Snapshot: Boston’s Royal Wedding
Leave it to Boston’s “Rascal King,” James Michael Curley, to throw the closest thing to a royal wedding this city has ever seen. On June 8, 1935, the then-governor’s daughter, Mary, wed Edward Donnelly, the CEO of Boston’s largest ad firm. True to form, the father of the bride made sure everything about the event was outsized: from the 26-person wedding party – some of whom are seen here in a never-before-published photograph – to a guest list of 3,500 that included most of the Massachusetts legislature. (President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XI couldn’t attend but sent gifts.) After Cardinal William O’Connell completed the ceremony, and the newlyweds exited to music by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the crowd retired for a reception at the Copley Plaza. There, Curley put out a spread of 4,000 rolls, finger sandwiches wrapped in red ribbons, 6,000 glasses of wine, and a ton (literally) of lobster. Always conscious of the power of bread and circuses, Curley saw to it that the leftovers were served to the thousands of spectators outside the hotel – they were, after all, prospective voters.
Curley was fond of Donnelly, whose ubiquitous “Curley for Governor” billboards helped get him elected. Donnelly’s mother, though, believed that her son was marrying beneath his station.
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING HUGE
Mary wore only two pieces of jewelry: an appropriately hefty seven-carat diamond engagement ring, and a pearl necklace that had belonged to her late mother.
HAIL TO THE CHIEF
Governor Curley insisted that the Massachusetts state flag be held over his head throughout the day, a presumably thankless job that fell to one of his state police sergeants.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE
For a wedding present, Curley authored a bill that would give Donnelly control of every billboard in the state. One pol snidely dubbed it “a grant to the royal family of Massachusetts.”
SAY “HELL, YES!” TO THE DRESS
Mary’s satin gown and 21-foot train should have cost Curley $10,000 (more than $100,000 today), but Boston store managers wisely marked their receipts “NC,” for “no charge.”