ST. LOUIS ( -- Wedding experts say 2022 is expected to be the biggest year for weddings in nearly four decades. That's in large part because of the way the pandemic canceled and postponed celebrations in 2020 and 2021.

But now, the latest omicron surge in the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing the industry for yet another loop and it could change the game for years to come. One St. Louis area couple experiencing that first hand is Julia Roberts and her fiancé Joel Gardner.

"We're getting married whether it's the two of us or 375 of us," said Roberts, who has her wedding planned for later in January.

They met during the pandemic but never imagined Covid would still be an issue now.

"When we were meeting with people, different venues, they all made similar comments, we're not even going to have to worry about this, the vaccine will be out, we can move on. And yet here we are," said Gardner.

Their wedding planner, Kat Gaines-Van Apledoorn of Kat Gaines Events, has been on this rollercoaster ride for two years now.

"In 2020, I was booked to do 32 and I did nine. Because of that, it transferred to a 46 wedding 2021," said Gaines-Van Apledoorn.

She says the industry continues to face pandemic challenges. Floral prices shot up because of supply chain issues. Staffing problems are hitting all kinds of vendors, including caterers, delivery and transportation drivers, and hair and makeup artists looking for assistants.

Venues are facing another dilemma.

"The venues are having to make the decision of whether to have their staff be fully vaccinated which is hard because then they lose staff," said Gaines-Van Apledoorn.

This most recent surge makes her think that Covid could be a variable for seasons to come.

"Guests, I think, are going back to having invitation anxiety, where they get an invitation and they don’t know how to RSVP because in two months, they don’t know what the Covid situation is going to look like," said Gaines-Van Apledoorn.

But Julia and Joel say they know one thing for sure.

"We're getting married either way. No matter how many people are there, this day is what we've been looking forward to," they say.

Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.

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