Wedding Meals on WheelsOct 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Karey Solomon
There are weddings where the arrangements made for guests are so uniquely astonishing, albeit lovely, they feel opulent enough to break the bank. Conversely, there are weddings with a creative touch of a do-it-yourself vibe that leave the happy couple with a bit of a nest egg. Both are simultaneously possible.
Food trucks are mobile kitchens, staffed by chefs enthusiastic about preparing custom orders at speed, and generally offering a particular genre of food varied with an array of sides and toppings. Beloved by hungry customers at both urban and rural locations, they can also serve weddings, and the accompanying pre and post parties, nearly as quickly as a buffet-style meal. Better yet, the cost per person is often far less than one would pay a caterer offering a buffet or plated meal with waitstaff, china, and linens. The usual range for a food truck is fifteen to thirty dollars per guest instead of upwards of seventy-five. A lovely outdoor venue can be the perfect setting for fresh food made to order, including sometimes-unusual choices that can satisfy every guest.
Planning is still involved—often more than if you’re leaving details to a caterer. Will you need to rent tables and chairs? How about plates and cutlery? Could you live with the food-truck’s usual to-go wrapping? Who will bus tables and be responsible for cleanup? What about beverages? Do you want different food trucks for cocktail hour or after-hours snacks? What about a hybrid of a catered main meal with a food truck for the after-party?
Because a food truck at your event is losing their slot at another place where customers expect to see them, operators may require some guaranteed number of people and a minimum charge. They’ll want to be paid in advance by those responsible for the event, rather than being dependent on individual guests paying them. This allows them to concentrate on quick service.
“I wouldn’t go [with my truck] to an event where the guests were expected to pay,” one proprietor said bluntly. “And if I was an invited guest, I wouldn’t pay, even if it was only twenty dollars!”
While some surveys of food trucks at weddings suggest having one truck per 150 guests, many food truck proprietors are experienced caterers who can easily handle a larger crowd.
“We’ve done a wedding for as many as 350 people, or as few as fifty,” says Jonelle Andrus, one of the owners of the It Was Good ice cream truck, based in Franklindale, where the family also has a restaurant, JJ’s Ice Cream and Pizza. Like their truck, it’s a family business with all hands on deck for special events. Their on-the-truck grill prepares lunch and dinner on the street; for a wedding, they’ll often narrow down food options with the couple, like the chicken and pulled pork they’ll bring to a wedding this month. As for the ice cream, will the guests want cones or bowls—or hot fudge sundaes?
“I love weddings,” Jonelle says. “There’s such a sense of fun! People are just hanging out and there’s not a lot of stress.” Everyone on the truck works together like a well-practiced ballet, she continues. There’s an order line and a pick-up line. A full meal is generally no more than thirty-five dollars per person, depending on the menu. Contact It Was Good via Facebook or at (570) 364-6405.
In the Finger Lakes, My Eva Authentic Mexican Food is generally at the top of any “best food trucks” list. Tracy Garcia, who runs the truck with her husband, Chef Alfredo Garcia, says they’ve brought their truck to cater both rehearsal dinners and weddings. The wedding couple will typically select three or four items and a few sides from their menu. The price is usually around eighteen dollars per person.
“When you get your food, it’s really fresh and it’s hot, which is not always the case with a sit-down dinner,” Tracy points out. And there’s another benefit to custom-ordering your meal at the food truck. Like most chefs, Alfredo is well aware of allergy protocols—he gets help from Tracy, who is allergic to nuts. Before preparing food for a customer with special needs, he’ll thoroughly clean the grill to ensure there’s no cross-contamination. Find out more on their Facebook page or call (607) 425-0695.
Trish Burns, of Burns Gourmet Dogs out of Athens, once catered a wedding afterparty with 600 people and only one other food truck. But, after working the Finger Lakes Wine Fest where there were 50,000 attendees, 600 felt very do-able.
“It’s just my husband and me, and we work well as a team,” she says. “I take orders and look pretty, and he does the cooking. We keep it fun.” At a wedding, Trish continues, “It’s all about what the customer wants.” If the bride and groom opt for just a few main menu items, they’ll customize the dogs with a wide variety of add-ons.
“We have forty-eight different toppings. Everything is made to order. Nothing is sitting around.”
Their menu also includes paninis, wraps, and salads. Big fruit salads, cookies, cheesecakes, and other desserts can be added. Sometimes they’ll set part of the meal out as a buffet. “We can do a redneck wedding or a fancy wedding,” she says. “It all depends on what the bride and groom might want.” This is their ninth season on the road, and Trish says, “I love it!” Find them on Facebook or call (570) 423-6261.
Food your guests will love, relatively low cost, and happy providers can all add up to a good experience for everyone involved with your special day. Food truck owners choose this work because they enjoy it. As Jonelle says, “We want to be a blessing, give people something they can afford."