Why Consider a Food Cart for Your Wedding Catering?
A food cart can be a fun, creative option for your wedding catering that offers delicious food with a unique, casual vibe. Food carts bring all the tasty street food options guests love, like tacos, burgers, lobster rolls and more, straight to your wedding venue.
Having food trucks or carts cater your reception allows you to offer guests a more interactive and memorable experience. Your wedding menu can be totally customized with diverse cuisines and specialty dishes you won’t find at a traditional catered event. The laid-back style of ordering food from a food truck or cart also promotes more mingling and interaction amongst your guests.
In addition to their great food and unique ambiance, food carts often cost less per plate than standard wedding caterers. You can design a budget-friendly wedding menu while still enjoying gourmet dishes, specialty cocktails and desserts. Food carts also provide flexibility if you have a smaller guest list.
With creative placement and planning, food trucks fit right in at both casual backyard weddings or formal hotel ballrooms. They can be decorated to match your wedding theme and colors too. Keep reading to learn more insider tips for seamlessly integrating food cart catering into your reception.
Food Cart Wedding Costs – How Does it Compare to Traditional Catering?
Food carts provide excellent value for wedding receptions. On average, you can expect to pay $15-$25 per guest for food cart catering. This cost typically includes the truck rental fee, staffing, disposable serving ware and any applicable taxes and gratuities. For an upscale menu, specialty drinks from a bar cart or late night snacks, expect costs to be on the higher end.
In comparison, traditional wedding catering often starts at 30 perlate for basic fare. You will easily spend $50-$150+ per person for upgraded entrees, appetizers, bar service, cake cutting fees, etc. Food carts let you trim overhead costs associated with servers, bartenders and rentals while still providing guests delicious food, craft cocktails and personalized service.
Keep in mind that most food carts have minimum fees, often $1000-$2,000. So they are ideal for smaller, budget-focused weddings under 100 guests. For larger guest counts, multiple trucks may be required which can increase costs. Work with your caterer to determine exactly how many carts and staff you need.
Food Cart Wedding Menu – Creative Food Options Your Guests Will Love
One of the best aspects of food cart catering is the incredible variety of cuisines and specialty dishes you can offer guests. Build a customized menu that reflects your taste and wedding style.
Popular food cart wedding options include:
- Tacos with an array of meat, fish and veggie fillings and topping bar
- Sliders and mini sandwiches on specialty buns
- Upscale comfort foods like lobster rolls, short rib grilled cheese, or mac and cheese bites
- Unique fusion creations like Korean barbecue bowls, banh mi tacos or ramen burritos
- Fun, handheld foods like mini pancake stacks or waffles on a stick that suit a standing reception
- Fresh pressed paninis, flatbreads or brick oven pizzas
- Local specialties like New England clam chowder, Nashville hot chicken or Philly cheesesteaks
Don’t forget sweet treats too! Cupcake, gelato or churro carts provide tasty alternatives to wedding cake. And coffee carts fuel late night snack runs.
With so many amazing options, your food cart menu ensures your wedding cuisine will be just as memorable as the vows you share.
Pros And Cons of Having Food Carts at Your Wedding Reception
|Flexible, customizable menus||Limited capacity per truck, may need multiple for large guest counts|
|Lower costs compared to plated dinners||Need adequate vehicle access at venue|
|Fun, unique experience for guests||Potential noise from generators|
|Fits small or large guest counts||Possible food smells or exhaust|
|Casual, relaxed style||Limited menu capacity compared to full catering kitchen|
|No fixed meal schedule||Less formal plating in disposable serveware|
|Unique visual appeal||Potential for longer lines if understaffed|
|Accommodates dietary needs||Requires handling logistics like parking, permits|
|Lower environmental impact||Minimal leftover food|
|Add late night munchies||Can’t serve items requiring extensive prep|
Unique Food Cart & Vehicle Options for Wedding Catering
When selecting a food cart for your wedding catering, you have many clever vehicle options beyond just trucks. Consider these unique food cart styles:
- Ice Cream Bikes – Vintage bicycle carts serve up pedal-powered gelato, popsicles or soft serve.
- Coffee Carts – Cute towable carts brew up espresso drinks and specialty coffees.
