The last thing on your mind when you’re hurriedly packing for your honeymoon and still recovering from your dance floor soreness is stopping by the bank, but it might be something you should add to your to-do list. (Not that you need one more thing to take care of!) Experts say it’s key to create a game plan for depositing checks given to you as wedding gifts ASAP: not only for security reasons, but also because it’s pretty inconsiderate not to.
Like most things when it comes to wedding planning, coming up with a strategy ahead of time will save you headaches further down the line, says Lisa Odoski, vice president of The Fried Group, parent company of TFG Wealth Management. “The most prudent decision to make when you’re preparing for your wedding, is to decide what are you're going to do with your [monetary] gifts, especially if the honeymoon is [soon after your wedding],” she says. “If you get married on a Friday or Saturday, and you’re not leaving until Monday, you really need to plan for someone [you trust, like a parent or a sibling] to take care of that for you.”
If you’re entrusting someone else to make a deposit for you (again, a close family member is your best best), endorse all your checks for deposit only, and do a final tally of how much there is in cash and checks to be deposited. “If you send someone to deposit [the money] then when they deposit it and get the receipt, you can match it up,” Odoski says. “It’s always good measure to do that.”
When it comes right down to it, is it rude to wait to deposit a check? Yup! “Checks are written to be deposited,” says Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Austin, Texas, protocol firm Access to Culture. “Having said that, the culture of the nation, geographical area, and people involved impact when a check is deposited. In the [U.S.], it is a commonly held belief that waiting more than two weeks to deposit or cash a check is too long.”
You also shouldn’t worry about seeming too over eager by going to the bank ASAP, Schweitzer says. “Brides and couples may wish to avoid the appearing greedy by cashing checks right away, however, depositing checks in a timely manner saves the writer and the recipient time and headaches,” she says. Schweitzer says it’s especially rude to wait to deposit a mailed check, as the sender may think it was lost in transit and may cancel it.
Odoski says checks should be deposited “right away” to avoid having a pile of cash and checks sitting around that could be lost or stolen. Aim to deposit any checks within 30 days to avoid screwing up the bookkeeping (or Mint account) of any of your guests, with anything past six months being way too late. “After six months, the Uniform Commercial Code gives banks the out that they don’t have to cash a check,” she says. “Some banks will, but they’re not obligated to.”
Bottom line? Try to get this task done as soon as possible.
What happens if you have to wait a while for deposits, due to a name change, opening of a bank account, or (whoops) a lost check? Then you should reach out to the gift giver. “If the check has been misplaced, notify the check writer immediately,” Schweitzer says. “Contacting the check writer to advise them that you misplaced and just found the check, or were delayed due to a name change; and advising them that you plan to make the deposit demonstrates common courtesy. Send an email thanking them for their generous gift to your nuptials, and explain the circumstances that prevented you from cashing the check sooner. Specify the exact date you plan on cashing the check so that they may make any necessary arrangements, and ask them to let you know whether that date suits their situation.”
Here’s a sample script from Schweitzer, if you need one:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Julian and I would like to thank you again for your generous wedding gift. It was a joy to share our special day with you, and we hope you had a wonderful time. I’m reaching out to you because I had to wait for my name change to finalize before cashing the check, and wanted to let you know that I plan on cashing it this Thursday afternoon. Is this date acceptable to you? If you prefer a different date, or to write a new check, please advise. Again, my sincere apologies for my delay. Thank you.
Take Advantage of Technology
There’s no reason to stand in line at a bank branch if you don’t have to. Odoski recommends using mobile banking apps (for depositing checks) or ATMs (for depositing cash) if you don’t plan on depositing with a teller. “For today’s bride, that is a really good option, that they could sit in the luxury of their living room and deposit their checks, using an app,” she says. Again, planning in advance comes in handy. Find out if your bank has daily deposit limits and what they are, as well as open a joint account if that’s where the money is going. “Have all that set up and ready to go, so you can go on your honeymoon [or] the next step in peace,” she says.