Graveside Decorations

Headstone Decorations | Eternally Loved

Planning a memorial or funeral service for a loved one can be extremely difficult and bring up many emotions. When you decorate a loved one’s grave, it is part of the process to personalize their memorial with decorations and honor them. Knowing that your loved one’s gravesite has freshly cut floral arrangements, ornaments, or other tribute decorations provides many family’s comfort. However, many families are not well versed on the specific rules that are required with certain gravesite decorations.

What Types of Grave Decorations Should I Use?

It can be difficult to know what type of grave decorations are acceptable and allowed to place near your loved one’s gravesite. You have enough to worry about with learning how to create a beautiful memorial for a loved one, and decorating should be your last concern. We have created this grave decoration guide and some tips to decorating your loved one’s gravestone.

Decorating Gravesites

These are usually acceptable grave decorations that can be used for loved ones, although it depends on the cemetery:

  • Freshly cut flowers
  • Wind chimes, crosses, or bird feeders
  • Fake flowers — especially if in a monument vase
  • Grave blankets
  • Wreaths
  • Photos or other notes–be sure to make sure they are secure
  • Small flags during the holidays

Artificial Flowers or Fresh Flowers?

Floral arrangements should be fresh flowers, and you should avoid the use of artificial flowers on or near the grave. Some cemeteries have specific rules that are required for the headstone and grounds.

Free Standing Decorations

Often, cemeteries do not allow free standing decorations on the ground near gravestones, most likely due to the chance that they will break or the lack of space.

What You Should Not Leave on Headstones

Below are typically not allowed to leave at a headstone or gravesite:

Borders or fencing around the grave

There is a longstanding superstition that walking over a grave is bad luck, but also some people consider it to be disrespectful. Some people want to install low fences around a loved one’s grave to protect it.

Large Vases

It is common to see flowers on head stones, but flowers in large or glass vases are not compostable or disposable. They are also often made of breakable materials and can leave large shards or chunks of broken glass.

Glass ornaments, jars, or candles

Along the same ideas as large vases, any type of glass ornaments, jars or candles can be hazardous at a cemetery or gravesite.

Large flags or banners

Earlier we talked about decorating gravesites for the holidays. On Memorial Day, many cemeteries allow people to plant small flags onto the graves of people who served in the military. Although small flags are acceptable during certain holidays, banners or large flags are not usually acceptable because they can be hazardous or distracting to those who are mourning during a funeral.

Decorations that are staked or stuck in the ground

It may seem like a good idea to use decorations with stakes, but the use of these decorations can cause problems with maintaining the headstone and gravesite.

Stuffed animals

Many people leave stuffed animals on the graves of small children. It is a lovely gesture and one that is often comforting for parents that have lost a child too young. But more and more cemeteries are banning the placement of stuffed animals on headstones.

If you have questions or concerns about any of the above items, you can search online for other options or speak with the person in charge of the cemetery.

Cemetery Rules

Please be careful not to pick flowers or damage plants and trees on the grounds. It is important to avoid placing items directly on the grass. If you are using potted plants they should be placed on tablets or in ground vases, not on the grass. If you have chosen a flat grave marker, often it comes with a built-in vase to place flowers. Make sure everything you leave is firmly secured in some fashion before you leave the site

Artificial flowers, fences, planter boxes, pot racks, borders, ornaments, fences, potted plants, pot stands, pot racks, spinners, balloons, solar lights, bridges, glass and ceramic containers, metal objects, stones, or statues etc. will be removed

Be sure to respect the privacy of people who are visiting family memorials or attending a funeral at the cemetery.

When Visiting the Grounds
  • Be respectful of the privacy of those who are visiting family memorials or attending a funeral
  • Loitering is prohibited.
  • Lying down on the benches or lawns as well as picnicking on the grounds are prohibited.
  • Avoid walking across interment sections except to visit these spaces. Walk with care around lawn vases, sprinkler heads and memorial tablets.
  • Please ensure that children under the age of 16 years of age have an adult present.

When driving along the cemetery grounds it is important to drive at a slow speed and watch out for both guests, decorations, and headstones. Ensure that your radio is turned down so that it is not distracting to any family members who are attending a funeral at the cemetery.

Avoid parking near or around a cemetery internment site unless you are part of the funeral procession and need to be there.


Typically, photography is prohibited at the cemetery site, but it depends on where the funeral is being held. All photography inside buildings is prohibited, except at weddings, funerals, or other private services with the consent of whoever is in charge.

Where to Search and Shop for Decorations?

Graveside Decorations | Eternally Loved

There are lots of places that you can find decorations for a cemetery gravesite. All types of craft stores, some retail stores and even the dollar store can be a good option for finding beautiful decorations.

Things to Consider

When decorating a gravesite you want to keep in mind some helpful tips. When choosing gravesite decorations, the weather is another thing to consider. Do not decorate with any items that may be damaged by wind, rain, or other weather elements. Also, you should not plan to decorate with any items that you’d like to keep. This is because the removal of some items may be necessary for maintenance or safety reasons. The best practice is to check with the cemetery to get specific guidelines and to avoid any mishaps. The cemetery can also let you know about any decoration rules around holidays and their maintenance policies. Also, keep in mind of any possible weather conditions that could occur, as well as other cemetery guests, and if any of your decorations hold sentimental value.

Planning a Memorial for a Loved One with Eternally Loved

When we love someone and they pass, we want to celebrate who they were and their life fully. Eternally Loved specializes in creating memorial events that focus on the life that was lived so you can celebrate the way you remember them. Funerals obviously tend to be somber, and you cannot imagine saying goodbye to your friends or families. Yes there will be tears, but rather than mourning the passing by having a sad, black, impersonal funeral you want to have a beautiful tribute that really highlights the life of your loved one by tailoring to their likes and personality.

We are here to help. Whether you choose a big energetic celebration or an intimate service, the options are endless. We will help you choose all the vendors and venues and memorable details. Each service is personalized to create the celebration you envision. If you or someone you know is needing to plan a memorial service or celebration of life, please reach out to Eternally Loved for more information on our services.