Two of the Caribbean’s top Event Planners, Kevin O’Neil, and his wife and childhood sweetheart, Melena Simon-O’Neil, commemorated their 20th Wedding Anniversary with a stylish photo shoot!
While their original plans were cancelled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Melena and Kevin decided an intimate and symbolic photo session on the island of Tobago (where they were both born) would be the perfect solution to celebrate this important milestone in their love’s journey! Their meaningful shoot was captured by the talented Celeste Hart of Celeste & Reece Photography & Films.
Set in the Latour Estate on the Western end of the island of Tobago, Kevin and Melena posed in front of a stone farmhouse and ancient trees. They chose this destination with purpose and intention, explaining “the strength of the trees and surrounding weathered structures are symbolic of [their] 28yr old love story which has endured many storms but continues to grow and thrive.” These structures and persistent plant-life are a testament to their “deep rooted love for each other and the solid foundation they have built their marriage on.”
For more details on their meaningful 20th anniversary shoot, tips on lasting love, and more, keep scrolling below. (Melena and Kevin’s anniversary shoot was featured in the Summer 2021 issue of MunaLuchi Bride Magazine! View the digital magazine here.)
- Name of Couple: Melena Simon-O’Neil & Kevin O’Neil
- Occupations: Kevin is a serving member of the Trinidad and Tobago Military, while Melena is employed as a High School Counselor. Melena is also a qualified Business Psychologists and hopes to explore her professional career in that field in 2021.
- Anniversary Shoot Location: Latour Estate on the Western end of the island of Tobago
- Wedding Date: January 1,2001
When they got married & where…
Melena and Kevin tied-the-knot 2o years ago on Monday January 1st, 2001.
They said “I-do” at Rovanel’s Resort “on the tranquil Caribbean paradise island of Tobago in the Caribbean where [they] were both born.”
What their original wedding was like…
“Our wedding was a fun family affair,” Melena recalls. “We were surrounded by 250 of our family and closest friends who celebrated with us all night long.”
Things they remember most about their wedding day…
Melena remembers “being so emotional.”
“I cried so many happy tears before and during the ceremony,” she says. “The moment was overwhelming … I think it was the anticipation of finally getting married to the man who promised to marry me since we were teenagers!”
Things they would have done differently at their wedding…
Looking back, Melena admits they may have done some things differently style wise.
“We [now] own and run a wedding planning and design business,” she says. “I have no doubt that had we had the resources, knowledge and skills we now possess we might have done things differently…”.
“We [also] wanted 50 people, our parents wanted 250, we lost that battle, but have no regrets about that!”
Their favorite things to do as a couple…
“Travel!” Melena exclaims. “We travel each year for our Anniversary and our birthdays… it allows us to reconnect and restore our body, mind and soul. We work really hard, our hours are long and brutal so we treasure these vacations where we can get away from the stress of life and reconnect with each other.”
“When we aren’t traveling we love enjoying nature /outdoors together and spending time with our daughter.”
“We both do and so does our daughter who is a promising chef at 15yrs old.”
How many children they have & pets…
The pair have “one beautiful daughter” who is the “perfect blend of the two of [them] in so many ways.”
“Our masterpiece. That’s what we call her!” Melena says, smiling. “She likes to pride herself as the best product of our marriage. Our marriage is stronger and our lives [are] richer because of her. She is pure light and joy. Can you tell that we are exceptionally proud of her?”
For pets, they have 2 Ponds of Koi fish.
“My Koi and the koi ponds I built are my pride and joy,” Kevin says. “Given how frequently we travel we have decided against any more pets.”
What they do career wise & how they make time for each other…
The dynamic duo are both life partners and business partners.
“We hold several portfolios and are perhaps serial entrepreneurs…” Melena says. “We [also] jointly own and manage Emerald Designs and Event Services a Wedding Planning and Design firm in Trinidad and Tobago, Couture Hats by Melena, and O’Neil Landscaping.”
The most important elements for a successful marriage…
Friendship & Laughter – Having fun together and genuinely enjoying life and each other
Open and honest communication – Clear and timely expression of needs, hurts, joys, fears.
Forgiveness – Forgive often and apologize even when you are right.
Compromise & selfless – Mastering the art of considering the views, feeling and needs of your spouse in every decision. Giving way
Respect – for each other’s time, space and needs.
How they keep the spark alive…
“We keep the romance alive with Date Nights in our backyard or at our favorite restaurants and annual mini honeymoons to our favorite destinations.”
The photo shoot & inspiration…
Melena explains, “We had been planning for years to celebrate our 20th Anniversary with a luxury vacation to the Maldives and Hawaii. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted that dream. The borders of Trinidad and Tobago are still closed to International travel and public gatherings are still restricted. Given those constraints, we decided to do the shoot to capture memories and commemorate this special milestone Anniversary.”
To commemorate their anniversary, the couple chose Le Chateau Estate on the Eastern end of the beautiful Caribbean Island of Tobago.
The backdrop of trees and the “surrounding weathered structures” represented the couple’s 28yr old love story. While they have faced many obstacles and challenges throughout their marriage, their relationship “has stood the test of time just as the tree[s] and the foundation structure have stood the test of time.”
What they love most about one another…
“Gosh there is so much I love about this man!” Melena exclaims. “He is so humble, positive, kind and loving. I love that he makes me laugh every single day even on our worst days. I love his commitment to family and his absolute dedication to his roles as husband and father. I’m in awe of his creativity as an event designer. He is a rare renaissance man and an exemplary father who has set the bar quite high for any future spouse of our daughter.”
Kevin says, “[I love] her natural beauty. I also admire her strength, her tenacity and drive to accomplish goals. She is meticulous and never does things half way. Most importantly her giving spirit. She is always seeking to help and support others.”
Advice for newlyweds…
“Marriage is like a Plant that must be fed, pruned and nurtured daily. At our wedding ceremony our pastor reminded us that marriage is for grown folks only (emotionally mature). It is not a game where you can pack up, take your toys and go home like little children every time you don’t get your way. It requires daily effort, compromise and daily self-less acts. Some days you’ve got to dig deep when things get rough, but if you put God at the center all will be well.”
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