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Are Wedding Expenses Tax Deductible?

With spring right around the corner, wedding season will soon be in full bloom. If you’re one of the lucky couples getting married this year, congratulations! We know that this is a special day and you’ll want everything to be perfect.  Perfection, however, comes at a price. According to a recent survey from TheKnot.com, the average cost of a wedding is $30,000. That’s a pretty hefty investment, so you may be wondering, “Are wedding expenses tax deductible?” Unfortunately, for the most part, the answer is no. There are, however, a few ways you may be able to claim a tax deduction.

Tax Deductible Wedding Expenses

Some of the biggest expenses for a wedding are the food, flowers, and the bride’s gown. Although you won’t be able to get a tax break on the full amount you spend on these items, you can recoup some of your costs.

Your Wedding Dress

Your wedding dress, if you’re the bride, is arguably the most important purchase for your wedding. Depending on your location and your tastes, it can easily cost $2,000 or more. This doesn’t include, however, the cost of alterations or dry cleaning and preservation after the ceremony. All this for a dress you’ll probably never wear again.

Thankfully, there is one way to recoup some costs – consider donating your dress to charity for a tax write-off. There are several places to consider, including:

  • Goodwill – Visit their website to find a location near you.
  • Salvation Army – Schedule a pick-up or drop-off at your nearest location.
  • Brides for a Cause – This national charity accepts gowns (5 years or newer) from across America, as well as bridal accessories (veils, jewelry, gloves, etc.). For more information, visit their website or email donate@bridesforacause.com.
  • Brides Against Breast Cancer – If your dress is less than 3 years old and is in excellent condition, you may be able to donate it to this charity if it meets all other criteria. To learn more, visit their website or email info@bridesagainstbreastcancer.com.
  • Brides Across America – This national charity accepts dresses 4 years and newer. They are then given to the military, first responders, and healthcare workers in need. The organization also accepts jewelry, veils, bridesmaid’s gowns, and wedding favors. To donate, complete the form on their website and follow the instructions provided.

You can also look into local charitable events, such as Night to Shine, which seeks dress donations for an annual prom held for those with special needs.   

Bouquets & Floral Centerpieces

Another large expense at most weddings is the flower arrangements. Instead of tossing your flowers or gifting them to guests, you may be able to take a tax deduction by donating them to a local charity, homeless shelter, or hospice. Just be sure that you contact the charity or hospital ahead of time as some may not accept floral donations. You’ll also want to ensure that they are an eligible tax-exempt organization or your donation won’t be tax deductible.  

If you can’t find a place to donate locally, check out Petals for Hope. This national charity will pick up your flowers immediately after your wedding and repurpose the flowers into bedside bouquets. Just fill out their online form before your big day to see if there is a participating affiliate in your area.

Wedding Decorations

Did you shell out some cash for wedding decorations? Good news! You can donate the majority, if not all, of these items to local thrift shops or charities. Many charities are happy to take balloon arches, silk flowers, and other festive decorations which they can repurpose for their events. Just remember that you can only claim the fair market value for these items and not their original purchase price.

Reception Food

If you anticipate having leftovers at your reception, contact a local shelter to see if they would be interested in receiving the food post-nuptials. Many organizations have strict policies concerning unwrapped food, but with a little pre-planning, you can ensure your food does not go to waste. You’ll not only feel good about helping your community but also get a nice tax deduction to boot.

It’s important to note that you’ll need to determine what percentage of your food is donated since you can’t claim a tax break on the food enjoyed by your guests. For example, if you paid $5,000 but only donated 10% of the total food ordered, your max deduction would be $500.

What About The Venue?

Claiming a tax deduction on your wedding venue is not so straightforward. Even if you use a church or other tax-exempt facility, you probably won’t be able to claim it since you are receiving something in return for your fees. There is, however, a workaround – donate money above the suggested fee. If the church suggests $500 for use of its facilities, you can give them $1,500. The extra $1,000 would be considered a charitable donation.

Any payments made to a pastor or officiant, however, are not tax deductible. First, they are individuals and not tax-exempt organizations. Secondly, you are receiving services for the money you paid.

Don’t Forget to Get a Receipt!

If you plan on taking a tax deduction for any of your eligible wedding expenses, be sure to keep all original receipts for your purchases and get a donation letter from the charitable organization. You should also be able to show how you determined the item’s fair market value. You’ll need these items in case you are later audited by the IRS. If you’re unsure about claiming an item on your return, consult with a tax professional.