Nothing like the historic riches of romantic Budapest, Hungary, as backdrop for three days of wedding celebrations. Just ask Houstonians Mary McCaughey and Ziggy Gruber, who tied the knot in his grandfather's hometown in the very synagogue where the elder received his bar mitzvah. During the ceremony, Gruber wore his grandfather's yarmulka under his own.
More than 50 friends and family crossed the Atlantic with the couple for the ceremony that was held amid the gilded surroundings of the Dohany Synagogue, Europe's largest house of Jewish worship and the second largest in the world.
Insuring an unforgettable marriage, Gruber brought in famed cantor Jacob Ben-Zion Mendelson (aka Jack Mendelson) of New York to join Hungarian cantor Laszlo Fekete and Chief Rabbi Robert Frolich to perform the ceremony. In addition, the service was accompanied by a full choir and trumpet played by Grammy Award winner Frank London, also of New York.
And then the partying really began. A seven-course dinner followed at the recently-restored Festetics Palace, built in 1862. London and his Europen Klezmer Ensemble provided the dance music that included a traditional Jewish wedding dance led by a group of locals. Revealing an unexpected stamina, guests partied on until 3 in the morning, a full 12 hours after the ceremony began.
The wedding festivities included a rehearsal dinner and dance, hosted by the bride's parents, in the centuries-old citadel overlooking the Danube, this party rocking on until 2 a.m. The groom's parents hosted the post-wedding Shabbat dinner, an eight-course feast at Pierrot restaurant where the cabaret performance and dancing also didn't end until 2 in the morning.
Family members joining the couple included the bride's parents, Dotty and Mike McCaughey; the groom's parents, Pam and Gene Gruber; and the groom's brother, Hollywood producer Jonathon Gruber, and wife Georgia.
Still catching their breath after the late-night festivities were Houston wedding guests including Lynn Segal and Barney Kogan, Tammy LaHourcade and Arturo Boada, Alan Rosenthal and Melody Black, Jeanne Magenheim, Paula Murphy, Mark G. Hanna, Jonathan Levine, Alan and Shirley Cohen, Barbara and Al Marcus, Marilyn Hassid and David Friedman.
Ziggy's grandfather escaped Budapest on a bicycle in the early 1900s, fleeing anti-Semitic activities. He eventually made his way to New York and is said to have opened the first Jewish deli on Broadway in the early 1920s. And so the family tradition continues with Kenny & Ziggy's on Post Oak Boulevard.