It’s only natural to want a tax deduction for something as expensive as a wedding. While you might have a few options, most of your expenses won’t be tax deductible.
Payments to Your Church
It’s a common misconception that you can take a tax deduction for your church’s ceremony fee. Even though donations to your church usually fall under deductible charitable contributions, wedding fees are generally quid pro quo contributions under IRS rules.
A quid pro quo contribution is when you get something in return. Since you’re essentially buying something and not making a free gift, it’s generally not tax deductible.
Quid pro quo contributions will usually include both mandatory and suggested ceremony fees even if your church refers to it as a donation.
If you give more than the suggested amount, the additional amount will usually be tax deductible. For example, if the suggested donation is $1,000 and you give $1,500, you can deduct $500.
Payments to Your Pastor
If you give your priest or pastor an honorarium, tip, or other payment, that also generally won’t be tax deductible for two reasons.
First, it will likely fall under payments for services you received. Second, it’s not a payment to a qualified non-profit organization if you’re giving it to a specific person as an individual.
Payments to Other Venues
If you hold your wedding at another venue, such as a national park, museum, or historical site, the same general rules apply as they do for churches.
Even if your venue is a non-profit, you’re receiving a quid pro quo benefit. You can only tax a tax deduction for any amount you give over the expected ceremony fees.
Flowers, Food, and Décor
Donating leftover items from your wedding is similar to cleaning out your attic. It’s potentially tax deductible.
To receive tax deductions for these items, you’ll need to bring them to a qualified non-profit organization and get a receipt for their fair value.
The value on your receipt and that you can donate will often be less than what you paid. This is because you’ll often be overpaying because of the “wedding tax” and your wedding favors may not have much value to a non-profit.
Also, if you’re donating food, you, of course, can’t deduct what you ate.
Wedding Dress and Other Clothing
The bride’s wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, and other clothing from the wedding may be tax deductible. It’s the same as donating other used clothes.
To qualify for the deduction, you’ll need to bring the items to a qualified organization and get a receipt. The donation value will often be lower than what you paid for the clothing items.
A wedding ring will usually fall under similar rules as clothing. To qualify for a deduction, you’d need to donate the ring to a charitable organization and follow the usual donation rules.
Donations via a Gift Registry
If you ask your guests to make a donation instead of giving a wedding gift, it depends on how you do it.
When someone makes a donation in lieu of a gift, the person who actually pays the money gets the charitable contribution deduction. So if you set up a charity registry and one of your guests gives $500 to save the whales, that’s $500 off of the guest’s tax return not yours.
For you to be able to take a deduction, you’d have to receive a cash gift that you could use for anything you want. Your wedding gift registry also generally can’t promise that you’ll give cash gifts to charity because then the money isn’t yours to freely use. If you do decide your wedding gifts were too generous and you want to give back, the usual charitable contribution rules will apply.
Can guests take deductions for attending a wedding?
Wedding expenses usually aren’t deductible for guests. Under the tax law, attending a wedding is the same as any other vacation. You can’t deduct things like your flight, hotel, or clothes.
In fact, wedding gifts may even be subject to gift tax if they’re large enough.
Similarly, if your family pays for your wedding, they generally can’t take a deduction unless it’s something that falls into one of the deductions above.
Can I write off my wedding as a business expense?
Weddings are almost never a valid business expense or write off.
Business expenses generally need to be an expense that’s ordinary and necessary to run the business. Entertainment expenses are also generally not deductible.
Even if your wedding includes many clients or employees, it’s hard to argue that the reason for your wedding is doing business.