Can Wedding Costs Be Deducted as a Business Expense?
As of 2012, average American wedding costs ranged from $15,000 in Alaska to $76,000 in New York City. Writing off even a fraction of the costs as a business expense could save you a bundle. Unfortunately, the odds are against you. Even if you invite lots of your customers, vendors and business associates, your wedding or your child's probably isn't deductible.
Merely hanging out with your customers, whether at a wedding or a sports bar, doesn't give you a write-off. Events and get-togethers are only deductible if you discuss business during the event, immediately before or immediately afterward. The business discussion has to be substantial in relation to the event. The IRS judges "substantial" on a case-by-case basis, but a half-hour meeting after the reception might not cut it.
If your business is wedding planning, catering or flowers, you might be able to deduct at least part of the costs as a promotion. For example, "Fox Business" describes two food industry professionals who used their reception as the basis for a food competition in a national magazine. That allowed the wedding couple to write off some of the costs of photography and food as business advertising. Simply being in the food industry and having food at the reception wouldn't be enough, however.
If your wedding is out of town, and you can combine it with a legitimate business trip, you may be able to write off the travel costs. It's still a long shot: You have to prove to the IRS your trip was primarily for business and that the wedding was a sideline or add-on. If you're in Vegas on business and decide to get married at a chapel there, that might fly. A wedding for 500 with a brief meeting the day before would be a tougher sell.
Even if you can make a legitimate case that a wedding is a business expense, you can't write off everything. The cost of renting a venue for business events is usually nondeductible, for instance. Deductible expenses should be reasonable and appropriate for your business. If your wedding is in the $80,000 range, the IRS may exclude some of the expenses as more extravagant than necessary. There's no hard-and-fast rule for what's extravagant, so it depends on the circumstances.