Bert and Lou had corresponded intermittently while he established his career in mining. It was in the Australian outback when he learned of his appointment to China, and he immediately cabled a marriage proposal to Lou. She cabled back a one-word reply, "Yes."
They were married at Lou's parents' home in Monterey, California, in February 1899. Hoover, a Quaker, and Lou, an Episcopalian, were married in a simple civil ceremony by a friend of Lou's who was a Catholic priest. The newlyweds set sail the next day for China. Over the next fourteen years they visited or lived in locations in Asia, Australia, South Africa, and Europe, as well as the United States and England.
Home base was London where they lived in the Red House, a grand home in Hyde Park. Their sons were born in 1903 and 1907. Within five weeks of the birth of Herbert Jr. and only two weeks after Allan was born, Mrs. Hoover "packed them in a basket" to journey with their parents to Australia and Burma. By the time Herbert Jr. was eight years old, he had circled the globe five times.