Inside a happy Mormon marriage; ‘families are eternal’

Dakota Striplin, 25, Singer-songwriter

Michelle and I met three years ago at a church convention. Michelle is from Sydney and she came up for that and I was living in Brisbane. We were having lunch and my friends and I went and helped clear her table. That was the first time we met each other. I thought she was really pretty, but I was actually dating someone else at the time so I couldn't do anything about it. When we first met, she actually recognised me from some singing videos I used to post on YouTube.

My parents were members of The Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) when I was born, I was raised in the church.

For both of us, even thought we were members of the church since we were young, throughout the teenage period we both had a lot of discovering to do. I went on a two-year mission from 19 to 22 to Micronesia, and right before I went on my mission, that was when I decided this is the life I wanted. And I thought it would be ideal to meet someone who believed in the same things.

When I was a teenager, I would do the things that the church teaches and I would find myself happier and having a clearer mind. Like people who meditate, prayer for me is that sort of relief. Things in my life have been so much better since I've implemented the things I've learnt from being a Christian.

When I proposed, I wanted to pretend I was playing at a wedding and get her to come along. It took me a few months from conception of the idea to the proposal. I found the place and I flew Michelle's mum up from Sydney. I love romantic stuff. I always knew when I was going to propose that I wanted it to be unforgettable. I love The Wedding Singer movie, which I why I proposed with that song (I Wanna Grow Old with You).

We are quite open with what we believe and always happy to answer questions. All of our friends who are members of the church, they are really supportive. We do get some comments about getting married young, especially Michelle as she was younger than me, but the thing we always say is 'when you know, you know'.

We were married in the Brisbane Australia Temple at Kangaroo Point and we have been living in Redland Bay. We're in the process of moving to Nashville, Tennessee. I've been going back and forth writing and recording. The goal of the year is to secure a record deal. I've been meeting with a few labels. The exposure from The Voice Australia was awesome, being on TV really helped a lot.

In the next two years we would love to have children. I want to be a younger dad.

Dakota Striplin and wife Michelle Striplin at home. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Dakota Striplin and wife Michelle Striplin at home. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Michelle Striplin, 22, Retail Worker

I was 12 when I first came across Kody's videos. I came across one of his songs where he had done a parody of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream, but he had done a Mormon Dream. I thought it was so cool. I played it on repeat.

When I first met him at the convention, I thought, 'You look really familiar'. Then
I saw his name on his lanyard and I asked him, 'Are you a singer?' I said, ' I have seen your (YouTube) videos'. I thought he was pretty cute in the videos. I fully stalked him when I was younger, I saw that he was from Brisbane. I never thought I would have met him, let alone marry him.

My mum got baptised into The Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) when
I was seven, my sister and I got baptised a year later. I didn't necessarily think I would also marry someone from the church, but I thought it would be ideal, it was important to me that they held the same values to me.

Family has always been really important to me. Since I was young I've wanted to have a big family. We believe families can be an eternal relationship and can be together forever. I just feel like why I'm here, where I'm going and where I was before this life, I have all those answers and not everyone knows that. I would just feel lost without that knowledge.

He totally blindsided me with the proposal. He asked me to come to this gig, and I didn't want to go. I turned up and wondering why no one was set up for this wedding. He asked me to get his capo (a clamp for his guitar) and I walked over and opened up the box to get the capo and I saw my ring straight away. I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I'm getting proposed to'. And at the same time as I thought that, he started singing the song. I didn't know what to do.
I was kind of crying and kind of smiling at the same time, I was having all the feels.

I was 20 when we got married, two weeks off turning 21, and I always wanted to get married before my 21st birthday. When we made the decision my family was really supportive. Now that we are married, they realise how much we were meant to be together, and they see how happy I am. I believe you choose to love that person every day, that's the commitment.

It was kind of strange when Kody was on The Voice, because we would be shopping and people would come up and talk to us. I was confused!

I want to have children, I've been dreaming of the idea of being a mum. When we got married I said, 'Let's have a baby'.

Dakota Striplin when he was a contestant on The Voice, with fellow contestant Tom Oliver. Picture: Jono Searle
Dakota Striplin when he was a contestant on The Voice, with fellow contestant Tom Oliver. Picture: Jono Searle