How to Plan an Acadia National Park Elopement
Although planning an Acadia National Park elopement may not be as intensive as planning a traditional or large wedding, it can still be overwhelming. Between finding locations, dealing with permits, and the general to-dos of wedding planning, there are a lot of steps to go through before the big day. That's where this guide comes in! As an Acadia National Park elopement photographer, I've gone through this process more times than I can count. This guide is to help walk you through the process of eloping in Acadia NP and point you in the right direction for more information.
Choose When to Elope in Acadia National Park
Choosing when to elope can be one of the most challenging steps of elopement planning. There are pros and cons to every season in Acadia National Park, so you really can't go wrong! Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each season:
Summer Elopement in Acadia
- Warm Weather: Average summer temperatures in Acadia can reach highs of 80º
- Longer Days: The best time to visit locations in Acadia National Park is around sunrise or sunset. This is because most visitors enter the park around 9 or 10 am and leave around 5 or 6 pm, leaving the early morning and late afternoon crowd free. Longer days mean you have more time after the crowds disperse to explore the park.
- Peak Season: Summer is the busiest time of year so everything in and around Acadia National Park is open and there are tons of things to do
- Crowds: Acadia National Park is a relatively small national park but ranks among the top 10 most popular. The majority of visitors are coming during the summer months which means crowds at peak times can be very larger. Finding parking within the park between 10 am to 6 pm can be extremely difficult at popular locations.
Fall Acadia National Park Elopement
- Foliage: New England is known for its incredible foliage and Acadia National Park is no exception. Have a fall Acadia National Park elopement allows you to take in the already stunning views of the park, but with the added bonus of incredible fall colors. Peak foliage in Acadia National Park is usually around the first two weeks of October.
- Cooler Temperatures: Fall, in my opinion, had the best weather in Acadia National Park. The temperatures are slowly decreasing which makes hiking a lot more enjoyable (especially if you're in wedding attire!)
- Crowds: September and October are still busy season in Acadia so unfortunately crowds are still something to keep in mind
- Shorter Days: Most park visitors leave the park by 5 or 6 pm, leaving the park mostly crowd-free after that. In the summer this means hours of crowd less exploring and interrupted views. With fall comes shorter days and shorter amounts of time (if any) to visit the popular locations without the masses of people.
Kelsey & Keith has an incredible fall elopement day in Acadia! Check out this blog post to read more about their adventure.
Winter Acadia National Park Elopement
- No Crowds: Winter is the off-season in Acadia and tourism slows down immensely. You will practically have the park to yourself!
- Less Expensive Accommodations: Since it is the off-season, you'll be able to find great deals on hotels and rentals.
- Off-Season: Since winter is the off-season for Acadia National Park, almost everything in the surrounding areas are closed, including sections of the park. During winter only the main areas of the park are open which greatly limits where you can go and what you can do. A lot of restaurants and hotels are also closed in the off-season.
- Weather: Acadia National Park is COLD in the winter and weather can be a bit unpredictable. If you're planning a winter Acadia National Park elopement, expect high winds, freezing temperatures, ice, and the possibility of a snowstorm. Average winter temperatures in Acadia National Park reach highs of 30ºs and lows of 10ºs.
Spring Acadia National Park Elopement
- Cooler Temperatures: Although the beginning of spring can still be quite chilly, later spring temperatures are the perfect hiking conditions that make exploring in your wedding attire a lot more enjoyable.
- Slow Season: Spring is between the off-season and peak season for Acadia National Park which makes it the perfect time to visit. Everything in the area is open but there are fewer visitors this time of year making crowds much smaller.
- Flowers: June is lupine season in Acadia National Park! Many areas of the park are covered in lupine fields making for gorgeous photos and incredible views while driving around!
- Early Spring: The only cons of eloping in the spring are all associated with the early spring season. Early spring can still be quite cold with snow on the ground and trees not quite in bloom.
Personal Recommendations: The Best Months to Elope in Acadia National Park
- June: Early June is gorgeous in Acadia National Park. You are greeted with stunning views of lupines and since it's still early in the season, there are fewer crowds inside the park.
