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When it comes to planning food for a wedding, everyone wants to plan something to please the crowd. However, with weddings often involving many people from all walks of life, planning something that everyone will enjoy is no small task. So how many tacos do you need for a wedding?
For a wedding, plan on a minimum of 3-4 tacos per person. This will allow guests to eat as much as they would like, without having too much food leftover. Tacos are a crowd-pleaser, as they are a simple dish with a wide variety. If done right, everyone will leave the wedding feeling satisfied.
In the article below, we discuss some different points to consider when planning to serve tacos at a wedding, including recommended numbers, types of tacos, preparing them yourself vs. hiring out, and how much you might expect to spend.
Number of Tacos vs. Number of People
While the minimum number of tacos you should plan on should be 3-4 per person, this can vary widely based on a variety of factors:
Type of Taco
While “taco” will get any wedding guest out of their seat and into the line, it’s important to note that “taco” can mean different things. In the U.S., we tend to think of a taco as a medium-sized flour tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and veggies (usually tomatoes and lettuce). However, “taco” can also mean a street-style taco, made with a small corn tortilla, sans cheese, and with a wider variety of toppings, including everything from cucumbers and onions, to cilantro, limes, and ranch. Since flour tortillas tend to be larger than corn tortillas, you may not need quite as many tacos if you plan to provide American-style tacos.
While the numbers can vary based on the size of the tortillas, a good rule-of-thumb is a minimum of 2-3 American-style tacos or 3-4 street-style tacos per person. Based on these numbers, we have the following recommendations (we used the upper-end numbers, i.e., 3 flour tacos per person and 4 corn tacos)
|Number of Guests||Type of Taco||Number of Tacos||Price estimate*|
Main food or side dish?
Another consideration when planning tacos for a wedding is what else you might be providing. Will tacos be your sole dish, main dish, or simply part of a Mexican-food entourage? We discuss possible compliments to tacos below, but we recommend halving the numbers above if you’re providing something to eat in addition to tacos. In other words, if tacos aren’t the only dish, plan on only 1-2 flour tacos per person, and 2-3 street tacos.
Types of Tacos
American-style vs. Street-style
When deciding to buy American-style vs. street-style, the only real consideration is preference. If you want even more variety, consider buying half American- and half street-style (adjusting the numbers above accordingly). Recognize, however, that this may be more difficult for a single caterer to provide, so price-per-taco may go up. However, most toppings go well with both styles, so should you decide to do both, there’s no need to plan for separate fillings or toppings.
Options for fillings (meats)
Another important consideration is what types of fillings you want for your tacos. Possible fillings include shredded chicken, shredded beef, shredded pork, sweet pork, grilled chicken, carne asada (grilled steak), al pastor (marinated pork), chorizo, and fish among others. The price for all of these should be very similar, though you may pay slightly extra for the grilled meats or fish.
Most caterers will be happy to provide a variety, though it’s unlikely that all caterers will have all of these options. If you’d like a variety, be sure to at least offer some variety of both chicken and beef, and probably pork too. These are the main options that most people will look for.
While toppings for American- and Street-style tacos traditionally differ slightly, there’s no reason that the toppings can’t go on either style. Traditionally, American-style tacos will have the following toppings:
- Sour Cream
Street-style tacos will have all of the above (although cheese and sour cream are rare on street tacos), plus the following:
- Limes/lime juice
- Diced onions
- Pickled onions
Possible Foods to go with Tacos
Tacos in and of themselves can make a great food offering at a wedding. However, whether you’re hoping to go above and beyond, or simply hoping to spice things up with a little more variety, here are some other options to consider serving alongside tacos:
- Burritos: Burritos are a good option if you want to have an alternative to tacos available for guests. Since many of the ingredients overlap, you will not need to buy two entire meals to provide both of these options. You will likely need larger flour tortillas, beans, and rice in addition to the ingredients listed above. Be aware that not all caterers will provide both tacos and burritos.
- Chips and Salsa: Though this might just be our love of Mexican food coming out, we recommend that you should have chips and salsa as a side to tacos. This is a relatively inexpensive side option that will satiate guests who may not enjoy tacos, and also allow guests who have to stay the whole night to have something to snack on. Have at least one mild salsa option available, and then add varying levels of spiciness as desired.
- Other options: We don’t recommend the following because of the increased difficulty of providing them, but if you really want to go all out, other classic Mexican options include tostadas, tamales, enchiladas, salads and nachos.
Drinks to go with tacos don’t matter quite as much, as just about all drink options are fine with tacos. Some good Mexican-style options include horchata, homemade limeade, lemonade, and jamaica (made with hibiscus). However, don’t feel bad about just providing soda or water with dinner as well — most Mexican restaurants often have these options available as well!