- Hot Dog Cargo Bikes – Custom bikes keep hot dogs, pretzels and nachos hot and transportable.
- Wood-Fired Pizza Trailers – Self-contained mobile pizza ovens bake artisan pies onsite.
- Bar Carts – Rolling drink stations mix cocktails tableside for guests.
- Food Trailers – Compact commercial kitchens inside trailers allow diverse menus.
- Mini Food Boats – Adorable mini pontoon boats serve as floating food vendors.
- Refurbished Airstreams – Shiny aluminum trailers as retro catering spaces.
- Food Trikes – Three-wheeled carts bike around serving street eats.
With so many wheeled food options, you can find the perfect quirky cart to match your wedding style!
Food Cart Wedding Permits and Licensing – What You Need to Know
Securing the proper permits and licenses is an important consideration when hiring food carts to cater your wedding. Regulations can vary significantly by city and state, so check with local officials early on regarding what is required.
Typically, the catering company handles obtaining all necessary permits for operating and parking their food trucks. However, if you are arranging for carts from multiple independent vendors, you may need to coordinate permitting. Often a health department catering license, fire safety permit and business license is standard.
For outdoor venues, additional permissions or conditional use permits may be needed for them to legally operate on private property. Zoning laws come into play here as well. Research noise regulations if generators will be used.
Finally, check if liquor licenses allow for catering trucks to serve alcohol or if you need to provide your own corkage license. The same rules for bartenders and ID checking will apply.
Build in extra time for permits to avoid scrambling as your date approaches. With a bit of diligence, you can ensure all essential food vending licenses are secured for a worry-free event.
How Many Food Carts Do You Need for Your Wedding Guest Count?
Determining the right number of food carts needed for your wedding is an important detail. As a general rule of thumb, plan for one truck for every 75-100 guests. But consider these factors too:
- Type of menu – Trucks serving simpler foods like tacos or sliders can handle larger volumes than those plating complex dishes.
- Length of event – More carts needed for multi-hour events to prevent long wait times.
- Meal times – Crowds at peak meal times like dinnertime require more capacity.
- Venue space – Room for longer lines requires fewer trucks than tighter spots.
- Staffing – More staff filling orders speeds up each truck’s capability.
- Food preferences – Unique/specialty cuisines may warrant dedicated trucks.
Build in a buffer too so wait times never exceed 10-15 minutes at peak. Guests want great food but minimizing lines keeps the celebration flowing. Discuss timelines and capacity at detail with your food truck planner. They can advise the ideal fleet to keep your guests happily fed.
Food Cart Placement – Logistics to Consider at Your Venue
Strategic food cart placement is crucial for an optimal guest experience. Consider these tips when mapping out locations:
- Near restrooms – This prevents long walks for those with urgent needs.
- Adjacent to bars – Place food near drinks for easy cocktail/food pairings.
- Visible spots – Position trucks in high visibility areas so guests can easily order.
- Outside main building – Situate them in secondary spaces to avoid overcrowding indoors.
- Scattered layout – Spread trucks out so lines don’t bottleneck and create congestion.
- Surface material – Ensure ground is paved or firmly packed dirt for stability.
- Accessible routes – Allow adequate vehicle access for loading/unloading.
- Protect from elements – Have tents or awnings in case of rain showers or sun exposure.
- Near power outlets – For safety, trucks need generator access. Extension cords may be required.
- Lighting – Make sure areas are well-lit for nighttime service.
Consider traffic flow patterns to prevent collisions between servers and guests. And check fire codes so trucks don’t block emergency exits. With smart placement and safety precautions, your food cart fleet can feed guests in style.
Weather and Backup Plans – What if it Rains on Your Food Cart Wedding?
Outdoor weddings always carry a risk of unpredictable weather. A rainy day could put a damper on your beautiful food cart affair. Here are tips to prepare just in case:
- Have tents or pop up canopies ready as contingency covering for guests and food stations.
- Rent side panels to quickly enclose tents if wind or heavy rain occurs.
- Designate an indoor area or covered overhang where carts can relocate if needed.
- Create plexiglass shields around service windows to keep food dry.
- Swap paper/foam serveware for reusable plastic that is sturdier in rain.
