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

The Met Gala is one of - if not the - most anticipated red carpet events of any calendar year.

Because sometimes, celebrities arrive dressed as chandeliers. Or a sexy Pope. Or they pull off a costume change on the infamous Met Museum steps. 

Opulent, theatrical and always OTT, the Met Gala is the biggest night in fashion. 

Watch: Mamamia reviews non-family friendly fashion. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

And while we live for the very public red carpet theatrics, (Kim Kardashian in that Marilyn Monroe dress? We will never forget), what happens after the stars shuffle their way into the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a closely guarded secret.

Naturally, this leads to... questions.

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

What is the Met Gala, anyway?

The Met Gala is the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala. 

The annual event marks the opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit. It typically happens each year on the first Monday of May - the only exceptions were in 2020, when the event was cancelled, and in 2021, when it was pushed back to September, each because of the pandemic.


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 for this year's Met Gala?

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

The theme for this year's exhibition is 'Sleeping Beauty: Reawakening Fashion', and apart from celebrating fashion history through designer archival pieces, it also pays homage to the natural world. The exhibition will focus on sustainable fashion and the endless cycle of creation and destruction.

This is why the dressing theme is 'The Garden of Time', inspired by the 1962 short story by J.G. Ballard, which explores the concept of preservation using flowers as a symbol of beauty and youth. 

According to Vogue, the dress code is about, "Fleeting beauty. Think melancholic florals."

We're looking forward to seeing plenty of florals and melodramatic silhouettes grace the Met Gala steps.

Rihanna at the 2023 Met Gala. Image: Getty.


Who is co-chairing the Met Gala?

This year's co-chairs for the event are Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Hemsworth and Bad Bunny. 

They of course will be joined by Vogue's editor-in-chief and Global Editorial Director of Conde Nast, Anna Wintour

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.

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 does it take to prepare for the Met Gala?

The level of preparation probably differs depending on your outfit. Like, I imagine Katy Perry's chandelier dress required a bit more prep time than any of the men who turn up in... literally just a black suit.

Image: Getty. 


Seriously, how do you walk in that? How long do you need to practice moving around with your arms permanently extended? Did she spend the whole night standing up? What about the... bathroom situation?

Many of the celebs and stylists start planning Met Gala looks months in advance.

Celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger told Insider that initial conversations usually begin after the Oscars, which are typically held in February.

According to entrepreneur and Vogue contributor Wendy Yu, attendees will often go through a 'dress rehearsal' the day before. It sounds like quite the ordeal.


"I usually prepare for the gala three hours before the event, having done a full dress rehearsal the night before so that I can capture some great photos without feeling pressurised," Yu told The Independent.

"During fittings, I'll practice walking upstairs and sitting in my outfit because it's so important to get a feeling for the dress so that you can wear it, and not the other way around. I tend to wear comfortable shoes to help me feel confident walking.

"I have a team of about 10 who help me get ready, from hairstylists to make-up artists. We have all worked together on many occasions before, so it's like having my extended family around, which means it never feels stressful."

What actually happens at the Met Gala?

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

Guests have also been forbidden from posting to social media from inside the event since 2015 (though they don't always stick to that rule).

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.

The event normally finishes around 10pm, after which most celebs will head to one of the very exclusive after-parties across NYC (normally with a costume change in between) and give everyone following along at home some much-needed social media content.


Are there any other event rules?

One of the reasons the Met Gala is so intriguing is because they try to keep what goes down inside top secret, so it makes sense that one of the main rules is to not share the details.

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?

Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Jared Leto and Kylie Jenner at the 2023 Met Gala. Image: Getty.

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


As legendary former Vogue editor-at-large, André Leon Talley, shared in the 2016 documentary 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 and is kept under wraps until the celebs get inside.

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?"

This article was originally published on May 2, 2022, and has since been updated with new information.

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Feature Image: Getty.

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