Doing it Yourself vs. Hiring Out
Alright, so you’ve done your research, read all our info and suggestions above, and decided that it might be worth trying to make tacos (or other foods) on the wedding day instead of hiring a caterer. Maybe you’re a go-getter who loves to cook. Or maybe you’re on a strict wedding budget and you think that you can get more bang for your buck if you do the labor yourself. Either way, you’re considering taking the plunge and doing it yourself instead of hiring out. Here’s what you need to know.
Be Careful About Pricing
We often think that buying the ingredients and doing the work ourselves will result in a much cheaper bill at the end of the day. However, it’s important to take multiple factors into consideration. Restaurants and caterers often have professional relationships with various providers to get their ingredients for cheaper as they buy in bulk and buy regularly; so while it might be cheaper to make a family dinner for five than to eat out for five, that might not be the case once the numbers get bigger. Caterers also often have nice, expensive equipment that allows them to be more efficient and simultaneously provide higher quality food. So while you might be paying for labor, keep in mind that you are paying for efficiency on their end too.
Quality vs. Quantity
This efficiency can lead to lower wait times in a restaurant or catering situation, but it can also lead to higher quality food as well. While you might be fine in the kitchen to make a pound of chicken, recognize that it gets exponentially more difficult to make ten or twenty pounds of chicken of the same quality. It’s important to recognize that these are professionals who are accustomed to making mass amounts of food in short amounts of time with customer pressure on them. And don’t worry too much about the quality; remember that this is a marketing opportunity for the caterer as well, and they want to leave a good impression on guests just as much as you do.
It’s Work. A Lot of Work.
Let’s face it. Weddings are stressful enough as it is. People already have responsibilities piled on top of them even without having to worry about making food. Don’t forget that it’s a lot of food, much more than most people are accustomed to making. And keep in mind, you want your food to be fresh on the wedding day, not cooked, and then left in the fridge overnight to reheat. Do you really want to add to the load of work and stress that happens on the day of the wedding?
If that doesn’t bother you, and you’ve compared prices and found that you can really save some money, and you’re confident that you can have a great experience despite the work, then that’s awesome! We provide some tips for you below. However, if you’ve decided that it’s just not worth it, and you’d rather hire out a caterer, there’s no shame in that, and we have some tips for you as well.
How to Find Someone to Hire
While finding a good caterer is never the most exciting thing to do, it doesn’t have to be all-stress either. No matter where you plan to have the wedding, odds are that there’s a good caterer available for hire. But what should you look for in a caterer? And how do you finalize the details?
- Rule Number 1: Make sure to book a caterer a good amount of time in advance. Don’t expect to find a caterer the week or even the month of the wedding, especially if it’s on a weekend. Try to book at least 2-3 months in advance, especially during peak wedding seasons.
- Rule Number 2: Always make sure to talk to the caterer either in person or on the phone. This will help avoid confusion on both ends and can be a good time to make sure the caterer is exactly what you’re looking for. Feel free to ask questions, request accommodations, etc., but also remember: you’re working with someone who does bulk orders for a living. Don’t expect to get any bulk or “special event” discounts. All of those discounts should already be accounted for in their offer, and pestering them about it can be irritating for them.
- Rule Number 3: Have regular contact with them leading up to the wedding. This doesn’t mean you need to bother them every day, but check in periodically, and have another around 1-2 weeks prior to the wedding to finalize details and ensure everything is ready to go.
- Rule Number 4: Make sure you’re both clear on expectations and costs. Some caterers will have a service fee appended onto their price listing, and others may expect tips after the event. Be clear with them so that you don’t end up with unanticipated costs after the wedding is over.
Doing it Yourself
We won’t be able to cover all of the details for doing it yourself here, as that would require multiple pages of recipes, but we do offer some tips.
- Tip #1: Don’t skimp on the meat. Or the tortillas. These are the two essentials to a taco. If you run out of toppings, people might be slightly disappointed, but if you run out of meat or tortillas, then you’ve run out of tacos. Be sure you get enough meat and tortillas.
- Tip #2: Enlist help. Even for a smaller event, trying to do it all by yourself is unwise. Be willing to ask for help, but also avoid those who will be busy with other tasks during the day (groomsmen, bridesmaids, close family, etc.).
- Tip #3: Practice what you’re cooking beforehand. You don’t want to start cooking and then realize you’re missing key ingredients. Make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you’ll be doing for the event.
Thank you to Jurassic Street Tacos for helping answer some of our questions for this article. You can visit their website here: https://jurassictaco.com/