Cheque Mate! Wedding Check Writing Tips

How to Write Wedding Checks

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Example:

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]

About the Author

Anne spends a lot of time writing about gifts for adults, for all occasions. She comes up with creative ways to add personality to registry gifts and to give gifts when your budget is tight.

Anne – who has written posts on Unique Gifter.


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Comments

  1. Jamie Dickinson says:

    We ran into this problem when we got married. We mostly got cash, however a few were too Mr & Mrs Dickinson and it caused a bit of an issue. It was mostly from older generations that this was an issue.

    We just do cash now, or a bank transfer when the option is available, so much easier. Plus you haven't got to wait two weeks for them cash it after their honeymoon.

  2. AverageJoe says:

    We were given several checks with "Mr. & Mrs. XXXXX." You're right: that delayed everything by weeks. Give me my money! Daddy needs his money….

  3. i wonder if i could just paypal the money over to folks when they get married and then let them do with it what they want :) of course, we then have to have a slightly awkward conversation where we ask for their paypal address..

    • Paypal would be a great one as well!! (Depending on the fee tier that you're in, anyway.) Good thought! I've asked people for their emails before to send eTransfers, it's always been no big deal.

  4. I have always wired the amount, usually to a list (with no specific gift targeted, they could use it to buy any gift on the list or get cash from the store) or a personal account. Never heard about presents missing after a wedding, but I imagine you wouldn't go to your guests saying "did you bring me something, I didn't get it!" and vice versa, if someone doesn't thank me for a gift, I wouldn't go ask for gratefulness.

    • Yes, it ends up being such a sticky situation!! Often people end up asking about gifts when they don't get thank-yous, because they're worried the couple never received the gift! Wiring the amount is also a really good solution.

  5. I normally just give them cash in a card from me. I know that it is easily lost, but with our wedding we really appreciated the simplicity of getting a lump sum of cash to buy what we needed.

    • Ah, I found it overwhelming to have a huge wad of cash, myself. Plus I've heard way too many unfortunate stories of things going missing or getting stolen. Money is definitely the best gift, though.

  6. Easy way to decide between "cheque" and "check": look at the geographical breakdown of your traffic. More than two thirds of my traffic comes from HRM QEII's colonies so, well, it's "cheque". Communication is all about the audience.

  7. I think I'd use Pay Pal, though a lot of people might prefer having something physical to give. Either way, I'd love to get cash when/if I get married!

    I use "cheque" myself, but I've seen "check" a lot, even in Canada.

  8. We received a lot of cheques for our wedding and the only saving grace for us was that a friend of mine works at a bank and allowed us to cash them without the formal name change yet, what a pain in the butt if she hadn't!!

  9. I usually just put some cash in the card. As impersonal as cash is, a bank transfer seems even more so. Of course I've always attended smaller affairs that are unlikely to be targeted by theives.

  10. How do you feel about Visa or Amex gift cards in place of checks/cheques? I know they can be seens as somewhat impersonal, but they can be good for paying off misc small wedding expenses, taking on the honeymoon for misc little expenses, or even buying things left on the registry after the wedding.

    Also if they're lost, they can usually be replaced (after a suitable waiting period).
    My recent post Cat crafting

    • Anne - Unique Gifter says:

      Visa and Amex gift cards are also awesome :-) There's always that "cash is so impersonal" stigma, but almost everyone I've ever met or read online REALLY wants cash (or cash equivalents) as wedding gifts.
      PS – excellent incorporation of cheques and checks!

  11. When I got married, someone from another wedding tried to take off with my gift box full of cards with cash. Thank god for my brother who kept checking the box ! Cheques are the way to go !

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