When designing a headstone to honor a loved one, you want a memorial that celebrates a life lived for generations. The last thing you want to think about is what the cemetery’s rules or regulations are for memorials. The rules could limit your creative freedom, or worse—prevent the cemetery from placing the stone.
Though most cemeteries are not overly strict, certain rules and regulations are in place for the grave marker regarding its material and size at most cemeteries. By learning about these rules, you can better ensure the memorial you design can be placed. And if you choose to work through a reputable memorial provider, their specialists can inform you of the specifics for each cemetery in the area.
Below we overview these common factors so that you have the information needed to design a memorial and, if you haven’t already, choose a cemetery.
1. Memorial Material: Granite or Bronze?
Granite and bronze are the two most popular memorial materials today. Most cemeteries require one of these materials because they’re easy to maintain and won’t crumble or deteriorate with age. In fact, both granite and bronze can last for centuries with little to no wear.
However, both materials are not permitted at every cemetery. For a cemetery that wants to maintain a consistent look on their grounds, only granite or bronze may be permitted.
For bronze, there may be a certain material the headstone must be mounted on, whether it be concrete or granite. Your memorial provider can confirm this detail and ensure the headstone fits a cemetery’s guidelines.
In terms of granite, not all granite is created equal. Make sure to work with a reputable provider who uses what’s called “high grade” granite. Simply put, it is not prone to chipping, degradation and discoloration over time.
Some cemeteries also require that memorials have a consistent size. Restrictions vary based on location, so be sure to confirm with a memorial provider before making a decision.
2. Memorial Type: Lawn-Level or No Restrictions
When planning a memorial, there are many types and shapes available. The most common types are lawn-level, bevel, slant and upright memorials. While these memorials differ in size, they all serve one common purpose—to reflect the life of your loved one.
Picture: lawn-level (top left), bevel (top right), slant (bottom left), upright (bottom right)
For cemeteries with limited choices, it is common for only lawn-level headstones to be permitted.
As you choose the type and shape of the memorial, ask your memorial provider what dimensions and shape are permitted at your cemetery. This will save you and your family from being met with unknown rules and regulations down the road.
3. Burial Plots: Standard Sizes
While most cemeteries will not have rules on how burial plots must be organized for a family, some do. A cemetery may only allow for standard burial plot sizes, either just single plots, or single and double plots. These rules may be in place for cemeteries that want a consistent look throughout their grounds.
4. Personalization Options
When designing a memorial for a loved one, you’ll likely want it to meaningful and personally reflect their legacy.
Many families choose to add customization options, like sculptures or carvings, ceramic or porcelain photos, flag holders, or uniquely etched artwork. However, some cemeteries regulate these additions or have preferences around their look or material, and the rules will vary from cemetery to cemetery or even from one section of a cemetery to another.
For inspiration on personalization options when designing a memorial, click here.
5. Paperwork and Approvals
Many cemeteries require certain documents be signed and approved before a memorial is placed on the grave.
These documents normally call for information regarding the specifications of the headstone and require a drawing for approval. Finally, the person who purchased the plot or next of kin is often required to sign paperwork authorizing the placement of the cemetery headstone.
Reputable monument providers will walk you through the paperwork process from beginning to end. They should complete the forms and provide most of the required information pertaining to the memorial. At Milano Monuments, our experienced memorial specialists are happy to complete the forms and permits with you and your family.
Tips to Simplify Your Experience
1. Ignore the myth that you have to purchase through a cemetery.
Contrary to popular belief, cemeteries cannot prevent you from working with an outside vendor. At Milano Monuments, we advocate for our customers to ensure their right to memorialization is protected. We have supported our customers when working with cemeteries to help them get the memorial they want approved.
2. Work with a local, knowledgeable provider.
Across all industries, nearly one-tenth of all retail sales now happen online. While this can seem like an easier option, even for headstones, it rarely is. Due to the unique restrictions of each cemetery and the various forms that must be approved, we strongly recommend working with a provider that knows your cemetery.
Monument providers have relationships with local cemeteries, allowing them to better understand the specific requirements for all headstones, which can vary from plot to plot.
See What’s Allowed in Northeast Ohio’s Most Visited Cemeteries
To help you learn the headstone rules and regulations at cemeteries in the Cleveland-area, we created a list and interactive map for dozens of the most visited local cemeteries.
See the list and get an idea of what is allowed, or setup an appointment to have a memorial specialist walk you through the options. If your cemetery is not on this list, we are happy to guide you through your cemetery’s options.