Acadia National Park Elopement and Wedding Guide
If you’ve always wanted to elope or get married among rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, forests of evergreens, abundant wildlife, and mountain summits then an Acadia National Park elopement or wedding 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 around the world come to Acadia to get married. This guide is to help you plan your perfect Acadia National Park elopement or wedding!>
In this guide, is the following sections to help you when planning your Acadia National Park Elopement or Wedding:
- PARK ENTRANCE PASSES
- WEDDING OR ELOPEMENT PERMITS & REQUIREMENTS
- WEDDING RESTRICTIONS AND RULES
- DOGS IN ACADIA
- PICKING THE BEST TIME OF YEAR
- HOW MANY GUESTS ARE ALLOWED
- CEREMONY SITES
- RECEPTIONS IN THE PARK
- CAR RESERVATIONS
- LEAVE NO TRACE
- MUST SEE SPOTS IN ACADIA
- PLACES TO STAY
- THINGS TO DO
- PLACES TO EAT
- HIRING AN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK WEDDING OR ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 for free. This is a great option if you plan to visit multiple National Parks in one year across the country!
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 $75 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 .
Wedding and elopement 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 requires park administrative review and is 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.
Dogs in Acadia!
Dogs can attend your elopemen 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. Do not let them dig holes, cross restoration barriers, or breaking branches off trees for sticks.
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:
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!
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!)
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!
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, 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
- 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
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)!
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.
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!
Must see spots in Acadia
Check out all of the best and most photogenic places in Bar Harbor and Acadia!
- Sand Beach
- Thunder Hole
- Cadillac Mountain
- Jordan Pond
- Downtown Bar Harbor
- Otter Cliffs
- Ocean Path
Hiking and walking recommendations!
- Beehive trail (Be ready for difficult maneuvers!)
- The 2 mile path from Sand Beach to Otter Cliffs and back!
- The path around Jordan Pond
- The Bubbles
- Cadillac Mountain of course
Places to stay
Here are some great places to stay in the area for your Acadia National Park wedding or elopement!
Activities in and Around Acadia
Visiting Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor is so much fun and full of activities! Here is what I like to do!
Thunder Hole (Visit an hour or two before high-tide to hear it “Boom”!)
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
– Don’t forget your reservation
Places to eat
Bar Harbor is packed full of amazing restaurants! Enjoy everything from fine dining, breakfast spots, seafood, and seats with a view! Recommended places include:
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 love to photograph elopements and weddings in Acadia National Park and have been doing so for many years!
Every couple of mine designs their own wedding photography package, receives access to my exclusive 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 Wedding and Elopement photographer.
If you’re interested in learning more about booking an Acadia National Park wedding, check out Weddings I have photographed!
Feel free to reach out via my Contact Page to learn more & to book your own Acadia National Park Wedding or Elopement!