- August: The end of August is one of the best times to visit Acadia. There is a slight dip in visitors this time and the longer days mean you can explore the park when no one else is there. If you plan your elopement right it can feel like you have the entire park to yourself.
- September: September, in my opinion, has the best weather of the entire year. It's not too hot and not too cold which makes hiking and exploring around the park sweat-free, which is always a plus on your wedding day.
- October: If you're dreaming of a fall elopement this is the perfect time to visit Acadia National Park.
Decide on the Number of Guests
The national park service has strict guidelines in place to regulate the size of ceremonies within the park. Any ceremony that has more than 10 people present is restricted to a small number of locations within the park and a special use permit is necessary. Applying for the permit is very easy and ensures the park stays beautiful for years to come!
The permit is only necessary for the ceremony, you and your group are free to travel around the park otherwise without one. More information on permits can be found here (link to permit section)
If your group will be less than 10 in total, you are free to have your ceremony anywhere in the park without a permit! This means you have the most flexibility to choose where you want to elope and what scenery you would like for your ceremony.
Different Guest Size Options to Think About
“Just Us” Elopements
An elopement with just the two of you is perfect if you're eloping for an epic adventure or something super intimate. It gives you the freedom to go anywhere and do almost anything.
Gina & Doug opted to have a split elopement day. In the morning they spent it adventuring alone, and in the afternoon met up with their families for a ceremony. Read all about their day here.
Family & Friends
Having your family and friends with you during your ceremony can be extremely meaningful and emotional. There are so many amazing ceremony locations that can accommodate larger group sizes so you can have everyone important to you with you on your wedding day. It's important to keep in mind though, the more people invited means the more limited your ceremony locations are.
Can’t Decide? Don’t!
There are so many ways to include guests in your wedding day that go beyond the ceremony. Having your guests present at your ceremony is completely optional and there are alternatives if you decide you don’t want them with you for that moment. If you want the experience of having a ceremony with just you and your partner AND want to experience a larger ceremony with your guests, that is entirely possible too! It is very common to exchange private vows with your partner prior to a larger ceremony with your guests. Your wedding day is completely customizable so don’t be afraid to go out of the box to get the experience you dream of!
Check out this blog post to read more about how to include guests in your elopement day.
Find Your Acadia National Park Elopement Photographer or Planner
Once you have a general time you want to get married and an approximate guest count, now is the time to reach out to some big vendors that will help with the other steps!
You don’t need to have an exact plan for your wedding day when you start reaching out to vendors. A lot of the time your elopement photographer will help you out with the big decisions and lead you through the process.
As elopement photographers, not only do we photograph the wedding, but we also help couples:
- visualize what they want their day to look like
- provide them with personalized location recommendations for their ceremony and other spots they may want to visit
- provide vendor recommendations
- permitting help
- build a timeline that includes everything they want to do while optimizing lighting
If you're interested in learning more about what we do or want help planning your Acadia National Park elopement, contact us here!
If you have more intensive plans for your wedding day, it may be helpful to reach out to an elopement planner that can take on some of the detailed help. Elopement planners can help with booking vendors and making your vision come to life, whereas elopement photographers help with larger aspects.
Choose Your Acadia National Park Elopement Locations
Choosing where to elope in Acadia can be overwhelming! The best part about eloping is the freedom to choose anywhere to have your ceremony, and the best part about eloping in Acadia National Park is the huge variety of stunning locations to choose from. The downside is that sometimes it can feel like there are too many options. If you’ve booked a photographer that helps with finding locations (like us!), this step will be fairly easy for you. We provide couples with detailed location guides that are personalized to their vision for their wedding day.
If you're looking to get a head start on finding ceremony locations, check out this blog post!
Imagine yourself during your ceremony about to say your vows, where do you want to be? Once you get a rough idea of what kind of scenery you want to be surrounded by, it’s time to find some specific spots! Some of the most popular locations in the park are Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond, and Little Hunters Beach (but we provide our clients with lists of some of the best-hidden locations inside the park)!
If you're looking for recommendations on formal wedding venues or reception spaces for small weddings, check out this blog post!
