How to Choose a Memorial Urn

Written by
Kyle Sherman
Published on
January 31, 2022 8:00:00 AM PST January 31, 2022 8:00:00 AM PSTst, January 31, 2022 8:00:00 AM PST

Choosing an urn for a loved one’s remains is a beautiful way to honor their memory. Not only do aesthetic sensibilities come into play when deciding which type of urn to purchase, consider the practicality. What design, shape and material will commemorate your loved one appropriately and stay true to the intended use?


Uses for Urns

Containers that hold remains or ashes after cremation also have a variety of other functions, depending on how you intend to use the urn. Ask yourself:


Do I need an urn just for a memorial service?

Will the urn be a permanent home for the remains?

Do I need an urn for a burial in the ground or at sea?

Will I display the urn in my home? Will family members want a keepsake?

Will I be traveling with the urn, or carrying it somewhere to scatter the ashes?


Although permanent memorial urns are appropriate for nearly any use, additional options include:


Display – Choose an urn made from metal, ceramic, marble or stone, wood or glass, that can be sealed for interment, entombing in a mausoleum, keeping in the home or resting at a permanent memorial site such as a columbarium niche (collection of small vaults that each holds a memorial urn for one or two people, often at a church). These permanent memorial urns will not lose form or structure due to natural elements.


Scattering ashes – Choose a lightweight urn that can easily be opened and held securely during the scattering ceremony, such as paper scattering tubes, fabric urns made of silk or biodegradable urns.


Land or water burials – Choose a biodegradable urn that releases ashes into the ground or water as the urn material slowly decomposes over time. Made of non-toxic and natural materials such as Himalayan rock salt, handcrafted papers and many types of wood, the urn poses no threat to the environment.


Keepsakes – Choose mini urns or cremation jewelry that store a small portion of ashes to share among family and friends.


Appropriate Urn Designs

The look of an urn is usually defined by the deceased’s personal wishes, although you can use your loved one’s passions, hobbies or special interests as a guide for choosing a style that reflects their personality. Oftentimes, the deceased’s age dictates appropriateness, as in the case of an infant or a child. People want to honor the memory of beloved pets, too.


When choosing an urn design, the determining factor for sizing is its capacity for holding ashes. Urn capacity is measured in cubic inches; most standard adult urns are about 200 cubic inches, which will hold the remains of an individual weighing roughly 200 lbs. Check the urn’s exterior measurements if it will be placed at a specific location, like a columbarium niche, or will rest on a mantle or shelf.


Consider Purchasing an Urn Before Your Need One

If it’s for yourself, you can choose exactly the urn you want, and your family won’t be stressed with the decision later. The same goes for choosing an urn for a beloved pet. If it’s for a family member who’s still with you, it lets them participate in the selection process, if they’re so inclined. You may save money in the long run, too. The urn can be delivered without incurring rush shipping costs and can be stored safely in protected packaging until needed.


Custom Granite & Wood Memorial Urns from PlaqueMaker

Our granite urns are not only beautiful vessels to hold ashes, they are an elegant way to honor the memory of your loved ones. Custom engraving of names, dates and personal messages adds a special touch. Each urn is a natural stone product, available in sizes that can hold the ashes of a 180-lb. up to a 400-lb. person. Sealant for the lid is included with your order.


Our Red Alder wood urns also make touching memorials to honor beloved family pet. Personalize with names, dates, quotes, dedications and favorite photo, or choose from a wide variety of pet clip art.