Choose This Not That!

Written by: Vanessa Hersel

Competitors: Food Truck vs. Caterers

Elements: Budget, Originality/Taste, Hassle-Level

Let’s be honest – most people like weddings because of the free food and booze! Those are both such important parts of the wedding reception that overlooking small details can turn into giant disasters. The problem is the saturation of options in the food category! Recently, food trucks have taken some of the steam from professional caterers. Let the battle for the best begin!


Food Truck: These little gems have become more and more popular, especially in the Denver area, and the biggest reason is the expectation of saving money. At first glance, food trucks will save you some money! But consider that most food trucks provide FOOD ONLY. If that’s the case, what’s missing? First of all, how are your guests going to eat their delicious delectables? You will definitely have to plan your own rentals. A short list of things you will need includes: flatware, linens, napkins, and water glasses. All of that adds up to a considerable extra cost. Another cost that most people overlook is trash clean up. If a venue allows food trucks, they probably require a professional third party to clean up trash. An average bussing cost is $10-$15 per hour per busser, and if you have more than 100 guests at your wedding, you will need at least two bussers. Another thing you will need if you have more than 100 guests is another food truck. It takes one food truck about an hour to serve 100 people, so to get your guests served before 9:00 you need more than one truck.

Check out this table of expenses to expect with a food truck:

Food Truck $2400-$4500 $16-$30 Two Savory Food Trucks
Rentals $900-$1500 $16-$30 Linens (plain white or black), Napkins, Flatware, Water Glasses
Trash Clean-up $180 $1.20 Two Bussers at $15/hour
Non-Alcoholic Drinks $100 >$1.00 Water, Lemonade, Soda
TOTAL $3580-$5680 $24-$40

Caterer: Professional caterers come in so many shapes and sizes. Food is such a personal choice and the service you can get from caterers fluctuates based on your specific needs. If and when you do book a caterer, be sure that they include linens and rentals as a line item on your contract. Even with those items included, you can find caterers for as little as $30 per person, to as much as $70 per person and up. It all depends on how much you want them to bring and make! The more specific and individualized you get, the more expensive it will be.



Food Truck: Obviously a food truck can provide you with unique food that is freshly cooked individually for each guest. It’s cute, fun, and you get adorable photos of you in your wedding dress at a food truck. There are also so many food truck options that you can easily find good food that will satisfy most of your guests (minus the super-picky-never-happy-allergic-to-everything person). Its individualized, and you usually get what you have tried before.

Caterer: Speaking of individuality, it’s very hard to come by with professional caterers. There are a limited number of meals that still taste good pre-cooked and in bulk. Be careful at your tasting to consider how good your food will taste when it’s made for 150 people all at once. For example, if you want a late night snack of chicken and waffles, the caterer can provide that for sure! Just expect that the waffles will probably be a little soggy. Catering food is a delicate art, and finding the right artist can be a challenge.


Hassle Level

Food Truck: Choosing a food truck to cater your wedding comes with gobs more responsibility for you. If you don’t hire a professional caterer, you will have to rely on yourself or your entourage (so-to-speak) to “army-out” the table settings and setup of the reception. Things to consider: Who is going to buy ice and set up the drink station before your wedding? Who is going to set all the napkins and flatware at each place and set centerpieces? Which of your -let’s be honest – drunk guests at the end of the night is going to stay to clean up and take linens? Who will cut and plate your cake? Creating a plan for all these details is a spreadsheet nightmare! As it gets close to your wedding day, and especially on the day itself, it’s better and less stressful for you to just let go and have a professional take over.

Caterer: Caterer’s jobs are to remove hassle from your life. Once you pick a caterer and pick your food, you shouldn’t have to think about food or setup ever again! There are so many services that caterers provide that non-professionals won’t consider. And usually, if something does slip through the cracks, they are there to smooth it out. You probably won’t even know if something goes wrong.


Overall Winner

And the winner is….


Alchemy Creative photography

CATERERS! Surprised? While food trucks can win you points in originality, and can save you some money, the important services that caterers provide trump those elements. Save yourself some worry-wrinkles and hire a reliable professional. If you still want a cute original option, maybe get a late night snack provided by a food truck. Or, you could set up a “sweet” dessert display. You can get originality in so many ways, and the lack of stress will pay off on your wedding day.

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