A strict seating chart and banned celebrities: What actually happens at the Met Gala?

The Met Gala is finally here.

After being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest night in fashion has returned. 

And yes, it's just as weird as we remember.

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Kim Kardashian showed up in a black morphsuit resembling a dementor, Lil Nas X had multiple extravagant outfit changes, and Frank Ocean walked the red carpet with a... lime green baby.

But enough about the outfits. Because we have... questions.

Here are nine questions you had about the Met Gala, answered.

What is the Met Gala, anyway?

The Met Gala is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala. 

The annual event marks the opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit. 

The event also serves as a fundraiser for the fashion exhibit, making the Met Gala one of the biggest fundraising nights in New York City.

What is the theme?

Each year's Met Gala focuses on the theme of that year's Costume Institute exhibition. 

The theme for this year's exhibition is "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion", meaning Met Gala guests were encouraged to "explore a modern vocabulary of American fashion" as part of the official dress code.

"I’ve been really impressed by American designers' responses to the social and political climate, particularly around issues of body inclusivity and gender fluidity, and I’m just finding their work very, very self-reflective," Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in charge of the Costume Institute, told Vogue.

"I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a renaissance." 

Jennifer Lopez and Justin Bieber at the 2021 Met Gala. Image: Getty. 


Who is co-chairing the Met Gala?

This year’s co-chairs for the event are musician Billie Eilish, actor Timothée Chalamet, poet and activist Amanda Gorman, and tennis player Naomi Osaka. 

Honourary chairs include American fashion designer Tom Ford, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, and the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri.

How do you score an invitation?

Since 1995, the Met Gala guest list has been presided over by Anna Wintour.

The event is invitation only, and there is often a waiting list to get a ticket.

"I've known of society names who couldn't get a ticket and are prepped to go if there's a last-minute seat that becomes available," Cameron Silver, who has attended the event, told Page Six.

"They have their look ready even if they aren't certain of whether they will actually have a seat days before the event." 

There's also an age restriction, meaning individuals under the age of 18 cannot attend the event.

As for plus ones, guests often aren't able to bring a date. For a celebrity couple to attend the Met Gala together, both individuals need to be personally invited to the event.

Some celebrities and public figures have been banned from attending the event altogether, including former US President Donald Trump, who actually proposed to his now-wife Melania Trump at the Met Gala in 2004.

Project Runway host Tim Gunn and designer Rachel Zoe are also rumoured to be banned from attending due to feuds with Wintour.

Kim Kardashian at the 2021 Met Gala. Image: Getty. 


How much does a ticket to the Met Gala cost?

To attend the event, a ticket starts at $30,000 per person, while entire tables at the event range from $275,000 to $500,000.

Although brands and companies can purchase an entire table, Wintour ultimately has the final say over each and every invitation.

The money from ticket sales for the event is then donated to the Costume Institute, as the department has to fund itself.

What actually happens at the Met Gala?

Although the red carpet at the Met Gala is highly publicised, media inside the event is actually highly regulated.

Guests have also been forbidden from posting to social media from inside the event since 2015.

So, what actually happens inside?

After walking the red carpet, guests get a first look at the year's exhibition before gathering for dinner, drinks and live performances.

In previous years, guests have been treated to performances from Rihanna, Madonna, Katy Perry, and The Weeknd.

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Has COVID-19 affected this year's event?

Due to the pandemic, guests are required to share proof of vaccination and wear masks indoors (except when eating or drinking) at the event.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, rapper Nicki Minaj shared she would not be attending the event due to the vaccine requirement. 

"They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. if I get vaccinated it won’t for the Met," she wrote.

"It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now."


Are there any other event rules?

Besides COVID-19 regulations, there are a number of other rules implemented at the event.

As of 2015, the use of mobile phones for taking photos or using social media is not permitted inside the event. However, that doesn't always stop celebrities from taking sneaky photos.

Case in point:

Kylie Jenner's infamous bathroom selfie from the 2017 Met Gala. Image: Instagram. 

Smoking was also banned at the event after numerous celebrities shared photos of themselves smoking in the bathroom.

Instead, guests must use the designated smoking area.


As for the menu, Anna Wintour reportedly has a number of rules about what food can be served, including a ban on parsley, onion, garlic, and bruschetta. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

How does the seating chart work?

Every single detail at the event, including the seating chart, is approved by Anna Wintour.

As André Leon Talley shared in The First Monday in May: "Anna is meticulously vetting every single thing, from the napkins to the forks to the lighting. The detail of the flowers, the detail of the ushers, how they're dressed, everything has been vetted for months and weeks and months and weeks." 

The seating chart is reportedly drafted up to six months before the event even takes place.

According to The First Monday in May, the seating chart often goes through dozens of changes to take into account who can see whom.

Spouses are also often sat apart.

"Never seat spouses next to each other," Sylvana Ward Durrett shared in The First Monday in May. 

"The whole point of these things is to meet new people and to be interested in what others are doing. What's the point if you come here to hang out with your husband?"

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Feature Image: Getty.

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