How to plan a romantic elopement in Maine

This is a header image showing a woman in a blue dress hugging a man in a blue suit, standing on a dirt trail in the woods during autumn.

These days, many couples are choosing to forego the fuss of wedding-planning in favor of an elopement. Without the pomp and circumstance of a conventional wedding, it’s an intimate way to exchange vows. Maine is one of the most popular elopement destinations in the country, for good reason. The nature is spectacular, the food is amazing, and there’s plenty to see and do. While an elopement in Maine can be more relaxed that your traditional wedding, you’ll still have to think through some details.

We distilled all of our tips for your Maine elopement into one handy guide. Many brides and grooms flock here each year for elopements and weddings. You’ve got plenty of options for your special day. Whether you plan to elope tomorrow or are just starting your research, read on.

Step 1: Choose the perfect location

Your elopement location is a decision that sets the tone for your entire experience. The right setting can enhance the romance and intimacy of your special day, providing a backdrop that reflects your unique love story. Whether you envision saying your vows on a secluded beach, amidst the grandeur of a mountain range, or by the tranquil shores of a lake, your location should resonate with you as a couple.

Take into account the season, weather, and accessibility to ensure your chosen spot offers comfort and beauty. By selecting a location that holds personal significance and natural allure, you lay the foundation for a truly unforgettable elopement.

We may be a little biased, but the Lake Region of Maine offers an enchanting background for a memorable elopement. From the pristine shores of Sebago Lake to the secluded trails of the White Mountains, this whole area is idyllic. Imagine exchanging vows with a lakeside sunset as your backdrop, or within the tranquil beauty of a hidden forest trail. For those who prefer a quaint village feel, a city hall elopement followed by a celebration featuring local Maine cuisine can do the trick. Or maybe you’re both ski fanatics that want to combine your nuptials with a day of hitting the slopes. No matter your style, you’re bound to find the perfect place to say “I do” in Maine.

Step 2: Lock down your date

Steps one and two can be done in either order, but if you choose to exchange vows in Maine, it’s crucial to consider seasons and accessibility. A lot of Maine shuts down for winter (and if you’re looking to lock down a date for when the ski lifts are spinning, quite the opposite!). June through August is peak tourist season in Maine. While it’s a gorgeous time of year to be up here, you’ll have more competition for the dates and locations you want.

Note that many vendors prefer to book elopements on weekdays, reserving weekends for larger weddings that are often planned a year or more in advance. So keep a few potential dates in mind when discussing arrangements with vendors, and know that a weekday might be the most likely to be accommodated.

Step 3: Calculate your costs

One of the major draws of an elopement is the cost. But elopements can come in all shapes and sizes, from spontaneous “We just decided to do this yesterday” affairs to bigger events that fall just shy of a classic wedding. Some of the costs you might be considering:

  • Photographers
  • Transportation: Flights, cars, parking, etc.
  • Place to stay
  • Florist
  • Hair
  • Makeup artist
  • Décor rentals
  • Wedding cake
  • Hors d’oeuvres or full meals for those present
  • Alcohol and other refreshments
  • Musicians
  • Officiant
  • Videographer
  • Wedding rings
  • Permits and fees for the marriage license
  • Permits and fees for national or state parks
  • Additional details such as stationary, invitations, thank you cards
  • Dress, suit, or tux rentals and/or purchases

Step 4: Find an officiant

To get married in Maine, you’ll need an officiant. You can either ask a friend or family member to become ordained to perform your ceremony or hire a professional. You can access Maine’s marriage officiant search if you’d like to go that route.

According to the state of Maine, the following individuals are authorized to officiate weddings:

  • Ordained ministers of the gospel
  • Licensed preachers from an association of ministers or religious seminary
  • Judges or justices who are also residents of Maine
  • Lawyers admitted to the Maine Bar who are also Maine residents
  • Maine notaries

Note that Maine does not have Justices of the Peace. Out-of-state Notaries and Justices of the Peace cannot officiate weddings in Maine, even if they’re eligible to do so in other states.

Step 5: Secure two witnesses

It’s a requirement that you have two witnesses during your ceremony. Your officiant cannot count as one of them. However, your photographer or another vendor works fine, as well as a trusted friend or family member. As a last resort, your officiant or venue can usually hire someone to serve as a witness for your elopement. Most people consider it an honor to be present!

Step 6: Make reservations

Once you head up to Maine, you’ll want to stay close to your ceremony site. As you scout venues, note that photographers prefer locations with large, open windows and minimal clutter. Those settings make the best photos!

Most places in Southern Maine book up quickly between May and October, so make sure you’re looking about eight months to a year out if you’re planning an elopement that’s more involved, with several vendors and guests. If you’re keeping it small, it’s okay to be more last-minute about things. But you’ll still want to make any restaurant reservations and block out hotel/inn rooms as early as possible.

Here at Greenwood Manor Inn, we offer the option to book out all of our rooms at once, so that your elopement ceremony, reception, and sleeping quarters are as seamlessly connected as can be.

If you’re choosing to elope somewhere that requires permitting, like Acadia National Park, you’ll want to apply for those permits in advance. In the case of Acadia, there’s a $75 non-refundable permit fee.

Step 7: Apply for your marriage license

Marriage licenses in Maine are issued at the town or city level, requiring the couple to apply in person at the town office. It’s a good idea to check your town’s website for specific information.

If you’re both residents of Maine, apply at the town office where at least one of you lives. Choose either town office, if you both live in different Maine towns. In the case of one out-of-state partner, apply in the hometown of the Maine resident. If neither of you resides in Maine, you can apply at any town office in the state, not necessarily where you’ll be getting married.

The marriage license is valid for 90 days and can only be used within Maine. There’s no waiting period between the issuance of the marriage license and the wedding ceremony. The officiant is responsible for filing the marriage certificate with the town office that issued the license.

And lastly, our top advice for your elopement day? Relax and embrace the moment. Remember why you chose to elope in the first place: to celebrate the love and lifelong commitment you’re making in a personal and distraction-free way.

Interested in eloping in the beautiful Lake Region? Let us help you plan your dream day. Learn more about weddings and events at Greenwood Manor Inn.

June 10, 2024


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