A Northern Girl Providing Southern Hospitality

Guest Contributor



Hannah Charney is a New Hampshire native enjoying the Southern way of life while earning a BA in Communications, with minors in Dance and Spanish, from the College of Charleston. She is a former editorial intern for Charleston Magazine who spends her free time performing with local dance company DanceFX, daydreaming about her “Travel” Pinterest board, and sipping on $3 glasses of wine at happy hour. Post-graduation, Hannah hopes to spend some time teaching English in Thailand and ultimately handling PR for a non-profit arts organization.



As graduation draws near, most college seniors are panicking about the uncertainty of their futures, but Amelia Navarrete is a girl with a plan. In fact, she has already launched her own event planning business at the age of 22.



While juggling a leadership position in her sorority and studying at the College of Charleston to become a high school English teacher, Navarrete realized that her true passion lies in planning parties and events.


From a young age, she remembers watching her mother host neighborhood parties, dance company banquet dinners, and community fundraisers, though she herself didn’t get involved in event planning until she began an internship at Yoj Events last year. She gained experience coordinating and setting up for weddings around the Lowcountry, and her favorite part, she says, was that she got to play a role in the happiest day of people’s lives.


And so her passion grew.


Amelia Navarrete


Navarrete created Gardenia Events with her mother, Renee, in the summer of 2014 in her hometown of Manorville, New York, and kicked off with a number of graduation parties and first communions in her Long Island community.


Upon returning to Charleston in the fall, she decided to continue her efforts down South and dubbed herself “a Northern girl providing Southern hospitality.”


Most recently, Navarrete has gotten involved with The Cotton Wedding, a bridal expo event sponsored by Kendal Leonard Designs and Brinko Ties. The event focuses on featuring dozens of exceptional, non-traditional, and unique goods, services, and inspiration from local vendors for those planning weddings or other events in the Lowcountry. It also raises funds for the Citadel Veterans Student Emergency Relief Fund, which provides assistance to veteran and military students in need.


Kendal of Kendal Leonard Designs, along with Bethany Robertson and Elizabeth Neese of Brinko Ties, handpicked each vendor to bring a fresh perspective on wedding and event planning. The trio has been working together for a few years now, bonded by their efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of utilizing cotton in the wedding industry, and thus, The Cotton Wedding was born.


While planning has been underway for more than a year now, Navarrete joined the team just last month as head coordinator and has been “a life saver,” according to Robertson. “She’s on top of things, enthusiastic, great to work with, and has gone above and beyond.”


From publicity to social media to vendor relations, Navarrete is a jack-of-all-trades. As for the future of Gardenia Events, she says, “I am hoping to grow in Charleston with the support of my family and the community.”


The Cotton Wedding takes place March 27th at the Citadel Beach House and also features a silent auction, mock outdoor wedding, and designer bridal fashion show. For more information, visit their website at www.thecharlestoncottonwedding.com and find Gardenia Events on Facebook.