- Provide extra napkins and have staff help wipe down wet tables or seats.
- Add portable flooring like wood planks to prevent mud under trucks.
- Keep guests cozy with blankets, umbrellas and extra heat lamps if chilly.
- Have a backup menu of warm comfort foods ready for cold temps if outside service isn’t viable.
- Secure event insurance to help cover potential weather-related costs.
With the right contingency plan, occasional raindrops won’t dampen the fun food truck vibe on your wedding day!
Food Cart Staffing – Do You Need to Hire Extra Servers?
Adequate staffing is crucial to the success of food cart catering at your wedding. While cart vendors provide their own prep cooks and servers, you may need to hire additional helpers depending on your guest count.
Some key staffing considerations for food cart weddings:
- Have bussers to quickly clear dirty plates, napkins and utensils from guest tables. This keeps the eating areas tidy.
- Hire food runners to deliver orders from trucks to guests seated at tables. This helps those who can’t easily walk to the trucks.
- Have extra staff on hand near the end of service to pass out late night snacks quickly.
- Additional bartenders will likely be needed to ensure beverages flow steadily all night.
- If you have a dessert cart, dedicated servers can cut and plate slices for guests.
- Parking attendants can ensure trucks are safely guided into tight spaces.
- Helper staff can refill drinks and check on guests between cart visits.
For large guest counts or venues with tricky logistics, hiring extra hands ensures a smooth service. Discuss ideal staff-to-guest ratios with your caterer when planning.
How to Avoid Long Lines with Smart Food Cart Wedding Planning
Long queues are one potential downside of food cart catering at weddings. Luckily, there are several strategies couples can use to prevent excessive wait times for guests:
- Have ample carts on hand based on your guest count, at least 1 truck per 75-100 guests. Under-staffing leads to delays.
- Stagger meal times with cocktail hour first to disperse crowds. Don’t start dinner service for all guests at once.
- Place carts far apart to distribute people rather than congregating in one spot.
- Offer passed appetizers during peak times to tide guests over.
- Set up buffet lines with sides and salads to supplement cart offerings.
- Share menu details and encourage guests to eat lightly before arrival since portions are smaller.
- Add on late night snack carts to provide food all night long and prevent a dinner time rush.
- Hire staff to specifically expedite orders from trucks and deliver food to tables.
With proactive planning, you can ensure guests at your food truck wedding have a fantastic experience without enduring long waits for their tacos, sliders and other fun fare.
Creative Ways to Brand and Style Your Food Carts for Your Wedding Theme
Food carts provide the perfect mobile canvas to display your wedding colors, themes and personal style. Get creative with these food truck styling ideas:
- Design custom graphics and have them printed on removable vinyl wraps for the trucks. Show your names, wedding date, custom hashtag or funny cartoon portraits of the bride and groom.
- String lights along the carts and reception tents to create a festive, illuminated look. Hang paper lanterns too.
- Tie beautiful cascading floral arrangements or flower garlands on the truck and cart exteriors.
- Provide guests with photobooth style props and signs related to your wedding theme so they can pose playfully with the trucks.
- Rent vintage trucks like an old postal jeep or retro camper to coordinate with a rustic or boho wedding aesthetic.
- For a whimsical feel, adorn trucks with giant paper pom poms, pinwheels or tissue paper tassel garlands in your wedding hues.
- Serve food in containers like mini picnic baskets, bamboo boats or customprinted fry trays that match your event style.
Take your food cart from mundane meal on wheels to the perfect Instagrammable focal point of your reception décor!
Alcohol Options – Can Food Carts Serve Drinks Too?
While most standard food trucks focus on cuisine, you can also incorporate specialty beverage carts to serve boozy libations at your wedding.
Cocktail trucks are fully mobile bars able to prepare amazing craft cocktails, mocktails, wine, beer and more. They offer the same beverage service as a standard bar caterer, but with the cool element of serving from a chic retro vehicle.
Coffee carts are another option that can whip up delicious espresso drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and mochas for an afternoon pick-me-up or after dinner treat. Add a table with liqueurs and spirits for guests to doctor up their own Irish coffee or other alcoholic coffee creations.
