Funeral Arrangements: Choosing a Memorial Marker

Part of your funeral arrangements planning may include the selection of a grave marker, also referred to as a headstone, gravestone or monument.  The selection of the burial marker is perhaps the most important choice you will make, aside from the actual location of the burial site.

The burial marker will be a permanent, lasting impression of your loved one.  This is not the time for hasty decisions. Don’t worry about having the monument ready for the actual day of the funeral.  Many families choose to place the marker at a later date, and may include a separate, private memorial service at that time.

There are several different types of grave markers from which to choose.  Here is a brief description of each of the most common choices:


A headstone is the most popular type of grave marker selected during funeral arrangements planning.  It is important to check with the cemetery to find out about any height restrictions, material limitations, etc.  The headstone will usually have an epitaph, the name of the deceased, and birth and death dates.  Some headstones are very simple in design, while others may include shaped carvings, sculptures, statues, or etchings.  Be sure to research and ask for recommendations for reputable companies to ensure the quality and price of your headstone.

Flat Markers

Due to maintenance costs and limitations, some cemeteries (most commonly referred to as Memorial Parks) do not allow the use of headstones, instead requiring flat markers that allow for easier plot care.  Though simpler in design, much can be done with fonts, etchings and flat carving on these markers.

Bronze Memorial

Very much like the flat marker, bronze memorials lay flat with the ground and are the preferred choice of some cemeteries.  Bronze memorials can be made in various sizes and design.  Typically they are mounted to either a cement or granite base.

Monuments and Statues

Monuments and statues are typically larger memorial markers than most, and therefore also are more expensive choices.  It is important before choosing this type of memorial marker that you check with the cemetery to verify any size, design or material limitations.

Cremation Memorials

With the increase in the number of people choosing cremation, there has also been the creation of cremation memorials so that loved ones have a place to visit the deceased and as a physical remembrance of the life they lived.  Some memorials are very similar in style to grave markers.  There are also some cremation memorials that are in the style of benches, plaques or memorial gardens.

When making funeral arrangements for the recent passing of a loved one, be sure to take your time to thoroughly research the many options available to you for grave markers.  Remember that though this is one funeral expense that will have a lasting impression throughout time, there are still ways to try to be as cost-effective as possible.  Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of in your time of grief.  Have another family member or friend assist you in your selection process.

Additionally, when making your own funeral arrangements, it is possible to pre-order a grave marker.  The marker will be left blank until your passing when your vital information will be completed on it.  This is a good way to secure current market prices for grave markers. Much like cemetery property the costs of grave markers rises each year. Be sure to leave instructions with your pre-planning materials as to any additional epitaph or design you wish to have added.


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