How to Buy a Custom Urn for a Loved One’s Ashes


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An urn is a unique final resting place. It’s where someone’s ashes rest in the care of a loved one, and that’s why this decision is so personal. In today’s world, it’s possible to find urns for ashes to fit any unique needs. 

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While there are more urn options than ever before, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Creating something custom for a loved one’s ashes is a powerful way to honor their life while also creating a unique heirloom. 

Because urns aren’t something most people purchase very often (if at all), it’s understandable to be a bit confused about how to start this process. In this guide, we’ll explain how to buy a custom urn for a loved one’s ashes step-by-step. Finding the perfect urn shouldn’t be complicated, no matter your budget, style, or needs. 

Steps for Buying a Custom Cremation Urn

While shopping for an urn isn’t something most people do every day, it’s not all that different from shopping for anything else that’s important. 

You have the option to shop online, in person, or with local sellers. It’s up to you what you’re comfortable with and how you’d like to find the perfect urn for your loved one’s ashes. Follow these simplified steps below to get started. 

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

1. Decide what to do with the ashes

Before you buy a custom urn, decide what you’ll do with the ashes. Where will the ashes be stored? Will they stay with one person? These are the most common options:

  • Scatter the ashes somewhere special
  • Bury the ashes
  • Store the ashes in an urn at home
  • Store the ashes in a mausoleum
  • Divide ashes amongst family members
  • Keep the ashes in a companion urn
  • Travel with the urn

There is no right or wrong choice. It should be something you and your family members are comfortable with. If you’re planning on scattering the ashes, there might be no need for a custom urn in the first place. On the other hand, if you’re dividing them amongst loved ones, having something customized could make a special tribute.  

2. Understand types of urns

There are many different types of urns to choose from. Like all things, these serve different purposes and aren’t one-size-fits-all. The most common types of urns on the market are:

  • Traditional cremation urns: These are full-sized urns that hold cremated remains for an average-sized adult. 
  • Oversized urns: An oversized urn can be used to store the ashes of anyone larger than the average adult-size. 
  • Keepsake urn: These are designed to hold only a small amount of ashes. They’re commonly used when some ashes are scattered or divided amongst family. They’re also ideal for the ashes of children or infants. 
  • Companion urns: A companion urn holds the ashes of two individuals, common for married couples or partners.

You can search online for examples of the urns above. You’ve likely noticed many yourself. Understanding the different classifications simplifies the purchase process since you can customize only what you need. 

3. Set your budget

A funeral can be a costly event, and you’ll also need to calculate the cost of cremation. Of course, you’ll also want to know how much an urn costs? The good news is urns are much more affordable than caskets, making cremation a more cost-effective final choice. 

Urns begin at around $30 and go upwards from there. They’re typically priced around $100-300 depending on customizations, material, size, and more. 

The more custom elements you choose, the more costly the urn will be. If you only wish to customize smaller elements like the color, engraving, and finishing touches, you can find the perfect custom urn at any price point. 

4. Determine what you want to be customized

As mentioned above, there are a lot of different options when it comes to finding the perfect custom urn. Some want an urn completely from scratch, and these are often created with individuals in mind. Most common, however, is to customize specific elements.

Give thought to what elements you’d like customized on your loved one’s urn. Some of the most common things are:

  • Engravings (names, dates, prayers, etc.)
  • Color or design
  • Material
  • Shape
  • Decorations or artwork
  • Figurines or sculptures

Custom urns often pay homage to someone’s life, personality, and passions. This can be represented in many different ways. Working with a custom urn creator that you trust is the best way to find something you love. 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

5. Choose a place to buy your urn

Now it’s time to start your customization. You can shop in-person at your funeral home or crematorium or online. It’s worth shopping around a bit to find just what you’re looking for, and you might need to find a retailer who can work with your specific customizations. 

Some of the best places to buy custom urns online include:

  • Etsy: This creator marketplace is a great spot for finding customizable urns in every shape, style, and budget.
  • Foreverence: Foreverence takes great care to imagine, create, and celebrate individual lives with unique, personalized urns.
  • In the Light Urns: Find custom engraved and personalized urns at In the Light Urns, with anything from cremation tums to sport-themed urns.
  • American Custom Urns: American Custom Urns specializes in handcrafted wooden urns and keepsakes. 
  • Stardust Memorials: Stardust Memorials has same-day engraving for their cremation urns which is done in-house.

6. Check your customization

Last but not least, be sure to check (and double-check) your custom urn before it's finalized. The last thing you want is a typo or other mistake. When in doubt, ask a trusted loved one to review your customizations to ensure they’re accurate. 

From there, wait for your urn to come to you. If you purchased it in-person from a crematorium, you might receive it when you pick up your loved one’s ashes. Otherwise, it should come in the mail. 

Custom Urns for Ashes: Frequently Asked Questions

There are understandably some questions involved with this process. Luckily, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn just how seamless it is to create a custom urn no matter your price range or wishes. Let these frequently asked questions simplify the process even further. 

How much do custom urns typically cost?

Custom or unique urns aren’t much more expensive than traditional urns. Some sellers include basic customization in the cost, like free engraving. The more customization you need, however, the greater the price. 

You can expect to pay anywhere from $10-$100 more for a custom urn. If you’re choosing something created from scratch for you, this could be upwards of $500. In general, most customized urns are in the $50-$300 range. 

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

How long does it usually take to get the completed urn?

This answer depends on the specific seller. Things like engraving can be done quickly, but more complex customization takes greater amounts of time. You’ll want to check with the seller before you commit to a custom urn. Depending on your timeline, you might be okay using a temporary urn until you receive your custom one. 

Most urns can be customized with engravings or other extras within a few business days or one to two weeks at the most. For more complicated custom urns, you might need to wait up to a month, not including shipping. 

Are there any design limitations for custom urns?

The design limitations for custom urns depend on the specific seller. For engravings, the most common type of customization, you’re limited to a specific space. There is only so much room on each individual urn to put symbols, letters, and numbers. You’ll want to stay within the guidelines to ensure the urn looks presentable. 

Otherwise, you’re only limited as far as the seller says. There are sometimes limitations in terms of size, materials, and so on. Working with a trusted artisan is the best way to ensure they know exactly what they’re doing.

Find the Perfect Urn

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to a final resting place. How do you sum up someone’s entire life of passions, personality, and memories into a single urn? It’s not easy, but it is possible if you’re willing to customize the urn for your loved one. 

If you’re looking for the perfect urn for someone special, don’t limit yourself to the urns you see online or in-person. It sometimes takes a bit of personalization to find exactly what you’re looking for. The right urn is worth the search. This is a precious part of someone’s legacy, so make sure it measures up to your expectations and beyond. 


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