Choose What to Do on Your Wedding Day
The main thing you're doing is obviously getting married, but you can include so much more in your day as well! Think about what your perfect day would look like. Who would be there? What would you do? Where would you go? Make that perfect day your wedding day!
Acadia has no shortage of amazing things you can do while you visit, so why not include some on your wedding day as well? Some of the most popular things to do in Acadia National Park are:
- rock climbing
- whale watching
Also think about things you can include in your day that might be special to you and your partner, for example:
- Reading letters from family and friends that aren't there
- First Look
- First Dance
- Something you love to do together (board games, making breakfast together, etc.)
Your wedding day is all about celebrating the love you have for each other and the life you're building with one another. Including things in your day that are special to both of you can make the experience even more enjoyable and memorable.
Book other Vendors, Accommodations, and Buy any Necessary Gear
Once you have a better idea of where you'll be going and what you'll be doing on your wedding day, now is the time to buy any additional gear or hire any other vendors you need!
Apply for Permits (If Needed)
The national park service has strict guidelines in place to regulate the size of elopement ceremonies within the park. Any ceremony that has more than 10 people present is restricted to a small number of locations within the park and requires a special use permit. Applying for the permit is very easy and ensures the park stays beautiful for years to come!
The permit is only necessary for the ceremony, you and your group are free to travel around the park otherwise without one.
Here are the locations and group sizes within Acadia National Park you can have an elopement ceremony:
- Cadillac Mountain (20)
- Sand beach (30)
- Ocean Drive (30)
- Otter Cliff (20)
- Otter Point (30)
- Little Hunters Beach (20)
- Seawall Picnic Area (30)
- Thompson Island (50)
- Schoodic Point (25)
- Frazer Point Picnic Area (50)
Apply for a Marriage License
This is the most important part of your Acadia National Park elopement! You don't want to get all the way through your amazing elopement day and then realize it's not even legal. Thankful Maine makes this process pretty simple and your elopement photographer can definitely help you through this process in case you get confused.
How to get a Marriage License in Maine
All of the specifics can be found here but this is a quick run-down. Marriage licenses are issued at a town or city hall,
- Maine Residents: you should apply at the town office where at least one of you is a resident. If you are residents of different Maine towns, you both may apply in one town or the other - you do not need to apply separately in each town.
- If one is from out of state, then both of you should apply in the town where one holds residency.
- Out of State: You may apply in any Maine town office. It does not need to be the same town where you plan to be married.
The marriage license is valid for 90 days and can only be used within the State of Maine. The person performing the ceremony is responsible for filing the marriage certificate with the town office that issued the marriage license.
The following individuals are authorized to perform marriages in Maine:
- Ordained ministers of the gospel (if you want a ceremony with just you two, most elopement photographers are ordained through the Universal Life Church, including us!)
- A person licensed to preach by an association of ministers, religious seminary, or ecclesiastical body
- Judges or justices (residents of Maine only)
- Lawyers admitted to the Maine Bar (residents of Maine only)
- Maine Notaries - Search for Maine Notaries by Location or Name
Most town halls will also provide a list of trusted officiants to make finding one a bit easier.
The ceremony must be witnessed by at least two people other than the officiant, and signed by the couple, the officiant, and witnesses.
You can opt to do this before your elopement date. Have your best friends or family members sign as witnesses for your date beforehand. That way you can celebrate your wedding the day of and not have to stress about paperwork. If you are planning an elopement with just two of you, your photographers can sign or you can easily find hikers or visitors at locations who are willing to sign as a witness!
That's it! You've planned your Acadia National Park Elopement!
Planning an elopement or intimate wedding can definitely seem overwhelming but try to take it one step at a time and soon enough you'll be fully planned! I hope this Acadia National Park elopement guide was helpful for you and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out here.
MEET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER TEAM
Hey, We're Bridget & Ryan!
Adventurers turned adventure elopement photographers specializing in national park and hiking elopements! We help couples craft a wedding day that feels authentic to them in a meaningful and epic location. Life's an adventure, let's make your wedding one too!
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