GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Millennials are leaving their mark on the wedding industry—often choosing customization over a cookie-cutter wedding.
Maria Steinhagen, 30, and Simon Sperl, 28, of St. Paul are planning for an October wedding at Voyageur Environmental Center in Mound.
"We wanted our wedding to kind of feel like a big get together really of all of our friends," Steinhagen said.
During the ceremony, guests will surround the couple in a circle versus sitting in rows.
"It's just to kind of signify the support that our friends and family will offer for the rest of our lives as opposed to them being kind of in the audience and watching from a distance. We wanted it to feel personal and like they're a part of it," Sperl said.
Personal touches include wedding invitations by artist Anne Moriarty (Sperl's mother) and cello duets for the ceremony, composed by Sperl.
"We've heard a lot about the rising costs of being in a wedding and we didn't really want that for any of our friends," Steinhagen said.
Instead of matching dresses or suits, the bridal party will wear whatever they want. The bride and groom are also saving money on their attire. Sperl chose to buy a suit he can re-wear and found shoes on eBay at a quarter of the original price. Steinhagen saved $500 on her wedding dress by buying the sample.
Sperl and Steinhagen are also bartending at their friends' wedding. In exchange, those friends will play cello at their wedding—saving them $300-$500.
Instead of flowers for centerpieces, tables will be adorned with fruit and wine.
"We're seeing an overall trend of customization, I would say," said Nikki Houser, director of integrated marketing and success at Twin Cities Wedding Association.
According to Houser, couples in the metro are spending about the same amount on their weddings as they did ten years ago. The Wedding Report shows couples in the Twin Cities metro spent, on average, $31,081 in 2015. That same year, total sales from weddings in the metro area came in at nearly $638 million—putting the market in the top 20 cities nationwide.
"I just think that couples are now being more selective on what they're choosing," Houser said. "So they're not just having a buffet just because they need food, they're picking specific food that means something to him, her or the family."
Jareesa Tucker McClure, 34, of St. Louis Park married her husband, William, in 2015.
"I got married on March 14, 2015 aka Pi Day. I'm a chemist by training and my husband is a mathematician so we thought, 'Why not get married on the nerdiest day of the year?'" she said.
For the reception, decorations included laboratory glassware for centerpieces. McClure said this allowed them to save money by using only a few silk flowers with the centerpieces. They used elements on the periodic table for table numbers and mini pies for wedding favors.
"We did things... that were kind of untraditional. For example, our guest book, instead of buying one I got an offer from Shutterfly for a free photo guest book which I totally took advantage of," McClure said.
The couple also saved money by getting married off-season in March, having a family friend as their officiant, and taking advantage of special offers at bridal shows.
With an original budget of $20,000, they ended up spending about $18,000.
"I see our generation really wanting to do things in places that speak to us and do things in a different way," McClure said.
No matter what choices couples make for their wedding day, Houser recommends they pick their top three non-negotiables when planning a budget.