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The Ultimate Acadia National Park Wedding Guide

Welcome to your Acadia National Park Wedding Guide!

If you’ve dreamt of getting married among rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, forests of evergreens, abundant wildlife, and mountain summits then an Acadia National Park wedding or elopement might be the perfect place for you to say “I do”! As New England’s only national park, Acadia is one of the most popular National Parks with millions of visitors each year. It’s easy to see why couples from all of the country, and even the world, come to Acadia to get married each year! Check out this guide to help you plan your perfect Acadia National Park wedding or elopement!

In this guide, I’ve included the following sections to help you start off on the right foot when planning your Acadia National Park Wedding or Elopement: 

Picking the best time of year

How many guests are allowed 

Wedding or Elopement Permits & Requirements

Park Entrance Passes

Ceremony sites

Receptions in the Park

Where to get your marriage license

Wedding restrictions and rules

Bringing your dog to your Acadia ceremony

Car Reservations

Leave No Trace

Must see spots in Acadia

Places to stay

Things to do

Places to eat

Example timelines

Hiring your Acadia National Park Wedding or Elopement Photographer

 

Picking the best time of year for your Acadia national park wedding or elopement:

Every season has its Pros and Cons when it comes to selecting what time of year to get married in Acadia. I’ve been to the park during every season so, here are my insights as a true Mainer on each season in the park in relation to your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement:

Spring

March – May

There won’t be many visitors during this time of year so expect smaller crowds and having certain spots in the park all to yourself (yay for privacy during your heartfelt vows)! Temperatures will range from the 20’s to the 50’s depending on the month and the weather. Definitely expect foggy mornings (or even days), mud, and melting snow. 

Pro Tips for this time of year:

  • Depending on the month, be sure to bring waterproof shoes, a change of socks, traction/Yaktrax, and warm layers.
  • Most restaurants in Bar Harbor are seasonal and don’t open for the year until Memorial day. Expect limited places to dine and shop. Leary’s Landing is one restaurant in Bar Harbor that is open year round.
  • A lot of roads in the Park will be closed for the season. Use the Sand Beach park entrance to enter the park and ask for Directions from a park ranger to see if it’s possible to get to where you want to go!

Summer

June – August

One of the most popular times to be in the park! All of the roads are open and the “don’t miss” spots are easily accessible. Temperatures will usually range from the 50’s- to low 80’s depending on the month and is a great time of year to visit. With the nicer weather and school being out, there are a lot more tourists in the park- keep this in mind when planning out your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement. 

Pro Tips for this time of year:

  • If you want to avoid lots of crowds and have more privacy during this time of year, plan your ceremony around sunrise or sunset (this will also give you the best light of the day!)
  • Another tip to dodge crowds- avoid getting married on a weekend and opt for a weekday (it will be the best Wednesday EVER)!
  • Wanting to visit Cadillac Mountain? Parking is limited and the summit’s parking lot can get packed very easily. Nowadays, Cadillac requires reservations to get to the top so, plan in advance and snag a reservation to make sure you are able to head to the top during your stay! (More on this later!)

Autumn

September- October

Crowds start to thin as tourists head back home and kids go back to school. One of my personal favorite times to visit the park is between right after Labor Day and the first week of October. This is because folks go home after the Labor Day weekend and the “leaf peepers” aren’t in the park yet (prime Fall colors for the “leaf peeping” is usually around the second week of October– avoid this time of year if you want minimal crowds in the Fall.) The weather will start to become cool & crisp- so bring a light layer to warm up with in the mornings and evenings.

Pro Tips for this time of year:

  • If you’re hoping to get some Fall foliage, try to plan your wedding or elopement on a weekday to avoid crowds. Or, plan for sunrise or sunset!
  • Be sure to get your reservation to the top of Cadillac to look at the changing leaves from a fantastic point of view!
  • Pack a couple of warm blankets & hot chocolate for a cozy picnic to enjoy with the views after hiking one of the many amazing mountain trails! 

