Wedding season is underway and if you’re planning on getting hitched this summer you may experience a severe case of sticker shock. According to TheKnot.com, the average cost of a wedding in 2013 was $29,858 and that’s without the honeymoon. Stretching your dollars may require a little creativity if you don’t have a lot to spend.
One thing couples can do to save on their nuptials is to claim qualified expenses as a tax deduction. While there’s no specific deduction for wedding costs, you may be able to write off certain things off as a charitable contribution. If you’ll be walking down the aisle soon, here are some of the most common expenses that you can use to snag a tax break.
Wedding Gowns and Bridesmaid Dresses
Brides agree that when it comes to planning the big day it’s all about the dress but what do you do with your wedding gown after you’ve said “I do”? Hanging on to your gown makes sense if it has deep sentimental value. On the other hand, if it’s just going to end up forgotten in the back of your closet donating it for a good cause may be a better move.
There are a number of organizations that specialize in donations of wedding and bridesmaid’s gowns. Some charities sell the donated gowns and use the proceeds to fund programs for people affected by cancer. Others, like Brides Across America, provide the gowns free of charge to military couples who, because of deployment, financial hardship or other circumstances, find it difficult to plan a wedding.
You can also donate your bridesmaid’s dresses if you don’t think they’ll be worn again. Abby’s Closet is just one of several nonprofits that repurposes bridesmaid’s dresses into prom gowns and formal attire for financially savvy girls. Just make sure that when you’re dropping off your wedding or bridesmaid’s gowns, you get a receipt that includes the charity’s name and address as well as an estimate of the gown’s value.
Ceremony and Venue Fees
If you’re getting married at a church or other place of worship, you’ll likely have to pay a ceremony fee but the good news is it should be tax-deductible. Some churches may waive the fee in lieu of a donation, which you could also claim as a deductible expense. Just keep in mind that you can’t write off any fees you pay to an individual, such as the officiant or an organist.
When it comes to choosing a venue for the ceremony or the reception, it pays to think outside the box. Tying the knot at a museum, botanical garden or historic home is a unique way to celebrate your union and it can get some tax benefits. As long as the venue meets the IRS requirements for a tax-exempt organization, you should be able to claim a deduction for any reservation or rental fees you paid.
Once the party’s over, it’s time to clean up but you could be throwing money away if you toss leftover food in the trash. Donating the extras to a local soup kitchen or food pantry is a great way to help people in your community and it’s also good for your financial health.
If you’re planning to donate your leftover food, you’ll need to give your caterer and the organization you’re donating to a heads up. You’ll also need to figure out how you plan to get it to the charity. Don’t leave without getting a receipt showing the value of what you dropped off since the IRS is particular about food donations.
Some of the other things you may be able to deduct include decorations, favors, and flowers. Organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army accept donations of things like vases, candles and candleholders, tablecloths and artificial flowers.
Instead of leaving those bouquets of lilies or daisies to wilt, you can donate them to Random Acts of Flowers. It and similar organizations recycle the flowers and deliver them to patients at nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and hospices.
If you’re planning to claim a deduction for these or other wedding expenses, be sure to read over IRS Publication 526 first to make sure they qualify. You’ll also need to keep proper records for all your expenses and donations to back up your claim. It may be time-consuming but it’s worth it in the long run if you’re able to score a bigger tax refund.