Q: My daughter wants to be seated next to her future husband during the nikaah (marriage) ceremony which will be held at a hotel as we do not have a masjid nearby. Is it permissible for her to be seated there with her witness and if it is not please explain why not so I can explain to her?
A: Your daughter may not be seated next to her husband because she will then be in the presence of non-mehram males, and that is not permissible. As long as the nikah has not taken place, the boy is not a mehram for her and she has to observe purdah from him. That is another reason why she may not be seated next to him either.
It is a standard practice among all Muslim communities for a girl to appoint a representative to accept the nikah on her behalf in the presence of the menfolk, either in the musjid or wherever the nikah will be held. The reason for this is as explained above. This is also the sunnah of OUR Rasool (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). This is how the marriages were solemnized in the time of the Sahaaba and throughout Islamic history. We are not allowed to break this system.
Her representative may be her father, eldest brother, uncle, or any adult male relative.
Allah guide us all to His Obedience, aameen
Mufti Siraj Desai