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Guide: Purchasing A Headstone Or Grave Marker

When a body is buried in a cemetery, a marker is usually placed at the head of the grave to identify who is buried there, often stating the name of the deceased and the dates of birth and death, as well as other personal information or a quote, called an epitaph.

Headstones come in a number of styles, including:

  • Flat markers, which lie flat on the ground at the head of the grave, flush with the grass
  • Bevel markers, which lie flat on the ground at the head of the grave and rise above the grass
  • Slant markers, sometimes called “pillow stones,” which sit flat on the ground with the front of the stone angled back, creating a wedge shape
  • Monuments, commonly referred to as “headstones,” which are tablets standing upright out of the ground.
  • Ledgers, which lie flat on the ground and cover the entire grave.

What You Need To Know

Headstones can be purchased from cemeteries, funeral homes, third-party retailers, or online retailers. The price of headstones is usually calculated by weight (therefore, the larger the headstone, the more expensive it will be) and usually does not include any “additional features,” including engraving or adding a photo or image to the marker. If you are purchasing a headstone from a third-party or online retailer, the cost of shipping the headstone may also be quite high. Remember that because cemeteries are not covered by the FTC’s Funeral Rule, the cemetery may charge a fee for bringing in or installing a headstone you purchased elsewhere.

If you'll be working with a cemetery, you can purchase a headstone or grave marker from that cemetery. Most cemeteries work with local monument builders, and you should feel free to get the names of the vendors your cemetery works with and be in touch with the builder directly to learn more about the headstones and markers they make.

Monument Builders Of North America

The Monument Builders of North America represent 540 monument builders in the United States and Canada. To search for an MBNA member, enter your city and state or zip code for a list of monument builders in your area.

American Institute Of Commemorative Art

With a focus on artistic education and preserving the history of monument building, the American Institute of Commemorative Art is an invitation-only membership organization representing approximately 50 monument builders who each shows a particular commitment to the art of monument building. To search for an AICA member, click on your state for a list of monument builders in your area.

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