Losing someone you love is immensely painful. It can also be expensive — funeral costs, burial fees, headstone prices all add up and can be a nasty surprise if you neglect to plan ahead of time.
When you take the time to consider the options and plan your own burial and headstone, you alleviate an enormous burden on your family members.
Let’s look at the many options for grave headstones and all the considerations when pricing headstones.
Regulations Regarding Headstones For Graves
Before considering the many grave headstone options, it’s essential to contact the cemetery to learn their rules and regulations for memorial headstones and gravesite markers.
Each cemetery has its regulations regarding headstone size, style, composition, and color you must follow.
So, the first step to pricing headstones is learning from the cemetery what grave headstone options they allow in the section where the burial will occur.
The following are helpful questions for the cemetery:
- What are the restrictions on grave headstone materials? Granite or Bronze? Do these restrictions vary by cemetery section?
- Are their restrictions on the granite colors allowed for headstones? Gray granite? Pink, red, black, or blue?
- What size headstone do they allow? Standard sizes for single headstones are 24” x 12”, 28” x 16”, and 18” x 24”. Companion headstone standard sizes are 36” x 18” or 44” x 14”.
- Are there restrictions on the type of grave headstone? Do they allow upright headstones or “pillows”? Or does the cemetery restrict headstones to flat, grass-level markers?
- Are flower vases allowed? Some headstones come with bronze or granite vases. Be sure the cemetery allows this feature before choosing it.
- Are color memorial photographs allowed? Some granite headstones include color photos inset in black or gray granite.
- Are shapes other than rectangles allowed? Before you opt for an angle- or a heart-shaped headstone, be sure the cemetery allows it.
- Any other restrictions you should be aware of when choosing your grave headstone? Some cemeteries specify the type of edging to prevent damage from lawn tending equipment.
Although the cemetery likely provides grave headstone services, this is typically your most expensive option.
Sometimes, a cemetery may charge additional placement fees for headstones purchased elsewhere to pressure you to purchase from them.
While all cemeteries will charge a placement fee, it should be the same for all headstones of the same size and type.
Charging extra for placing a headstone purchased elsewhere is illegal and should be reported.
Where To Get A Grave Headstone?
Today, there are more options for purchasing headstones for graves than were available in the recent past. You might buy a headstone from the cemetery or funeral home, a local headstone manufacturer, or an online manufacturer.
Neither the cemetery nor the funeral home actually makes the headstone, so there are additional costs involved there, rather than buying directly from the manufacturer.
Purchasing directly from an experienced and well-reviewed grave headstone manufacturer ensures you get the best value for the lowest price.
Breaking Down Headstone Prices
Headstones for graves vary widely in size, shape, style, engraving, and material. Each of these variables shows up in the headstone prices.
Headstones are primarily made from granite or bronze. Each option offers lasting beauty, durability, and exceptional resistance to the elements.
Among granite headstones, gray is the most common and least expensive, with highly polished blank granite growing in popularity.
Colored granite in pink, blue, or red is considerably more expensive than black or gray.
Types Of Memorial Headstones
Memorial headstones come in several styles, shapes, and sizes:
Grass Level Headstones
A single, grass-level headstone is a rectangular piece of granite or bronze engraved with the individual’s name, birth and death dates, and any epitaph.
It marks a single gravesite and is the lowest-priced headstone available.
Price Range: $200 – $1,500.
Pillow Grave Markers
A bevel or “pillow” gravestone is much like the flat granite marker, but it is raised 3-8 inches, with the back higher than the front.
A thicker marker, it contains more stone and is more expensive to manufacture and install.
Price Range: $500 – $2,500.
Upright headstones are made in two pieces: the “tablet,” the upright piece, and the “base” that holds it up.
The two parts then rest on a foundation of concrete or granite.
Price Range: $1,000 – $3,500.
Slant headstones for graves are similar to upright headstones, with the front surface planed and polished at an angle for easier viewing.
Price Range: $1,200 – $3,500.
The headstone pricing above covers the basic headstones of each type. When you add colored granite, larger sizes, shapes like butterflies and angels, all these customizations add more money to the headstone price.
You also have the option to make any of these headstones into a companion marker that covers the graves for two people.
While companion markers typically cost more than individual headstones, the extra price is far less than the price for two individual markers.
Planning ahead and using a companion headstone for two people is an excellent way to save money on the headstone without cutting any corners.
No grave headstone is complete without engraving that includes the person’s name, birth date, death date, and epitaph.
Generally, engraving costs about $20 per letter. The engraving for a standard headstone average about $500.
Additional Grave Headstone Costs
Other headstone-related costs to budget for include:
- Cemetery permit fees
- Headstone delivery
- Installation costs generally run $300 – $850. Upright headstones and other large markers that require a concrete foundation will cost more.
- Headstone maintenance fees typically run $50 – $150
- Perpetual Care Fee – some U.S. states mandate a maintenance fund fee averaging 5% – 15% of the grave price
With the above information in mind, you’re armed with the knowledge necessary to plan and budget for your custom grave headstone.
Evaluating options, coordinating with the cemetery, choosing your headstone, and making provisions for its payment are considerate gifts to your family.