Talmesha Richards' father helped her pick out every formal gown she had ever worn, including her prom dress and the gown she wore while competing for Miss Maryland USA in 2002. Her wedding dress would be the one exception.
Richards' father died in 2012 of health complications, but the former Ravens and Redskins cheerleader found a way to find the perfect dress and honor her father all in one.
Richards, who recently relocated from Towson to Hyattsville, enlisted the help of TLC's reality TV show "Say Yes to the Dress" for a little professional help. Her dress-finding excursion at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City will appear on the show Friday.
The 34-year-old, who works as chief academic and diversity officer at Washington company STEMconnector, filmed the show in September, months before her wedding this past Saturday, working with bridal consultant Breanna Rae Murillo.
"Breanna from 'Say Yes to the Dress' was amazing. She had the same bubbly personality both on and off camera and was truly concerned with finding the right dress for me," Richards wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun (she is currently on her honeymoon, island hopping in the Caribbean). "More than anything I was able to honor my dad."
Richards made a bouquet with florets made from her father's ties and featured charms, including a locket with her dad's picture, she said. She even bejeweled her high heel shoes, adorning them with "I Do" at the bottom and angel wings on the sides as a tribute her father, because "I knew he'd be walking with [me] in spirit on the big day," she said.
She was proud of the finished product, and was confident that her dad would have been, too, she said.
"My dad has a way of communicating with me whether it's the sun shining through the clouds, or butterflies passing by, and I knew that when I found the right dress he'd let me know and he did. I had this feeling of complete and overwhelming happiness," she wrote.
Richards and her now-husband, Scott Smith, wed at Herrington on the Bay in Anne Arundel County alongside palm trees and tropical flowers — a nod to her father's Caribbean heritage. The wedding had a "Purple Reign Experience" theme in honor of late music icon Prince.
As for the "Say Yes" episode, Richards said viewers can expect "pure comedy and a whole lot of love" with funny cameos and comments made by her mother, sister and best friend, who were also along for Richards' successful hunt for a wedding gown.