What It Really Takes To Plan & Pull Off The Met Gala

This year’s Met Gala is just days away. While your favorite celebrities are busy trying to interpret this year’s Camp theme (if you’re imagining tents in the wilderness, please see yourself out), we’ve been thinking about the planning going on behind the scenes. Hosting your average fundraiser is no easy task, and the Met Gala is anything but average (Anna would never hear of it). But how the f*ck do you even go about pulling off an event as massive as the Met Gala? We at Betches have no clue, so we asked the experts at PartySlate to break down what goes into planning an epic fundraising event like the Met Gala.

Selecting the Co-Chairs & Committee Members

Source: PartySlate | Photography: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/BFA.com/Shutterstock | Design, Décor & Floral: Raul Avila Inc. | Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art | Lighting & Videographer: Frost Productions

Every year, the Met Gala is held on the first Monday in May, and the next year’s planning begins the first Tuesday in May. Yikes, talk about no days off. Much like the beginnings of any large-scale event, one of the first steps is for the host to curate her event team. Hand-selected by Vogue’s infamous editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, this year’s co-chairs are Harry Styles, Serena Williams, Lady Gaga, and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. Plus, 183 Hollywood stars will serve on this year’s committee, including Blake Lively (her new bump pristinely dressed, no doubt), Lupita Nyong’o, Katy Perry, and Bradley Cooper (who can’t seem to stay away from Lady Gaga—not that we’re mad about it).

Picking the Theme

Source: PartySlate | Photography: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/BFA.com/Shutterstock | Design, Décor & Floral: Raul Avila Inc. | Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art | Lighting & Videographer: Frost Productions

We’ve loved all of the past Met Gala themes. “China: Through the Looking Glass” had us bowing down to Beyoncé and her fierce sheer gown, while “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” brought us Kim Kardashian in liquid gold Versace. Again, this year’s theme is Camp, and Alessandro Michele told the New York Times, “Camp really means the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture; it is not kitsch.” We live for a red carpet just like every other betch, but we’re most excited to see how the team at Vogue carries the theme throughout the evening, from the red carpet welcome to the dinner party decor.

Curating the Guest List

Year after year, the Met Gala is invitation only—and no, you’re not invited. Whether you pay for your ticket (at $30,000 a head, somebody tell Billy McFarland) or are invited by a designer or Queen Anna herself, you can’t get in the doors unless you’re on the list.

“Creating guest lists for high-profile events and fundraisers can become stressful,” says PartySlate Co-Founder and CEO, Julie Roth Novack. “You want to be strategic and get the right mix of people in the room.”

To no one’s surprise, Anna Wintour selects and approves every last detail of the evening, including the guest list. And we’re pretty sure she’s unconcerned with who may or may not be offended by her choices. Many guests are Met Gala vets, while a handful of newbies are added each year.

Preparing for Red Carpet Arrivals

Source: PartySlate | Photography: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/BFA.com/Shutterstock | Design, Décor & Floral: Raul Avila Inc. | Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art | Lighting & Videographer: Frost Productions

Skinny arms and thigh-high slits are always on display as guests arrive at the Met Gala. But Novack points out that the red carpet is so much more than a photo op. “The gowns and attire at the Met Gala are also decor, just like the florals or lighting or draping,” she says. “The red carpet is one of the most important parts of the event, because it’s the first time spectators are introduced to interpretations of the theme.” The planning team also has to prioritize media and press placement to capture the entrances; details are incredibly secretive leading up to the event, but from the moment the first celebrities step out of their limos, Vogue wants that international buzz.

Creating the Seating Chart

Keeping the peace between Selena and Justin is just the start of the Met Gala seating chart drama. According to Eaddy Kiernan, who organized last year’s Met Gala, the names for the guest list come together in December—and then the seating chart calculations begin. (Your wedding has nothing on this seating chart, sorry.) The final seating chart is never finalized until about a month out from the event, and even then there are always small tweaks to be made. The team at Vogue considers everything from who will have good conversations during dinner to which tables should be placed closest to the front and back of the room. Still, there can be drama, like when Lena Dunham got offended when Odell Beckham Junior sat next to her all night and still didn’t want to bang her. Guests have even gone so far as to storm out of the dinner if they’re displeased with their seats. Hey, Anna: if you ever need seat fillers, we don’t have plans on Monday.

Selecting the Menu

Source: PartySlate | Photography: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/BFA.com/Shutterstock | Design, Décor & Floral: Raul Avila Inc. | Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art | Lighting & Videographer: Frost Productions

Similar to the design and decor, a fundraiser’s food, wine, and cocktails should always be aligned with the theme of the night. While it’s still unclear exactly what Camp means, we bet it will be seamlessly integrated into the dinner menu, wine selection, and cocktail options. Wintour has been known to ban certain ingredients; don’t expect anything that could stain gowns or teeth. Cuisine is often one of the most memorable elements of an event, so it’s important to make thoughtful decisions, and always choose dishes that are creative, yet universally enjoyed. And in the case of the Met Gala, under 300 calories per serving.

Prioritizing Fundraising Efforts

Let’s not forget: the Met Gala is a fundraiser. The goal (after social media engagement, of course) is to motivate celebrities, guests, and spectators to reach deep into their silk-lined pockets and raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. While some people make donations, many guests don’t actually pay for tickets, so the event is also an important marketing tool to bring in outside funds for the cause. “Charities that create these fabulous experiences always see a return in recurring fundraising,” says Novack, emphasizing the importance of donors who commit to a cause year after year. “A fundraiser like the Met Gala might cost a lot to host, but without a fabulous party, you won’t see the same return.” Last year, the event raised $13.5 million.

Don’t Forget the After-Parties

So, Anna Wintour and her team don’t have a ton to do with this last point, but after-parties are an iconic part of the Met Gala. The fun doesn’t stop on the stairs of the Met, and guests often change outfits before heading to their next destinations. “Only Vogue publishes the full event details—or at least the ones they want us to see—but bathroom shots and after party photos will surface on social media throughout the night,” says Novack. After-parties continue to be a big trend in the event industry, even at the Met Gala.

And that’s pretty much everything you could ever need to know about the Met Gala. Oh wait, we’re sure you’re wondering how you can score an invite, right? Contrary to popular belief, you can go even if you’re not famous, and we broke down how here.

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