Strict Rules Everyone Who Attends The Met Gala Has To Follow

Each year on the first Monday in May (excluding the 2020 event that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 event that was held in September for the same reason), the social elite gather at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the Met Gala. In addition to being a fundraiser for the Costume Institute, the Met Gala serves as the kickoff for the organization's yearly exhibition. The attendees celebrate with cocktails, food, socializing, and entertainment.

The red carpet is an event in and of itself, as some of the biggest stars on the planet show up in jaw-dropping gowns, one-of-a-kind headpieces, and enormous jewels that could weigh down a hot air balloon. Year after year, we tune in to see what A-list tastemakers like Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, and Rihanna picked out for the grand fête. However, once the attendees go through the gala doors, they vanish from the public eye for a night. 

Understandably, there's a great deal of interest in Met Gala lore, partially because the actual event is so exclusive. However, we do know what does not happen (or at the very least, is supposed to not happen) thanks to attendees over the years spilling the rules by which they must abide. Some are understandable, others are a little bizarre, but all are mandatory. Here are the strict rules everyone who attends the Met Gala has to follow.

Attendees can't bring their phones inside

If it was not for the "no phones" rule, there might be a little less mystery surrounding the Met Gala. For many years, phones weren't an issue at the Met Gala because cell phones weren't commonplace, let alone cell phones with cameras or quick access to social media platforms. Of course, that all eventually changed, and evidently, it became an issue at the hallowed soiree. In 2015, it was reported that Anna Wintour and company had enacted a no phones policy for the gala. "The use of phones for photography and social media will not be permitted inside the gala," guests were told ahead of time, as reported by Page Six. "It has solely to do with guests' security and enjoyment of the event," a source said of the rule.

Although guests can't document the event, there are photographers hired to take photos inside. Vogue has been known to release photos taken from inside and higher on the steps of the Met than anyone from the media is allowed. And despite the rule, guests have managed to sneak photos inside the venue; many covert bathroom selfies have been taken at the Met Gala

Children aren't allowed to attend

When sifting through photos from the Met Gala carpet, you may be quick to notice that children are not in attendance. (A bright green robot baby once appeared on the carpet, but Cody, the onesie-clad animatronic, was part of Frank Ocean's ensemble.) This is not by accident. Children are not allowed to attend the Met Gala. As event staff shared with The Hollywood Reporter, "[The Met Gala]'s not an appropriate event for people under 18." The rule came to light when former "Dance Moms" star and Sia muse Maddie Ziegler was asked about attending the event. "I can't go, because I'm not old enough!" she said. The only exception to this rule is if attendees are accompanied by their parents (perhaps North West or Blue Ivy Carter will be one of the few to sneak into the party before hitting adulthood).

Once the stars are legally able to vote, they're also eligible to attend the Met Gala, and plenty of young celebrities have exercised that right. Addison Rae and Olivia Rodrigo are among the attendees who've been to the event before turning 21, and Kendall Jenner had her first official Met Monday when she was just 18 years old.

Attendees have to sit in their assigned seats

From the sounds of it, the Met Gala is a highly formal event from start to finish. There is, of course, a dress code (more on that later), event hosts, and a sit-down dinner. And at that sit-down dinner, guests must sit in their assigned seats. Although it is a highly exclusive event, hundreds of guests attend the Met Gala each year, and because of that high number, attendees are given strict seating assignments.

Having to sit in a designated seat might sound like a drag, but no attendee has publicly complained. And aside from risking not being invited back to the event, guests might follow the rule out of deference to those who create the seating chart, as assigning seats to hundreds of people is no small feat. Lots of thought goes into the table arrangements, and as Eaddy Kiernan, an organizer of the Met Gala, told Vogue, it's a task her team begins working on in December ahead of the May event. Guests aren't stuck next to just anyone, though. "Our ideal pairing would maybe be two people who we think will just get on like a house on fire, but who may not even realize that they have a lot in common. So with each person, we really do take time to think, 'What will they talk about?'" Kiernan said.

