Reverend Leslie ToldoSharing the Joy


Leslie Toldo is a well-known TV and radio news personality in Genesee County and is currently a meteorologist for Channel 25 NBC News. She is also the Wellness Editor for Channel 25, columnist for My City Magazine … and an ordained minister for over eight years!

“It really was accidental,” says Leslie, as to how she became a reverend. One evening, she was watching a reality show on television about Torri Spelling and her husband, Dean and Torri Inn Love. “Torri became an ordained minister and she did it on the Internet,” Leslie explains. So, Leslie went to the website of Universal Life Church, and sure enough – all she had to do was answer some questions, which she did, and a screen popped up reading, “Welcome to Universal Life Church, Reverend LoBue!” The first thing Leslie did was called the State of Michigan to ask, “Is this for real?” “Yes. It’s for real,” was the reply. Then, she called the Genesee County offices and asked the same question. “Really?!” she exclaimed, after receiving the same answer. She then called her soon-to-be husband, Rick Toldo, and said, “Hey Rick, I’m a reverend.” His reply was, “No, you’re not.” Leslie says she would never compare herself to a schooled reverend, but the bottom line is: she has the legal authority to perform a wedding ceremony.

Some couples who want to marry don’t necessarily want to have a religious ceremony or get married at City Hall. They may want something a little different, a wedding that suits their personalities. And Leslie, who is known for her quick wit and slightly sarcastic sense of humor, has officiated many weddings over the years, some of which could be described as “a little off-beat.”

The ceremonies she has performed do not start with the standard, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here…” but they do include words that are exactly what the bride and groom want. She likes to spend time with a couple to get to know them, and they work together to decide the ceremony’s direction ceremony. “When I first started, I didn’t know anything about officiating a wedding. Everything I learned came from watching soap operas,” she smiles and adds that she really does take it seriously. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I made it official and I was part of their special day.”

The first wedding Leslie actually officiated was for two dogs at the Humane Society of Genesee County, of which she is a board member. “It was a Valentine’s Day fundraiser,” she says with a laugh. Coincidentally, it was that very same day she received a telephone call from her husband, Rick, asking if she could perform the wedding ceremony for one of his friends who wanted to get married at home. “His friend wrote the vows and it was beautiful,” she says.

leslie-2-032016Leslie also officiated the wedding of her good friend, Autumn Perry, who married James MacClaren in June 2014. “Autumn was the princess that every little girl dreams of being on her wedding day; I was in awe of how beautiful she was,” Leslie recalls. “It was like a fairy tale.”

Another memorable ceremony is one she officiated in Flint for a co-worker, filling in at the last moment. It was in October and Halloween candy was passed around to all of the guests. The bride walked in to the theme from Jaws, and the bridesmaids walked to music from The Exorcist. After the ceremony, the bride and groom walked outside to music from Night Rider. And to make it even more interesting, there were zombies walking around Downtown Flint (although they were not in the wedding party). “What was so cool was that it was exactly what they wanted,” says Leslie, “And, to me, that is what a wedding should be.”

A memory Leslie holds close to her heart is the wedding of Jennifer Hutcheson and Al Korth. Jennifer was battling cancer in its final stage. “She was a beautiful woman who wanted to marry the man she loved,” Leslie says. Jennifer wished to come down the aisle without using her wheelchair, but she was too weak. “Al looked at her with every bit of love and adoration in his eyes,” Leslie continues. “He loved her so deeply.” The bride’s only request was to leave the word “time” out of the ceremony – as time was something she didn’t have. A week later, Leslie officiated Jennifer’s funeral.

Leslie believes that marriage gets a “bad rap” these days and she feels really lucky to have such a wonderful marriage and loving relationship with her husband. “I don’t know what I did to get so lucky,” she says. Her advice for all brides-to-be is to ask themselves one question, the question her own father asked her: “Why do you want to marry this man?” Leslie’s answer: “Because he punched a guy for throwing a rock at a ground hog.” She and Rick share many common interests, including a love of animals. Leslie also advises couples to ask themselves if they can imagine taking care of their spouse through illness; she adds that the Al Korth wedding is the perfect example of that devotion.

Leslie has married two of her closest friends. She has officiated indoor and outdoor weddings, family weddings – and each one has been unique. “When I became a reverend, I never thought I would do weddings,” she shares. “Meeting all of the wonderful couples has made it so worthwhile. It’s their day and I get to share their joy. They are like snowflakes – they each have a different story – and all of their stories have increased the joy in my life.”
Leslie officiated the wedding of her good friend, Autumn Perry, who married James MacClaren in June 2014.
Photos Provided By Kathy Davies


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