Arranging a memorial
Answers to all your questions about designing and buying a headstone or monument…
When is the right time to arrange a memorial? Do I need to wait a certain period of time after a loved one dies?
The short answer is: there is no ‘correct time’ to choose or arrange a memorial. While some families take their time to select a headstone or monument, waiting months or even years before marking their loved one’s grave, other families arrange a memorial at the time of, or shortly after, arranging the funeral. This can help to maintain the planning momentum and may provide a sense of closure in farewelling that person.
What is the difference between a headstone and a full monument?
A headstone is a type of monument that is placed on top of a stone base at the head of a grave. In contrast, a full monument is a larger and more elaborate type of monument which covers the whole grave.
For more information about different types of memorials, see our Complete Guide to Headstones and Monuments in Australia.
For a full list of the terms used when describing memorials and monuments, see our Guide to Headstone and Monument Words and Meanings.
How do I pick between a headstone and a full monument?
Your choice of memorial, and whether you select a headstone or a full monument, is a personal one. Three important factors that should be taken into account when making this decision are:
- any requirements stipulated by the cemetery, or particular cemetery section, in which the deceased will be/is buried (see ‘Cemetery regulations’ below);
- any religious or cultural customs that impact how the deceased should be laid to rest; and
- perhaps most importantly – your budget.
Once you’ve ascertained your budget, and are aware of any cemetery requirements, it’s a good idea to have a look at different headstones and full monuments, and to fully understand the difference between them. You can find more information, including photos and explanations, about different kinds of monuments in our Guide to Choosing a Memorial.
How do I choose the design or look of a monument?
The design of a tombstone or monument is made up of a number of features:
- the style – for example, a headstone could be a sloper or a flat grave marker, while a full monument can be single, double or even triple;
- the type and colour of stone;
- the shape of the headstone;
- the kerbing and covering of the full monument;
- the inscription.
Before making a decision, take a look through our Memorial Design Guide so you have a good idea about these different design features and which of them you prefer.
How do I select an inscription for a memorial?
The inscription is a key component of a tombstone and you will need to decide on both the wording and the look of the inscription. It’s a good idea to get familiar with the type of font and engraving that you like, and to determine if any symbols or photographs will be included. Our Guide to Headstone and Memorial Inscriptions takes you through each of these elements, and includes example wording to help get you started.
Can the inscription include words or phrases from another language?
This answer will depend on your selected monumental mason; however, most good stonemasons are able to include wording in a range of languages. You might want to put the wording that is in another language on paper, and double check it’s correct, before providing it to the monumental mason for inclusion on a headstone.
Can I add a second or third inscription to an existing monument?
Provided there is space, you should be able to add an inscription to an existing headstone. This is usually referred to as an additional inscription service. See our Guide to Headstone Inscription Services for more information.
How do I arrange/buy a headstone or monument?
Once you’ve got an understanding about different types of memorials, and the various design features available, you can use Gathered Here to choose a monument, as well as a monumental mason to make it.
Simply visit our online store and use the filters to select your preferred memorial style and features. We’ll then send you 3 price quotes from local headstone and monument masons so you can compare your options – you might want to look at price, customer reviews and/or workmanship. Gathered Here lets you shop for a memorial from the comfort of your own home. You can take as much or as little time as you like, and there’s no obligation for you to purchase.
How much does a headstone cost?
There are numerous factors that affect the price of a headstone or monument, including size, style, material and design features. As a basic guide:
- simple grave markers can start at around $750 – $1,000;
- a fairly simple headstone can start at around $2,000 – $3,000;
- a basic full monument can start at around $3,000 – $5,000.
If you’re looking for information about the price of different types of memorials, see our Guide to Headstone Costs.
Alternatively, if you’ve selected a memorial you like, and/or would like to know the price of a specific headstone or monument, you can use Gathered Here to request a quote for that memorial design, and we’ll get you 3 quotes from local stonemasons. It’s quick and easy, and there’s no obligation to purchase.
Working with a monumental mason
Answers to all your questions about selecting a monumental mason to create a memorial…
Which monumental mason should I choose?
Once you’ve selected your preferred memorial design, and received your three quotes on that design, take the time to consider the prices, as well as the customer reviews and portfolios of the monumental masons who have provided those quotes. Choose a mason who is well reviewed and who you feel you will be able to work with.
It’s important to note that a monumental mason must be registered and licensed to conduct monumental works at the cemetery at which your loved one is buried. They must also hold required insurances. To confirm your selected mason is registered, you can contact us at email@example.com or visit the cemetery’s website.
What is the process of working with a monumental mason?
After selecting a monumental mason, you are likely to have further conversations with them to finalise your chosen memorial design. If this differs from your original request, the monumental mason will provide you with a final quote. The monumental mason will then provide you with a proof which will show you what the tombstone or monument will look like when it is complete. Don’t feel as though you need to ok the proof if you aren’t happy with it. Review the proof carefully for design elements and wording and talk with your stonemason to ensure the final proof reflects everything as you’d like it.
With the proof finalised, the monumental mason will make your selected tombstone and will install it at the deceased’s gravesite.
When do I pay for the memorial?
While all monumental masons operate slightly differently, it is likely your mason will require a percentage deposit at some point before or during the process. Some stonemasons will require instalments of the purchase price at various stages in the process. You should discuss a payment plan with your mason as early as possible.
How long does it take for a headstone to be made?
Again, while all monumental masons work differently, the average time to complete a gravestone is 12-14 weeks.
Answers to all your questions about cemetery fees and regulations…
Do I need approval to erect a memorial in the cemetery?
Yes. When you arrange to buy a headstone or monument from your stonemason, they will fill out an application form and send it to the relevant cemetery. The application form notifies the cemetery of your intention to erect a new memorial, and provides them with information about the design you have chosen.
What are cemetery fees?
In order to receive approval for your memorial application (see above), you must pay a cemetery fee to the cemetery (your monumental mason will collect this fee and forward it to the cemetery with your application). This fee is different from anything you must pay for the making of the headstone, or for the deceased’s funeral.
The fee to be paid depends on the cemetery and – sometimes – on your selected memorial. You can get more information about cemetery fees from your monumental mason or by contacting the cemetery.
What are cemetery regulations?
In general, cemetery regulations govern what is and is not permitted to be erected in each section of a particular cemetery. Cemetery regulations may stipulate requirements around:
- type of monument;
- size of monument, including height and width;
- materials, colours and style of engraving on the monument.
When you let your monumental mason know the location of the deceased’s gravesite, they’ll inform you of any applicable cemetery regulations so you can tailor your monument choice accordingly.
If you’d like more information about any of the topics discussed above, check out our:
- Complete Guide to Headstones and Monuments in Australia
- Guide to Choosing and Designing a Headstone
- Complete Guide to Headstone and Memorial Inscriptions
- Guide to Headstone and Memorial Costs
If you’d like to ask us a question, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or start a live chat by clicking the floating message box in the bottom right corner of your screen.
See the full picture and make fully informed decisions. Move forward in the certainty that your loved one’s memory will be looked after. Headstones and Monuments are Gathered Here.