A COUPLE thought to have had Sussex’s longest engagement have finally tied the knot.

More than 36 years after John Knight asked the love of his life Laura to be his wife, the couple finally married in front of 40 family and friends at Brighton Register Office on Saturday.

Mr Knight, 60, who recently retired from his job as a University of Sussex technician, conceded: “It has been a fairly long engagement.

“There was no reason we hadn’t got married already and have been sort of engaged for 36 years.”

Their betrothal is more than 20 times the length of the average engagement of 18 months.

Mr Knight finally decided it was time to get married to Laura, now 55, about six months ago and concocted a plan to surprise his partner.

He attempted to set up the big day in secret.

He said: “I thought it was about time we got married. I went to the registration office and got an appointment for the first step of the wedding.

“I thought it would be a big surprise. We go out every week and I wanted to say one Friday ‘let’s go and get married’.”

But his plans were scuppered when he realised that legally his wife-to-be would have to meet the registrar first.

The plan sat on the back burner for a few months until the pair had a small row where “questions about my loyalty came up”.

Mr Knight said: “I thought I can’t propose to her after that. But I realised I still had the paperwork (to prove he went to the registrar). I said we are going out.”

He took her to his lock-up where he kept the paperwork and showed it to her in his car.

He said: “She said to me ‘You want to marry me?’ and that was it.”

It may have been 36 years in the making but Mr Knight said the wedding was “the best day of his life.”

He said: “It was fantastic.

“It was the best day ever and I have had a few good days.

“It was so emotional and I am still overcome.

“I hope married life doesn’t change our relationship because we are already so happy.”

Have you been engaged longer than the new Mr and Mrs Knight? Call the news room on 01273 544511.