Choosing a destination for your national park or adventure elopement can be overwhelming. There are tens of thousands of locations just within the U.S. to have your elopement, so where do you even begin? As an adventure elopement photographer, I have tons of experience helping my couples plan the adventure elopement of their dreams. And I have to say, one of my all time favorite locations is Acadia National Park. The views, the scenery, the wildlife, everything about it is just breathtaking! If you’re interested in seeing what this park has to offer, you’re in luck. Here is my ultimate guide on how to elope at Acadia National Park!
Why should you elope at Acadia National Park in the first place?
Acadia National Park is one of the most visited parks in North America, so you know it has to be worth the hype. This park is open year round, so you can elope absolutely anytime you want! Of course there are guidelines you should follow when determining when to elope at Acadia National Park, but we’ll get into that in a bit. Acadia is home to truly some of the most stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife on the Eastern Seaboard. If you and your partner love the outdoors and have a passion for exploring together, I think you would love eloping at Acadia.
The park itself sits on the coast of Maine, on Mount Desert Island. It borders the town Bar Harbor, and the park covers over 47,000 acres in total. There are tons of beautiful elopement locations within the park, as well as nearby venues if you want to celebrate afterwards. You have mountains, braces, rocky coastlines, basically any view that you would need to have the East Coast elopement of your dreams!
Although it’s a popular national park, it’s not so popular for weddings and elopements. At least, not as sought after as others in the U.S.! This makes it perfect for couples wanting privacy and secludedness on their big day. You’ll also have much more freedom when it comes to where you should elope within the park, and not have to worry about applying for your ceremony over a year in advance like other national parks require.
Now that you know exactly why you should elope at Acadia National Park, it’s time to tell you how to elope here. Let’s dive in!
When should you elope at Acadia National Park?
Like I mentioned before, Acadia National Park is open all year round. However, that doesn’t mean you should just choose a date and run with it before doing any prior research! Acadia offers a different environment depending on what season you choose, so let’s break it down!
Spring is a beautiful time to elope at Acadia National Park. The spring months are considered March, April & May, when the snow starts to melt! Things can get a bit muddy and soggy during this time, so be prepared for that. The temperatures are between 30 and 70 degrees fahrenheit, getting warmer as the months go on. It’s important to note that you can still expect some rain during these months, so if you’d rather skip the rainy elopement vibes, consider eloping in the summer!
Depending on how much rain Acadia has gotten in the winter, there’s a good chance that there will be lots of bugs in the spring months. If you want to elope in the spring, be sure to bring lots of bug spray/repellent! The one major upside of this time is that it’s right before peak tourist season. Which means there’s a good chance you’ll have tons of privacy for your elopement.
Summer is the most popular season to visit Acadia National Park, which means it might not be the best time to elope there. Although the weather is absolutely beautiful (getting up in the high 70’s/80’s most days!), you’re gonna run into a lot of people. If you don’t mind the crowds, then there’s nothing stopping you from eloping at Acadia National Park in the summer! I would say that June is probably the best summer month, compared to July and August when families are trying to get one last vacation on the books before kids go back to school. Labor Day is officially the end of peak tourist season in Maine, which leads up right into the fall!
Along with the high temps and coastal breeze, summer can unexpectedly bring blankets of fog that cover the island, sometimes for days on end. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good moody elopement! But that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So if you do plan on eloping in the summer, maybe have some flexibility in terms of exact dates, and keep an eye on the weather!
If you want light crowds, beautiful foliage, and ideal temperatures, fall would be the way to go. Early September is technically still considered the fall, and that’s when you can take advantage of the last days of warm weather at Acadia National Park. Any later than that, and you’ll have to prepare accordingly for cooler/cold weather! If you want to elope when the foliage is at its finest, you should do so during mid to late October.
Once late October hits, the temps drop dramatically and you’ve gotta start prepping for winter conditions. November is when a lot of the Bar Harbor shops start closing up, so there won’t be as much to do outside of Acadia compared to the summer months. But if exploring Bar Harbor isn’t an activity you plan on doing, then there should be nothing to worry about.
