A wedding gift of money can help a newly married couple finance their honeymoon, start a savings account, redecorate their home or buy a new home. If the check is made out incorrectly, though, the excitement of a financial boon can quickly lead to a headache. The couple might not be able to cash the check, leaving them in the uncomfortable position of either asking you to reissue the check or writing a thank-you note for a gift they weren't able to use.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
When giving a newly married couple a check, you can either write the check out to cash, or ask the couple's family members how they think the couple would prefer their names written on the check.
Use Maiden Name
If the bride and groom aren't married yet, use the bride's maiden name. If you're hoping that the couple will be able to use the money to help pay for the wedding or pay for a honeymoon, they'll need to be able to cash the check before the big day. While the bride might be excited to change her name, using her married name means she won't be able to cash it until after she says, "I do."
Avoid Making Assumptions
If you write a check after the wedding, you'll need to make sure you use the right names. While many brides change their names, others opt not to. Some women hyphenate, and other couples make up a new name or take one another's names. If you're not absolutely sure what the new couple will be doing about names, don't make any assumptions. Ask the parents or a member of the bridal party for guidance before you assume that the woman will be taking the man's name.
If you write a check to "Jane Doe and John Smith," the couple could have trouble cashing it. Depending upon their bank's rules, the couple might both have to be present or might have to have both names on the account. Instead, make the check out to "Jane Doe or John Smith." This makes it more likely that the couple can cash the check and means that, even if you get one name wrong, one member of the couple can probably still cash it.
Choose One Person
If you're closer to one member of the couple than the other, you might want to write the check to that person. This can make it easier for the couple to manage their wedding checks. Each party can deposit funds and then decide how to combine them. However, some couples are offended by this and may be eager to share everything, so tread carefully and consult the family or bridal party members if you're not sure.
When In Doubt Give Cash
If you want to avoid the issue altogether, you can always give a gift card or cash. These options eliminate the possibility of a name error and makes your gift immediately available whenever the newlyweds need it.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.