Winter

November – February

Expect it to be cold & snowy! The park, and Bar Harbor, start to close down for the season in November as they prepare to hunker down for winter. Large portions of the park’s roads will be closed for winter so, be sure to ask a ranger what’s open and the best way to get there! Give yourself plenty of time to get from spot to spot- it can be icy on the roads and many of the roads are one-way only so, it can take longer than you think! There are a few restaurants and hotels that are open year round- make sure to grab a hotel reservation as soon as you can because space is limited!

Pro Tips for this time of year:

  • Be sure to bring waterproof shoes, a change of socks, traction/Yaktrax, and lots of warm layers.
  • Expect limited places to dine and shop. Leary’s Landing is one restaurant in Bar Harbor that is open year round. The Acadia Hotel is a very cute Inn that is also open year round (and is walking distance to Leary’s Landing!)
  • A lot of roads in the Park will be closed for the season. Use the Sand Beach park entrance to enter the park and ask for Directions from a Park Ranger to see if it’s possible to get to where you want to go! 
  • Do NOT rely on Google Maps to get you to destinations in the park during the winter. Google Maps (Apple Maps, too) do not reflect seasonal road closures and also try to take you & your car down Carriage roads (a big no no)!
  • Expect lots of fog on days where it is slightly above freezing (it can make for an awesome “moody” vibe)!

 

How many guests are allowed for an Acadia National Park wedding or elopement?

The park has wedding size restrictions depending on the area you would like to get married in. When you envision your day, how many people are there to celebrate with you? Once you have a guest count figured out, check out the most popular places in the park to host ceremonies and review their size restrictions below. 

The numbers below are straight from the Park website and can be helpful when planning out your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement.

  • Cadillac Mountain – 20 (No ceremonies during sunrise or sunset.)
  • Blue Hill Overlook – 20
  • Sand Beach – 30
  • Ocean Drive – 30
  • Otter Cliff – 20
  • Otter Point – 30
  • Fabbri Picnic Area – 30
  • Little Hunters Beach – 20
  • Seawall Picnic Area – 35
  • Thompson Island – 50
  • Schoodic Point – 25
  • Frazer Point Picnic Area – 50

 

Do I need a permit for my Acadia National Park wedding or elopement?

Permits are required for weddings, elopements, and commitment ceremonies in the park, with the exception of simple ceremonies of up to 10 people that meet certain restrictions. The permit application fee is $50 and is nonrefundable. The National Park Service maintains strict conditions for private events (like weddings and elopements), so please read the regulations and conditions on their site to make sure your day is in alignment with their rules.

Weddings, elopements, and commitment ceremonies may be scheduled any time within the same calendar year and no less than 10 work days before your ceremony.

I recommend all couples get a permit for their ceremony even if they only intend to invite a handful of guests- 10 people can add up quickly, especially since your photographer and officiant are considered a part of your guest count! Make sure to keep several copies of your permit with you just in case you need it the day of. 

You can find more information on their website about the rules & regulations, permits, and more HERE.

 

Park Entrance Pass

You’ll need a park pass, one for each vehicle, to enter the park. All visitors need an entrance pass year round. This can be purchased online and printed, or, you can buy one at one of the official park entrances’ booths (There is one on Park Loop Rd. right before Sand Beach). They have some new, snazzy passes this year in 2022 that make it easy to display your pass from your rearview mirror. Make sure your pass is visible on your dash at all times to avoid getting tickets.

You have a couple of options when it comes to getting an entrance pass:

  1. A Private vehicle pass that is valid for 7 days ($30). This is great if you only plan to visit the park during the week of your wedding.
  2. An Acadia Annual Pass that is valid for a whole year ($55). This Pass is perfect if you plan to return to the park more than once within 12 months of purchasing– it pays for itself after two visits!
  3. An American the Beautiful Pass ($80) Your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free. This is a great option if you plan to visit multiple National Parks in one year across the country!

More information can be found HERE for Acadia specific passes and HERE for America the Beautiful Passes. 

 

Acadia National Park Wedding | Park Ceremony

Ceremony sites

The biggest factor when it comes to picking a ceremony site for your Acadia National Park Wedding or elopement is how many guests will be attending. If you have a larger group, more popular spots will have guest limits that you will need to follow. Refer back to the “How many guests are allowed for an Acadia National Park wedding or elopement?” section above for specifics.

