The tale of Tony and Irene Lyttle really is a ‘Made in Whistler’ story. The couple first met in the mid 1960s and while it wasn’t exactly love at first sight, sometimes things are just meant to be. Tony worked for BC Hydro and was also a ski patroller. Irene was a skier, subletting an apartment from Paul Burrows in Whistler while he was in Europe. In a 2003 interview Irene was asked how she first met Tony, and romance isn’t the first thing that comes to mind:
“[…] the long and the short of it was that I hitched a ride in the back of Tony’s car, so I basically met the back of his neck. I wasn’t too impressed, actually, by the back of his neck. So that’s how we met. Tony was on the Patrol and I was ‘just the skier’ and he gave me a drive up to go skiing.”
Despite this inauspicious beginning, Tony and Irene soon became a couple and later engaged in 1967. They chose Whistler as the perfect place for a wedding. When the Lyttles were asked why they chose to be married in Whistler, they said it just seemed like the natural place to do it. Irene elaborated:
“I don’t know whether it [getting married in Whistler] had been done at all. I didn’t do it because it was popular. I didn’t have any church affiliation and I loved mountains and the outdoors, and it didn’t make sense to get married in a church in Vancouver when none of us spent much time there.”
In fact, the Lyttles may have been the first couple married in Whistler. It certainly wasn’t easy. Tony wasn’t even in the country at that point — he was working for the Aspen Ski Corporation at the time. Also, everything had to be brought up from Vancouver – a treacherous 2.5-hour drive in the best weather.
The challenge was how to get all the guests up to Whistler in January. Some guests travelled all the way from Nanaimo to attend the wedding. One of Irene’s friends was only two weeks away from delivering a baby and still managed to make the trip. Tony himself brought the priest up to Whistler in a sports car during a snowstorm!
While all their friends joked that Irene would wear ski pants to the wedding she was determined to wear a white wedding dress. However, one of the wedding ushers placed her white mid-calf ski boots in the aisle. As the now married couple prepared to make their exit, Irene stopped, pulled up her skirt, removed her fancy white satin heels and, like the Whistler version of Cinderella, placed her newly married feet into the ski boots. She then proudly left the chapel with her patroller prince.
Wow – a wedding on the mountain and a bride wearing ski boots. Maybe there’s hope for romance after all.