What is the Difference Between a Grave Marker and a Monument? 

20 Sep 2023

When it comes to memorialising a loved one who has passed away, there are various options to choose from, including grave markers and monuments. Each of these choices has its distinct characteristics and serves different purposes. In this article, we will explore the differences between a grave marker and a monument and discuss which one might be considered “better” depending on your specific needs and preferences. 

Grave marker 

A grave marker is a smaller, typically flat or slightly raised plaque or stone placed at the head of a grave. These markers often display essential information such as the deceased’s name, birthdate, date of passing and sometimes a short epitaph or a religious symbol. Grave markers come in various materials, including granite, bronze and even wood. 


A monument, on the other hand, is a larger and more elaborate structure placed at a grave site. Monuments are designed to be more eye-catching and can take various forms, such as upright stones, statues, benches or custom-designed structures. They often provide additional space for inscriptions, engravings or even depictions of the deceased or their interests. 

Key differences 

Size and complexity. The most noticeable difference between grave markers and monuments is their size and complexity. Grave markers are smaller and simpler, while monuments are more substantial and can be more intricate in design. 

Information display. Grave markers typically display only essential information, while monuments offer more space for personalisation and can include additional details, artwork or even photographs. 

Visibility. Monuments tend to be more visible in a cemetery due to their size and design, making them a prominent focal point. Grave markers are generally lower to the ground and may be less noticeable. 

Cost. Grave markers are usually more budget-friendly than monuments, which can be significantly more expensive due to their size and customisation options. 

Which one is better? 

The choice between a grave marker and a monument depends on several factors, including personal preferences, budget and the desire for customisation. Here are some considerations to help you decide which option may be better for your needs: 

Budget. If you are working within a limited budget, a grave marker may be the more practical choice. They are cost-effective and serve the essential purpose of marking the grave. 

Personalisation. If you want to create a unique and personalized memorial that includes additional information, artwork or special features, a monument offers more customization options. 

Visibility and impact. If you want the memorial to stand out and be a prominent tribute to your loved one, a monument can provide the visual impact you desire, especially in larger cemeteries. 

Cemetery regulations. Some cemeteries may have specific regulations governing the type and size of memorials allowed. It’s essential to check with the cemetery’s management to ensure your choice complies with their guidelines. 

Longevity. Monuments, being larger and made of more durable materials, may have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance compared to smaller grave markers. 

The choice ultimately depends on your individual preferences, budget and the specific way you want to honour your loved one’s memory. Both options can be meaningful and respectful ways to pay tribute to someone you hold dear, so take the time to consider what feels most appropriate for your situation and what best reflects the life and personality of the person you are memorialising.