James Hardie

Joanna Gaines has many special memories from the day she married husband Chip, but the one she will always cherish the most came near the very end of the night.

“My favorite moment is when we said goodbye to everybody, got in the limo and ate so much food!” Joanna tells PEOPLE.

The designer and author — who is releasing her first solo memoir, The Stories We Tell: Every Piece of Your Story Matters, Nov. 8 — exchanged vows with Chip, 47, back in 2003 at the Earle Harrison House in Waco, Texas.

“I just remember, when we got there, I saw how good the food looked and I asked my mom, ‘No matter what, will you just put some food in a container and put it in the car?’ ” Joanna recalls.

“So we did our thing, we did our dance, we did all the things that you’re supposed to do at a wedding. And all I kept saying is, I can’t wait to be in that car with Chip headed to our honeymoon. And the second that door shut, I was like, ‘Thank God, this is why I’m here. I just wanna be with you and I wanna eat.’ “

While it’s been nearly two decades since the Fixer Upper stars tied the knot, Joanna, 44, says that memory is still fresh in her mind.

“Weddings are kind of scripted and you’re doing a lot,” she says. “You can forget why you’re really there. And for me, I was really there because I wanted to be with Chip. It will always be my favorite memory — when that limo door shut and we just ate like kids with our hands. It was Beef Wellington, mashed potatoes and two different kinds of cake.”

The couple, who share sons Crew, 4, Duke, 14, and Drake, 18, and daughters Emmie Kay, 12, and Ella, 15, recently celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary.

“19 years ❤️,” Joanna captioned the Instagram post, adding a hashtag with the words “I like you a lot.”

Joanna Gaines/Instagram Chip and Joanna Gaines

In the fall issue of Magnolia Journal, Joanna penned a personal essayabout the obstacles she and Chip have overcome. (Magnolia Journal is published by PEOPLE’s parent company Dotdash Meredith.)

“In our 20 years of marriage, Chip and I have experienced a little bit of all of it,” Joanna writes. “Losing a loved one. Shifts in friendships. Bills we couldn’t pay. Moments where our hearts were broken. Times when all hope felt lost and circumstances were out of our control. When all I could think to do was lay face down on the floor in surrender.”

She adds that one of the “heartbreaking things” they’re preparing to experience is sending their oldest son Drake, 18, to college.

“In the grand scheme of heartbreaking things, this one comes with a lot of gratitude and excitement. But still, my first child is moving away, and our family dynamic will change because of it, and that can feel like a loss of its own. I catch glimpses now of what that life will look like and wonder if—or how many times—that might bring me to the floor.”

In last year’s summer edition of The Magnolia Journal, released in May 2021, Chip opened up about how he stays dedicated to being a good husband and loving father.

“When I look out across the whole landscape of my little corner of the world, there are plenty of places where I fall short,” Chip wrote at the time. “I’m known to be easily distracted, for one thing. In general, me and time have this way of losing track of one another. And sometimes, I can let some of the commitments I’ve made slip through my hands.”

“But there are other commitments—the big ones—that I hold on to with everything I’ve got. Honoring Jo, being a good dad, my faith, trying to do what’s right even when it’s not easy, building something that helps other people. Those are commitments I’ve made that I won’t compromise. My nonnegotiables,” the HGTV star continued. “No matter how much the details and circumstances of my life may change, and no matter what storms come my way, you watch: I’m going to get those right.”

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