Kaila Kirby, 20, was busy on Pinterest getting ideas for her planned summer 2016 wedding when doctors told her family her dad didn’t have long to live.
Jubal Kirby had incurable lung disease but had been looking forward to walking his daughter down the aisle, so last week his family quickly came up with a new plan – Kaila would marry fianc Daniel Pardue, 32, at her dad’s bedside in a Charlotte, North Carolina, hospital.
Jubal, 49, told reporters, “I wanted to do this for Kaila.”
Kaila, who is studying to be a nurse, says she simply couldn’t imagine getting married without her dad by her side.
She tells PEOPLE, “When they said there was nothing else they could do, that’s when we decided. He’s always been there for everything. I just wanted him to be there and to be able to give me away.”
Jubal’s nurse, Meredith Garolds, herself a newlywed, jumped in to help with planning, getting balloons and a cake. “He wanted to do this for his daughter. It was on his bucket list and now he can rest peacefully,” Garolds says.
On Wednesday, the family’s pastor married Kaila and Daniel in the intensive care unit at Carolina’s Medical Center with her dad awake and alert in his hospital bed, but wearing a ventilator. He was smiling throughout the ceremony.
This was the second time in a week that the pastor helped a Kirby couple say “I do.” Jubal himself just got married. He and Kaila’s mom, Colleen, had been together 26 years but didn’t tie the knot until last week when the family realized how little time he had left.
“To me, my parents were always married, but it was still special,” Kaila tells PEOPLE.
Jubal passed away Saturday afternoon, just days after the intensive care unit weddings. His family was there at his bedside.
“His wife, both daughters and the new husband were all there holding his hands, it was very quiet and peaceful,” a hospital spokeswoman Claire Simmons tells PEOPLE.
Kaila says her dad kept trying to get her to go for a quick honeymoon, a night away with her new husband, but she refused to leave his side.
“He’s my best friend,” she says. “It’s every girls dream for their daddy to walk them down the aisle. It meant a lot to me. I would love to do it all over again.”