However, if you have a much smaller group (up to 10 including your photographer and officiant) your options are wide open. This means stunning ceremonies on sandy beaches, rocky coasts, towering cliffs, mountain summits, scenic vistas and more!

If you hire a photographer with experience photographing Acadia National Park weddings (like me!), they should be able to give you some of their favorite “hidden gem” locations in the park for your ceremony. Just remember to be courteous of other visitors in the park and Leave No Trace (more on that later)!

 

Acadia National Park Wedding | Dinner at AirBnb

Receptions in the Park

Receptions are not permitted in the park. The only facility in the park for a reception is the Jordan Pond House (it has stunning views of Jordan Pond and the bubbles!). Jordan Pond House has a private upstairs dining room which can host about 25-40 people. If you want a different vibe or Jordan Pond House is already booked, Bar Harbor has plenty of options for receptions of different sizes. Options include larger AirBnbs (that give permission for dinner parties/post-ceremony celebrations), hotels, and restaurants. 

 

Where to get your marriage license

For Maine residents: Maine residents must apply in the town/city that they live in. The license is valid in any community in Maine for 90 days. If you are a couple who live in different towns in Maine, you can pick one of your towns to get your marriage license from.

For Out-of-state residents: Out-of-state residents can apply in any town/city in the state of Maine. The license is valid for a ceremony performed in any community in Maine for 90 days. 

 

Wedding restrictions and rules

Acadia National Park has strict regulations and rules in place when it comes to hosting weddings or elopements in the park. These rules are in place to protect the park and to ensure that it can be loved for generations to come. By following and respecting these rules, you help make an effort to keep the park beautiful, open, and accessible for you to visit in 10, 20, 50 years. Imagine visiting the spot where you got married so many years ago on your anniversary- feels all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?

These rules and regulations may feel a bit daunting and restrictive, however, I assure you that Acadia National Park Weddings can be absolutely stunning while still abiding by the rules.

Please check out the link HERE to review all of the park’s regulations and rules.

A quick look at some of the restrictions:

  • The use of special equipment, such as canopies, arches, chairs, or other decorations require park administrative review and are generally not allowed.
  • Amplified music and speaker systems are prohibited.
  • Excavating, digging, or disturbing soils, plants, and trees is prohibited (no carving initials into trees & no tree planting ceremonies).
  • The releasing of balloons, doves, or butterflies and the throwing of rice, birdseed, flower petals, or other natural or artificial material is not allowed.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times in all locations.

 

Can our dog attend?

Yes! Fido can attend your wedding ceremony in the park! They just need to be leashed at all times in all places of the park. 

Be sure to pick up after your dog and don’t allow them to be destructive to the landscape (i.e. no digging holes, crossing restoration barriers, breaking branches off trees for sticks, etc.).

 

Car reservations

Due to the park’s popularity, Acadia National Park recently implemented a car reservation system for the Cadillac Mountain summit. You’ll need a car reservation to visit the summit between sunrise and sunset. Each car will need a reservation so, be sure that all of your guests, your photographer, and your officiant obtain reservations for their vehicles. 

These reservations are an additional $4 per car with a $2 reservation fee- a total of $6 per car. These reservations are NOT included in your park entrance pass and must be purchased separately. Visit the link HERE to purchase car reservations for Cadillac Summit. 

 

Leave No Trace

Acadia National Park is New England’s only national park. It’s such a unique area in the world and needs & deserves to be protected so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. To help protect this beautiful park, please follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles! These principles help us to become better stewards of the land and protect it from being “loved to death” by its visitors. Please check out the 7 principles below!

  • Plan ahead and prepare.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.

To learn more about Leave No Trace, head to their website HERE to discover how to better protect out national parks!

 

Acadia National Park Wedding | Cadillac Mountain Elopement

Must see spots in Acadia

To round off your visit to the park, I recommend you hit these spots to get the full “Acadia” experience! 

  • Cadillac Mountain
  • Jordan Pond
  • Thunder Hole
  • Sand Beach
  • Otter Cliff
  • Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  • Ocean Path

 

Into hiking? Check out these hikes!

