Everything is clear for Destination Polk

Have you ever shown up in the right place at the wrong time? This couple met a week before Zenese left. Years later they reunited and began the journey of a lifetime – Zenese shares their story.

Bride: Zenese Pendergrass, 30, Junior Account Manager, from Charlotte, NC
Married: Shawn Polk, Jr., 32, asset manager, from Chicago, Illinois
Current residence: Charlotte, North Carolina
Wedding date: July 23, 2023
Place/Location: Dreams Playa Mujeres Resort – Cancun, Mexico

how they met

Shawn and I first met through a mutual friend in September 2015. One of my best friends, Mariah Harris, went to the same college as her friend. Shawn had just moved to Charlotte and was having a Labor Day BBQ at his apartment. Mariah brought me in as her plus one for the barbecue. Shawn and I exchanged phone numbers, but we never did anything with them. After I got my number, I thought the ball was in his court. I moved to New York about a week and a half later. We reconnected after almost two years when I returned to Charlotte for a visit.

I was in Charlotte for a wedding that weekend, and we bumped into Mariah’s birthday party. I guess he realized I didn’t live here anymore and decided to see what was going on with me. He always had my number on his phone for two years and texted me the next morning to ask me out on a date.

Their first date

We went on our first date the following weekend when I returned to Charlotte for Father’s Day. We went to see a movie; I believe it was about Tupac and Top Golf. We had a good time. My first thought was that he had a very funny personality. I thought that was cool. So he won me over with his personality, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like from there.

I returned to New York that Monday morning, and we continued to text and have conversations. The following Saturday, we texted all day and talked most of the night. At that time, we talked to each other almost every night after work. Sunday morning I woke up to a phone call from my family saying my brother had been in a car accident and they weren’t sure he would make it. I ended up going home this Sunday morning. I did not contact Shawn because I was in the hospital for two days with my family. My brother passed away on Wednesday.

When I returned to my parents, there was a bouquet. My mom said, “I don’t know who this Shawn Polk is, but he sent us flowers. The note on the flowers read, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I just heard you and your family are going through something, and I wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.” I was like, “Wow.” I texted her and said, “I don’t know how you got my address, but you know how to make me smile. He even came to my brother’s funeral.

Photo credit: Brandon Grate Photography

It’s the good one”

It was one of the things that solidified. We had gone on our first date just a week earlier. Knowing that he had contacted my friend to get my address and to see if there was anything he could do and be there to support me during this time were the factors I needed to know he was serious. It seemed like something I should give a chance. He officially asked me to be his girlfriend on July 18th.

Shawn always told me that I had the purest heart and would do anything for anyone if necessary. When I think of how distant our relationship was at that time, yet he showed up, not just for me, but for my family, after such a short time, it showed me his heart and the person he really is. He was there for me in the worst times. I don’t really think there could be anyone else who would do that. So I knew early on that it would probably be him.


We got engaged on our fourth anniversary. I thought we were going to dinner. I didn’t expect a proposal because he started a trucking business in early 2021, and that was our goal. We wanted to make sure the business was up and running and in a good financial space.

We had pedicures that morning, and he told me to be ready at five. Around four o’clock I started to have suspicions when he said he had to get away quickly, but I didn’t question it. Then at four-thirty, he texted me and said, “Actually, I’m going to get an Uber to pick you up. I was like, “Man, why should an Uber pick me up?” When I got in the Uber he called me and asked me to text him when I was out.

The Uber dropped me off outside the epicenter of downtown Charlotte, and it picked me up. I’m like, “Where are we going?” I thought we were going to a rooftop restaurant because it’s downtown. We entered the Aloft hotel and took the elevator. There is a bar at the top so I assumed that was where we were eating. Then he walked me around the corner where there is nothing but closed doors. I asked him where we were going and he answered by taking my purse. I learned later that people inside the room could hear me wiggling for him to pick up my purse and put it on the floor. I’ve always been told that if you put your purse on the floor your money stays low, but he wanted to make sure I didn’t walk in with my hands full. He opened the door and said, “Just come in here.”

The room was decorated with red balloons and rose petals. All of our family and friends were there, crying surprise. Shawn walked me to the middle of the room, got on his knees and asked me to marry him. I had no idea what was going to happen. I cried, that boohoo, ugly cry. Of course, I said yes!

Photo credit: Brandon Grate Photography

wedding organization

We are a little over a year away and the wedding planning is going well. We are having a destination wedding and have locked down our location. We wanted it to be a destination wedding since our families come from two different places. We didn’t want to choose one over the other. With a destination wedding, everyone can travel and we can make it a vacation.

The resort offers a wedding package, but we also have a wedding planner. QC Wedding Planning LLC is based in Charlotte and Candace helped me communicate between us and the resort. As you can imagine, doing business with a resort in Mexico can create a language barrier. It can also take days or even weeks to get a response. She was very helpful in communicating with the supplier and setting everything up. We bring in other vendors, like our DJ.

We anticipate seventy-five guests. We will get married in the central garden of the resort. You can see the beach in the background, but we technically won’t be on the beach. We do not organize weddings. This has alleviated many of the stresses that people usually feel when planning their wedding. We won’t have to find clothes for 10-12 more people or worry about fittings. It will be just the two of us, keeping the focus on us and allowing everyone else to have fun. The hardest part was setting a date. The resort is very popular for destination weddings, so we had to submit five or six different dates before they became available.

Photo credit: Brandon Grate Photography

What they are looking forward to

I look forward to our wedding and the presence of all our family and friends to help us celebrate our love. It’s something I’m super excited about. It’s going to look like a great family vacation. Best of all will be having a real wedding with my best friend. I’m so excited to make life with him.

I think our history is unique because it was built according to God’s timing. We met two years before we started dating and we forgot each other. But God brought Shawn back into my life when he knew I needed him most. So our relationship was nothing but God’s timing.

advice to others

Communicate with your partner. Sometimes people can be stressed because they want one thing, but their partner wants another. Communicate and see what you both want from marriage. What are the things that are important to him? Brides tend to want to choose everything according to their taste. But making sure your partner feels included is key. Also, plan ahead.

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Photo credit: Brandon Grate Photography

Their sellers

Venue: Dreams Playa Mujeres Resorts-Hotels
Wedding planner: Wedding Planning QC, LLC. – Candice Mack
Engagement photographer: Brandon Grille Photography

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