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How to Elope in Maine

How to Elope in Maine

An easy to follow, step-by-step guide on how to elope in Maine. Because marrying the love of your life in a way that is authentically “you” shouldn’t be difficult.

 

  1. Picking a location

  2. Deciding on the size of your elopement

  3. Booking your vendors & accommodations

  4. The Legal Stuff: Marriage Licenses

  5. The Best Day EVER

 

1) Picking a place to elope in Maine

You’ve already decided to elope in Maine, so you can’t go wrong! There are so many beautiful places to elope in Maine and it can be difficult for some couples to narrow down to the exact location that they want to say their vows at. 

It’s important that couples choose a location that speaks to them, that makes them excited, and sets their souls on fire. One exercise that couples can do is close their eyes, envision themselves in their wedding clothes on their wedding day and “look” around them; what environment do they each see? Mountains? Rocky coast lines? Sandy beaches? The forest? The bow of a white cloth sail boat? The charming city hall? A small coastal island? A location that speaks to you as a couple and feels the most “you” is the perfect location for your elopement. 

Your elopement location can be a place that you know very well and love, or it can be an exciting and new location that you want to explore and come to know as your “spot”.

Some great locations in Maine:

Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor

Newry

Literally ANY of the famous Maine Lighthouses

Portland (the Old Port)

Baxter State Park

Permits

One key thing to remember is that a lot of places in Maine will require a permit of some sort to hold a wedding ceremony there. If you pick a state or national park, check the park’s website to see if you need to apply for a permit to reserve/use a ceremony spot. These places will often require a photography permit too (as your photographer and guide, I take care of the photography permit for you!).

2) Deciding on the size of your elopement

This one will require a bit more soul searching and discovering what REALLY speaks to you as a couple and what you want from your wedding day experience.

Elopements can range from just the two of you committing your lives to each other in an intimate vow reading, to you and 20 of your closest family and friends celebrating your marriage together at a ceremony and celebration dinner. 

A “just us” two person elopement is perfect for those who want an epic adventure, the freedom to go and do whatever they want on their wedding day, and for those who don’t like/want to be the center of attention.

Or, invite your parents, siblings, and best friends for an elopement with your favorite people that won’t limit your location choices or adventures during the day. Have them meet up with you after the ceremony and day of adventuring for a celebratory dinner or, have them join you for the ceremony and the celebration; the choice is yours. There’s SO many customizations you can do to make your elopement/wedding day feel just right to you.

Make your elopement just the way you want, with as many people as you want (or none at all) and don’t be afraid to “mix n’ match” your ceremony and celebration if you decide to have guests: 

  • just you two for the ceremony, guests at a dinner celebration
  • Two witnesses or guests at the ceremony, just the two of you for your celebration or adventuring
  • Just the two of you ALL day long exploring, adventuring, eating great food, and getting married somewhere in between
  • Or a tiny wedding with guests at both your ceremony and celebration/micro reception in a totally epic place outdoors

 

Just remember, it’s WAY easier to get to some of Maine’s epic locations with fewer people. A “just us” elopement allows couples to get to amazing places easier, be spontaneous on their wedding day, and be 100% authentic and vulnerable.

An elopement day with guests is a beautiful way to get married in an epic location, celebrate with your loved ones, and still have an intimate wedding day without all of the “stuff and fluff” and drama of a traditional wedding. There are many scenic locations in Maine that can accommodate your elopement’s guests and can be accessible for most. When you hire your elopement photographer, let them know what setting you would like to elope in and how many guests (if any) you plan on having. Your elopement photographer will be able to help you find the perfect location that speaks to you and can accommodate the number of guests you plan on having for your ceremony.

Maine husband and wife portraits | How to Elope in Maine

3) Booking Vendors & accommodations

Once you’ve decided where you want your elopement and how many people you want to attend, it’s time to pick a date and book your vendors and accommodations! 

Picking a date can be hard for some couples. Some couples want the actual date number to be something ~cool~  (hello 10/10/2020) and some don’t care at all what their number says, as long as they are married it’s a great date in their eyes.

So, when picking a date to have your wedding you’ll want to consider the time of year, what the conditions look like in that location for that time of year, if it’s tourist season, and if you want a weekend or weekday elopement. 

