Are Wedding Expenses Tax Deductible?

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It might be tempting to write off wedding expenses as a far-fetched business expense, but don't go there. The only permissible way to obtain a tax deduction from the IRS for your wedding expenses is if they meet the criteria for charitable contributions and the person claiming the deduction is the one footing the bill. For example, if your bridesmaid bought her own dress and subsequently donates it, she is the one who claims the deduction.

Wedding Expenses as Charitable Contributions

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In keeping with the IRS rules for charitable contributions, you must make sure your wedding-related donations go to a qualified organization. Qualified organizations include U.S. foundations and trusts that are organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific or literary purposes. For non-cash donations, you can generally deduct the property's fair market value. You can only take a deduction on clothing and household items if they are in good used condition or better. Rules governing donations are found in IRS Publication 526.

Bridal and Bridesmaid Dresses

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Your wedding dress, veil and accessories may have sentimental value, but they can also be a deductible expense if you donate them to charitable causes. You can donate wedding dresses to organizations such as the Brides Project or Brides Across America, which provides wedding dresses to military brides facing financial hardship. Your bridesmaids can donate their dresses to the nonprofit Princess Project, which refashions used dresses as prom dresses for financially needy high school students.

Venue and Ceremony Fees

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Fees you pay for renting or reserving a nonprofit venue, such as a national park or museum, may be eligible for a deduction. If your wedding venue is a church, check with their policies regarding ceremony fees versus donations -- some churches will waive the ceremony fee if you donate at a certain level. That donation should then be deductible. Any wedding expenses incurred from an IRS-approved tax-exempt organization qualify, but any fees paid to a particular person, such as the officiant or organist, do not.

Decorations and Favors

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After your big event, you may have been stuck with more flowers, candlesticks and napkin rings than you ever hoped for. If you donate the flowers to organizations such as Random Acts of Flowers or Petals with a Purpose, which recycle the flowers for use at nursing homes and hospitals, you could get a deduction. Donations of decorations to a local Goodwill can also score you a deduction, provided you keep the receipts and stick to IRS rules for cash and non-cash donations of $250 or more.