50 years after promposal, Illinois couple still happily married

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Ellen and Richard Smith are getting married next month, but it won't be their first wedding. (WLS)

Ellen and Richard Smith are getting married next month - but it won't be their first wedding.

"She couldn't turn me down when I whipped my charm on her," Richard said.

"He was a new guy in the neighborhood," Ellen said. "He was older and I always liked older guys. He seemed adventuresome, which I was looking forward to."

The Manteno, Illinois, couple first exchanged vows 50 years ago - exactly one year after a prom night proposal.

"I was so shocked I never answered him until I got in front of the pastor, which was my uncle," Ellen said.

It was a shock, because Richard had previously told her he wasn't "the marrying kind" and that he never intended to tie the knot.

But Ellen was worth it.

"She was a lady, and she had a sewing machine," Richard said.

"He liked the sewing machine," Ellen said.

So what's their secret to a lasting marriage?

"He has a basement," Ellen said.

"Yeah," Richard said. "That helps a lot."

Half a century later, they're still laughing and making the most of each day.

"We start our week with Jesus Christ at church on Sunday morning, and we end it with a date on Saturday night," Ellen said. "And in between, we try to do one random act of kindness a day. I'm not saying it was all fairy tale. But the whole 50 years together, it's been a fairy tale."

At the end of May, the Smiths will celebrate with more than 100 friends and relatives, including some original wedding guests. And after what they've dubbed "the remarriage," Ellen has her own plans.

"I'm going on vacation," Ellen said.

And then, it's back to home to her prom date from all those years ago.

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