Wedding-related Tax Benefits
Eva Rosenberg, EA

When you’re one of the responsible financial parties involved in making wedding plans, you’re looking at a hefty price tag—possibly in the $20,000 – $60,000 range. Why? I haven’t a clue!

I managed to have a kosher wedding with 150 guests for only $1,500. OK, so it was back in 1972. We did it again in 1993 for about $1,500, with about 60 friends at a post-wedding party.

But I’m not here to tell you that you must be frugal on the happiest, most stressful day of your life.

I am here to answer the age-old question: How can you get Uncle Sam to pick up the tab at your wedding?

The most common argument people use to make this happen is that business clients, co-workers, and associates are invited. Can the government at least pick up their costs for the event? Unfortunately, the courts have vehemently said no!

Make your guests pay to attend

What if you combine your wedding with a massive marketing seminar? It worked for Corey Rudl, who did that back in 2004. Not only did Mr. Rudl get his own guests to pay to attend his wedding but the entire event was also presented as a business seminar—so it was all deductible. Not everyone is as brazen as he was, but behavior like that does generate a great deal of publicity and viral activity. It can be an excellent way to throw a big party you couldn’t otherwise afford.

Throw a fundraiser

Of course, you can always throw a wedding a fundraiser for your favorite charity as another way to have your guests pay to attend. The difference between the value of your guests’ meal and their payment would be a charitable deduction for them. Donate all the profits to charity and you have a free gala event, perhaps with lots of publicity. Your favorite illness, animals, children, seniors, sports, or other worthy cause gets all the benefits.

For the rest of us, what tax breaks can we get?

Charitable contributions deductions

Donate the leftovers of the feast. Make arrangements in advance. Have the caterer pack up the food, desserts, and so on and take it all to a shelter for those less fortunate. Arrange to get a priced receipt.

Donate the centerpieces. Although guests often expect to take the centerpieces, let them know these items will be donated to hospitals, schools, or other organizations. If a guest wants to take the centerpiece, ask him or her to include a check for a predetermined dollar amount, made payable to the designated charity.

Wedding dresses and bridesmaids’ gowns are expensive, and they’re usually only used once. If you haven’t rented yours, donate it. Any number of organizations would be happy to accept it. For instance:

  • Brides Against Breast Cancer
  • Africa Street Kids
  • Donate My Dress

Tuxes are often kept and used again and again, it’s true. But if you want to donate yours, the Men’s Wearhouse is holding its National Suit Drive this month.

Find a facility with a charitable link

What about holding the wedding in a state park or on the grounds of a non-profit organization? Do the fees paid to the facility count as a charitable contribution deduction? Nope! When you receive a benefit for your donation, there is no deduction. But it’s still not a bad idea to hold your event on the grounds of these special places. They can certainly use the fees, and your guests can enjoy a unique experience.

Eva Rosenberg, EA, is the publisher of®, where your tax questions are answered. She teaches tax professionals how to represent you when you have tax problems. She is the author of several books and e-books, including Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Follow her on Twitter: @TaxMama

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