Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.
It has been said that when any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point. When the couple in question are both of independent fortune and face no familial obstacles, there is absolutely no reason to delay the consummation of their happiness. Once Mr. Woodhouse threw his rather urgent support behind the notion of Emma's marriage, what remained to be done other than make haste to the alter? In a very few weeks the town of Highbury was gratified by the marriage of two of its most prominent citizens: the lady whose example set the fashions and the gentleman whose counsel and support ensured both their well-being and prosperity. Few were not gratified. Though Mrs. Elton felt some personal chagrin at this consolidation of power, her better judgment (and personal ambition) told her to confine her more adamant criticisms to the parsonage. While in the security of her own home, her irritation was profusely expressed, yet no amount of vexation would have hindered her from accepting an invitation to the ceremony had she been so fortunate as to receive one. Instead she had to watch her friends, the Bateses, set forth to the church without her, leaving her behind to ponder the injustice of her exclusion.
The sun shown warmly upon the attendees that October morning, as if the heavens were determined to share their approbation for the blessed event. The closest friends and family of the bride and groom gathered within the church, while a great deal of the townspeople assembled outside, excitedly awaiting their first glimpse of the married couple. As already stated, Mrs. and Miss Bates were there, the former happily ensconced next to her old friend, Mr. Woodhouse, while on her other the side the latter was happy to tell all who would listen how very pleased she was with the match, as well as share her enthusiasm for her dear Jane's upcoming nuptials, which the occasion could not help but inflame. Mr. and Mrs. Martin sat behind these ladies, Harriet all aglow with contentment. Clearly her former infatuation for the groom was long forgotten. The Weston's were, of course, also in attendance, and while Mrs. Weston had left little Anna in the care of her nurse, she had her hand's full with the young Knightleys, their parents being otherwise occupied in attending the happy couple, all of whom refused to be left out of the festivities, except, of course, the still mute baby, who had not yet found a voice in which to demand her rights. The marriage of an aunt to an uncle was no ordinary occasion, and it took all of Mrs. Westons' notable skills to contain their enthusiasm. The Perrys, invited at Mr. Woodhouse's insistence, and a stern looking William Larkins, intent on displaying his sense of the moment's gravity, completed the party. Overall, it was a convivial gathering, as befit the occasion, and if the Rector did not officiate with as much zeal as might have been desired, no one, least of all the bride and groom, took notice.
Truth be told, Mr. Elton could not be happy about his task that day. He had long since purged his heart of all lingering affection it once harbored towards Miss Woodhouse, wounded pride having served as a useful aid in converting professed ardor into resentment. Yet the same pained dignity that had proven so beneficial now caused chagrin, for he could not see the man whom the lady did indeed deem worthy of her hand without acknowledging that his own person did not quite measure up. As the possessor of a respectable living, an independent property, and no small quantity of personal charm, he had fancied himself the equal of the local heiress, but when compared to the worldly position of Mr. Knightley, owner of Donwell Abbey and all its attending honors, even he had to admit that this was a more appropriate choice of groom for a lady of 30,000 pounds than a mere rector. He did not share his thoughts with his wife, who, perhaps sensing his hidden humiliation, talked at great length about the disadvantages of the marriage, but he did take in all the details of dress and decoration that would surely interest Augusta, knowing that her disdain for the proceedings would help to assuage his troubled sensibilities.
After the ceremony was concluded and Emma had signed the registry, using her maiden name one last time, the guests repaired to Hartfield for the wedding breakfast. In keeping with his sense of hospitality, Mr. Woodhouse had agreed with his daughter that Serle ought to provided all the delicacies the occasion required, including the essential cake, though its presence caused no small amount of anxiety to the host. Yet the overall consensus of the guests was that “nothing could be more complete, everything the best of its kind, the hospitality of Hartfield always surpassing one's expectations.” Despite his best efforts to urge attendees towards more wholesome fare, the cake somehow managed to be largely consumed, perhaps in no small part to Mr. John Knightley's determined effort to keep his brood well supplied with the delicacy.
Soon Mr. and Mrs. George Knightley took their leave, it being their intention to travel as far as Horsham that evening. The couple had enjoyed their day and appreciated the well-wishes of their friends and family, but the luxury of finally being alone, ensconced in the privacy of the new carriage Mr. Knightley had consented to purchase, was temptingly beckoning them both. Mr. Woodhouse showed some agitation upon the leave taking, he not being accustomed to parting with his dear Emma, but the thought that the sooner she left, the sooner she would return, was found efficacious in comforting his distress. Nevertheless, Emma was happy for once to leave the task of alleviating his nerves to Isabella, and only allowed her mind to passingly hope that John would not prove a barrier to his wife's efforts. Waving goodbye as long as Hartfield remained in sight, the married couple finally turned to each other, an unaccustomed sense of shyness pervading the carriage as the reality of their new relationship sunk in. Mr. Knightley cleared his throat and spoke in such a way as to restore their normal banter, “Well Mrs. Knightley, am I not to hear of your approbation for this very proper conveyance? I did not think you would approve of us journeying on horseback.”
“Certainly such a mode of transport would not at all suit a Mrs. Knightley. Is that really now my name? It all seems so odd and unaccustomed.”
“Then I will just have to remind you of it often by using it with the utmost frequency, Mrs. Knightley.”
“Very good, as it gives me an excellent excuse to continue referring to you as Mr. Knightley, George still feeling remarkably foreign to my tongue.”
“Now that will not do at all. I shall have to rely on inn keepers and fellow travelers to enforce your new title. You must remain Emma to me.”
“Just as you say, Mr. Knightley.”
Though the couple had left Highbury, the buzz surrounding the wedding continued for weeks. Mr. Elton returned to the parsonage that afternoon to to regale his wife with all the details she craved. Her verdict was precisely as he predicted: “Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business! Selina would stare when she heard of it.” Such sentiments were quickly conveyed to the mistress of Maple Grove, and yet, as it has been so wisely said, this catalogue of deficiencies proved no barrier to the perfect happiness of the union, as the married couple's true friends hoped and predicted. It should be further noted that, despite Mrs. Elton's disdain, the material used for Emma's wedding gown, proudly displayed to the neighborhood by Mrs. Ford, was declared to be the best selling fabric that the notable shop had ever stocked.