The wedding was beautiful. Guests milled around rustic wooden tables, illuminated under strings of white café lights. Kids played hide and seek in the warm tall grass. Country music filled the air, not quite concealing a low rumbling noise. Was it the horses running in the field nearby? Or one of those famous California earthquakes? No, this was the rumble of empty stomachs—most of us were starving.
The wedding ceremony had ended around 5:00, and everyone headed to the reception area, where two small trailers were waiting: one with images of crepes and French fries on the side, and another with cocktails. What a cool idea—instead of a catered dinner, they hired a food truck, and guests could pick and choose what they wanted. Our table filled out our menu cards, turned them in, and waited.
By 7:30, only a small fraction of the guests had gotten food, so I drove my son to a local McDonald’s to get him something to eat (we were waaaaay out in the country). When we got back at 8:30, our table had just gotten food, but it was a shell of what we ordered. My crepe had no chicken in it, my husband’s burger only had half a bun, and we each only got about 5 French fries. But we were some of the lucky ones—some guests, including the bride’s 92-year-old grandmother, never got served at all (don’t worry, we pooled resources and made sure she got something to eat).
So what went wrong? I see two main takeaways here:
- The bride was dead set on having crepes and loaded bacon chili fries. Several family members expressed concern in advance that there wouldn’t be enough food, and offered to hire another truck, but she refused—it would be crepes, crepes, and nothing but the crepes, thank you very much. Her desire to have this one thing crowded out any critical thinking or openness to alternatives. Was one truck really enough? Were there any other local crepe vendors who had similar offerings? Was there a way to compromise a bit and still get the main idea of what she wanted?
- I don’t know how experienced or desperate the food truck vendor was, but they should have been aware of their capacity and been honest about it. They were offering 4 main options and 4 possible sides, serving 200 people. As a best case scenario, two people in a tiny truck might be able to cook food for one table of people in 10 minutes. With 26 tables, that’s just over 4 hours to get everyone fed (which is 9:00, after the reception was slated to end). And that’s if everything goes perfectly. With a little bit of math, they should have been able to know that they couldn’t do the job without help. No business owner likes to turn down a big job (including me), but taking on something that they can’t realistically handle is a recipe for disaster.
There are lots of things that make an event memorable, for better or worse. But a little bit of critical thinking and asking the right questions, no matter what side of the planning you’re on, can make all the difference. And now I know to bring snacks to the next backyard wedding I attend, just in case.
Do you see any other takeaways here?
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