6 Myths About Buying a Headstone from a Cemetery

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Alecia Milano
Posted by Alecia Milano on July 2, 2024

When choosing the perfect headstone for a loved one, families often receive conflicting advice from loved ones, their religious organizations, cemeteries and service providers, making the process even more challenging during an already emotional time. 

And while purchasing a headstone through your cemetery may be your first instinct, it is important to recognize that it may not be the right decision for your family. 

Continue reading to learn about some common misconceptions when it comes to buying a headstone from a cemetery and how to make an informed decision when purchasing a memorial.  

1. Myth: Headstones Can Only Be Purchased From a Cemetery     

Cemeteries are one of the most common final resting places for your loved one’s memorial. You may think that cemeteries are the only place to purchase headstones, but this isn’t true. 

Memorial providers, funeral homes and online retailers all offer memorials. However, while you may be faced with many options, memorial providers are the industry experts when it comes to headstone design and manufacturing.  

Not only do reputable providers like Milano Monuments use high-quality materials for their memorials, but they also have the expertise and compassion to guide you through all your headstone options.  

Your headstone size, shape, color, and personalization options vary greatly, and it’s important you have all the resources and information needed to make the choice that’s right for your family. 

>>> Related Resource: Do You Have to Buy a Headstone From the Cemetery? 

2. Myth: Cemeteries Have No Hidden Fees 

Another common misconception when deciding to purchase a headstone from a cemetery is that there are no hidden fees. However, most cemeteries include extra fees that you may not have been anticipating. Time and time again, families have met with us and explained their frustration with extra costs cemeteries have not openly communicated ahead of time.  

Common cemetery charges include:  

  • Opening and closing the grave. 
  • Perpetual care on the grave. 
  • Staking out the foundation. 
  • Installing the foundation. 
  • Memorial placement.  
  • Permits to install the memorial. 
  • Ongoing maintenance and care of the memorial. 
  • Conversion fee if the gravesite changes from a flush-only to a bigger memorial. 

These unexpected fees are not something we as a memorial provider and family want you or your family to ever experience. Meeting with one of our memorial specialists is a great place to start when discussing your options and how to save the most money through this process. 

>>> Related Resource: 6 Cemetery Fees and Charges No One Talks About 

3. Myth: All Upkeep and Restoration Services Are Included in Perpetual Care Fee     

When purchasing a memorial headstone, it is important to understand what is involved with “perpetual care” or the upkeep of the cemetery grounds. While lawn mowing and tree trimming may be common tasks included in your fee, more specialized headstone cleaning and restoration work is not.  

Over time, your loved one’s memorial may need any of the following restoration work:  

  • Repainting of headstone lettering (if paint was used).*  
  • Larger landscaping needs that fall outside of the cemetery’s perpetual care obligations, like planting additional flowers.  
  • Remove the existing foundation and pour a new concrete foundation. 
  • Repair broken headstones.  

These services can be requested through restoration providers, like Milano Monuments and our sister company, Milano Stone & Restoration. We can also add a fresh coat of paint* and/or new names and artwork on existing headstones. 

Below is one example of a privately owned mausoleum that was cleaned by the Milano Stone & Restoration team, per the request of the family.  

0624 - hughes mausoleum before 0624 - hughes mausoleum after

*If painting a memorial on your own, Milano Monuments has painting kits available for purchase. Contact us online or call (216) 362-1199 for more information. 

4. Myth: Headstone Providers Don’t Know Cemetery Rules and Regulations   

Local memorial providers, like Milano Monuments have a deep understanding of the cemetery rules and regulations that may impact the vision you have for your loved one’s headstone. 

Michael F speaking with customers

All cemeteries have their own regulations regarding permits and availability of the memorial to be placed. 

By working with a memorial provider outside of the cemetery, you can discuss not only your memorial options, but your desired locations as well. If you haven’t picked a cemetery yet, a memorial specialist can help you choose one that fits the headstone design you have in mind and even help you compare cemetery costs and fees. If your cemetery is already selected, your provider can ensure that the size and materials for your headstone match what is permitted at that cemetery location.  

>>> Related Resource: What to Look for Before Choosing a Cemetery 

5. Myth: Cemeteries Design and Produce the Headstones Themselves   

Many families are told that memorial providers are a middleman in the headstone design and production process. But this is simply not true.  

Cemeteries often outsource their headstone services to a non-local provider with little expertise in headstone design, resulting in additional fees for families. To help save money and avoid these extra fees, we recommend families work directly with a reputable memorial provider. 

Local memorial providers, like Milano Monuments also have a large inventory of headstones in-house, while cemeteries do not. A stocked inventory means more options for you to choose from (and see in-person before selecting), lower costs to create the headstone and a quicker production time.  

Headstone warehouse

Our team of expert memorial designers and skilled memorial craftspeople work with the highest quality materials and equipment for the best possible results. By working directly with us, we guide you in the step-by-step process of creating the ideal memorial for your loved one.  

Milano Building & Shop 217 - Paint Letters_lo-res

6. Myth: Your Headstone Will Be Set Immediately  

After a headstone is created and paid in full, your memorial provider will transport it to your chosen cemetery. While delivery can be quick when scheduled and of course weather permitting, it may be anywhere from 15 to 30 days before the stone is set by the cemetery.   

A loved one’s headstone may not be placed in the cemetery immediately for several reasons:  

  • The foundation is not yet poured. A headstone cannot be placed in a cemetery until its foundation is poured. While Milano Monuments handles this at some locations, many cemeteries do not allow providers to pour foundations and set memorials. In these instances, families must wait until the cemetery has time and available staff to finish the process.  
  • The cemetery is understaffed. If a cemetery is understaffed and does not allow providers like Milano Monuments to place headstones, families must wait until the cemetery has the bandwidth.  
  • The weather is too cold. During the fall, winter and spring (especially in Northeast Ohio), providers and cemeteries must wait until the ground is thawed and dry to place the headstone. In the meantime, a temporary wooden cross can be placed to honor your loved one.  

>>> Related Resource: Why Do Headstones Take So Long to Make? 

Learn More About Northeast Ohio Cemeteries  

We’ve worked with hundreds of cemeteries over the years and can help you make the best choice for your family, factoring in costs, upkeep and other considerations. Download our Northeast Ohio Cemetery Memorial Guide to learn more about local cemetery regulations and fees before choosing a location that makes the most sense for you and your family.    

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Topics: Memorialization

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