Grave Markers, Memorials and Monuments

How to Shop and What to Look For

Grave MarkersShopping for grave markers can be overwhelming, especially if you are making your purchase during a difficult time. But it can also be extremely rewarding since the marker you select will be a lasting memorial to you or your loved one.

Remember, you don’t have to rush. The marker will not be installed until after the funeral so you don’t need to make a snap decision. Even when the death has already happened, you can take your time and shop around.

What’s the Difference? Grave marker, headstone, and gravestone are often used interchangeably. In general, these all refer to any type of memorial that is placed on a grave. Cemeteries will often use the term “monument” to refer to any memorial that is upright. “Markers” generally refer to memorials that lie flat or are beveled. Companion markers are made for two people.

What can make the selection of a grave marker difficult is the wide range of styles, colors, and materials that are available. Having many choices is actually a good thing though since it allows you to create a memorial that truly reflects the personality of the deceased and expresses the impact he or she made on the lives of those who knew and cared about them.

To help guide you through the selection process, here are six easy steps to buying a grave marker. To learn more about markers, the styles available, materials used, and see design tips, click here.

Shopping for a Grave Marker

  1. Determine the requirements of the cemetery.

    Each cemetery has its own rules and regulations that govern the size, material, and types of headstones that are permitted on their grounds. For example, there may be limitations on the height of the monument or the amount of text that can be included on the stone. Most reputable grave marker companies will contact your cemetery for you to make sure that what you have selected meets their requirements. But it is always a good idea to check directly with the cemetery you plan to use before you begin shopping. You don’t want to take a chance that the grave marker you select is refused when it is delivered. Your cemetery may also require that you complete a set of forms prior to accepting your grave marker.

  2. Set a Budget.

    The price for grave markers can vary widely. Decide about how much you would like to spend before you begin to shop. This will help you narrow down your choices and make it easier to focus on deciding which options fall within your target price range. In addition to the cost of the grave marker, you may be required to pay a fee for installation, taxes, or delivery charges. Educating yourself on exactly what is included in the price can help you make sure that you are working within your resources.

  3. Choose the material for the marker.

    Grave markers are available in a variety of materials. The most common choices are granite and bronze. Both of these materials are durable, easy to maintain, and reasonably priced. Some cemeteries require the use of a particular material in certain sections of the cemetery. Be sure to check with your cemetery before you start shopping. For more information on the materials used for grave markers visit our How to Buy a Grave Marker page.

  4. Choose the style of marker.

    Choosing a style for your marker may be as simple as selecting the option your cemetery requires or as complicated as weeding through dozens of shapes and sizes. Here’s where your budget can help. Keep your shopping to those grave markers that fall within the price range you have in mind. As you get to this stage of the process it’s a good time to start thinking about what the person you are selecting the stone for would like. Were they a flashy person or did they have more simple tastes? Is there something special that you want to be on the stone, like a quote or a saying? If so, you’ll need to think about how much room you need. Do you want the stone to be for two? The answers to these questions will help guide your choice.

  5. Personalize your marker.

    Now that you have decided on the type of marker you would like to purchase, you can begin to design what will be on the stone or plaque. You might want to include a quotation, a photo, or an illustration. The specifics of what you choose will depend on how large your monument is and what it is made of, what your budget is, and what the requirements of the cemetery are. We have included information below that will help you design the marker.

Grave Markers for Veterans

Veterans and their eligible dependents are provided with headstones and markers at no cost through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If the burial is in a national or state veteran’s cemetery or on a military post, the marker is ordered through the cemetery at the government’s expense. The cost to place the marker or headstone is normally included. Some state cemeteries will charge a nominal fee to set the stone.
If burial is in a private cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for through the Veterans Affairs office. The cost of the marker or headstone will be paid for by the government. The cost to place the memorial will not be included.

(Visit the Veterans Affairs website for more information)

Purchasing Grave Markers

In the past, the only real option for purchasing a grave marker was to work with a local funeral home, cemetery, or monument company. This is still a popular way to buy. The key advantage to using these firms is that you can be sure they are aware of any special considerations that your cemetery may have. They can provide you with a good range of choices and you will be able to speak with a customer service person face-to-face.

Today’s shoppers also have access to the Internet which opens up a whole new way to buy grave markers. Online shopping for grave markers allows you to browse your options in the comfort of your own home at your convenience. By comparing options and prices online you may also be able to save money.

When shopping for a grave marker online you need to follow the same safety guidelines you would for any large purchase. You should check the credibility of the seller and look for red flags such as a lack of contact information on their website.

Buying a Grave Marker Online

There is a common misconception that you must buy your grave marker through your funeral home or cemetery. While these are very good options, many people find that shopping online is a great alternative. Not only can you shop at your leisure, but you will also find excellent variety and a full range of products.

In fact, many of the companies offering grave markers for sale online are the same established monument companies that your funeral home uses.

Of course, when buying a grave marker online you want to take all the precautions you normally would when shopping online. With a little homework, you can select the perfect memorial and save some money at the same time.


    The key factor that makes buying a grave marker online different from other purchases is that your memorial must comply with the regulations of the cemetery you will be using. Most reputable online sellers will verify the cemetery requirements before they process your order. It is always a good idea to check first to make sure that your marker meets any special requirements your state or region may have.


    Talk with friends and family members to see if anyone has gone through the process of buying a grave marker online and has worked with a specific online memorial company. You may be able to get a referral.


    If you are just starting your search and you’re not sure what you want, stop into a memorial company showroom to see some of your options in person. You can often find showrooms located close to cemeteries.


    When buying anything online it is always a good idea to make sure that the vendor you are considering includes a telephone number where you can contact a customer service representative. Stay away from any company that does not include information on how you can find them. You should also check to make sure that the vendor has a clearly stated privacy policy.


    Before you complete your purchase make sure you are clear on all the costs associated with the purchase. Is there a delivery or set up fee? What about taxes? If you have any questions call the company before you process your payment.


    Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company you are considering has complaints lodged against them. You should also search for reviews of the company. While this is not foolproof, it can alert you to potential problems.

Buying a grave marker does not have to be an unpleasant experience. With a little homework, you can select the perfect memorial and never leave the comfort of your own home.


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