An Inside Look With Ashley Rhodes
A Passion for Party Planning
Can you imagine a rainy day wedding with a rainbow appearing in the sky at the end? A lucky bride and groom had that happen at their wedding in 2010 at beautiful Palmetto Bluff, and the wedding planner was none other than local girl Ashley Rhodes. Although she doesn’t take credit for the rainbow, it is just an example of the fairy tale weddings Ashley has masterminded, as her website states “From Charleston to Savannah and everywhere in between.”
Ashley loves planning, people, and parties, and has since she was cheerleader captain at Thomas Heyward Academy in her hometown of Ridgeland, SC. She attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia, majoring in hospitality, and learned a lot about the food and beverage industry, but ended up coming back to the Lowcountry to complete her degree in psychology at USC Beaufort. After graduation, Ashley interviewed to be a nanny, but she didn’t get the job. Instead the woman offered her a job working at The Nest Interiors, a French antique and interior design business in downtown Beaufort. This was the first step to a career in decorating, design and making life more beautiful for clients. She met her husband, John Rhodes, working as a design liaison with his family business, Rhodes Tile and Marble Company. As design liaison for the company, she worked on the then brand new development Palmetto Bluff, while being a volunteer wedding planner on the side for friends and interior clients. The first two weddings she planned as a professional were profiled in the Savannah Wedding magazine.
It was not a good time for the economy, and in April of 2008, Ashley sought the advice of Pat Cameron in the Small Business Development Center at University of South Carolina Beaufort. The idea of event planning was growing in the hearts of the newlywed couple, both unemployed at the time. Ms. Cameron gave good advice: Don’t borrow any money; don’t get into debt; don’t even use a credit card for business. Just go out and drum up business. She did that for a while, but in addition, Ashley returned to the rapidly expanding Palmetto Bluff in 2013 as the associate director of weddings and social events, making valuable contacts in the five-star destination wedding resort.
After two years, she went into business for herself and soon became the busiest gal in three counties, planning corporate and charity events, church and community involvement, and of course, her first love, weddings. But the biggest event of all happened two years ago, a baby boy named Jack. After being Mommy at home for a few months, Ashley made a comeback to the social planning scene and is as busy as ever.
When asked the secret of her success, she replied that she loves people and enjoys being a “Promoter of happy life moments everyday!” She creates personal relationships with her clients, and spends long hours with engaged couples, helping them to realize their dream wedding, incorporating details and requests from both families, all while staying within a budget. Her busiest months are May and October with several events per weekend. Ashley and her assistant event coordinator, Paige Kelley, are the first to arrive and the last to leave each event, making sure that every detail is covered to a “T.”
Her future plans include a small book entitled “Behind the Veil,” incorporating funny anecdotes from the many weddings she has orchestrated. She also hopes to add another one or two assistant planners, having a team to handle the number of events her company, Ashley Rhodes Event Designs, is asked to plan.
Ashley is also busy with church commitments at the Baptist Church of Beaufort as team leader for special events, and on the fellowship committee. She is vice president of the Junior Service League of Beaufort, and a member of Beaufort Leadership Class of 2017. Ashley Rhodes’ Event Designs will provide the professional planning for the Beaufort International Film Festival in February 2017. “I just can’t say no sometimes,” she admits. “I truly love my community and want to give back.”
When asked about her “wedding planner to the stars” nickname, she demurred. “Well, I’m really not supposed to say. . .” She did drop one name however, because it’s been well publicized. She designed the Victoria’s Secret supermodel Lindsey Ellingson’s wedding this past summer. Check it out online and in the current issue of Brides magazine. It was a magical, fairy tale wedding and Ashley does it every time for every client.
Photography provided by Ashley Rhodes. Family photo by Paul Nurnberg.
Check out the Rainy Day Wedding Rainbow: The “Rainy Rustic Chic Wedding in South Carolina”
video at 2:32 mark on: http://www.marthastewartweddings.com.