It’s Meg’s wedding day, and the roses are out in full bloom at the March residence. Meg is attired in a simple dress that she’s made herself, her hair has been braided, and her only adornments are a few sprigs of lily of the valley. Her sisters wear suits of silver-gray with roses in their hair.
Flowers are Alcott’s preferred bit of decoration. Their presence here – both in the ground and in the hair of the March girls – represents an idealized notion of working class beauty: one that is simple, unfettered, and available to all.
The wedding has no grand ceremonies, with the idea that “everything was to be as natural and homelike as possible.” Aunt March is upset by how simple the proceedings are. Mr. March marries the couple, and after she’s married Meg declares that the first kiss shall go to Marmee.
Familial love – as opposed to romantic love – is championed throughout Little Women, and this is clearly illustrated in Meg’s assertion that she should kiss her mother before kissing Mr. Brooke.
No wine is served at the simple reception, prompting Laurie and Meg to have a conversation about alcohol. Laurie is pleased that the Marches aren’t serving alcohol, given that he’s “seen enough harm done to wish other women would think” as the Marches do. Meg asks him to promise to resist drinking alcohol when he goes back to college, and Laurie agrees.
Louisa May Alcott’s father, Bronson Alcott, was a champion for temperance (that is, for abstaining from alcohol), and the March family is no exception. According to their thinking, in order to lead a virtuous, natural life, one must avoid alcohol.
The reception ends in a group dance, with the married couples joining hands and dancing in a circle around the newlyweds, and the single folk pairing off to dance around them. Sallie Moffat and Mr. Laurence each observe that it was a fine wedding, in spite of its simplicity. The Marches then gather at the Dovecote to say farewell to Meg.
The dance seems to embody Meg and Mr. Brooke’s initiation into the world of marriage and parenthood. Again, simplicity is touted as an ideal, with even fashionable Sallie acknowledging the beauty of the simple, homespun wedding.