Wedding Tax Deductions: Can You Deduct Your Wedding Expenses?
Wondering if you can get a tax break for the money you’ve spent on your big day? Learn which wedding expenses may be tax deductible.
Weddings are one of life’s most joyous occasions. Unfortunately, weddings are also one of life’s most expensive occasions. Final averages vary by state, but the average U.S. couple will shell out around $29,000 for their wedding and reception, according to Zola. In today’s financial climate, that’s enough for a down payment on a house, a year of state college for your future offspring, or even the cost of one super memorable honeymoon. No wonder the wedding industry is expected to generate $70 billion in 2023!
Good news? You can totally minimize your financial burden in several ways, including scaling down, going the DIY route, or even bartering for services. But today, we’re going to focus on a less-talked-about method: wedding tax deductions. If this is your first go-around in matrimony land, then you probably don’t know that you can write off several key expenses associated with tying the knot. But that’s what we’re here for!
What wedding expenses are tax deductible?
If you’ve ever wondered if there are some tax benefits to be had from the money you’re spending on your wedding, you’re in luck. Here’s everything you never knew about identifying tax deductions for your wedding (and successfully accounting for them on your tax return).
Donating your wedding dress
Most brides keep their wedding dress long enough to pass it down to their future daughters. Then some hold on to it as a keepsake of their perfect day. But if you’re a bride who doesn’t need the physical dress to hold on to your memories, donating your wedding dress can warrant a surprising tax deduction for your wedding day.
And it’s a super easy process! First, you need to find a 501(c)3 charitable organization – an organization that the IRS legally recognizes as a charity – to donate your wedding dress, wedding suits, bridesmaid dresses, or even flower girls attire. There is one minor catch, however. You won’t necessarily be able to write off the full cost of the dress. Tax Girl recommends getting your dress appraised for “market value,” which will probably be considerably less than what you paid for it. Still, market value is better than no value!
From there, you’ll send your donation to notable charities such as Brides Against Breast Cancer, Brides for a Cause, or a similar non-profit organization. Another option is Angel Gowns, which transforms wedding gowns into burial gowns for babies who passed before their time. When you think about the impact your donation will have, the tax break will just be the icing on the cake!
Donating to a charity in lieu of wedding favors
Wedding favors are a wonderful way to show your guests that you appreciate their willingness to partake in your big day. Common wedding favors include things such as candles, tote bags, or even artisan coffee blends. And while you’re not legally allowed to write off physical wedding favors, there is a type of favor you can write off: monetary donations.
Instead of setting aside a certain percentage of your budget for the little knickknacks your guest will take home, you can donate that portion in their honor. Chances are, your guests will be happy to know that the cost of their trinkets went to a more worthy cause!
Just make sure that the charity is officially recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization.
Donate used wedding decorations to Goodwill or similar
Donating used wedding decor is, by far, the most painless way to score a stellar tax write-off for your wedding. Just think of all of the waste most weddings leave behind. From flowers to lanterns to place settings, the average wedding can easily generate hundreds of pounds of waste. Fortunately, you can minimize your carbon footprint by making sure your leftover decor finds a second home.
Goodwill, of course, is an excellent place to start. Not only are they well-established and trustworthy, but they also offer multiple ways to donate. You can either drop by one of their 3,300 locations across the country. Or, if you’re busy enjoying marital bliss, you can arrange for them to come pick up your items at your home. You’ll likely want to itemize a list with the value of the items you are donating before you make your donation for easier processing. Once they process your donation, they’ll give your a receipt for record keeping. Win/win!
Signing up for a Charitable wedding registry
Wedding registries are a godsend for couples who are starting out without all the things needed to start a home. But what if you don’t necessarily need a hodgepodge of random home goods? Consider setting up a charity registry. Similar to the wedding favors, your guests will donate money to a charity of your choosing.
The catch here, of course, is that the tax deductions won’t go to you; they’ll go to your guests. But we’re sure they’ll appreciate the chance to do a noble deed in honor of your big day.
Alternatively, you could choose from a selection of gift registries that allows you to register for tangible items while also allowing your guests to donate a little extra to the charity of your choice. You could even create a cash wedding registry and use the funds collected to make a charitable donation in one lump sum instead of keeping the gifts yourself.
Get married at a non-profit venue
According to The Knot, your wedding venue will take up the largest chunk of your wedding budget – a whopping 37%. But you don’t have to eat the entire cost if you choose the right venue, which in this case, means saying “I do” at a non-profit. No, that doesn’t mean you have to host your wedding at the Salvation Army (although they do accommodate weddings).
We were thinking more along the lines of a church, museum, national park, or even your local botanical gardens (many of which have 501(c)3 status). Because these are non-profit organizations, you’ll be able to write off 100% of whatever the ceremony fee is. If you’re worried about finding the same level of whimsy, opulence, or luxury, these venues often compete with so-called higher-end wedding venues when it comes to decor, architecture, and overall atmosphere.
How to Write Off Your Wedding Expenses to Lower Your Taxes
Taxes are always a pain, but they can be especially hard to cope with after you’ve shelled out thousands for your special day. Fortunately, writing off key wedding expenses is a great way to lower your financial burden once tax season rolls around. However, there is a method to the madness. Now that you know the most common wedding-related tax deductions, it’s important to know how to implement them.
Fortunately, it’s not at all challenging. The most important thing you need to do is keep detailed receipts for all of your expenses. Keep track of every wedding-related expense, even if you don’t feel like it’ll be relevant. Then, once you get your various items appraised (if necessary), keep the records in a safe place. Once tax season rolls around, you’ll be more than ready to list your itemized deductions (and prepared in case of a surprise audit).
If you’re not totally confident in filing your own taxes, you can opt to use one of the several national tax-filing services such as Turbo Tax, Tax Slayer, or H&R Block to file them for you.
Don’t forget, you’ll also have the benefits of changing your filing status for the tax year as you’ll be able to file as a married couple. This automatically will save you some money vs when you were filing separate returns before tying the knot.
Good luck and congratulations! Or, should we say, Mazel tov!
Are you considering making any wedding tax deductions after the big day? Are you looking forward to changing your tax status to married filing jointly?
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