A lot of national parks are closed to the public during winter, but not Acadia. In fact, there are tons of winter activities available to keep you occupied during this time! If you and your partner are into things like winter hiking, ice fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and the like, you’ll love eloping at Acadia National Park in the winter.
There are more road/trail closures which is to be expected, but you’ll have to plan your ceremony location accordingly. New England is infamous for their long, dreary winters, and Acadia is no exception to that. Most hotels and restaurants on Mount Desert Island are closed during the months of December, January, and February.
Acadia National Park elopement locations
Where you can elope within Acadia National Park depends on how many guests you have in attendance. If you’re eloping with under 10 people, you can hold your ceremony anywhere in the park! You also don’t have to apply for a permit with an under 10 guest count, but we’ll get more into that later. The only regulations are that your ceremony cannot interfere with the normal flow of pedestrian traffic, and you should stay on sand, trails, and other durable surfaces during your event.
If you plan on having more than 10 people at your elopement, your ceremony locations are a little more restricted. Here are the pre-approved Acadia National Park elopement locations, categorized by how many guests are permitted:
- Cadillac Mountain – 20 (No ceremonies during sunrise or sunset.)
- A Vehicle Reservation is required to drive the Cadillac Summit Road May 25 through Oct 22, 2022.
- Blue Hill Overlook – 20
- Sand Beach – 30
- Ocean Drive – 30
- Otter Cliff – 20
- Otter Point (one of my personal favorites!) – 30
- Fabbri Picnic Area – 30
- Little Hunters Beach – 20
- Seawall Picnic Area – 35
- Thompson Island – 50
- Schoodic Point – 25
- Frazer Point Picnic Area – 50
What does your Acadia National Park elopement vision look like?
One of my favorite things to do with my couples is help them create an elopement vision. You’re already stepping out of the box by eloping, but sometimes you don’t truly realize all the freedom you have to make your elopement whatever the hell you want! Sit down with your partner, make it a date night, and really brainstorm what the perfect elopement day (or weekend!) looks like to you. I personally love adventure elopements, when couples really tap into their wild side and do some really fun activities before, during, or after their ceremony. If that sounds like something you would love too, then we’ll have tons of fun brainstorming together!
Set your elopement budget
Elopements are by far less expensive than traditional weddings, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set a budget. There are still things to account for, like your wedding attire, photographer, videographer, travel costs, lodging, etc. And if you want to participate in post-elopement activities, you’ll also want to make sure you have a budget for that as well! That’s why I heavily encourage creating an elopement vision before setting your budget. That way you’ll know exactly what you’re spending on each aspect of your elopement.
I will say – you can definitely cut corners on some areas for your elopement, but not others. If you’re looking to save some coins, I recommend doing your own hair & makeup, buying your wedding attire secondhand or consignment, and limiting the amount of guests that you have. The things that you shouldn’t cut corners on are photography and videography if you choose to have both. No matter how simple or extravagant your elopement is, you’ll want to remember it forever. And there’s nothing worse than skimping on your photographer and videographer, and having less than ideal documentation of your elopement.
In case you didn’t know, I offer both photography and videography packages. Nothing pulls at your heartstrings more than seeing your day in movement form. If you want me there to document your day through both photos and video, I’ll be there excited as hell!
Rules, regulations, and requirements to elope at Acadia National Park
Each national park comes with certain rules and regulations that you must follow if you choose to elope there. Acadia National Park is no exception, and it’s very important to me that my couples and I are as responsible as possible when utilizing the land within parks. Let’s go over some of the guidelines we should follow if you choose to elope at Acadia!