If you are having a “just the two of us” adventurous elopement, I HIGHLY suggest having a weekday elopement. This often means fewer crowds at popular spots, your pick of in demand vendors, and a really flexible schedule. I truly believe that weekday elopements are the best choice for two person elopements and can offer the flexibility that weekend weddings can’t at times- you won’t have to worry if your favorite florist is already booked for a weekend you want AND there will be less people/crowds at your ceremony spot because, you know, Wednesday.

If you are dead set on having a weekend elopement or you would like it to be on a weekend so more of your guests are able to come, then I would suggest picking a weekend date early on in the planning process and booking your other vendors ASAP (at least 6-9 months in advance). You’ll be looking at the same vendors as the traditional big wedding couples are and, they usually book their vendors 9-12 months out. So, long story short, if you want a weekend elopement you’ll have to pick a date and start booking & planning earlier than a weekday elopement to secure your vendors.

Picking Vendors

Even if you’re eloping—you still might want to hire some other professionals to help you complete your wedding day vision. A few common vendors couples hire for their elopements are hair & makeup artists, florists, officiants, private chefs & caterers, and videographers. So, if you’re thinking about hiring a vendor or two, here’s my best advice:

  • Use your elopement photographer and guide as a resource. If you hired the right one, they will be more than happy to do some research and help connect you with some great vendors that are local to your elopement area.
  • Hire vendors who are 100% on board with your vision for eloping and will help you be authentically you. Not all wedding vendors are that familiar with elopements, so be clear with your vision up front and ask them if they’re flexible to go with the flow (If you hire an officiant you’ll want to make sure that they are game to go on a light hike or a boat ride for example to get to your adventurous ceremony spot).
  • Think about what vendors will really *elevate* your elopement experience and contribute to making your day even more amazing—whether that’s having a private chef make the 2 of you the most incredible meal of your life, having a helicopter pilot take you two to an incredible remote destination, or a professional 4×4 driver to get you up that epic rugged mountain pass.

Accommodations

Pick something relatively close to where you will be having your ceremony and adventuring (and your after party/celebration dinner with friends if you’re having one). You’ll want somewhere close that you can get ready at and then retire to after a long day of adventuring with your new spouse. Trust me, after a long day of galavanting around the beautiful landscapes of Maine, you won’t want to drive more than 30 minutes to get to your bed! 

Pick an accommodation that has plenty of natural light for getting ready and can accommodate guests if you want to have family and friends over at any point during your wedding day.

Some things to consider:

  • Are there plenty of windows for getting ready?
  • Is this location within 30 minutes of our ceremony spot?
  • Does it have a full kitchen and does it come with the basics (if you are choosing to hire a private chef for the two of you or your guests)?
  • How many people can we comfortably host here if we decide to have the celebration dinner here with a private chef?
  • Is our dog allowed? (I LOVE elopements that include their fur babies)
  • Will we have the place to ourselves or is it a shared space?
  • How many parking spots can we have?
  • Do we want to end the night with a campfire and s’mores? Is there a fire pit we can use?

I’ve found in the past that a lot, if not most, of a couples needs can be met with an AirBnb versus a traditional hotel or condo. AirBnbs can range from a small one bedroom cabin in the woods to a large 5 bedroom chalet for you and your guests to gather at and enjoy a meal together. AirBnbs offer a lot of flexibility and options compared to a standard hotel room.

If you find an accommodation that you are interested in, give the location/owner a call and get some questions answered so you know all the information you need to make an informed choice: can we have our dog? Is there a fire pit out back? Does the kitchen come with the basics? How many parking spaces are there? Are you ok with us hosting a family dinner/gathering? Etc… 

Close-up ring photo with flowers | How to Elope in Maine

4) The Legal Stuff: Marriage License

How to Get a Marriage License:

You’ll need to apply for your marriage license in person at a town/city hall. Which city hall depends on where each of you are from/residence of. Check out below for the details: 

  • If both of you are residents of the state of Maine, you should both 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. (So, if you both are from Maine, pick ONE of your towns to apply to. If you are from the same town then that’s really easy!)
  • If one of you is from out of state, then both of you should apply in the Maine town where one holds residency. (If your fiance is from MA and you are from Portland, ME, you’ll apply for your license in Portland.)
  •  If neither of you is a resident of Maine, then you may apply in any Maine town office. It need not be the same town where you plan to be married. (If you are both out of state, then just pick a Maine town to apply to! It could be the town that you plan on getting married in, or a Maine town that is closest to you. Either way it doesn’t matter and is totally up to you!)

