Headstones are meant to be designed to honor a loved one—many families want to create a memorial that celebrates a life lived for generations to come. The last thing you want to think about is what the cemetery’s rules and regulations are for memorials. The rules could limit your creative freedom, or worse, prevent the cemetery from placing the stone.
Though most are not overly strict, certain cemetery rules and regulations are in place for the grave marker’s 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 outline seven common cemetery rules and regulations so that you have the information needed to design a memorial, and if you haven’t already, choose a cemetery. To learn more about memorial regulations and fees at Cleveland-area cemeteries, download our Northeast Ohio Cemetery Memorial Guide.
1. Memorial Material
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, these 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.
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.
2. Memorial Type
When designing 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.
It is common for only lawn-level headstones to be permitted for cemeteries with limited choices.
Before 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
Most cemeteries will not have rules on how burial plots must be organized for a family. However, there are a few that may only allow for standard-sized burial plots—whether that be single or double plots.
These cemetery rules and regulations may be in place to maintain a consistent look and feel throughout their grounds.
4. Personalization Options
When designing a memorial for a loved one, you’ll likely want it to be 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. Seasonal Decorations
For many of us who have lost a loved one, the holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year. You may want to decorate your loved one’s headstone for the holidays or perhaps plant flowers there in the summer. However, it’s important to see what cemetery rules and regulations there may be when it comes to seasonal headstone décor.
During the winter season (November 15 – February 15) and special holidays such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, the following are permitted in most Cleveland cemeteries:
- Crosses 36 inches or shorter
- Artificial decorations
Note that fresh flowers are only permitted during the summer season.
6. Burial Fees and Payments
It’s important to plan when looking to purchase a gravesite. You want to ensure the chosen cemetery has available spots—not all city cemeteries are accepting new graves.
That said, if you do get accepted for a gravesite at your chosen cemetery, keep in mind there are additional burial fees and payments that must be paid in full prior to interment. Please feel free to contact the Milano Monuments team if you need help navigating the different costs.
7. 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 on behalf of you and your family.
As a reminder, it is not required to purchase a headstone through a cemetery. Contrary to popular belief, cemeteries cannot prevent you from working with an outside vendor. At Milano Monuments, we advocate for families to ensure not only that their right to memorialization is protected, but also that they receive approval for the memorial they want.
Learn More About the Differences Between Cemeteries
We believe a memorial should be designed uniquely for each person, but cemetery regulations and fees can get in the way of designing a memorial unique to your loved one. Download our Northeast Ohio Cemetery Memorial Guide to help you select the right cemetery for you.