For something really unique, look for craft beer or wine trailer rentals. These allow you to offer curated selections of high-end beers, wines and even champagne for guests to sample throughout the event.
Just like food service, be sure any beverage trucks obtain proper alcohol service permits and liability insurance. With the right bar cart partner, you can keep the cocktails flowing in style!
Dessert Cart Ideas – Fun Alternatives to a Wedding Cake
Dessert carts are a fantastic way to serve up sugary treats in place of a traditional wedding cake. Consider these sweet and stylish ideas:
- An ice cream cart offering build-your-own sundae bars with endless toppings and sauce choices.
- A decadent chocolate fountain surrounded by fruits, marshmallows and other goodies for dipping.
- A donut wall with gourmet donuts arranged for a fun focal point and tasty bites.
- A s’mores bar with all the fixings so guests can get their campfire treat fix.
- Doughnut trucks serving up piping hot sugared, glazed and filled doughnuts fresh to order.
- Waffle carts providing made-to-order waffles on a stick or in cups with toppings.
- Cotton candy, popcorn or snow cone carts for whimsical, help-yourself snacks.
- Crepe, beignet or churro stations with sweet and savory flavor options.
- Macaron towers to delight guests with an assortment of French macarons.
Swap wedding cake slicing for a dessert party! Delight guests with novel, interactive confection stations that make your reception extra sweet.
Late Night Snack Food Cart Ideas Your Guests Will Love
After hours of dancing and celebrating, nighttime hunger pangs hit your guests. Satisfy late night cravings with these awesome midnight snack cart ideas:
- French fry station with loaded fry options like chili cheese fries or poutine.
- Grilled cheese and tomato soup shots for ultimate comfort food.
- Mini pancake puppies or bite-sized pancake dippers with maple syrup.
- Mac and cheese bar with fun toppings like lobster, shrimp, pulled pork or fried chicken.
- Hot dog cart serving sausages with all the fixings – perfect munchies.
- Finger food grab bags with mini burgers, nachos, tacos, egg rolls or other tasty nibbles.
- Milk and cookie shooters for the perfect sweet treat.
- Fun funnel cake flavors like cereal milk or strawberry shortcake.
- Spiked milkshake bar blending up boozy shakes.
Keep the party going all night with late night bites your guests will rave about. Food trucks make it easy to feed those midnight munchies in style!
Food Cart Wedding Advice from Couples and Pros Who Have Done it Before
The best way to gain insights on successfully planning your food truck wedding is to learn from others who have done it firsthand. Here are some tips straight from the experts:
- “Have a point person to manage the trucks so you don’t have to worry about vendor logistics on your big day.” – Amy, bride
- “Make sure trucks have easy access paths. Don’t block them in with decor or seating.” – Marie, wedding planner
- “Order extra food and expect some waste. It’s better than running out.” – James, catering owner
- “Have a backup rain plan! We moved our trucks indoors at the last minute due to monsoons.” – Sofia, bride
- “Communicate the timeline clearly to your trucks and make sure they arrive early.” – Noah, groom
- “Map out the traffic flow for guests in advance. You want to avoid bottlenecks.” – Michelle, event planner
- “Don’t skimp on lighting! Well lit food areas keep service smooth after dark.” – Brandon, caterer
- “Order special late night snacks to surprise guests and keep energy up on the dance floor.” – Gaby, bride
By learning from real-world experiences, you can plan your dream food cart wedding with minimal hiccups!
Food carts offer a fantastic alternative to traditional catering for couples seeking a stylish yet laid-back wedding celebration. With incredible food, lower costs and a unique guest experience, food trucks allow you to throw an unforgettable party with wow-factor details.
By choosing food carts that match your wedding aesthetic, designing creative menus and handling logistics like staffing and permits properly, you can integrate trucks flawlessly into your big day. Consider all the pros and cons, enlist an experienced wedding coordinator, and don’t forget weather backup plans.
With the right combination of food trucks, your guests will rave about the amazing cuisine and fun vibe of your reception for years to come! From appetizers to late night bites, let food carts help cater the wedding of your dreams. Just be ready for some extra planning. The effort is well worth it for a celebration that beautifully reflects you as a couple.