I was torn on whether to use the Canadian or American spelling on this one. This is about wedding cheques or wedding checks, depending on your country of origin! I’ll use a bit of both, to spice things up.
Normally, cheque writing is easy as the recipient is just one person or business. However, weddings throw a lot of curve balls into the mix, with possible name changes, the gift being to two people and more. The following wedding check writing etiquette should make it nice and simple to give a great cash gift.
How to Write a Cheque for a Wedding Gift
What to Do:
- Send an email money transfer instead, if you can. Reasons why and how to do so are covered in Important Tips for Giving Cash Gifts.
- Make it out to one person, in their pre-wedding name, aka their current legal name. In the note field write “Congratulations Chris and Kris,” so that it’s clear the gift is for both of them. This is especially important if the couple will be moving internationally or if each spouse is from a different country. Address the check to the person who is the most likely to have a bank account in the correct currency.
Pat is Canadian and Chris is American. They are getting married in the US and then moving to Pat’s home in Canada. When you attend the wedding, you should make any USD checks out to Chris. If you happened to be writing a Canadian dollar cheque, it should be made out to Pat. Why? Pat is unlikely to have a US bank account and it may be very difficult to open one and Pat may have to pay a hefty banking fee to cash a USD check at home. Chris may also have trouble opening a Canadian account. The couple has likely already figured out how they will move their assets between the two countries, so that part will be straightforward!
That example was taken from a real-life scenario some friends had to contend with!
The Don’ts and The Whys
- Do not make anything out to CASH. Unfortunately, wedding gifts go missing all the time and at least if it’s a cheque you have the ability to put a hold on it. Plus, it is much more difficult for a thief to cash a cheque made out to a person.
- Don’t make wedding cheques out to two names. The couple may not have a joint bank account and could be unable to deposit it. They may also not be changing their names, or they may both be changing their names, rendering them unable to deposit.
- If you absolutely insist on writing a cheque to the newlyweds using two names, do not use “AND.” Instead, write cheques to their pre-wedding names with an “OR” in between. That way the above mentioned problems shouldn’t be a concern and only one person will need to be present to deposit the cheques.
- What if one spouse is going to change names, you ask? Depending on jurisdiction, it can take weeks or months for the process to be complete. At a minimum, most places require a marriage certificate, which can take weeks. Some areas will have a legal name change process, then the individual will have to get a new SIN/SSN, in order to get a new passport or driver’s licence, which will finally be the photo ID their bank requires.
- Don’t make it out to Mr & Mrs HisFirst HisLast. It runs into most of the other listed problems, with the added bonus of offending a lot of people.
- Banking laws, regulations and policies are different all over, even branch to branch. Name change laws also vary greatly.
Doing any of the above when you write a check to newlyweds can put them in an awkward or embarrassing situation, where they have to contact you in order to have you write them a new wedding check. Additionally, if they run into any of the hang ups above, your cheque could be floating out there for weeks or months before it comes out of your account. Even if you know them well and wouldn’t be bothered, trust me, it is very hard for them to make that call and ask. There are always guilty feelings that they may come across as gift grabby, or anxiety that they may have to explain to you or justify their decisions regarding names or joint bank accounts. Be a gracious guest that doesn’t create any undue awkwardness for the couple.
A fun fact that I discovered while writing this article – Where I live, a marriage certificate is all that is needed to legally adopt a spouse’s last name, for either gender. Either spouse can automatically adopt the other’s last name. Gender equality for all!
If you are looking for ways to make your gift of a wedding check more interesting, please read Creative Cash Gifts for some inspiration.
Have you ever had problems with a gift cheque you wrote or were given?
[Photo - CC Attribution - kenyin]