Acadia National Park Wedding Planning Guide

August 2, 2022

If you are dreaming of having an Acadia National Park intimate wedding or elopement then I’ve got the perfect guide for you! I’ll cover everything you need to know about planning an amazing elopement in Acadia National Park. New England’s only national park, Acadia NP is one of the most popular national parks in the United States with an average of 3.5 million visitors annually. When entering the park you are greeted with sandy beaches, Maine’s rocky coastline, as well as mountain summits all providing incredible backdrops for your wedding ceremony.

PICKING YOUR WEDDING DATE: BEST TIMES TO VISIT ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Luckily Acadia National Park is open year round so when selecting your date it really depends on your seasonal preference! When you and your partner are celebrating throughout the weekend do you see yourselves soaking in rays of sunshine on the water or snowshoeing in a winter wonderland? If you are looking to avoid big crowds as much as possible then you’ll want to steer clear of having a wedding in July or August since those are the busiest tourist months of the year. Here is a breakdown of Acadia’s weather throughout the season:

March-May (considered off season): Temperatures: Crowds are thin, but expect foggy mornings, mud from the melting snow, and temperatures that range from the mid-20s to mid-50s. Most of the businesses such as hotels and restaurants will begin opening late April ( with most in Bar Harbor open by Memorial Day). Bugs are most active mid May to the middle of June.

June-August: Temperatures ranging from the 50s to the high 70s, summer is a pleasant time to visit, so naturally there’s a tourist influx. Keep in mind that Park Loop Road and the road to the Cadillac Mountain summit can get congested pretty easily (as well as available parking around the park) and last-minute accommodations are hard to find.  

September- October: Summer crowds leave after Labor Day and there is a lull of tourists between the middle of September and right before “leaf peepers” arrive mid October. Even though the foliage can draw more crowds it still doesn’t hit nearly as many people as July & August and the bright colors on the mountain vistas are totally worth it! 

November-February Temperatures rarely rise above freezing, but the snow on the coastline is beautiful! There are ample opportunities for snowshoeing, snowmobiling (on Park Loop Road and up Cadillac Mountain), and cross country skiing for those that love the winter season. *Take note- certain parts of the Park Loop Road will be closed as well as most dining & hotel options in Bar Harbor starting November.*

Top tips to consider:

Have your ceremony close to sunrise or sunset (I only photograph sunrise ceremonies at Sand Beach, Ocean Path, Otter Cliff, and other spots along this Park Loop road section since the sun rises on that side of the park. You won’t get any golden light if you are in this area at sunset)

Avoid the weekends and plan your Acadia elopement on a weekday to avoid crowds

Early September after Labor Day and early to mid October will be the best times to plan a wedding in Acadia weather wise. Bonus you’ll be able to embrace that New England foliage we are famous for. 

HOW MANY GUESTS ARE ALLOWED AT AN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK WEDDING?

To see if an Acadia National Park wedding is a perfect fit for you, ask yourself how many people you want at your celebration and where you picture saying your vows. Acadia National Park places size restrictions for your ceremony depending on the area you’d like to say “I do” so check out the list below directly from the national park website. 

If your wedding ceremony has more than 10 people you can select a location from the list below:

  • 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

CAN I HAVE A WEDDING RECEPTION IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK?

Receptions are not permitted in the park (unless they are held at a park concession facility), but there are many great options in Bar Harbor if you’d like to keep your celebration going or celebrate with more family and friends later after having had a more private ceremony.

HOW MUCH IS A NATIONAL PARK PASS FOR ACADIA?

From May through October, all Acadia National Park visitors are required to have a park entrance pass. You can choose from daily, weekly, annual, or lifetime park passes. Be sure to head on over to their website page to see senior, active military, and veteran discounts. You’ll want to buy and print a pass online before arriving in the park.

Private Vehicle: $30 Valid for seven days Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants. 

If you believe you’ll be heading to Acadia or other national parks in the next 365 days then consider purchasing the annual “America the Beautiful Pass” for $80 which gives you access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. You can find out how to purchase an “America the Beautiful Pass” here

DO I NEED TO GET A PERMIT FOR A WEDDING IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK?

Permits for weddings and commitment ceremonies at Acadia National Park are only required if you plan on having a wedding with more than 10 people. That being said sometimes it’s better to still get a permit if you believe there is a chance you may be adding another guest or two last minute (the 10 person limit is including the officiate). The nonrefundable permit application fee is $50 and should be sent no less than 10 working days prior to your ceremony. 

