Headstone & Grave Marker Resources (2022)

Where can I buy a grave marker?

A funeral or cemetery professional can guide you through the process of choosing a marker. There's no rush to make a decision and no rule on when a grave marker needs to be placed after a funeral. It's okay to take your time determining the best way to memorialize a loved one.

In most areas, you can buy grave markers from cemeteries, funeral homes, monument companies or online retailers.

Buying markers from a cemetery

Most buyers purchase their cemetery property and grave marker at the same time. Cemeteries will coordinate every detail of the purchase on your behalf, from getting a quote, ordering, design, delivery and installation. And the cemetery staff members are very knowledgeable about property requirements, so you know the style you order will be accepted in the cemetery section you have purchased.

Plus, when buying in advance, you can take advantage of monthly payment plansoffered by the cemetery. And, in some cases, if the marker was purchased and engraved in advance, it can be delivered and installed more quickly at the time of need.

Buying markers from a funeral home

Some families choose to buy their grave markers from their funeral homes or combined funeral home and cemetery providers. In this case, the funeral director will coordinate all the details for you. You will still have a single point of contact from quote to delivery, although there may be a bit more processing and paperwork due to the pass-through cost. This is a good option when your cemetery property is small, private or does not provide a full-service offering for grave markers.

Buying markers from a monument company or online retailer

When you buy a grave marker directly from a monument company, you can shop for the best value or find choices that a funeral home or cemetery may not offer. This approach puts you in control of every detail. However, you will also be responsible for all of the coordination, from getting a quote, ordering, design, proofing, delivery and installation. Buyers are responsible for knowing the grave marker rules of the cemetery and purchasing the material and size of marker accepted at their preferred location, among other details.

If you decide to buy a grave marker at a stand-alone retailer, we recommend you ask the following questions:

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  1. What type of markers and monuments are allowed in the cemetery?
  2. What size of marker or monument is allowed? Are the sizes standard or custom?
  3. What materials and colors are allowed? (Some cemeteries place restrictions on types of stone or require specific colors.)
  4. What are other restrictions enforced by the cemetery? (Some cemeteries have restrictions on polished stone. Ensure customizations like flower vases, edging or ceramics, and color photos are permitted if you're interested in those options.)

Types of grave markers

The two most popular types of grave markers are flat markers and upright monuments, though many people choose statues, benches or other types of specialty markers. Any of those choices can pay tribute to one person, two people (companion markers) or a whole family.

Today’s engraving and embossing technologies allow markers and other memorials to be personalized in limitless ways, from the traditional name and lifespan dates, to song lyrics or poetry, to nature scenes and even photography.

Flat markers

An individual or couple often chooses a flat marker because it fits in with the parklike aesthetic of their chosen cemetery. These elegant, minimalist memorials are not only beautiful, they tend to be less expensive than upright monuments. For a number of reasons, including ease of maintenance and property views, some cemeteries allow only flush markers and have restrictions on size, so your choice could be restricted to certain parameters. A cemetery might be called a memorial park when no upright markers are present.


Headstone & Grave Marker Resources (1)


Flush to the ground, with a flat top or beveled edges, flat grave markers are made of solid stone or stone topped with a bronze plaque. They come in a variety of colors and can be customized with words, photos, illustrations and more. Flat markers are placed at the head of a burial space or cover the entire burial plot, and come in single or companion styles.

When you order a flat marker you may have the option of adding a vase, which some memorial parks require if you want to leave flowers at the gravesite. When not filled with flowers, or during snowy winter months, the vase is often stored upside down in the marker.

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Average costs for flush markers

Cost for a simple gray granite flush marker: $500

Cost for a flush bronze memorial or flush companion granite marker: $1,200 to $5,000


Upright monuments

An erect stone slab with a stone base, an upright monument is much more prominent than a flat marker. They are what come to mind when you imagine a headstone or tombstone. Upright markers come in different sizes, colors and shapes, from simple rectangles or custom shapes like hearts, open books or crosses.

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Upright monuments provide a large canvas for personalization. In addition to names and dates, they might include verses, etched photos or illustrations of things people loved. They are a good way to tell a story about a loved one—or to tell your own story if you are purchasing cemetery property in advance. When personalized with a loved one's likeness, symbols of faith, or images of sports gear, beloved pets or items that give a nod to signature hobbies, they can reveal a bit about personality and values. They can be immediate reminders to everyone who sees them how much the people they pay tribute to were loved and cherished.

In designs for individuals, couples or families, upright monuments make an impression. Though they are generally more expensive than flat markers, they are a popular choice for burials in cemeteries that allow them.

You will often find upright monuments allowed in spaces like hedge estates or walled estates (read more about types of cemetery property), where the cemetery maintains a consistent aesthetic that is easier to keep up in perpetuity.

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Average starting costs for upright markers

Starting cost for upright markers: $1,500

Starting cost for companion and family markers: $3,500


Specialty markers

Memorial benches, angel statuary, obelisks, crosses and other highly customized designs take permanent memorials to the next level. Uncommon shapes stand out in a cemetery, they draw attention and pique curiosity. Who doesn't want a closer look at a marker shaped like a dolphin leaping above the waves or a 15-foot polished black granite obelisk? Specialty markers are a unique offering for unique people.

Average starting costs for specialty markers

Starting cost for a wide selection of upright and specialty memorials: $5,000 to $15,000


What factors influence the cost of a grave marker?

