This year, ESSENCE witnessed Shaunie and Keion Henderson say “I do” at their beautiful destination wedding at the Aurora Anguilla Resort and Golf Club on May 28th. Supportive and loving family and friends surrounded the media mogul and pastor, including Shaunie Henderson’s five children and former Basketball Wives, stars Evelyn Lozada and Jackie Christie.
Bishop T.D. officiated their wedding, as he is also a mentor to Pastor Henderson and has counseled and supported the couple throughout their partnership. The celebration marked a new chapter for the couple, as they were in previous marriages before they met and became engaged on November 11th, 2021. Now, they are embarking on a new journey together, sharing the behind-the-scenes details of their special day for the world to see on VH1 with a three-week special event, Shaunie & Keion’s Destination, “I do.”
The three-part special follows Shaunie, Basketball Wives’ Executive Producer, and Pastor Keion, Senior Pastor of The Lighthouse Church – along with their closest friends and family members – as they prepare for their destination wedding on the sunny shores of Anguilla. Along the way, they will juggle business demands, stewardship of a 15,000-member congregation, and wedding responsibilities ahead of one of the most memorable moments in their life: saying, “I do.”
To them, the wedding special represents a timestamp, showing when their lives were officially connected. “It was so special that we wanted to share it with everybody. We hope it’s received in a way that it’s given, with a lot of love, blending of families, and learning simultaneously.” Shaunie tells ESSENCE.
When watching the special, you’ll find how much the newlyweds accept and honor each other’s different personalities and past relationship histories, genuinely allowing for comfortability and authenticity within their marriage. Each episode feels organic, warm, family-orientated, and not forced, a departure from the reality television we’re used to seeing today. The Hendersons wanted to create programming without a storyline to make the viewer feel like they were part of the process leading up to their special day, with love anchoring each episode. “ People need to know love exists. We said to each other, ” Okay, we can film this.” We would only do a special if it were presented without added drama and no storylines.” Shaunie says.
In the special, the couple speaks candidly about their growth as individuals and starting a new chapter together. Shaunie details her transition from a Basketball wife to a First Lady and how she leaned on her community, specifically Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife, Serita, for guidance and advice.
When asked about her feelings about becoming the First Lady of The Lighthouse Church, Shaunie responded, “I was concerned about it; I ended up talking to Mrs. Jakes. And she said, “Don’t ever conform to people’s expectations because you’ll never meet them anyway. They’ll still have more expectations, and you’ll never meet them all. So remain who you are.” I know how to conduct myself, and I would never embarrass him. I will always represent him to the greatest of my ability.”
Pastor Keion, within the special, covers his wife by taking away the expectation of becoming a perfect First Lady and doubles down on his thoughts during our interview. “The thing about expectation is, is that they don’t just have them for her. People had expectations of me when I was pastoring the church as a single person without her. And I was determined that if I was going to be effective as a pastor, I had to do it my way. It’s not about being the First Lady. It’s about being authentic.” says Pastor Keion.
Authenticity rings true not only in their relationship but within the wedding special, as the Hendersons delved into sharing their journey of finding love again after divorce to let viewers know there’s no set rhyme or reason for finding true love. They also wanted to inspire the viewers not to give up on finding love, no matter how brutal the odyssey was. “I want to give hope to the woman who has a list of things she wants to accomplish, and who is over 35-40, and wondering where is he?” Shaunie says.
She continues, “I want those women to know there is hope. And I was one of those women that said, “I’m never getting married again. I don’t want to do that. It’s not worth it. I don’t want my heart broken. I don’t want disappointment.” I said that before; look at me now. I had to let go and let God. I had to throw away all those things I had on my [relationship] list. I had to clear my mind and allow life to happen. If you had asked me ten years ago that I would be with a pastor, I would say no. But it has been life-changing and the best decision yet.”
The couple’s favorite phrase, “We say this to each other every day: “We’re not experts, we’re just experienced” illustrates their outlook on love, life, and partnership perfectly. The Hendersons both acknowledge their past marriages in the special and believe it’s what made them a strong couple today, allowing them to be more experienced in dealing with the nuances of a romantic relationship while understanding that they don’t have all the answers. “We’re not here to tell the world you better do it this way. We’re not here to be this shining light of perfection because we didn’t get here the perfect route, right? We both came with bumps, bruises, tears, and frustration to deserve to be with one another. So hopefully, people can take from our experience. We want to let the viewers know there is life after divorce, hope after tears, and you can bounce back and love again.” Pastor Keion says.
Through their demonstration of love, the couple hopes to leave behind of legacy of faith, transparency, and acceptance. “You’re talking about a nondenominational preacher meeting a reality superstar mogul. And we hope that our legacy shows that there is room for culture for faith and enough room for faith in culture, that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that you can love God and be you. We want to be the example of God finding his children on the sets of TV shows and the front rows of pews.” says Pastor Keion.
Watch the premiere of Shaunie & Keion’s Destination “I Do” on November 28 at 9 PM ET/PT.