Cheque Mate! Wedding Check Writing Tips - Unique Gifter

Cheque Mate! Wedding Check Writing Tips

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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.

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.

Important wedding etiquette alert! If your wedding gift is a check, write it properly so the couple can cash it!

How to Write a Cheque for a Wedding Gift

Example of how to write a wedding check gift
Image by Freepik, edited for Unique Gifter
  1. Choose the amount you want to gift to the couple. The golden standard for wedding check gifts varies from place to place, how many people are in your party, by how well you know the couple. Give in cash what you’d spend on a wedding gift, so approximately $50-$300. Of course, you should always give what you can afford only; the couple will understand!
  2. Make the cheque out to only one person. You don’t know how their banking is set up and making it out to both could cause confusion when it comes time to deposit it.
  3. Include both names in the memo along with well wishes.
  4. Write clearly so the couple doesn’t have any issues with the deposit.
  5. If you write your check in advance of the wedding, set the date as the wedding date. That will give the couple extra time to deposit their wedding gift without any hassle about an old check.
  6. Be sure to have the funds available! It would be awful to bounce a wedding gift check.
  7. Once you’ve written the cheque, put it in a card so that it doesn’t get damaged.

What to Do When Writing a Wedding Check:

  • 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.

Example 1: An International Wedding

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!

Example 2: You Can’t Decide Who to Make the Check Out To

Let’s say it’s a regular wedding but you want to make things easy and write the check to one person. In most cases, I’d suggest writing the check in the name of the person who put you on the guest list. Typically most wedding guests know the couple, but are connected to them by one of the two parties.

Here’s some other scenarios to help you narrow this down:

If you’re not sure about one party’s legal name make it out to the person you’re sure will be able to deposit the check. While I don’t love the idea of making checks out to the “man” in a hetero relationship, you can usually count on him not changing his name. This also goes for trans people though; if one hasn’t changed their name, or you’re not sure, choose the partner to be safe.

If you want to treat both halves of the couple equally you can also write two checks instead of one, and give each a personal card. It’s a great way to congratulate them both individually! If you insist on writing on check to the couple, write their names as “Person1 or Person2” instead of “and” to make depositing easier.

If you’re still not sure or feeling this is too complicated, stick with cash instead of a check.

The Don’ts:

The wrong way to write a check for a wedding
  • 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.

What to Write in a Wedding Check Memo

I touched on it before, but if you’re writing the check to just one person the memo is a great place to include the other person in the wedding gift. Here’s some specific ideas for what you can write in a wedding check memo:

  • “Congrats to Name and Name!”
  • To the newlyweds
  • Congratulations! Share with [Spouse].
  • Thanks for the wedding invite!
  • Wishing you a happy marraige
  • Congratulations from the [x] family

Why it’s Important to Write a Wedding Check Correctly

Basket of wedding cards

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.

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