A number of things influence cost:

Material. In general, bronze markers are more expensive than comparably sized stone markers, and granite markers are less expensive than marble markers. The price of the granite depends on where it comes from and how it's extracted from the earth. Though marble costs the most, many choose it for its polished appearance. Marble weathers more quickly, however, and requires more upkeep over the years.

Size. Generally, the larger the grave marker, the pricier it will be.

Customization. Bronze markers are embossed. Stone markers are carved, etched and engraved. Either way, the more detailed the marker, the higher the cost. Typically, engraving of a name, birth date and death date costs about $500. Prices go up from there. However, though many funeral homes, cemeteries and other sellers charge separately for engraving or embossing, Dignity Memorial marker prices include this service. A funeral director or cemetery associate can help you decide exactly what to put on a marker. Contact usfor more information.

How much does it cost to install a grave marker?

Because of their weight and size, grave markers must be installed by professionals. Most cemeteries offer installation services, with starting prices ranging from $200 to $2,000, depending on the size of the monument and location of the cemetery.

How long does installation take?

Many grave markers are installed after a funeral takes place. From the time a final design is approved, production and delivery time on a grave marker can range from 10 weeks to six months or longer, depending on the complexity of the design and where the stone originates. Depending on your location and the time of year, the ground may need to thaw or settle for installation to take place.

During the time between a burial and the installation of the marker, the grave is marked by a temporary marker. A growing number of families are electing to buy and install markers before their time of need to avoid delays and more easily identify their final resting places.

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What happens if there’s a problem?

When you order a marker from a Dignity Memorial provider, be sure to carefully check the order paperwork for errors such as a misspelled name or wrong date. If the marker doesn't arrive as you expected, we will do everything required to correct it. If a grave marker purchased from Dignity Memorial becomes damaged at one of our memorial parks, whether by natural events or maintenance activities, you need only call and request maintenance or repair.

In any case, with our Service Guarantee, if you are not 100% satisfied, we'll make every effort to to correct the situation immediately. Please contact usfor customer care.

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FAQs

What is the best material for a grave marker? ›

Granite is one of the most widely-accepted materials for making headstones and grave markers globally, thanks to its increased durability and aesthetic appeal.

What do graves symbolize? ›

Often used in conjunction with other motifs (urns, columns, Death's heads, flowers), they symbolise the soul passing into the afterlife. Funerary shrouds were used since prehistory to clothe and therefore protect the deceased on their afterlife journey.

What does IHS mean on a gravestone? ›

IHS Symbol

Iesus Hominem Salvator (Jesus Saviour of Mankind). The letters are known as a christogram, a combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ.

What are the markers for graves? ›

headstone. Headstone - a flat, stab-like stone grave marker placed at the held end of a grave. Headstones may be used alone or in conjunction with footstones.

What headstone material lasts the longest? ›

It isn't made by people or machines, but by geological processes in the earth that spans over thousands or millions of years after molten rock has cooled. For this reason, granite is the most durable headstone material.

What is the most popular color headstone? ›

Gray. Gray may be the most common granite headstone color.

What can you not do at a cemetery? ›

No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground. This is not a place for childhood games. Don't let them play on any of the monuments. While it is good to get children used to paying respects at a cemetery, they often don't fully understand the meaning of everything in the cemetery.

What does a rose on a grave mean? ›

A rose bud indicates the grave of a child. A partial bloom was used to show someone who had died in his or her teen. or early adult life – a life cut short. And a full bloom signified someone in the prime of life.

Why do we leave flowers on a grave? ›

The practice of leaving flowers at graves began thousands of years ago when the ancient Greeks would honor fallen warriors. They believed that if the flowers rooted into the ground and grew from the gravesite, it was a sign that the fallen had found peace.

What does INRI mean? ›

INRI is generally thought of to refer to “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum,” meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” but apparently there's more.

What does ph mean on a military headstone? ›

PH - Purple Heart. POWM - Prisoner of War Medal. SM - Soldiers Medal. SS or SSM - Silver Star or Silver Star Medal.

Is IHS a Catholic symbol? ›

The Meaning of IHS in Catholic Churches - YouTube

Why are men buried on the left? ›

One theory is that long ago husbands decided their wives belonged on their left side, the side closest to their heart. Other theories hold this placement is a reflection of a couple's wedding day. When walking down the aisle, the man is traditionally standing to the right of his bride.

What's the difference between a gravestone and a grave marker? ›

Grave markers are flat bronze plaques installed on a granite stone base for the purpose of identifying the deceased. Burial headstones are upright granite monuments for the same identification purpose.

What is the average price for a headstone? ›

The average cost of a standard flat headstone is around $1,000. But more detailed, upright headstones can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, as you'll see with this granite headstone and another at a higher price point.

Which lasts longer bronze or granite? ›

Granite grave markers that are well maintained can last for up to 500 years! If you want a gravestone that will last for generations, bronze is the way to go.

Which is better bronze or granite? ›

Bronze is more expensive than granite. It is popular because it is so durable. In some areas however this means that it is prone to a greater risk of theft. Granite on the other hand is heavier and of less value to thieves.

Is granite or marble better for headstone? ›

Marble is more likely to crack, chip and erode over time due to being exposed to the outdoor elements. In a few decades, an inscription on a marble tombstone may be difficult to read. On the other hand, granite tombstones can withstand severe weather and will appear almost identical decades in the future.

What are grave markers made out of? ›

Most gravestones made over the last few centuries are made of a few types of rock: marble, slate, and granite are the big three. Sometimes you run into darker stones made of gabbro, maybe a few sandstone markers, but especially in more recent monuments, marble and granite (and other plutonic rocks) rule the roost.

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