As we’re officially in party season (although all year round is party season in London) we sat down with Tom Foster of Lightning Events, a bespoke event production company, to find out what makes the best party, where they get their inspiration and how to run a business.
What prompted you to set up Lightning in the first place?
Lightning was set up by me and my business partner Al. We were 18 and thought it would be fun to team up and do a few parties for friends during university holidays. Here we are 10 years later and oh, how life has changed! We are now an internationally recognised bespoke event production company working across the UK and Europe, designing and producing some of the very best parties, celebrations and weddings.
Where do you look for creative inspiration?
Events are definitely becoming more and more innovative and experiential which is great to see. This means there is more room for creativity than ever before – which we love. Whilst Pinterest, Instagram and blogs are great for days in the office, nothing beats being out and about. We are so lucky to have London’s exhibitions and pop-ups on our doorstep for sources of inspiration. Most recently I visited Copenhagen for a long weekend, and from a design perspective that’s also very exciting.
As you look to celebrate Lightning’s 10th anniversary, what has been your favourite event to date?
We produced an amazing wedding last summer in Corvara, a ski resort in the Italian Dolomites. It was a three-day party and on one of the days we turned a mountain restaurant into the renowned
après-ski spot La Folie Douce. Guests walked up the mountain and partied well into the night before taking the lift home! Hiking all our equipment up the mountain posed some pretty major logistical challenges but that’s what keeps it interesting!
What have been your craziest requests or most ridiculous demands?
Where do we start? Firstly, we enjoy embracing all elements of eccentricity so you soon realise that what used to seem ridiculous now feels pretty normal…! We have built a floating dance floor on a pond for a mystical themed party in the woods – oh and sourced a flock of pink sheep for a surrealist themed party…
Best part of the job?
It may sound rather cheesy but I still love standing at the entrance and watching and listening to people’s reactions as they come in. Our events really are breath-taking and it’s immensely satisfying seeing people appreciate all that hard work.
What are your top tips when it comes to production for an event?
Production is what takes each event from the initial concept to actually bringing it to life in person. Lighting, staging and design are all so important to create an atmosphere. With lighting, often less is more – we love really warm softly lit interiors with just a hint of colour. When it comes to dancing though…the more the merrier. We can get very carried away! There is nothing better than an amazing band framed by a stunning light show.
Do advances in technology make you excited for the future of what you do?
The last ten years have seen amazing technological advances in the industry and we always enjoy leveraging the latest developments for production. LED technology has had a huge impact on our lighting and revolutionised what we can offer our clients. It has also helped with our environmental impact – we use a lot less electricity than we used to. As for capturing events, I love how drones can now secure stunning aerial shots of the site dressed up on the day and the crowds below- these create such fun, vivid memories.
What are your three top tips for running your own business?
Firstly, I think the most important is to keep going and “ride the wave!” Inevitably there’ll be good times and challenging times but don’t forget to celebrate the achievements and milestones along the way. This year marks 10 years for Lightning and that’s certainly cause for celebration! I’d also say, “Recognise and reward your staff” – they are the backbone of your business, without them you’d not be nearly as successful. Finally, figure out what’s important to the core of your business and don’t compromise on this as you grow. For us it’s always been a personable approach. In today’s age where so much is digital and we are always connected via our phones, it’s even more valuable to make time to meet in person and build authentic relationships with who we work for and with.
What are Lightning’s plans for 2018?
Bigger and better! We’re excited to be a partner at the Wedding Gallery and see that really take off for 2018 wedding season. Next year is looking really exciting for us with some amazing projects in France, Switzerland, Mallorca and all over the UK. Long may it continue!