Parsley will not be eaten

Part of the reason that sunglasses enthusiast Anna Wintour has a reputation for being no-nonsense and so domineering is because of her approach to organizing the Met Gala. Wintour has headed the event since 1995, and each year she's pored over every detail, ensuring that the benefit meets the highest standards. Part of Wintour's job includes approving the food, and she considers every aspect of dining when finalizing the menu. As a source shared with The New York Post, parsley, onion, and garlic are reportedly not allowed at the Met Gala. According to the tipster, Wintour would prefer her guests not get any parsley stuck in their teeth or worry about onion and/or garlic breath. That said, some sources have noted that many of the guests don't even bother to eat at the event, so it seems safe to assume their breath and teeth don't run a risk anyway.

Still, food has to be made, and planning the menu is a long process. As Chef Melissa King told The Cut of their experience cooking for the Met Gala, "There's a pass-off of the menu and several tastings, as well as quick checks about what's working and what's not, then we tweak it from there. It took a few months, and that's just me speaking on my one dish." The year King cooked, the menu included hamachi crudo, yuzu-kosho–and–olive tapenade, coconut-ceviche tostadas, beef tenderloin, and more. 

No smoking is allowed inside or outside the museum

As noted, the Met Gala takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and while there are plenty of rules imposed on guests by Anna Wintour and her staff, some rules are simply museum guidelines that all visitors have to follow whether they're attending the Met Gala or visiting another time. One major rule all must follow? No smoking. Smoking is banned in New York City in public places, which the Met falls under, but smoke could also damage the art and costumes on display at the Met, making it doubly important to follow the rule. And as Wintour and the Met's museum curator Andrew Bolton said on "CBS Mornings," lighting up at the event is a quick way to get your name crossed off the future invite list.

No rule at the Met Gala has been followed by all guests, though. In 2023, Doja Cat was spotted vaping on the Met Gala carpet before going inside, leading people to suspect she won't be allowed to attend the event again. A variety of other celebrities, including Dakota Johnson and Frances Bean Cobain, have been photographed smoking cigarettes in the bathroom — an offense that breaks both the no phones rule and the no smoking rule.

Guests have to follow the dress code

As noted, the Met Gala marks the opening of the new exhibit at the Costume Institute, and the theme of the exhibit also determines the theme of that year's soiree. Past themes have included "China: Through the Looking Glass," "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination," and "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty." Invited guests are encouraged to dress according to the theme, leading to the bevy of memorable looks that have been seen on the carpet.

The dress code is left largely up to interpretation; look no further than the wide range of ensembles inspired by 2019's "Camp: Notes on Fashion" theme. However, if Anna Wintour is not happy with a guest's look, it reportedly will not be worn. "[Wintour] approves the majority of the dresses, and might even review the sketches of the looks in advance," Wintour biographer Amy Odell told Grazia. Other reports have stated that Wintour doesn't take time to look at every guest's planned look before the event, but all have agreed that she has the power to veto anything she considers off the mark. 

Alas, even if Wintour gives a look her stamp of approval, that doesn't necessarily mean it won't appear on worst Met Gala outfits lists. 

Attendees can't touch the exhibits

The Met Gala is known for being a swanky, exclusive event where the rich and famous gather to show off their outfits, but there is another reason for the event. "The Met Gala has always had one mission, and that is to raise money for the important work that Andrew [Bolton]'s department does at the Costume Institute," Anna Wintour told "CBS Mornings." Each year, the guests get to take a look at the new exhibit at the Costume Institute, and looking is all they're allowed to do. As is requested on the Met's website, "Please do not touch the artwork, frames, platforms, labels, display cases, or anything used to protect the art."

As was revealed on "CBS Mornings," Wintour and Bolton, the Met's museum curator, won't allow guests who break this rule to return to the gala. The no touching rule is standard across museums, and it's not in place to stifle the enjoyment of guests, but rather to preserve the art. If someone without proper training were to handle certain pieces, they could cause irreparable damage.

If you're invited, you basically have to go

The Met Gala's guest list has long been a topic of discussion among those who are lucky enough to attend and those who watch from afar. Not just anyone is allowed to come; Anna Wintour approves the celeb guest list. And if you're one of the select few who passes muster, you'd better do your best to be there with bells on. Otherwise, you may risk landing on the "do not invite" list. "I know people who decided not to go one year because they weren't around or didn't like the theme. Once you do that, you're not invited back unless you're triple A-list," a source told Page Six.