  • Gorham Mountain
  • Great Head Trail
  • The Bubbles
  • The Beehive (This one can be intense for some. Be prepared!)

 

Places to stay near Bar Harbor | AirBnbPlaces to stay

Here are some great places to stay in the area for your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement!

The Acadia Hotel

The Bass Cottage Inn

Bar Harbor Inn & Spa

The Harborside Hotel & Spa

Acadia National Park ocean front & garden cottages

 

Things to do

There are plenty of amazing things to do during your visit to Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor! Check out the list below for some inspiration!

Popovers & Tea on the lawn at Jordan Pond House

Thunder Hole (Visit an hour or two before high-tide to hear it “Boom”!)

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain (don’t forget your car reservation!)

Whale Watching, Sunset Nature Cruises, Puffin Lighthouse Cruises, and more.

Scenic Flights of Acadia

Sailing and Schooners

 

Places to eat

Bar Harbor has plenty of amazing restaurants to choose from! They have everything from fresh, local seafood, killer breakfast joints, to Fine Dining with Latin Flair. Check out some of my favorites!

Side Street Cafe

The Travelin Lobster

Havana

2 Cats

 

Want to see an example of what your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement could look like?

Small weddings and elopements are my bread and butter. I work with my clients throughout the whole planning process to help them craft beautiful, adventurous, laidback, joyful, and authentically “them” wedding days. As a born and raised Mainer, Acadia National Park is the #1 place I photograph elopements and small weddings at– I’m an Acadia wedding pro, if you will. 

My photography packages can range from 2 hours to multi-day wedding weekends. Each couple designs their own custom photography package to best suit their elopement or wedding day needs.

Check out these example timelines below to see what an Acadia National Park Wedding day could be like!

6-Hour Intimate Wedding

2:00pm

Photography coverage starts

Capture getting & details (wedding attire, shoes, jewelry, flowers, vow books, sentimental details, stationery, etc) at AirBnb

3:00pm 

Leave for First Look location by the coast

3:30pm 

First look at Sand Beach followed by adventure portraits

4:30pm

Head to Ceremony site at Bill Hill Overlook

5:00pm 

Ceremony

5:30pm

Family Formals, champagne pop, & newlywed portraits

6:30pm

Head to celebration dinner/reception at venue

7:00pm 

First dance, toasts, dinner

8:00pm

Photography coverage ends

 

6-Hour Elopement

2:00pm

Photography coverage starts

Capture getting & details (wedding attire, shoes, jewelry, flowers, vow books, sentimental details, stationery, etc)

3:00pm 

Leave for First Look location by the coast

3:30pm 

First look at the pink granite rocks near Ocean Path followed by adventure portraits

4:30pm

Head to Ceremony site near Otter Cliff

5:00pm 

Ceremony

5:30pm

Champagne Pop & newlywed portraits

6:30pm

Lobster roll picnic at the coast & enjoying sunset

7:00pm 

Head back to AirBnb for campfire, s’mores, and first dance

8:00pm

Photography coverage ends

 

Hiring your Acadia National Park Wedding or Elopement Photographer

You have SO MANY options when it comes to hiring a photographer for your Acadia National Park Wedding or elopement. It’s super important that you hire someone who is experienced in photographing weddings & elopements in the Park and personally knows it like the back of their hand. I know dozens of hidden gems in the park that are totally dreamy and would love to take you on an adventure to see some of them! 

I specialize solely in adventurous weddings and elopements (they are all that I do!) and Acadia National Park is such a perfect place for them!

Every couple of mine designs their own wedding photography package, receives access to my exclusive 70+ page intimate wedding & elopement planning guide, access to planning resources, a custom location idea list tailored to them, custom timeline creation, and my years of knowledge & expertise as a Maine Elopement & Intimate wedding photographer.

If you’re interested in learning more about booking your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement with me, head to my Elopements and Weddings pages.

Feel free to reach out via my Contact Page to learn more & to book your own Acadia National Park Wedding or Elopement!

Happy Planning & Adventuring!

Cheers, 

Jenna

 

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