It is the practice in most Muslim countries for the couple to sign the marriage contract days, weeks, or even months before the walimah (wedding feast). During this period, known as nikah (which also means the marriage contract itself) the man and woman usually live apart, but they are legally married and may be alone together. In some countries it is the custom to consummate the marriage before the wedding feast; elsewhere, the consummation takes place after the feast.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: It is up to the couple to decide when and where they should have intercourse; there is no hard and fast rule in Islam about it. To be more specific, there is nothing in the revealed sources of Islam to make it obligatory or even recommended for the couple to have intercourse before the walimah. The walimah is simply a feast associated with marriage; it can be offered either before or after the consummation.
The misconception prevailing among some circles that the walimah is valid only after the consummation is not based on any valid proof or sound evidence in the sources of fiqh. It is important for us to know that in Islam, things are assumed to be free and flexible where there is no binding rule. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah has enjoined certain things as mandatory; do them without fail. He has forbidden certain things; stay away from them. He has set certain limits; do not transgress them. He has been silent of many things, out of mercy for you and not because of being Forgetful, so do not inquire into them.”
In conclusion: There is nothing in the Islamic teachings to suggest that sexual intercourse between the couple must precede the walimah or the wedding feast.