ALRIGHT SO I KNOW I WANT A CEREMONY WITH MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE- NOW WHAT?

Complete the wedding application form in as much detail as possible to avoid an delays, include the nonrefundable application fee of $50 with your application (paid by check or money order only, made payable to the National Park Service) and send it to the address below no less than 10 working days prior to your ceremony.

*Special use permits may be denied for some locations during periods of heavy use (e.g., Labor Day weekend, during the period from June 15 – September 15, etc.)*

You can download the Application Form directly on the Acadia National Park website here and read up on all their wedding information. 

Acadia National Park
Attn: Special Use Permit Coordinator
PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Be sure to keep a copy of the permit yourself since you will need to have it in your possession at the time of your ceremony.

WHERE DO I GET MY MARRIAGE LICENSE FOR MY WEDDING IN ACADIA?

IF YOU ARE A MAINE RESIDENT– “Maine residents must apply in the town/city where they reside. The license is valid in any community in Maine for a period of 90 days from the date the intentions are filed. Note: Couples who maintain separate Maine residences must apply in one of the communities of residence.”

IF YOU ARE AN OUT OF STATE RESIDENT– “Out-of-state residents may apply in any town/city in the state of Maine. The license is valid for a ceremony performed in any community in Maine for a period of 90 days from the date the intentions are filed”.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK- ADDITIONAL WEDDING RESTRICTIONS

In order to preserve nature and maintain a positive experience for other park visitors the following are not allowed (see the full list here).

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 public address systems are prohibited. Non-amplified musical instruments that make sound that is unreasonable considering the nature and purpose of the event and/or disturbs nonparticipating persons in the vicinity of the event are also prohibited.Balloons, doves, or butterflies and the throwing of rice, birdseed, flower petals, or other natural or artificial material is not allowed. 

I CONSIDER MY DOG PART OF THE FAMILY- ARE PETS ALLOWED TO BE AT MY ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

You’re in luck! Pets are allowed to be in attendance at your Acadia National Park wedding. They just have to be leashed up at all times in all locations of the park. 

WHERE IS THE VISITORS CENTER IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK? MY GUESTS WANT TO KNOW!

If your guests are looking to do some exploring on their own while in Maine there are two spots to gather park info from rangers depending on the time of year your wedding is taking place. 

SPRING/SUMMER/EARLY FALL: Hulls Cove Visitor Center– Open April 15th- October 31st

Address: 25 Visitor Center Road Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 

 LATE FALL/WINTER/EARLY SPRING Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce– Open typically from Nov 1 through April 14. Hours are 8 am to 4 pm daily (holiday hours vary)

Address: 2 Cottage Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609 

THE MOST POPULAR SPOTS IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

The list below consists of some of the most popular spots in and around Acadia National Park tourist wise but I know so many more beautiful locations aside from the ones below. Since your selected wedding ceremony location does not grant you exclusive access to the area, in order to make your celebration as private as possible (during any time of the year) plan your ceremony at sunrise or sunset. This allows you to minimize the amount of tourists that may be looking on as well and gives you the best light. Couples that book me get access to a master document with photos and some videos of all the most beautiful locations in Acadia to choose from for their ceremony. Want a location with rocky coastline, crashing waves, mountain views in the distance, and a lighthouse all in one? Yea I know the place! There are three main sections of Acadia: Mount Desert Island (I’ve been all over this area), Schoodic Peninsula (my new favorite that I have also conquered completely) and Isle Au Haut (ferry access only).

Sand Beach (sunrise ceremonies only)

Otter Point/Cliffs (sunrise ceremonies only)

Jordan Pond (sunrise ceremonies only)

Cadillac Mountain (no longer offers sunrise or sunset ceremonies but you can go for photos)

Thunder Hole (sunrise ceremonies only & needs a storm to be more “thundery”)

Carriage Roads (ceremony anytime)

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse (sunrise ceremonies only)

Although these typically come up when you google “Top 10 Spots To Visit In Acadia” there are so many other incredible options that give you even more beautiful views that are great for either sunrise or sunset. I don’t post the names of those spots online since they are more secluded and I want them to stay that way for my couples (but booked clients will get to see the huge list).

Bonus tip- Hire an Acadia National Park wedding photographer who has been to Acadia before (like me!) and knows the ins and outs of the park. I love helping my couples find the perfect spot for their ceremonies as well as finding those secret secluded spots that you can only find if you’ve hit the trails yourself!

