The Poodle Marriage: 1897


Latest Fad Among Members of French Smart Set.


All the Members of the Four-Footed Aristocracy in Attendance Are Dressed in the Most Appropriate of Costumes for Such an Occasion.

All in Evening Suits.

There is a brand new fad in swelldom. It is the dog marriage. To be thoroughly fashionable nowadays one must own two dogs of opposite sexes, and they must have been duly married by the staid and respectable canine selected by the fashionable community to act as the representative of the cloth.

Of course, it is from France that this new idea has come. When it is necessary to discover something particularly eccentric, French genius always comes to the rescue. The fashionable to whom fell the honor of introducing this new and rather remarkable step for the advancement of canine creation was none other than Mme. Ephrussi, daughter of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, the wife of the multi-millionaire, Maurice Ephrussi. Mme. Ephrussi is an inveterate lover of dogs, a taste which she inherits from her mother, the Baroness de Rothschild, and so, when seeking new amusements, during what is just now in France the dull season, she turned to her canine friends for aid, and behold the dog wedding is the result.

This initial wedding of dogs in high society is so novel as to be well worth description. In the first place, Mme. Ephrussi sent out formally engraved invitations to several hundred of her friends, announcing the approaching nuptials of Diane, her favorite poodle, and La Petite Major, a handsome poodle, the property of the Baron Alphonse de Rothschild. Not only were the recipients of these invitations asked to come themselves, but requested to bring their dogs also.

It is recorded that not a single invitation to this most singular wedding was refused. It is also a matter of social history that not one of the guests who owned a dog, from the tiny, four-ounce black and tan to the giant St. Bernard, left it at home. Such a gathering as it was no one had ever seen before, and it is doubtful if the like will ever be visible again. It is often remarked at any particularly swell gatherings of humanity that a given number of millions are represented by the guests present. At least the same might be said of these dogs, when it comes to the thousands. There were dogs there which were valued anywhere from $50 up to $20,000. They all looked with open-eyed wonder at the strange fate which was apparently befalling the two charming poodles.

Not the least odd and attractive feature of the whole affair was the fact that many of these visiting dogs—in truth, the majority of them—were in full evening dress. Not evening blankets, but if the dog was a male, in the swallow-tail and trousers of the human, together with the standing collar, dress shirt and unspeakable tie. The paws were adorned with patent leather evening shoes; and, in fact, the gentlemen guests, even though canine, were a credit to their respective tailors.

As for the feminine dogs, their costumes were simply ravishing. Of course, the dresses were in all instances decolletté. Trains and demi-trains were worn by these specimens of canine aristocracy with exceeding grace, and, strange as it may seem, many ofthe lady dogs carried bouquets securely fastened in the most up-to-date bouquet holders. With all this gorgeousness on the part of the guests, what must have been the worldly splendor that surrounded the bride and groom! Diane, who is described as a poodle of rare grace and beauty, wore a white satin dress trimmed with beautiful lace; a long tulle veil decorated with orange blossoms, and white kid shoes. Major, the bridegroom, wore full evening dress, swallow-tail coat, low-cut vest, trousers not creased, because it is not fashionable to crease the trousers at weddings; patent leather shoes and gloves of the appropriate shade. On the buttonhole of Monsieur Major’s very swell coat was a dainty orchid. Gleaming from the centre of his immaculate front was a diamond of the purest ray serene. Could anything be more swell?

Presently all the guests have arrived, human and canine, the latter, of course, being given the preference. All is in readiness. If the carriage did not wait, the ceremonies did. Everyone was on tiptoe of expectation, even the dogs, for it dawned on even the canine mind that something tremendous was about to happen. The word was given that the hour approached, and Mme. Ephrussi’s magnificent ballroom, unquestionably the finest of all those of rare beauty to be found in the residences which adorn the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, was thrown open to the assembled guests.

There every one repaired, everybody and his dog, or possibly it is more correct to say, her dog. A moment later, and there softly floated through the air the strains of the ever-familiar, ever-beloved wedding march from “Lohengrin.” Mincing up the aisle, along which it had been arranged that the wedding procession was to pass, walked three small poodles, each in evening dress and semi-harnessed together with white ribbon. Following these came the bride, languishing upon the arm, or rather hand, of her most charming mistress, while behind them walked on his hind feet and without support, accompanied by Baron Rothschild, came Monsieur Major, modestly reflecting the glory that shone around.

Then came the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the former wearing white silk dresses, and long veils; the latter in full dress and adorned with embroidered white satin coats. All these advanced upon their hind legs. But behind them came a host of canine guests, who were permitted to walk as nature had originally intended they should.

Away down at the further end of the ballroom the wedding procession was met by the stanch and sober bulldog of Comte de Berteux. Upon his head this honored canine wore a tall silk hat, and about his waist was tied the tricolor sash. his badge of office, for he was representing none other than that most distinguished of officials, Monsieur le Maire. After greeting the procession, the bulldog Maire advanced on his hind legs in a dignified manner, and then seated himself upon his haunches, upon a magnificently embroidered cushion.

Now all was in readiness for the ceremony. The Maire looked solemnly at the fair young couple whose destinies he was about to unite, and then barked distinctly three times. The bridegroom gave a short bark. The bride barked low and impressively. Then the Maire barked several times in quick succession, and there was a series of responsive barks, in which some of the rude and unthinking in the audience joined without request. A gold ring with a diamond setting was then slipped over the paw of the fair Diane, the Maire barked gleefully, and the procession moved to the adjoining room, where the marriage register was signed, in this instance the owners of the dogs having to act for them.

Following the signing of the register came the reception and supper. Every dog was given a seat at the table, and a regular course supper served. It is not stated that there was any reprehensible conduct on the part of the canine guests to any greater extent than is witnessed at a wedding supper at which only human beings are in attendance. And so passed off the first dog wedding of which Dame Fashion ever acted as chief guest. It is among the probabilities that the United States will see a repetition of the event before many weeks.

The Morning Times [Washington DC] 10 January 1897: p. 10

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has served the noble and the wealthy far too long to be surprised at any of their little fads and fancies, but really, a simple notation in the stud book would have met the case.

The English are fond of their dogs, but Mrs Daffodil is certain that no well-bred Englishman (or woman) would have countenanced anything like the excesses of this marriage between two Rothschild poodles. One wonders if the French learned anything from their Revolution.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.


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