Your marriage license is valid for 90 days and can only be used within the State of Maine. There is no waiting period from the time your marriage license is issued until your wedding can take place (so, you could fill it out the same day you got it to get the paperwork portion of your elopement out of the way if you wanted to). The person performing the ceremony (an officiant) is responsible for filing the marriage certificate with the town office that issued the marriage license.

Here are the marriage law requirements for Maine marriage licenses:

  • Persons wishing to be married in the State of Maine must apply for a marriage license from the Municipal Clerk’s office.
  • Applicants must be over 18 years old to apply for a marriage application in Maine.
  • Photo ID (Driver’s License, Passport or State ID with picture)
  • No blood tests are required.
  • There is no waiting period in Maine to get married.
  • The marriage license fee is $40 to get married in Maine.
  • If this is not the first marriage for one of you, bring a certified copy (raised seal) of the divorce from or death certificate of the last spouse.
  • Be sure to contact your local Municipal Clerk’s office well in advance of the wedding to find out on what days and during what hours the Clerk will be in the office.

So, who can officiate the ceremony to make it legal?

Officiants

The following individuals are authorized to perform marriages in Maine:

  • Ordained ministers of the gospel (Hi! I’m ordained by The Universal Life Church)
  • 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

Maine does not have Justices of the Peace. Out-of-state Notaries and Justices of the Peace cannot officiate weddings in Maine.

Witnesses

Marriage Witnesses Maine:

  • 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 do this ahead of time with an officiant and two of your best friends. Many couples that do a “just the two of us” elopement choose to do the paperwork ahead of time then celebrate their marriage on the date of their wedding day with reading their vows. Trust me, filling out the paperwork ahead of time DOESN’T make your wedding day any less special or important. It’s still your wedding day.)
  • The officiant must return the marriage certificate to the municipal clerk within seven days of the ceremony. (All the more reason to get it done early, that way you KNOW its been turned in and it won’t get lost is the post-wedding shuffle.)

(Information regarding Maine marriage licenses is from https://www.maine.gov/portal/residents/marriage.html)

5) The Best Day EVER; your elopement/wedding day

Wow, the day is finally here! You and your fiancé put a lot of thought and care into how the two of you want to get married. You created a wedding day with the focus being on the two of you and your love and it’s authentically YOU. Congrats on being brave and choosing to ditch the traditional wedding route; that’s pretty bad-ass. 

You took the time to pick your beautiful and totally “you” ceremony spot and what you would like to do on your wedding day. You picked some awesome and adventurous activities to do throughout the day and are going to have an amazing, fun, and authentic wedding day.

You’ve decided on how many guests you want present, if any at all, and are more than ready to get this love-fest celebration going! (If you chose to have a “just us” elopement day, check out (THIS) post on how to include your family & friends in your elopement so you can still feel ALL the love.)

Your vendors are amazing and have helped you create your dreamy wedding day vision. The florals, the food, the attire, the hair & makeup, oh my! The accommodations you booked suit your needs perfectly AND you have an awesome place to rest your heads after a long day of adventuring. 

All the legal “stuff” (permits, marriage license, etc.) are taken care of correctly and you can rest easy knowing that everything you are doing is legit.

You spend the day outdoors, enjoying the fresh air & sunshine. You are in a beautiful place with epic scenery with the one person you love most in this world. Vows are read, rings and kisses are exchanged, you take your first photos as newlyweds. 

A champagne pop on a summit to celebrate, an adventurous session of exploring and epic photos, a celebratory catered dinner, and smores by the campfire help round off the perfect day.

You two did it. Congrats! I’m rooting for you.

So, now that you know how to elope in Maine, let’s get out there, have an adventure, and get freaking married. You deserve it.

Want to start planning your dream elopement? Click HERE to find out more and what a completely personalized, hand crafted elopement can look like for you. When you choose to elope in Maine, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Cheers, 

Jenna Richmond

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