Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Silver Linings Made of Taco Trucks

Recently, life has moved from hectic-but-fulfilling-and-manageable into high-alert-there's-nothing-fulfilling-about-this stress zone. It's bad enough that, when trying to make plans with a girlfriend I haven't seen in ages, I could offer her one open Wednesday and possibly one Friday night in the next month and a half. I wish I were joking.

And somehow, in the midst of this, I'm supposed to be planning a wedding. I got an email last week saying the venue price may have gone up, but I've already been playing phone and email tag with them for weeks without any confirmations on our date. So I'm trying to sort that out while also coming up with an affordable Plan B venue option, just in case. We're trying to price out all our food choices by weighing our cost/stress/environmental options by pricing out sustainable caterers, mobile food truck catering, partial DIY food costs (appetizer, side dish, and dessert), party staffing services, rental costs, and eco-friendly disposable options. We're trying to suss out how much buses would really cost to rent, since our likely venue is poorly located for anyone who's drunk a few glasses of wine. We're trying to manage our ever growing guest list that moved far beyond our flippant estimate of 150 once we really started digging in. In other words, we're trying to figure out the real costs of this thing so we can make some real decisions about budget options and saving plans. But, with our lives hurling forward at an absurd pace and every cost-saving option up for discussion, we are even more overwhelmed. And with this much stress, the idea of actively choosing the cheaper-but-much-more-labor-and-effort intensive DIY or multiple vendor coordination option just feels exhausting. And still so expensive that I want to cry.

This is the point where my hoped-for zen comes crashing down around me in tense car-ride misunderstandings. This is where suddenly everyone decides to share their unhelpful advice and subtle (or not so subtle) judgments about how much we're spending and, contradictorily, just how cheap we're being. This is where I get nervous about what my future family will think of me and our seemingly less traditional (and apparently cheap) approach to the wedding. This is where I'm running a different spreadsheet scenario every night to figure out just how we might be able to pull this off and if there's any way around a year of pasta and peanut butter sandwiches to manage to afford this (answer: probably not.)

Yeah, just about the only thing I'm looking forward to is our upcoming mobile food truck gastronomical tour of Los Angeles. A ton of the trucks are closed for Sunday catering (boo, that's not really convenient for us) and we've only eaten at a handful for the 89 gourmet and fusion cuisine mobile food truck eateries and a handful of the authentic taco trucks in the city. It's catering research, and it's just about the only part of this planning process I'm looking forward to in the next two months. It's a silver lining made of Vietnamese-French fusion tacos and other such tastiness, and hopefully that will make everything okay (or some approximation thereof.)


  1. Best list ever. Hello Banh mi!

    I've already vowed to try as many on this list when I'm in LA for a few days.

    Re: everything else. You'll find a way eventually, whether it's spending a little more for something you're happy with or cutting yet other things out. As for DIY, some of it can be done with love and a dose of late nights and will be worth it. Others not so much. The list is continually revised and that's ok too. Most importantly, take wedding planning breaks.

  2. aw honey. I feel you on the this-stress-ain't-worth-it deal. I'm graduating in june (and planning a wedding) and somehow this is my hardest quarter of college yet, 18 units. what was I thinking?? deep breaths, decently healthy food and lots of hugs are all i've got right now.

  3. Nom nom taco truck??? Hallelujah! That is a silver lining if I ever did see one.

  4. I LOVE Nom Nom. That Banh mi is just about the best thing out there. The tacos are great, but damn, that sandwich is ridiculous.

  5. @Dave - we haven't tried the Nom Nom truck yet, so that's great to hear! I just thought that "nom nom" sums up the only good thing we have going in this process right now. I can't wait to hit ceremony planning. Truly.

  6. i think it should be said that if you stop caring about what other people think about your planning prowess, you'll have a lot more fun with it. after all, it's you and him planning this and regardless of what people think are cheap or too extravagant - it should be politely said that it's not their wedding. it's yours! i'm sure i'll need my own advice once i start freaking out too though. good luck!

    a side opinion: nomnom truck isn't worth their prices, really. their bread just doesn't taste like banh mi to me.

  7. Slow down. Just slow down. I know life moves soooo fast, but seriously, take a break from the planning. Trust me, I learned the hard way that it's not worth freaking out and looking for a Plan B until you know Plan A won't work.

    Our in-laws are very worried about us being cheap and keep offering us money, not really understanding that the problem isn't how much we have to spend, it's how much we want to spend and that no matter how much you have, 10k on food is a LOT of money.

    I think that I get to come to LA next spring and will have to check out these food trucks I hear about. Because well, Baltimore's only food trucks are for the homeless.

  8. @anon, I'm aware that it would be easier to shut out outside opinions but, frankly, those judgments hurt. Especially when I'm doing everything in my d*mn power to take care of everyone else's needs with this wedding. And especially when those judgments come from people who matter dearly to us. It's not easy to turn away and say "eff it, this is mine." Because in so many ways it's not, and in so many ways they'll never understand.

    And also, we're open to any and all taco truck recommendations! Like I said, this is a food tasting adventure, and we've only sampled a few so far.

  9. I love the taco truck idea. It's a great LA catering option.

    I concur that it is painful trying to find that perfect (or even semi-perfect) balance between a budget you can live with and the amount and type of work you can realistically accomplish (both in terms of time and talent). There is a fine line between clasy and too expensive and budget savvy and cheap. I often find myself simultaneously celebrating Dollar Store finds and mocking them. This is the conundrum of wedding planning.

  10. At times like these, the little Monty Python troupe that lives in my heads starts shrieking "run away! run away!" Ugh. But maybe they're right, in a manner of speaking. You can't ignore your obligations, responsibilities, and extracurricular activities, but maybe you can afford to give yourself a week where you don't let yourself even think about wedding planning.

    You can, however, focus on those food trucks. OMG. Another reason to move to L.A.

  11. @lyn - as soon as we settle the venue issues and a cost-estimate plan for the food, we're giving ourselves a short wedding-planning break. But I'm a year out, and affordable LA venues are rather hard to come by, so I don't feel like I can leave this one (or the connected budget questions) unsettled.

    So, in conclusion, yay for taco trucks.

  12. NOM NOM NOM NOM. Yum.

    It will all work out. (I just walk around repeating this, over and over, under my breath. I have become a crazy wedding mutterer.)

  13. i've found that the mandoline truck is pretty decent and better tasting than nomnom (imo).

    if you visit the downtown art walk, you can probably end up hitting something like 10 trucks in a night. a heavily gluttonous night, but yummy nonetheless!

  14. Hope you're hanging in there. It is a stressful time. You will find the right place and at the right price. i know this because you will get married somewhere & when you do that, it will be the place where everything else Right started for the rest of your life.

  15. "we're trying to figure out the real costs of this thing"

    I think everyone goes through this. We did, just last month. You have this vague number in your head of how many guests you'll have and what you'll need to spend... I'd like to meet someone who has managed to stick to it without a couple of revisions.

    You'll get there though. You'll do what you can and it will be amazing.

  16. You'll get there! And seriously, once you nail down the venue- take a break, take a breath and forget all about wedding planning for a bit. I totally understand wanting to please everyone (especially loved ones) but the reality is that you just can't. Not everyone is gonna love all of the decisions you make for your wedding, but you should!! And I of course am VERY supportive of a taco truck of any stripe! :)


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