Dear Etiquetteer: If we are going to give the bride and groom money for a wedding present, is it best to send it to them before the wedding, send it to them after the wedding, or give it to the bride or groom or bride’s father at the wedding?
Logistically, the most Perfectly Proper thing to do is to mail your gift before the wedding to the member of the Happy Couple you know best. Considering how busy the week before the wedding is, especially for the bride, Etiquetteer thinks it should arrive no later than eight to ten days before the wedding. This shows thoughtfulness to those recipients who take the trouble to send Lovely Notes of Thanks - which all Happy Couples should but don't - when gifts arrive.
Etiquetteer was just about to remonstrate with you for suggesting slipping a check in care of one of the fathers. After all, these days most Happy Couples are no longer teenagers fresh out of high school; they're fully functioning adults who ought to be responsible for their own affairs. But then Etiquetteer stopped, remembering that on the Great Day one's attention is taken up by so many things that it is very easy to forget just about everything one is supposed to do, such as remembering to bring the rings. So if one must bring a gift of money to the wedding itself, entrusting it to a Reliable Parent is better than slipping it into the groom's jacket pocket, where it might easily remain when returned to the tuxedo rental.
Your query reminded Etiquetteer of the Old Days when wedding gifts used to be displayed at the reception, a custom that happily has faded away. Etiquette writers of yore would advise on how to display checks given as wedding gifts so that the name of the giver was visible, but not the amount. Which just goes to show how manners continue to evolve, and not always for the worse.
Round II of Etiquetteer's Spring Madness of Pet Peeves remains open for voting! Go here to pick out what peeves you most about weddings, driving and traffic, table manners/dining out, and just in general.