Can I Deduct Wedding Expenses?

June 14, 2022 by Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Wedding

Although this may not be the most romantic of questions to think about as our June brides and grooms ready themselves for their big day, the surprising answer is yes – you can deduct some of your wedding expenses under certain circumstances. We all know that hosting a wedding is a very expensive proposition, and who would not want to recover some of their costs by using a tax deduction if they could?

The basis for reclaiming the expenses of certain parts of the wedding is the deduction for charitable contributions allowed under the tax code. I know this probably sounds odd right now, and you may be thinking I’m about to tell you that the bride’s father can claim a charitable contribution when he gives his daughter away! But stay tuned and let me explain.

Let’s begin by thinking about some of the different elements (and expenses) that are part of a typical wedding. We have the bride in her expensive gown - attended by bridesmaids in matching dresses – who are transported to a church or other venue where the ceremony will take place. The wedding location is often adorned with expensive flowers and other decorations, and so is the restaurant, hall, or other venues where the celebratory meal will be served. And speaking of food, there is often a significant amount of food left over after the serving of the guests has been completed. While most guests will give no further thought to the above as they leave to go on their merry way home, each item represents a potential tax deduction to the folks who paid for them.

For example, many brides choose to keep their wedding dress as a souvenir of the happy occasion of their marriage, but the dresses are rarely if ever, worn again. Instead, the bride could donate her dress to one of the many charities that collect gently used dresses and make them available to less fortunate brides who need a dress for their own wedding. The same thing applies to the bridesmaid dresses, which are often so unique and stylized that they are rarely worn beyond the original wedding they were designed for. These too can be donated to one of the many non-profits that distribute them to be used as prom dresses for high school students who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

Not only are the dresses able to have a life that extends beyond the wedding, but the flowers and other decorations from the event can also be repurposed. One can imagine how much the floral arrangements from a wedding would provide cheer to the patients in a public hospital cancer ward or the residents of a non-profit woman’s shelter or retirement home. Meanwhile, items such as vases, tea candles, and other decorations could be donated to Goodwill or another charity.

The cost associated with the wedding venue itself may also be deductible if the recipient meets the IRS tax-exempt guidelines. For example, many churches and non-profits do not charge a fee for the use of their building for a wedding and will gladly host the ceremony for free. However, any voluntary donation that the bride’s family may choose to make to a church or non-profit of this type would be deductible. On the other hand, any fee paid for the services of the wedding celebrant is not deductible. Another deductible example could be a couple of train buffs who decide to hold their wedding at the railroad museum in their hometown which is registered as a tax-exempt organization.

When it comes to catering for a dinner with several different alternatives for 400 guests, it is almost inevitable that there will be food left over at the end of the meal. This leftover food can be donated to a homeless shelter or other charity where it will be gratefully received.

The fair market value of all these charitable contributions is eligible for deduction on a personal tax return. But the key to claiming the deductions is to get the proper documentation from the recipients of the gifts and keep good records of your activities. You may be able to claim up to a total of $600 in charitable contributions on your Form 1040 tax return, but your deductions can be greater than the $600 limit if you itemize your deductions using Schedule A. More information can be found on the IRS website.

So, although you may be expecting to spend a lot of money on an upcoming wedding, some wise planning in advance and good record-keeping can help ease the financial pain to some extent.

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Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Tax Content Developer

 

Steve Banner began his career in the field of income tax in 1977 and has since gathered business experience in a variety of countries and cultures. In addition to the United States, he has lived and worked for extended periods in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Sweden. Along the way he studied Adult Education and earned a Bachelor of Education, Master of Educational Administration, and MBA. He joined TaxAudit in 2016, where he is a Tax Content Developer.


 

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