I want to ask my fiance's half brother's daughter, who is young, if she thinks that her daughter would like to be in our wedding. They live out of state, so I've only met them a couple times. I don't anticipate mother or daughter saying no, but I thought it would make more sense to ask first.
On that note, I would like to offer to pay for her little dress, shoes, etc. But, I want her to pick out her own dress, if she wants (I'm happy to pick it out, but she's wearing it, so I have no problem letting her choose). Since we obviously can't shop together, and she may want to try it on before buying it, how do I word the e-mail stating that I'd like to offer to pay but she can pick it out? I know that sounds simple, but do I say that I will pay them back, that if it's online she can send me the link and I'll pay for it? I feel a little awkward saying "tell me how much you spent and I'll write you a check"-that just sounds tacky to me. Kind of a random question, but does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks!
Yes, the mom should be asked before breathing a word to the little girl. You need to be sure that the parents will be attending the wedding in the first place and that they are OK with their daughter "on display".
There might be substantial reasons for them to decline. The child might have serious issues with crowds or strange people, for example. The kid might be deep in a tomboy stage and refuse to wear anything frilly or fussy.
Assuming it's OK with the mom, then the little girl is informed in any way appropriate for her age and situation. Go with the mom's suggestions.
As for the payment, again, I would just follow the mom's lead.
"The dress and shoes should be LittleGirl's choice. We're only asking that it be cute and appropriate for an afternoon wedding. What would be the most convenient means for us to reimburse you for the cost of the dress?"