Over the years, I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to go to more than my fair share of celebrity meet and greets. As a little kid, my mom would always take me to free mall events, like photo opps with my favorite costumed Disney characters, or performances out in the halls. As a teenager, I started going to bigger shows with my friends, hanging out after gigs for autographs, and attending outdoor events like TODAY show tapings and GMA concerts. And as an adult, I have had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to meet and interview talent through private work events as a VIP, reporter, and journalist.
Of course, all of these experiences are pretty wildly different from one another, yet the life lessons I’ve picked up from being part of all of them remain the same. To help you make the most out of your own dream celeb meet and greet, I’m dishing five of my tried-and-true tips I have learned along the way. (Illustrated with some of my own personal M&G highlights, for your viewing pleasure!)
1. Be prepared.
When you’re standing in line to meet your favorite celebrity at a book signing or photo opp, there will be a whole range of flip-flopping emotions you could be feeling. You may be over-the-moon excited to finally be meeting a star who means the world to you, so nervous you can barely breathe, or anywhere in between. But the advice still stands: be prepared.
That means not only having your camera ready to snap, your bag ready to be turned over to security, and your parents/friends thoroughly instructed on how to help you out. It also means rehearsing the question or comment you want to say to that star when you’re face-to-face. Remember why you’re there in the first place: did you want to tell Sabrina Carpenter how much her music means to you? Did you want to ask a question about the book Pete Wentz just published? Having meaningful interactions already in mind will help you refrain from screaming in their face or saying “OMG I LOVE YOU ON TV,” when you really want to have a deeper conversation.
2. Be respectful.
To put it simply, there is never a situation where it’s okay to be disrespectful. And there are a lot of different ways respect comes into play for meet and greet events.
First, it’s important to respect the stars themselves. Think about it this way: ifÂ you were a musician selling out arenas with your world tour, would you want your fans in the audience hyped up and passionately singing along to your songs? Of course! But would you want them yelling in your ear, shoving a camera in your face, or grabbing you forcefully while taking photos together? Yeah, probably not. It isn’t “what they signed up for” when they became famous: treating a celebrity with dignity like you would any other human being is insanely important, and I can’t stress it enough.
Then, make sure to respect the venue and the staff putting together the event. I once overheard store owners complaining that they hate running CD signings with teen stars because fans would litter their snack wrappers all over the parking lot, bring food into the store, and try to take advantage of selfie policies. It makes my blood boil to hear generalizations like this said about young fans, because it’s not true 98% of the time — but you don’t want to be the one getting your favorite stars uninvited from otherwise great opportunities.
3. Be understanding.
Unfortunately, there are a zillion things that can go wrong with any meet and greet situation. It’s just life. The celebrity could be late for the event, security may be extra demanding, and maybe meeting your idol won’t end up being the positive experience you always dreamed of. It’s disheartening, it happens sometimes, but it’s not something that should be taken out in frustration at the event.
If it’s the kind of situation you would need a financial refund for, talk to an event staffer after you’ve wrapped up your experience, and talk calmly about your options. Consider going through your ticket vendor if you have further issues. But don’t complain to the celebrity that the security guards are mean, or you waited in the cold for hours: the are just trying to give you the best experience possible.
4. Follow the rules.
While being understanding, take the venue’s rules into consideration. I recently attended a book signing hosted by Al Gore, and there were no photos allowed during the event. Trust me, I know that it sucks. If there was any celebrity photo I would want framed over my fireplace, it would be me posing with the former US Vice President. (I don’t even have a fireplace, it’s just that extreme, you know?) And of course, I’d love to have a photo to post to social media and share with the world.
But the fact is, I completely understand that for security reasons and to make sure stars can greet as many of their fans as possible, sometimes posing for photos just isn’t happening. I know I’d get a ton of Instagram likes if I had enviable photos from my encounters, but these kinds of interactions shouldn’t just be about the quantity of likes, but the quality of experience. Not to sound like your grandmother here, but there is something so beautiful and valid about looking a person I’ve only seen on TV in the eyes and telling them what they mean to me, shaking their hand, and getting their autograph. Without the cameras there to document it, you may even find you remember itÂ more vividly.
5. Connect with other fans in line.
Do you ever feel like some of your real-life friends just do not fully grasp your Descendants obsession? Or you keep trying to get them into Harry Styles’ new music and they are just not understanding how he changed your life? One of the best places to meet Your People, AKA, the Fandom, is at events dedicated to supporting their careers.
Even if you’re not in it to make lifelong friends, it never hurts to connect with the people in line with you. For one, you may be waiting in line for ages, and chatting with others passes the time. If you’re at a barricade or stage door, you can remind others to remain calm and not push before things get crazy. Plus, you can swap cameras and help each other take pics if you’re alone or want everyone in your group in one shot. (They may even be able to get some candids of you that they can text you later!)
One recent memory that I can cite is a Little Mix fan event I attended by myself: I wasn’t a huge listener of the girls’ music until witnessing them live that night, but I was also blown away by how nice and supportive their dedicated fans were. The girl in line behind me for the photo opp helped me make sure my lipstick was perfect, and boy do I appreciate her to this day.
If you’ve noticed that all of these tips carry a familiar theme, you’re absolutely right! My best advice when it comes to meeting celebrities, standing on line at Disney World, or scoping out autographs follows the same guiding principles as the Golden Rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated.
Being respectful of boundaries, thanking the security team for keeping the celeb safe, and connecting with fellow fans instead of battling it out for selfies are not only classy things to do, but they will ensure you have a great time in the presence of your idol. Positive experiences will make the talent’s team even more willing to come back to a specific town or venue, or maybe even broaden their tour to more smaller towns to include additional fans in the process. That way, everybody wins.
Do you have some expert meet and greet advice or stories you’d like to share? Make sure to connect with us on social media @celebsecrets4u.