Cemetery Rules and Regulations

Each cemetery has their own set of rules and regulations for memorials being placed on graves within their park.  These regulations stipulate what type of material, the size and type of the headstone that is allowed.

It is important to know these rules to ensure that your memorial is accepted by the cemetery during delivery.  If the headstone does not meet the requirements, the cemetery will refuse it.  It can be a very frustrating and costly mistake.

There are several questions you should ask the cemetery before ordering a headstone.  It is also a good idea to see if they have these regulations written down.  Ask for a copy of the guidelines to further aide in understanding their rules.  You should go over these regulations with your monument dealer before ordering your tomb stone.  Your monument dealer is a trained professional and is happy to assist you in understanding these regulations.  If you are dealing with a reputable monument dealer, they will obtain this information for you.

Here are some important questions to ask the cemetery.

If you would prefer for us to act on your behalf we will gladly contact the cemetery for you.

What type of headstone is allowed in their cemetery?  There are many different types of memorials; i.e. flat grass markers, bronze plaques, upright monuments, slants and pillow tops/hickey.  Most cemeteries require a flat grass marker; however there are still many cemeteries out there that allow for an upright monument.  You should ask the cemetery which type of tombstone they require.  For example, Forest Lawn Cemetery only allows bronze tablets.  It is not uncommon for a cemetery to have different rules for different sections in the cemetery.  Be sure to ask for the regulations for the exact section/lot, space and grave number of your loved one.

What is the minimum and maximum sizes requirements for a cemetery grave stone?  Each cemetery has a specific size requirement.  That size can vary depending on the location of the grave in the cemetery or the type of plot you purchased.  For example, a single grave could be one size, while a double depth grave may be another.  Other factors that may change the size of the grave stone could be the type of burial you did.  Cremation and infant burials usually require a smaller tombstone than a regular burial.

Do they have any restrictions pertaining to the color of granite or bronze?  On occasion a cemetery will restrict the color of granite or bronze.  It is important to ask if they will refuse a specific color.  Bronze markers typically come in two colors, light or dark brown.  It is also a good idea to confirm if they limit the color of the granite base. 

Does the cemetery require a special border or edge?  There are many different types of edges for memorials available.  For example; a beveled edge, a rounded edge (lawn mower proof), or a sanded border.  It is important to know if your cemetery requires a specific edge.  Another thing to consider is whether the bronze or granite memorial will require a cement foundation or border.  In some cases the cemetery will provide a cement foundation or cement border for your gravestone.  There may be an additional charge for this, be sure to ask.  Other times, the cemetery will require it, but your monument provider is responsible for supplying this.

Are there any paperwork or authorization forms required?  It is very common for a cemetery to require an outside marker authorization form before they will install your marker.  This form needs to be completed by the next of kin or the plot owner.  In most cases this form will require specific information pertaining to the size, material and monument dealer you purchased your head stone from.  Your monument dealer should be able to help you fill out any forms you have.  Some cemeteries, like Rose Hills Memorial park, will not accept your marker during delivery without a copy of the authorization form.  Be sure to give a completed copy to your monument provider to ensure the cemetery accepts your stone.

Are there any fees to install the tombstone on the grave?  The cemetery will charge you to place the headstone on the grave.  It is important to ask what the fee to install your marker is.  The price of the setting fee may vary depending on the size of your monument.  Check your contract to make sure you have not already paid this fee.  It is important to let the monument company know when these fees are paid, as they cannot deliver the monument until the fees have been paid.  Some small cemeteries do not have the ability to install markers.  In those cases, your monument provider should be able to arrange for the installation of your memorial.

Which side should the names be on if placing a companion memorial?  A companion memorial is used when burying two people in one plot (double depth) or placing a tomb stone over two graves (side by side).  In a double depth plot, it is customary to put the husband’s name on the left and the wife’s name on the right side. If your plot is not for a married couple, it is common to place the name of the person buried first on the left side, leaving the right side available for the second inscription at a later time if necessary.  For a side by side memorial, it is important that the names of your loved ones are on the correct side.  Their names should be on the side closest to their grave.

Do they have any other special rules for their cemetery?  Certain cemeteries have specific requirements for any head stones placed in their park.  For example, a Catholic cemetery may require a cross or saint on the marker.  While another cemetery may not allow photos, such as a color photo tile or photo etch

Be Informed

You should know that you have the right as a consumer to purchase your memorial from any monument provider.  Do not let the cemetery discourage you from shopping around for the best memorial for you and your family.  All cemeteries are required by law to accept any memorial, no matter where you purchased it, as long as it meets their specific rules and regulations.   Working directly with your memorial provider to ensure you are meeting all of the guidelines will give you the peace of mind you need when ordering the perfect memorial for your loved one.