And how exactly does Wintour decide who gets to come and who doesn't? As she told "CBS Mornings," "We're always interested in trying to reflect a cultural moment and what we feel is happening in the world at any given time." But even if you are what Wintour and her team consider culturally relevant, you still might not get a spot. The event is a fundraiser, and tickets have to be purchased. Individual tickets go for a reported $50,000, or guests can attend as part of a table that designers and other corporations purchase for $300,000 or more. The long and short of it: Either pay up or don't expect a spot at the banquet.

No unapproved plus-ones can attend

The importance of the guest list at the Met Gala cannot be overstated. It's been reported ad nauseam that Anna Wintour has the final say over who's allowed in and who's not, including plus-ones. As Wintour biographer Amy Odell told Grazia of the editor-in-chief's influence over the guest list, "[She has] total control. No one gets into the event unless she approves them." 

Wintour has attempted to downplay just how much control she has over who gets to go to the gala. As Gayle King said on "CBS Mornings," "The legend goes that Anna approves the guest list and the guests of the guests, and when I asked her that, she said, 'No, no, no, Gayle, it's a team effort.' I go, 'I'm going to take that as a yes.'"

Team effort or not, Wintour can also ban guests from ever attending again, and she's made it clear that one former guest in particular is no longer welcome. On a 2017 episode of "The Late Late Show with James Corden," Wintour participated in a segment called "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts" in which guests have to either answer controversial questions or eat unappealing foods. When asked if there are any celebrities she won't let return, she simply answered, "Donald Trump."

Attendees can't check social media

You won't be getting any inside looks live from the Met Gala via celebrities' Instagram or Snapchat accounts. As noted, guests aren't allowed to bring phones into the Met Gala, and because of that, they can't go on social media. (It's assumed that no tablets, computers, or other devices with internet capabilities are allowed inside either, though it's hard to imagine a guest bringing such an item to the event.)

From the outside looking in, spending the night without social media is probably a breeze at the Met Gala as there's plenty going on. When guests arrive, they walk down the carpet, where they pose for photographs and participate in interviews. Once inside, there's a cocktail hour, and given that the guest list is so massive, there are more than enough people to talk to. At this time, guests are also able to see the new Costume Institute exhibit. After that, there's a sit-down dinner that guests must be seated for, and there's entertainment. If none of that is enough to keep guests from wanting to look at Instagram, they can be comforted by the fact that the event doesn't last into the night, and they are welcome to do what they please with their phones once they've exited the museum.

Security measures must be followed to protect guests' jewels

While it exists to raise money for the Costume Institute, the Met Gala is also a night of outrageously amazing outfits. Countless hours and dollars are put into crafting stunning looks, many of which are often completed with millions of dollars worth of jewels. Stars like Dua Lipa, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Emma Chamberlain have all attended the Met Gala adorned in precious stones that cost more than most houses in the United States, and items of such high value must be handled carefully. For many stars, that means attending the event with security. "The full security process is kept top secret because of the incredibly high value of the pieces involved, but there is always a security guard present until the pieces are safely returned," Forevermark Diamond Expert Kristen Lawler-Trustey told E! News.

The high-priced jewels that walk the carpet — even those that don't come with a security detail — are all insured, and additional measures are taken to protect the jewels and those wearing them. "For visible monitoring, we typically have armed security. As for invisible, we work with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) trackers and video monitoring as well," Tacori fashion director Michelle Chila said.

If Anna Wintour wants guests to sit, they have to sit

Anna Wintour certainly cares about fashion, but the Met Gala could very well be just as important to the magazine mogul. As Wintour biographer Amy Odell told Grazia, "Anna has told friends she wants her legacy to be for her philanthropy. The Met Gala is the biggest philanthropic endeavor of her career, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

Needless to say, she takes the Met Gala seriously; at the event, what Wintour says goes. In 2019, when the theme was "Camp: Notes on Fashion," Kim Kardashian arrived in her iconic wet dress made by Thierry Mugler. During dinner, Kardashian remained standing while the rest of the guests sat. Wintour reportedly asked multiple times for someone to tell Kardashian to take a seat, but the reality star didn't oblige... because she couldn't. Someone had to explain to the legendary editor-in-chief that Kardashian's dress made it impossible for her to sit. 

According to sources, Met Gala staff have to meet Wintour's standards, too. "God forbid if they're fat, if they are unsightly, they have to go," former Vogue copywriter Sarah Van Sicklen said in "Anna: The Biography."