November 8, 2021

Acadia National Park Wedding Guide

Just picture it…

A morning spent on a mountain top with your partner. There are endless views of the bay and islands foggy in the distant ocean. You’re enjoying the sunset standing on jagged cliff ledges with waves crashing around you; Rocky beaches with chilly waters and tide pools to explore. An Acadia National Park Wedding awaits you!

A couple is holding hands in their wedding clothes on a mountain top at sunrise in Acadia National Park. They are walking over rocks with a lake and the foggy ocean in the background.

If you’re considering Acadia National Park as your location, there are just a few things to consider. They will help ensure your elopement here will be the best it can be.
I’m here to help!

In the blog post below I cover the following things:

  • The best time of year to elope
  • Where to stay
  • Fees Passes and permits
  • What to wear
  • What to do
  • How to get around
  • Picking the right photographer/videographer
  • Photo Inspiration


A couple in their wedding clothes is hiking down a rooty trail in the forest of Acadia National Park.t

The Best Time of Year
For an Acadia National Park Wedding

The best time of year to get married in coastal Maine ultimately depends on what season and activities you really want for your elopement day. But I lean towards Acadia in the late summer and early fall moths.

Acadia National Park, like most National Parks, gets very busy in the summer. School is out and everyone is on vacation traveling. Therefore, I would try and choose a should season for your date. Late Spring or early Fall can be beautiful in the area for the new buds and blooms but also the fall colors. But, if you want that warmer vibe, September can be a good month too. Just make sure to be flexible with time and consider choosing a weekday for your wedding. Those two factors will help you avoid the largest crowds.

You can still have an amazing elopement in Acadia during the summer months! Just be aware that it might be harder to find accommodations, have some privacy, and get around the park due to limited parking spaces.

Where to Stay around Acadia

A mother is helping her son get dressed  on the porch of a house when it is raining all around them.

Camping is always a fun way to celebrate your elopement, whether you decide you want to embrace the tent life, or own/rent a camper. Being right in the middle of nature is a special experience and camping can allow the ability to be close to trails. Thankfully Acadia National Park isn’t very remote, so whether you camp or not you can be close to your chosen trails or locations.

There are 2 campgrounds within the Mount Desert Island section of the park : Seawall and Blackwoods Campgrounds. There are also 2 more campgrounds on different sections of the coast. They are farther away from the main area of Acadia on the Island, but might be a nice option if you want to get off the beaten path and way from the main crowds.

Acadia’s campgrounds, and even private campgrounds in the area, book out months in advance. If you want to camp out for your elopement make sure to plan ahead of time and know when you can reserve your site.

Lodges


Unlike other, more remote national parks, there is no specific lodge within the park. The park is actually not very large, and is mixed in with private land. In fact, because of this, there is no actual official entry point for the park. I talk more about this in the Permit section of this blog, but you can access the park many places and are therefore required to plan ahead of time and get a car permit from the visitor center before traveling throughout the park. Because of these factors, camping or finding some local lodging options are your best bet for housing for your elopement.

Local

From Airbnb, VRBO, to little local hotels, there are lots of cute places to stay around Mount Desert Island. I personally love to stay outside the busy area of Bar Harbor, but if you want to be in the middle of it all that is the perfect town. If you like the quiet spaces like me, head to the western part of the island to the smaller towns that speckle the coast. There are lots of cute restaurants as well as rentals and hotels.

I always suggest finding somewhere that you feel really cozy, comfortable, and excited to stay. From a photographer/videographer perspective, finding somewhere aesthetically pleasing (designed and thematically similar to your style elopement with lots of natural light if possible) can make a big difference in your photos and film. And remember, try and book a place to stay as far in advance as possible!

A far away image of a couple kissing on a mountaintop with the ocean and Islands in the background during their wedding in Acadia National Park.

Fees, Passes, & Permits
for an Acadia National Park Wedding

You do need a permit to get married in Acadia National park with the exception of simple ceremonies of up to 10 people that meet certain restrictions. Read the restrictions and apply for a permit by downloading the application on their website. Then email the permit to the listed ranger along with the $50 application fee. You must apply at least 10 working days before your desired date, and you can’t apply until the same calendar year of your elopement.

The size of your elopement also determines which locations may be used for wedding ceremonies. There are pre approved locations allowed for ceremonies within the park with more than 10 people. Each location listed has a guest size limit, so be sure to make sure your desired guest list line up with your desired elopement location. I always suggest keeping things small and simple for elopements on public land.

You will also need a purchase pass to get into the park itself. That means that you buy a single vehicle pass that gets one car into the park for 7 consecutive days ($30 total) or you have a general America The Beautiful Pass (usually around $80/year). The America the Beautiful Pass provides you with a few other perks if you visit national parks frequently. If you plan on visiting the park multiple more times that year you could purchase the Annual pass (55 total). But, you likely won’t be doing that unless you live nearby!
Permitting information and regulations can change at any time, so be sure to check the website below for any updates.

OFFICIAL PERMIT INFO

A couple is standing on a rock face mountaintop talking while the Groom gets his shirt buttoned for their Acadia National Park Wedding.

What to Wear for your Acadia National Park Wedding

A lacy wedding dress is hanging from a tall rock with a pink sunrise behind it.

Choosing the perfect outfit for your wedding or elopement in Acadia National Park isn’t too difficult. I always suggest, if you are choosing to wear a dress, choosing one that has a bit of room in the hips and waist. This will give you the flexibility to layer up a legging underneath if you pick a colder season, but it also give you space to take big steps over and onto rocks during your hike or beach exploration.

