The average cost of a wedding, as of 2012, is $28,427. In upscale communities, that's cheap: Manhattan weddings, for example, average $76,687. Romantic the wedding may be, but deductible it's usually not. There are tax tricks for claiming some deductions, but you'll have to plan carefully to take advantage of them.
If you hold the reception or the ceremony somewhere that qualifies for charitable donations, you may be able to write off some of the costs. A church, a state park or a museum could all qualify. The catch is that you're getting something in return, so you can only claim a write-off if you spend more than the fair market value of holding the reception there. Unless you pay more than fair market value for the venue, you're out of luck.
Anything you can give away after the reception may qualify for a charity write-off. There are charities that accept wedding dresses and resell them or give them free to brides in need. Other groups alter bridesmaid dresses into prom gowns for poor students. If there's a local charity that feeds the poor or the homeless, it may be willing to take what's left of the reception dinner. If the food is fresh and the clothes are still elegant, you can deduct the value of your donation on your taxes.
Some brides or grooms have successfully turned a reception into a business event. One businessman made his wedding tax-deductible by combining it with a marketing seminar. As a result, his guests paid to attend and the event costs were a business expense. This is a risky card to play, as it doesn't always work. Another taxpayer claimed that because he'd invited lots of business colleagues to the wedding, it qualified as a business expense, but the IRS shot him down.
Making charitable donations only gets you a write-off if you itemize deductions on Schedule A. If you take the standard deduction instead, it's no-go. For any non-cash donations, such as a wedding dress, you need careful records and receipts. The IRS wants to know which charity, when you gave them the dress -- or centerpieces, or food -- and how much it was worth. If you're claiming more than $500 for your dress, the IRS may want a written appraisal too.
- CNN Money: Average Wedding Bill in 2012: $28,400
- Internal Revenue Service: Charitable Contributions
- Equifax: Wedding-Related Tax Benefits
- Knoxvillebiz.com: Tax Tips: Wedding Expenses not Deductible, LTC Benefits Are
- Brides. "This Is What the American Wedding Looks Like Today." Accessed May 29, 2020.
- Consumer Reports. "Get More Wedding for Your Money." Accessed May 29, 2020.
A Durham, NC resident, Fraser has written about law, starting a business, balancing your budget and fighting evictions, among other legal and financial topics.