I Had a Food-Truck Wedding (and It Was Awesome)

published Sep 4, 2015
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(Image credit: Lauren Kreter)

This past August, I had what was arguably the best day ever. I got married! In a beautiful garden, surrounded by close friends and family, with the sun shining and not a rain cloud in sight. But perhaps the best part of the day — besides, you know, the whole exchanging vows with the love of my life part — was the food.

We had a wood-fired pizza truck and an ice cream truck cater our wedding, and it was awesome.

(Image credit: Jessica Oh Photography)

A Quick Note About Personal Choices

I’m not sure there is anything more emotionally charged than a wedding. Weddings are deeply personal, and decisions surrounding them vary from couple to couple. During the whole planning process, I quickly learned to keep my answers about our choices vague. Giving away too much specific information either prompted defensiveness, risked hurting someone’s feelings, or welcomed (often unwanted) opinions from well-meaning friends and family.

So right off the bat, I want to go on the record by saying that having a food-truck wedding worked for us, but it might not work for everyone. And just because I am singing its praises here does not mean I am putting down other people’s choices by default.

(Image credit: Jessica Oh Photography)

Why We Chose Food Trucks over a Traditional Caterer

When we first set out on the long, arduous process of wedding planning, we hesitantly put out a few feelers with local caterers. Food was one of the top priorities for us, so we wanted to tackle it right away. Our ultimate goal was to have the food at our wedding reflect the way we typically eat — fresh, flavorful food made with as many local ingredients as possible.

When we received quotes back from like-minded caterers (quotes that didn’t include alcohol yet, mind you), we experienced serious sticker shock. Our wedding was relatively small (85 people), and despite asking for farm-to-table food in Connecticut, we were hopeful these companies could deliver us something in our small budget. But we were wrong. So wrong. When we broke down what was actually being offered, we also realized we’d essentially be spending a fortune on a tiny amount of food — our guests would probably go home hungry.

The whole process quickly confirmed for us that using a catering company wasn’t right for our wedding, so we immediately switched gears and focused our attention on finding a food truck. With so many options out there now — tacos, grilled cheese, falafel — we had a hard time deciding! But ultimately, we went with our one true food love: pizza.

(Image credit: Jessica Oh Photography)

Why We Chose a Pizza Truck

Pizza is the most perfect food. It’s comforting and delicious, of course, but also does a great job of keeping people full and happy. We found a “farm-to-pizza” company that hitches a wood-fired oven to the back of a truck, rolls up to events, and makes some of the most delicious Neapolitan-style pizza we’ve ever tasted. (My favorite of the day was a kale, red onion, and olive pie, while my husband’s favorite was a bacon-eggplant number.)

Why We Chose an Ice Cream Truck

We also toyed with the idea of having a family member bake pies, or ordering a cake and assorted pastries from a bakery, but we ultimately chose to hire an ice cream truck for dessert. The truck drove right up to the venue and scooped ice cream and sorbet for two hours. It was completely full-service, so they provided cones, cups, spoons, and napkins — it made our lives so much easier and our guests had a lot of fun with it.

As an added bonus, the ice cream truck we chose made alcohol-infused ice creams and sorbets. They also had non-dairy options and plain chocolate and vanilla ice cream for children (or those avoiding alcohol). Fan favorites were the whiskey vanilla bean ice cream and the fresh watermelon-mint-rum sorbet!

(Image credit: Jessica Oh Photography)

Did People Get Enough to Eat?

Yes, with a few helpful additions. Our day-of coordinator smartly suggested we have a “Harvest Table” of sorts set up during cocktail hour so people could munch on snacks while waiting for the pizza to start. She did a beautiful job of setting out plenty of cheese, charcuterie, olives, grapes, crackers, and more. Our pizza caterer also fired three different appetizers that were passed around during cocktail hour: caprese skewers, wood-fired bacon-wrapped dates, and his signature pulled pork pizza buns.

After cocktail hour, it was time for pizza. At any given time, there were about eight different pizzas and big bowls of mixed greens out on a buffet table for people to help themselves to. Because the company we went with used a wood-fired oven, they could churn out pizzas really quickly — no one was ever waiting long to grab their next slice.

Between the cocktail-hour food, two hours of all-you-can-eat pizza and salad, and two hours of all-you-can-eat ice cream and sorbet, our guests definitely got enough to eat.

(Image credit: Jessica Oh Photography)

The Million-Dollar Question: Was a Food Truck More Affordable?

This question gets a big, resounding yes. The actual cost of just the pizza and ice cream trucks came in significantly lower than the quotes we received from catering companies. We brought in our own beer and wine (no hard alcohol or mixers, to keep costs down), which was huge for us, as many catering companies make you choose from their small selection of beer and wine. My husband wanted very specific craft beer at our wedding, and I wanted to offer one rosé, one red, and one white wine. We also bought gallons of lemonade and water, and paid for the cocktail-hour snacks that our coordinator picked up for us. We also bought two “Box O’ Joes” (one regular, one decaf) from a small local coffee shop, and set those out with paper cups, stirrers, cream, and sugar during dessert.

We hired a day-of coordinator, two servers, and two bartenders to help with setup and cleanup, and to keep an eye on trash and refills.

Unexpected Benefit of Having a Food-Truck Wedding

When we decided to go with food trucks for our wedding, we were so excited about having our two favorite foods — pizza and ice cream — on our wedding day, but weren’t sure how others would react. Specifically we were worried about some of our older guests being confused about the flow of the evening — we didn’t have assigned seating and encouraged people to eat whenever they were hungry during the two-hour serving period.

We were so pleasantly surprised by how well-received the concept was! Having the trucks serve for two-hour windows freed people up to just enjoy the evening. Typically weddings follow a standard script: ceremony, cocktail hour, seated dinner, first dances, dancing, cake cutting, and more dancing. But by eliminating the seated dinner and cake cutting, our guests had the flexibility to eat as much as they wanted, when they wanted — then they could spend the rest of the time mingling and dancing. It just took so much pressure off the whole evening.

Some Things to Consider

Food trucks are casual. Our wedding was at a venue, but had a laid-back, backyard feel, so the food trucks didn’t feel out of place. Our pizza caterer typically offers paper plates and napkins, and plastic silverware, but to make things a little less casual for dinner, we opted to order cloth napkins and vintage mismatched china and silverware from our day-of coordinator.

Because food trucks are more casual, they also might have a more casual approach to contracts and fees. We actually had one strange experience that was horrifying at the time (although funny now), where five minutes before the ceremony started, another food truck I reached out to months ago for a price quote showed up to cater our wedding. We never signed a contract with them or put down any sort of deposit, but they must have gotten confused by our inquiry and actually committed to catering our big day. (Once they realized their mistake, they promptly left, but it did cause quite the commotion!)

You should also check with your venue whether they have adequate space and parking for one or two food trucks to sit without being in the way. You want your guests to easily access the food, but you don’t want the trucks taking up valuable dance floor space or blocking people’s cars in.

(Image credit: Jessica Oh Photography)

Final Thoughts on Food Trucks

We couldn’t be happier with our choice to have a pizza truck and ice cream truck cater our wedding. We were able to stay in our budget, serve our guests plenty of delicious food, stay true to our values about food, and enjoy our wedding without all the “shoulds” a traditional wedding forces upon you.

It was one big party to celebrate our commitment to each other and the people who have supported us over the last seven years of dating. The whole day truly felt like “us” — and that’s what really mattered.

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