If you are going to be wearing pants and a shirt, finding some with a fabric that is stretchy will be nice for moving around. Depending on the season, you might want to find warmer layers or something breathable.

If you are going to be wearing something more unique, good for you! Go for it! Just make sure you are comfortable squatting and moving around in it (and you don’t feel worried about getting it too dirty).

For shoes, you are going to want something super comfortable, durable, and with plenty of traction. You might be walking through mud, dirt, water, and sand.

I help my couples prepare with a packing list so that you can be as prepared for all the potential weather experiences as possible.

Find something to wear that you love, that you feel like your best self in, and that you’re comfortable in.
Comfort is always key to having a fun and carefree wedding or elopement day.
If you feel comfortable, you can be present in the moment with your partner.

A couple sits facing the sunset on the rocky cliffs of Acadia National Park in their wedding clothes.

What To Do For Your Acadia National Park Wedding

Being in the Northeast is a unique experience. Make the best of your wedding & include as many of the fun things to do in Acadia as possible:

Day Hiking

Hiking in the Northeast is no joke! You might think with the small amount of elevation in the area that the hikes would be easy, but you would be quite mistaken! Some even require climbing metal rungs sticking out of rocky ledges – what an adventure! From my own experience, many of the hikes can be steep and difficult. Thankfully there are also multiple that are flatter and more accessible. Either way you choose, the views in Acadia are incredible and absolutely worth exploring during your elopement day.

Picnics during your Acadia National Park Wedding

Enjoy a picnic on a mountaintop with a view of the harbor and islands! Maybe have a picnic on the beach watching the waves crash on the rocks! you’ve got so many options for a lovely outdoor meal!

Beach & Tide Pool Exploring

Because of the beautiful rocky beaches around and inside Acadia National park, you also get to explore some lovely tide pools at low tide.

Boating/Sailing

Choosing a wedding location on the coast provides you with a unique chance to experience the boat life. I say take advantage of that and charter a private boat to explore the coast and the islands. Bring along the closest family or friends you’ve decided to invite or enjoy it just the two of you. But maybe avoid this if you’re prone to sea sickness!

Horseback Riding & Carriage Tours

Acadia provides horseback riding within the park and carriage tours along the 45 miles of rustic carriage roads. Sounds like such a fun way to enjoy the most out of the location! This is the perfect splurge activity for an Acadia National Park wedding.

Climbing on your Acadia National Park Wedding

If you’re wanting to get a unique wedding or elopement experience and love getting off the ground, there are a few cool areas to go climbing around the park. There are even a few crazy trails! No matter your experience level I would recommend hiring a local guide. They will help you have the safest experience possible. Rock climbing is no joke! Therefore, having someone else handle all the logistics will feel so nice. Because honestly, you’re want to be focused on other parts of your elopement day.

Stargazing

There’s nothing like looking up at the night sky before the sunrises or after the sunsets during your wedding/elopement day. Acadia National Park has a beautifully clear night sky, since it is farther away from the big cities of the East Coast. Grab a blanket and some warm drinks and snuggle up!

Biking

There are a few restrictions for biking around Acadia, but you have a few different options for this activity for your elopement. You can grab an e-bike or regular bike and explore the carriage paths or even the main road.

Catch the Sunrise or Sunset

Acadia is known for it’s sunrises. This is because it is the first location in the US to see the sun rise each day. Drive up to the easily accessible Cadillac Mountain or hike a different trail before dawn. The latter will likely allow more opportunity to have it to yourself. And if you aren’t a morning person the sunset can still be lovely! Just remember that it won’t set over the ocean since you’re on the East coast.

How to Get Around Acadia

Like most places in the United States, public transportation is far from abundant and accessible.
Renting a car for your elopement in Acadia National Park will be the easiest and best option. Though the park can get congested, in the summer specifically, the flexibility of having a car for your elopement will be important.
There is a bus that runs throughout the park, but I always suggest planning your elopement events for early or late, giving you the best odds to have good parking options.

It is not common in Acadia to traverse gravel or rugged roads, so there isn’t typically a need for anything other than a 2WD vehicle. You can rent one at the airport, drive your own if you road trip to the area, or even rent a camper van on Outdoorsy if that is more your style!

Picking the Right Photographer or Videographer

A person in a rain jacket smiles at the camera while also helping a bride zip up her dress.

Hey ya’ll, I’m Kathryn!
It is always my priority to let couples be themselves, be present in the moments, and enjoy their elopement day without it feeling like a full day photoshoot. Instead, we plan fun activities and ways to make special memories. That way I can capture the day as it naturally happens and your photos and video can represent you honestly.

I have been to Acadia multiple times and love the area so much. Because of my experience in the park, I can direct you to locations that are just perfect for the two of you and what you imagine for your dream elopement day. It’s such a joy to help couples have their dream Acadia National Park Wedding!

Watch Hannah + Rusty’s Acadia Elopement Film

“Rusty and I have thought about our elopement every single day since it passed, and to see these incredible and beautiful photos brought tears to us. You are SO talented and captured our day so perfectly, and I feel like I can not thank you enough. I still tell everyone you were the absolute, hands-down, MVP of our day!! Thank you for your hard work going through a full 10 hours of shooting and editing for us while you are on the road, I am sure that is not an easy feat. We appreciate every second of your time and your truly unique eye for our love and the beauty of Acadia.

We are SO grateful!!!! <3”

— HANNAH + RUSTY

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