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9 Different Types of Grave Markers & Their Costs

This is part of Cake's collection of Funeral planning articles. Create a Cake profile for free to discover, document, and share your end-of-life wishes.

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Have you ever strolled through a cemetery? In some cities, they’re reminiscent of a historical park. Old names and dates, families buried together, poignant quotes on gravestones… it all serves as a marker in time. 

Jump ahead to these sections: 

  1. Pet Grave Markers
  2. Bronze Grave Markers
  3. Flat Grave Markers
  4. Temporary Grave Markers
  5. Military Grave Markers
  6. Granite Grave Markers
  7. Headstone Grave Markers
  8. Small Grave Markers
  9. Infant Grave Markers

That’s why many people put a lot of thought into their grave markers, particularly so family members can visit their cemetery plot. Here’s an overview of nine of the most popular grave markers available. 

1. Pet Grave Markers 

Burying your pet is a touching thing to do. It may be tempting to feel embarrassed, or not invite anyone to the funeral. The bond between you and your pet may be unbreakable. In many cases, pets spend more time with us than most humans in our lives. 

You can go a few different routes if you’re looking for a grave marker. Depending on your location and the laws in your region, you might be able to bury your pet yourself. You won’t have to pay for a marker or worry about burial plot costs. You could do something simple, like a homemade cross. 

Pet grave markers typically cost about $250. The price depends on whether you’d like a flat marker or something more elaborate. As pet funerals rise in popularity, more funeral homes offer these options. 

2. Bronze Grave Markers 

Bronze grave markers are a popular option because they’re very durable. Other materials are prone to damage, rust, or wear. Ceramic or glass are poor choices for an outdoor cemetery because they can break during storms. 

You can get almost any marker you’ve envisioned cast in bronze. Standard markers are shaped like a traditional headstone or lie flat. Since bronze is heavy metal, this is the safest option. 

Bronze markers typically cost around $1,000. This is the cheapest option and it costs more if you choose a larger marker. The price tag goes up when you want grave decorations

3. Flat Grave Markers 

Funeral styles tend to change as time goes on. Ornate religious markers grew more popular after traditional headstones were in style. As cultures continue to morph and change, this trend will continue. Currently, flat grave markers are quite popular. 

Many traditional headstones show signs of decay and damage much faster. They break and crack more easily and are more exposed to the weather. A flat marker takes up less space, smooths out a cemetery’s look, and lasts longer. This is especially important when you consider why humans bury the dead. Emotional closure is a big reason. 

Flat grave markers might be the most budget-friendly option at around $1,000. 

4. Temporary Grave Markers 

It takes time to select a grave marker and might take a while for it to be created and installed. Often, this process can take weeks or months. You may want to have a temporary marker if you need time to come up with the money. It’s also important for grieving purposes. Family members need to know where the grave is located. 

Many companies include a temporary marker in the cost of the headstone you’ve selected. These markers are made out of printed inks and magnetic elements. They’re a temporary solution (they’ll last about a month or two) and don’t cost you anything extra. If you need to put your immediate funds toward something else — like the cost of an urn — this could help. 

5. Military Grave Markers 

Did your loved one serve in the Armed Forces? If so, this is a great way to get a free marker. The Department of Veterans Affairs can help you apply for a government headstone or marker. 

To do that, fill out the Claim for Standard Headstone or Marker. You can find this online or request it from your local VA office. Your claim should be approved if your loved one was a veteran.

Are you worried about covering other expenses besides the marker? If so, the VA might be able to help with those, too. 

6. Granite Grave Markers 

Granite grave markers are both beautiful and expensive. It’s a good idea to ask for a warranty. Most craftsmen, particularly if you’re trying to create a granite monument, will back up their work with this warranty. 

Granite is one of the toughest elements on earth. If you’re worried about your marker standing up to the weather or simply love the way granite looks, it’s a great choice. An upright granite marker can cost up to $3,400. Of course, the price varies based on the size and provider. If you’re looking for a beautiful marker, granite is a perfect choice. Need to prioritize frugality? It’s best to steer clear of granite options. 

7. Headstone Grave Markers 

Are you starting end-of-life planning? You may be planning on a headstone. They’re a solid option and a great nod to tradition. Since “headstone” is a broad term, it’s important to narrow down what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a short, rounded shape? If so, does that work with your plans to be buried with someone else? 

Headstone grave marker costs range drastically because there are so many choices. If you’re trying to make a financial plan, $1,300 is a good number to plan for. That’s a low number, though. If you live in an area where funeral costs might be higher, estimate more for a headstone marker. 

8. Small Grave Markers 

Are you looking for something small? There are lots of unique options available. 

Since small grave markers aren’t the norm, it’s hard to nail down a price. But you can guarantee that it will be cheaper than a granite monument. You might just want an old-fashioned cross placed over your burial plot. Ask about how strict the rules are for your cemetery. If they’re not very strict, you could have someone put names and dates on it. A solid wooden cross, even if it’s treated to protect against weather, wouldn’t cost more than $100.

If you’re not religious or would prefer other imagery over your plot, consider a small marker in the shape of a pentagon or rectangle. 

9. Infant Grave Markers 

Infant grave markers are the saddest sights in a cemetery. They’re quite small and often themed. Many infant graves have angel markers or other sweet religious imagery worked into a marker. 

Consider your plans for the rest of the family. Do you plan to have the rest of the family buried there? If so, how does that impact your plans for a marker? Many infant markers run about $200 or a little less. If you’re trying to save money, you can often work this into plans for a family plot. 

Choose the Right Marker

Deciding on a marker is hard. Once you’ve committed and it’s been installed, you can’t change it. Markers are an important choice because it’s a way to be remembered. But if you’re struggling — especially if you’re choosing for a loved one — take a step back.

Think about how your loved one would want to be remembered. Remember, that marker is a part of his or her legacy. 


Sources

  1. Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary. “Pricing.” n.d., www.heritageacresmemorial.org/pricing/
  2. Forest Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum. “Markers and Headstones: Houston.” n.d., www.forestlawnhouston.org/markers
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans headstones, markers, and medallions.” n.d., www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/headstones-markers-medallions/
  4. Holy Cross Catholic Funeral Home. “General Price List.” n.d., www.hccfh.org/catholic-cemeteries/general-price-list/
  5. Queen of Heaven Catholic Funeral Home. “General Price List.” n.d., www.qohcfh.org/catholic-cemeteries/general-price-list/