of a Brooklyn wedding. An off-white lace dress that was a remake of a vintage gown. Bundles of tulips grown by her and the groom.

And food trucks serving huaraches, schnitzel and dumplings on paper plates.

“We started to look at traditional caterers and the costs were just crazy,” said Ms. Yee, who got married last month in the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. For a third of the price she hired three food trucks instead.

Listen, we all know good wedding caterers don’t come cheap. But for many couples, catering is considered a necessary splurge. A truly talented wedding caterer does more than provide food to your guests; your caterer can work with you to create pleasing plates that coordinate with your wedding colors, ensure your guests’ dietary needs are met and provide the muscle you need to get food on everyone’s plates. While food trucks are tasty, you’re limited to what they already offer and on your own when it comes to waitstaff. You may love tacos or falafel but do all your guests feel the same?

Yee told the Journal that she spent about $3,580 for the three food trucks she hired to “cater” her 110-person wedding. On top of that, she used traditional vendors for appetizers, coffee and desert, and had to foot the bill for waitstaff as well as chair and table rentals – items sometimes included in wedding caterers’ price tags – but the total cost was still much less than the $20,000 or so she was quoted by more traditional catering companies.

“We love food trucks. When it’s summertime we go to the Red Hook Ball Fields almost every weekend,” she said. “So this is sort of a big part of our relationship together.”

One Journal commenter didn’t feel so warm and cozy when it comes to the idea of catering a wedding with a food truck (or three). “Any friend that would subject me to this would no longer be considered a friend,” she wrote. “No knock on food truck cuisine (which is often really good, especially here in NY) and sympathies towards those trying to save money, but I’m often eating from food trucks on the weekends or for lunch during the work week. Enough is enough. Show some respect to your guests. This is isn’t ‘hip,’ it’s lazy and disappointing.” Ouch.

If you’re considering the trendy food truck option, do your homework. Consider whether the layout of your venue will even allow for a huge truck to be parked out front, how many guests you have, how they will be served and, most importantly, who is going to be scraping off the uneaten bits from guests’ plates after dinner (or the environmental impact of all those paper plates and plastic forks). While your friends might appreciate this quirky take on wedding cuisine, also consider your other guests like traditionally-minded grandparents, who may not be as thrilled by your clever deviation from protocol. One former wedding planner called the food truck idea a “tacky,”  “very immature” theme.  “Sorry,” she wrote in a comment, “if you’re old enough to get married you should be able to handle real food.”

You should also think long and hard about the logistics of serving upwards of 100 guests out of a food truck (check out this Chowhound thread), as your guests could be stuck waiting if you don’t plan this out correctly. The idea seems to work best for smaller weddings held at venues that easily fit a giant kitchen on wheels and where couples have a fairly open schedule that will allow guests to stagger their visits to the truck accordingly, or using a food truck that also offers more traditional chef stations, which are much easier to fit into a venue than an actual truck. Check out this first-hand account by a Budget Savvy Bride blogger Meg, who chose a crepe truck company to cater her wedding earlier this year.

The Knot called food trucks the #8 hot wedding trend for 2011; but as a cute cocktail hour or midnight snack idea, not in lieu of a qualified wedding caterer.

The New York Times recently shared the story of a Texas couple who used an ice cream truck to make their grand exit. The truck idea was secretly arranged by the bride’s father, who just so happened to have a friend who owned one. “I had a dream for Katie to have a special exit from her wedding,” he told the Times. “Then I discovered my friend had an ice cream truck. It was perfect since our family saying is, ‘A home without ice cream is a home without love.’ ”

Amy and Michael’s wedding was also featured on 100 Layer Cake if you’d like to check out some of the other details of their day (and judge appropriately). And if you are a soon-to-be-wed DC couple looking to add this quirky trend to your big day, check out this post by United With Love for some DC food truck suggestions.

By all means, speak up if this is a love or hate trend for you!

Previous post:

Next post: