Ask DIY: Hiring A Food Truck To Cater My Wedding

Ask DIY Bride is a regular column where you, our dear readers, may ask our community for their help or opinions on wedding or craft-related issues that are important to you.

Jemma from Austin wants to know:

We’re thinking about hiring our favorite food truck to cater our wedding. What do we need to know before we approach them?

DIY Bride Answers:

Hi, Jemma. Food trucks can be a fun and yummy way to feed your wedding guests especially since you’re in a food truck Mecca like Austin that has dozens of unique options to choose among. While food trucks are indeed awesome, they’re not the right fit for everyone. Here’s what you need to know about hiring a food truck for your wedding:

Venue Considerations

1. Does your venue allow outside food or non-approved caterers? Some venues, like hotels or resorts, require you to use their on-site catering while others allow you to only select from a small list of approved caterers.

2. If your venue does allow you to bring your own caterer, they still may not allow food trucks due to local laws, permit requirements, liability/insurance issues or any number of reasons. Ask your venue manager before you hire a food truck and, most importantly, get it in writing along with any rules and regulations regarding food trucks they may have.

3. Is there enough parking for the food truck(s)? Is the parking on the street, in a driveway, or in a parking lot? The parking location (and availability) can affect whether or not the truck can legally or logistically serve you. A truck may be able to legally operate in a private parking lot at your venue but may not be able to operate on a public street right outside the venue because of local zoning laws, for example.


Food Truck Considerations

1. Is the food truck licensed to operate at your location? The majority of food trucks need have licenses or permits for each city/county they service. Within their service areas, many jurisdictions have restrictions on where food trucks can park and sell their food. Most cities often have no-vending zones near places like restaurants and cafes, schools, and fire hydrant locations. Your food truck vendor will know all about permits and requirements, of course.

2. Is the full menu available for special events? You may love your truck’s Asian chicken & waffles with Sriracha syrup but that may be off limits for a large event because they couldn’t serve it fast enough in a reception’s time frame. Will the truck provide main dish and sides? Or just the main dish? What about drinks?

3. Are the food prices the same for a catered event as they are on the truck’s menu board? Some trucks may charge a different rate to help cover their special event operating costs like extra prep time, more staff, special permits, clean-up, etc. Are there any other fees you need to be aware of?

4. How long will guests have to wait for their food? Ideally, you want everyone to be able to get their food within 30 – 45 minutes of the dinner’s start. Can the food truck deliver all of the meals in that time frame? How?  (Extra food trucks? Buffet-style layout? Limited meal selections? The Dark Arts?)

5. Will the food truck provide napkins, forks, cups of your choice? (If you want compostable bamboo forks, for example, that may cost you extra or you may have to provide them to the truck if it’s not something they do on the reg.)

6. Who’s responsible for providing and maintaining trash cans, cleaning up tables, and removal of food waste? The truck, the venue, or you?


Guest Considerations

1. The biggest challenge with food truck catering is getting your guests fed in a timely manner. If you’re doing an order-at-the-window queue, here are some numbers to consider: if you have 100 guests and it takes 3 minutes to complete each order and the food truck takes 2 orders at a time, the last guest will get her food 3 hours after the first guest. Not cool! For a large gathering, a single food truck may not be efficient enough to feed your nearest and dearest.

2. Some food trucks like to issue meal tickets for large events so that each guest will get 1 meal/entree/item per ticket. Do you want your guests to be able to go back for seconds if they want more food? Work with your truck’s manager to determine how much food to prepare ahead of time to avoid disappointed guests and food shortages.

3. While you may totally dig your fave truck’s foie gras poutine with duck fat fries, it may not be the most enticing meal for the majority of your guests. Can your food truck offer meal options that fit your foodie fantasy while still appealing to the masses?  Can you hire more than 1 food truck to give your guests more options?

4. Instead of hiring a food truck for the main course, how about bringing in cool trucks to do only appetizers, drinks, or desserts? Or how about late-night, after-party snacks?

5. Virtually no food truck companies are prepared to deal with seating for your guests. Where will your guests sit? Are tables, chairs, cups, etc. part of your venue rental or will you need to organize that on your own?

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