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK VEHICLE RESERVATIONS

Since Acadia National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the USA they have implemented a new car reservation protocol that began as a pilot period in the fall of 2020. For the 2021 summer season, visitors to Acadia National Park will need a vehicle reservation to drive up the Cadillac Summit Road during sunrise and daylight hours. You and your guests can easily register your car ahead of time in a specific time slot at Recreation.gov here

IMPORTANT THIS IS AN ADDITIONAL NON-REFUNDABLE $2 FEE TO BE PURCHASED AHEAD OF TIME AND IS NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR NATIONAL PARK PASS. Since popular time slots can fill up days in advance you’ll want to make sure you, your guests, photographer, and officiant all do this ahead of time.

LEAVE NO TRACE GUIDELINES

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, former outdoor education instructor, and Leave No Trace Aware certified photographer, I am super passionate about Leave No Trace. If you aren’t familiar, Leave No Trace has 7 principles and is a set of ethics to promote conservation in the great outdoors. By following these guidelines below we can help ensure that the parks you enter stay beautiful for many years to come!

Plan ahead and prepare.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

Dispose of waste properly.

Leave what you find.

Minimize campfire impacts.

Respect wildlife.

Be considerate of other visitors.

JORDAN POND HOUSE WEDDING RECEPTION

Your only option for a wedding reception in Acadia NP is the beautiful Jordan Pond House. You and your guests can gaze out to the amazing mountains on Jordan Pond just a short walk away. Their private dining room can host 25-40 people, but if you need more space then check out other options in downtown Bar Harbor!

PLACES TO STAY IN BAR HARBOR

Bar Harbor Inn and Spa

Balance Rock Inn

Breathtaking Oceanside Home, Sunrise Air BNB by Sherifah

THINGS TO DO IN BAR HARBOR

Keep the celebration going over the span of a few days and take advantage of the countless fun activities in and around Bar Harbor.

Hire a rock climbing guide to climb at Otter Cliffs: Atlantic Climbing School and Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School

Boat Rides: Acadian Boat Tours

Snowshoe Rentals: Cadillac Mountain Sports

Cross Country Ski Rentals: Cadillac Mountain Sports

Canoe, Kayak, or SUP Rentals: National Park Canoe Rental (on Long Pond) or Coastal Kayaking Tours (Sea Kayak Tours)

Take a scenic plane ride: Scenic Flights of Acadia

Get a shaved iced ball with Maine Wild Blueberry Syrup at Brrrr! Harbor Shaved Iced

New England elopement photographer Meghan Lynch in Acadia National Park

BOOK YOUR ACADIA NATIONAL PARK WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

I HAVE LIMITED WEEKDAY AVAILABILITY LEFT IN 2022 AND I AM NOW BOOKING WEEKDAY ELOPEMENTS JULY 2023-DEC 2023.

Since the weekends are reserved for traditional weddings that require venues, I photograph Acadia elopements and intimate weddings (25 PEOPLE OR LESS) Monday-Friday year round. Bonus-weekdays have less crowds! I offer 4 hour and 8 hour Acadia Elopement Packages because I believe elopements still deserve the same full story coverage that a traditional wedding would have. 

PLEASE NOTE: In order to give my couples those dreamy photos with the best light I only photograph ceremonies & formal couples photos during golden hour light- within two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset. ALL LOCATIONS ON PARK LOOP ROAD DEFAULT TO SUNRISE LOCATIONS DUE TO HIGH TRAFFIC & THE SUN RISING IN THE EAST. The early wake-up call in the summer is totally worth having a private experience!

So if you are looking to have an incredible day with a custom timeline completely tailored to the activities you both love while getting those classic romantic photos in a national park setting then I would LOVE to be your Acadia National Park wedding photographer. Acadia National Park elopements fall under the New England Elopement Packages category and begin at 4 hours of coverage for $4,800 (this investment goes way beyond just taking photos). Shoot me a message if you found this guide helpful or if you’d like to check my availability you can fill out my contact form here

Here are a few fun facts about me:

I’ve been to Acadia National Park multiple times so you’d be hiring someone who knows the area. Mount Desert Island, Southwest Harbor, Schoodic Peninsula- yup I know ALL the best spots in each!

I’ve photographed over 150 weddings and I completed Maddie Mae’s Adventure Instead Academy

I’m a Leave No Trace Aware certified photographer

An avid outdoor enthusiast myself I used to guide wilderness trips in college ( backpacking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, etc.)

I’m a Wilderness First Responder and CPR certified so you’re in the best of hands!

BOOK ME FOR YOUR ACADIA ELOPEMENT

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