Headstones and Memorial Plaques: Understanding the Difference

Headstones and Memorial Plaques: Understanding the Difference

Headstones and memorial plaques are used to commemorate the life and passing of a loved one. Although both types of monuments are used in the cemetery setting to mark a burial location, plaques can be appropriate for other purposes. When selecting a monument, you first must determine the restrictions or requirements imposed by the cemetery or other governing body to ensure that your selection is acceptable. Understanding the different types of monuments will assist you in making an informed choice.

Types and Uses of Headstones or Gravestones

Gravestones were originally large slabs of stone that covered an entire grave, sealing it safely from the elements and preserving a deceased’s interment location. Today, gravestones and headstones are interchangeable terms used to refer to engraved grave markers. A gravestone may be horizontal and either flush with the ground or raised a few inches, or it may be vertical and upright, slanted or beveled. Other possibilities include tryptic or tablet style markers, obelisks or even commemorative stone benches. Typically when people refer to headstones, they mean some version an upright monument. Typically these monuments are engraved with the deceased’s name, birth and death dates and possibly quotes, scriptures or other meaningful sentiments.

Types and Uses of Memorial Plaques

Memorial plaques, when used to mark an interment site, are flush with the ground. They may be engraved stone or stone with a bronze plaque mounted on top. Plaques also may be used to memorialize a cremation site or to mark an above-ground crypt. Memorial plaques have other uses as well, including to serve as keepsakes for the family or as a public memorial. Family members may incorporate a loved one’s plaque in a memorial garden, for example, or install it in some other place of honor. This type of monument can range from a small medallion to a large marker. The plaque is typically customized with the same type of information found on an engraved headstone.

Making the Perfect Monument Selection

Choosing the perfect custom memorial can be difficult, especially in times of profound sadness. It helps to be familiar with the different types of monuments, headstones and grave markers that your loved one’s place of burial will allow. Each cemetery has its own requirements and restrictions, and today, many require the use of flush or lawn-level markers. This significantly reduces the time and cost of maintaining the cemetery, as maintenance workers can simply mow over the marker.

You must adhere to the cemetery’s guidelines for the monument, otherwise you won’t be allowed to have it installed. As long as you adhere to the rules, however, the cemetery cannot reject your monument. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission regulates disputes of this nature and can be called upon to assist if you encounter a problem.

The most effective way to ensure that your headstone or memorial plaque complies with the cemetery’s requirements is to utilize the services of a local monument company rather than a remote service. A local headstone engraver will be familiar with the rules and customs of your area, and can guide you in your purchase to ensure your satisfaction. When you set out to commemorate the life of a loved one, custom engraved headstones and memorial plaques are always appropriate reminders.