Food trucks bring 'something new' to modern weddings
More and more couples are saving money and giving a boost to small businesses by having local food trucks cater their big day.
Wed, Apr 11 2012 at 3:14 PM
Joslyn and Austin Lawhead place an order at their reception. (Photos: Melissa Schollaert Photography)
Looking for a creative way to incorporate that “something new” into your wedding? How about hiring a food truck?
Many couples are foregoing traditional wedding dining and instead opting for food trucks to cater their big day. They say it brings something unique to the event that highlights their personal tastes as well as the local cuisine.
“We've been big fans of the food truck scene in Atlanta and elsewhere — their food is usually so creative, which was really important to me. And the fact that it's supporting a local business is a great bonus,” says Martha, an Atlanta bride-to-be who requested that her last name be withheld.
Some couples hire trucks in place of a buffet or sit-down dinner, while others simply want to keep guests happy between the ceremony and reception. Still, others schedule the truck to arrive a few hours into the reception to provide late-night fare for guests who could use a pick-me-up after a night of champagne and dancing.
“Our food truck came to the reception around 8 p.m. after dinner, so it was a 'late-night' snack, even though it wasn't late,” says Joslyn Lawhead, who got married in 2010. “We knew we wanted The Varsity to cater at some point in the night because it’s an Atlanta icon and a favorite of my husband’s and mine. The food truck was the best option and a unique experience.”
Not only is this trend an inexpensive and creative way for newlyweds to celebrate their special day, but it’s also a lucrative alternative for food-truck owners who often have to fight local laws for the right to park their vehicles on downtown streets during lunchtime.
"If I offered any truck that they'd never have to be on the street again and they only had to do catering, every single one would do it," Matt Geller, co-founder and CEO of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, recently told NPR.
In addition to often being substantially less expensive than traditional catering services, food trucks also offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to sampling. Instead of scheduling appointments with caterers, couples can simply wander from truck to truck on their own time.
“We tried a lot of food trucks to see who might be a good fit for our guests. We wanted something creative, but upscale enough to satisfy our parents, and mainstream enough to satisfy a wide range of palates and ages. We stumbled on the grilled cheese truck accidentally and loved the idea of closing out the night with surprise comfort food,” says Martha.
Despite their many advantages, food trucks do have their downsides. Lindsay Pitt, a certified special events professional and owner of Toast, an event-planning company, says parking can often be a drawback.
"There is not always a perfect place to park the vehicle where guests can have easy access. For example, if the wedding is to take place in a ballroom, there typically is not a prime space for the truck. Often we do this as the send-off at the end so it can be near the place guests gather to send off the couple," she says.
Also, most food trucks don’t coordinate rentals or offer a full-service staff. Still, that’s not deterring many food truck lovers.
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“At first I was worried that our truck wouldn’t be able to accommodate a large number of people or that the small staff would be overwhelmed with guests wanting food, but I’ve worked with my vendor to organize everything and put together the perfect menu and I’m confident everything will go as planned,” says Jamie Hoffman, who will get married next year in Columbia, S.C.
Personalized menus are another feature that many food trucks boast. Have a favorite food truck but just aren’t sure if it’s right for your wedding? Many truck owners say you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for what you want.
Andy Grimes, whose Atlanta truck The Pickle has catered more than 50 weddings, says a custom menu is just one of the many advantages of having a food truck cater your wedding.
“The weddings we have done have always been menus created for the specific reception. We have never just done a reception with our truck-vending menu, but if someone wanted us to do the truck menu, we could do that as well. In catering if you have a kitchen with you, there isn't nearly as many limits on what you can do,” he says.
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Considering having a food truck at your wedding? Pitt offers these words of advice: "Have fun with it, serve a late-night snack or dessert as the final surprise for the night! Do make sure that the truck has insurance and will provide all of the items needed to serve like napkins, cups and utensils."
Check out this video from The Knot to learn more about the food truck wedding trend.