First of all, if you have more than 10 people in attendance (including you and your partner), you have to apply for a special use permit. There is a $50 non-refundable fee to apply for this permit, and you can apply anytime within the same calendar year as your elopement, but no less than 10 days before. You have to print your application at home, and then send it in (with the non-refundable fee) to:
Acadia National Park
Attn: Special Use Permit Coordinator
PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Once your application is approved, you will receive your permit, sign it, and send a copy back to Acadia. Make sure to keep a copy for yourself, because you have to keep it on-hand for the entirety of your ceremony at Acadia!
When you elope at Acadia National Park, there are certain things that are not permitted. This includes:
- The installation of any type of signage
- The use of any sort of audio or voice amplification device
- The release of balloons, doves, or butterflies
- The throwing of rice, birdseed, flower petals, or any other natural or artificial material
- No chairs, arches, or decorations
- No vehicles are permitted to park off-road for your ceremony
Obtaining a marriage license
Like anywhere else, you have to obtain a marriage license to be considered legally married. The state of Maine has its own special requirements for this, so let’s break it down! All of these requirements are specific to Bar Harbor, Maine, so if you plan on eloping elsewhere, do your research and plan accordingly.
- Start by filling out the Intention of Marriage application. If you are a Maine resident, you must fill out this form in person, in the town that you’re living in. On the other hand, if you are a nonresident, it is encouraged to fill it out and mail it to the Town of Bar Harbor, along with any divorce or death certificates if applicable.
- If you submit this form by mail, you must have all signatures notarized by someone local to your area
- If you submit this form in person, you must bring a copy of your photo ID and they will provide the witnesses
- There is a $40 filing fee to submit your Intention of Marriage application
Once your form is submitted, here are the next steps:
- You are to pick up your marriage license prior to your wedding ceremony
- If you submit your form in person, it takes about 30 minutes to prepare a marriage license. If you mail your form, you it’s encouraged to pick up your marriage license at least a day prior to your ceremony to avoid any unexpected delays
- From the date that your Intentions form is officially filed, you have 90 days to validate your marriage license. Any longer than that, you have to start the process all over again.
- At the time you pick up your marriage license, you can prepay for a marriage certificate for $15 and it will be automatically mailed to you. If you’d rather wait until after you’re married, you can do that too!
- You must have an officiant for your ceremony, as well as two additional witnesses to sign your marriage license. If you’re not having any guests, I can be one witness and we can usually find someone at Acadia who would be more than willing to sign.
Where to stay for your Acadia National Park elopement
I have personally stayed here, and the experience is absolutely amazing! It’s an outdoor glamping resort in Bar Harbor, which makes it easily accessible for anyone eloping at Acadia National Park. They have 5 different types of tents to choose from, depending on how many people are staying in each one. There’s a restaurant and bar onsite, so you seriously don’t even have to leave the resort other than for your ceremony if you wanted!
Bar Harbor Inn & Spa
This coastal Bar Harbor hotel is nothing short of luxury. You’ll have crazy sick ocean views, an infinity pool to lounge at, and easy access to Downtown Bar Harbor for anything you might need. If you’re looking for a true, authentic, traditional Maine getaway, this is the place to experience that. There are three different guest room buildings, each with their own unique characteristics. Whether you want to view the ocean or the incredibly manicured gardens from your room, they have it all!
If you and your partner would rather stay at an Airbnb instead of a hotel, I’ve got you covered. I will say, there aren’t a ton of options that are near Acadia National Park. If you venture outside of Bar Harbor, your choices are a little more broad! There is a super cute little cottage located in Lamoine, which is about 25 mins away from Acadia. It is off of Mount Desert Island, so keep that in mind! This Lamoine cottage is secluded in the woods, perfect for any couples who wants to be surrounded by nature during their entire elopement experience. You can take a 10 minute walk down to a nearby beach, where you can get distant views of the national park!
How to elope at Acadia National Park
That is my complete guide on eloping at Acadia National Park! Like I mentioned before, if you need help planning your elopement, that’s right up my alley. To get this party started, you can fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, you can check out my Pinterest profile for some more adventure elopement inspiration! And while you’re at it, I would love for us to connect on Instagram and get to know each other.