How To Choose The Right Size Urn For Your Loved One

A Guide To Help Families Select A Perfect Urn For Your Loved One

Losing a loved one forces families into making decisions that they may not be prepared to make.  Choosing a cremation urn as a final resting place for the ashes of a loved one can be overwhelming and families may struggle with knowing where to start.

Our guide on how to select the right size memorial urn was created to assist families in selecting which urn will best serve their needs.  Here we will go over the definition of a cremation ash urn and explain what families can expect from the funeral home with regards to receiving the ashes of their loved one.  We also have a 5-step guide to choosing the correct size urn that will help families efficiently narrow down their choices.

What Is A Cremation Urn?

A cremation urn is a vessel that is specially designed to hold the cremated remains of the person who has passed.  The urns are made from a variety of materials, such as wood, marble, metal, and are available in an assortment of sizes ranging from keepsake urns up to couples urns.

Cremation urns can be filled from the top or the bottom.  The top of the urn may have a lid that unscrews and exposes the interior compartment where the ashes are placed.  Or the urn may have a plate on the bottom that is attached with small screws strategically placed to create a tight seal.

Most cremation urns offer a degree of personalization either directly on the surface of the urn or in the form of engraved plates and easels.  You will also find crematory urns that can be personalized with laser-engraved images of the deceased along with custom full-color backgrounds.

How Does The Funeral Home Deliver My Ashes?

Most cremation ashes are placed in a polyethylene bag and are given to the family in a container that is meant to be a temporary resting place.  The container may be a cardboard or wooden box that will provide families with a discreet way of transporting the ashes home until a permanent memorial urn is selected.

Once a cremation urn has been selected, the family can transfer the ashes from the temporary box or container to the permanent resting place.  The cremated remains may then be placed in the cremation urn in the polyethylene bag or the ashes may be removed from the bag and carefully poured into the selected cremation urn.

A Five Step Guide To Choosing The Correct Size Urn

We’ve created a  step-by-step guide to assist families in choosing the correct size cremation urn for the ashes of their loved one.

1. How much did your loved one weigh?

The weight of the deceased is a good starting point, because different types of urns hold varying amounts of ashes.  Knowing the body weight of the individual that has passed will help you narrow down your selection quickly.

One pound of body weight is equal to one cubic inch of cremated ashes.  As an example, a 210-pound individual will require a cremation urn that has a minimum volume of 210 cubic inches.  Some typical volumes of cremation urns are as follows:

It’s important to note that every urn’s internal volume varies.  But these numbers provide a good guide as to what category of cremation urns families can start their selection process from.

2. Are you going to be sharing the ashes with family/friends?

If you will be sharing the ashes with siblings, children, parents, friends, or other family members this is going to decrease the volume needed for the cremation urn.  If you are sharing with a significant number of people, factor in a decreased volume of 10-20 cubic inches for the cremation urn.  If you will only be sharing a small amount of cremated ashes with one or two others, there will most likely not be a significant decrease in the volume of ashes.

3. Will you be adding ashes to the urn in the future?

There are circumstances where families may consider purchasing a significantly larger cremation urn than what is initially needed.

A surviving spouse may elect to choose a companion urn so that in the event of their passing, their ashes can be placed with that of their loved one.  The passing of a child can lead parents to choosing a larger cremation urn so that their ashes can be placed with their child.

And a memorial urn is not always for cremated ashes.  Families may choose to add in small mementos or remembrances with the ashes of their loved one; a picture that holds special meaning, a watch, a wedding band, a favorite hat or novel that they cherished.

In these instances, select a cremation urn that will hold more than what is needed so that the urn can accommodate the addition of the remembrances.

4. Where are you going to display the urn?

Where to display a cremation urn is a personal decision and every family is different.  Some families may choose to have the cremation urn on display in a gathering area, like the family room, or on a shelf in the kitchen.  Others may opt for a more private display, such as in the bedroom or home office.

Memorial urn display can have an impact on the size of urn that you choose.

Some cremation urns are very decorative and create a beautiful and warm addition to a home’s décor. They are fashioned to be displayed as a work of art.  There are cremation urns that capture the personality of a loved one such as a ceramic urn with flowers to honor the mom who loved gardening.

Sculpture urns, such as the Dance of Life memorial urn, will not only hold the ashes of an individual but it will also provide an artistic accent to the home.

For those looking for an urn to display in their bedroom or a more private display, there are limitless options.

Simple individual wood urns can be personalized with an engraved plate or easel and will easily fit on a dresser or in a niche on a bookshelf in the office.

Metal vase-style urns, such as the Brass Rose Cremation Urn, provide a soft and comforting way to have a visual reminder of a loved one in the bedroom or formal living room.

And there are cremation urns that make for a beautiful display anywhere within the home.

3D Artisan Portrait Urns are available with 30 full-color plates that are further enhanced with an image of your loved one.  The 3D Artisan Portrait Urns are fully customizable with custom backgrounds, custom text, and even custom sizing for families in need of a bigger or smaller urn.

And each 3D Artisan Portrait cremation urn is further personalized with an engraved image of your loved one!

5. What is your budget?

Budget will play a role in helping families choose a cremation urn.  Urns will range in price based off of their size, their material, their decorative accents, and their personalization options.

For those who have a small budget, a simple individual wood urn is a great option.  Priced at under $200, the urns have several different customization options including full-color photo-engraved plates, photo-engraved brass plates, and small plates that can be engraved and adhered to the face of the urn.

Families that have a moderate budget may consider more decorative urns, such as the To The Moon cremation urn.  The individual urn is priced under $500 and features a sphere-shaped urn made of brass. The sphere is cobalt blue and decorated with a moon and stars and holds 305 cubic inches of cremated ashes.

For individuals or families that don’t really have a budget, artistic urns like the Purple Individual Flowers memorial urn is a gorgeous option.  This urn is made of lead crystal and has hand-cut frosted flower accents.  The Purple Flowers individual urn holds 200 cubic inches of cremated ashes and is priced under $1,000.

Going through these 5 steps can help families choose the correct size urn for the ashes of their loved one and assist them in choosing an urn that best suits their family’s needs.

Choosing The Correct Urn FAQ'S

Choosing a cremation urn is not an everyday purchase and oftentimes, families are going to have questions.  Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about choosing the correct size urn.

My loved one weighed 205 lbs and the urn I want says it only holds 200 cubic inches. What do I do?

There are a couple of different options when the weight is slightly over what the cremation urn holds.  You can choose an urn that has a larger capacity.  You can choose an urn that holds 200 cubic inches and then choose a small keepsake urn.  This allows you to put the excess ashes into the keepsake urn and perhaps place that urn in a bedroom, office, or share the ashes with a family member or close friend.  You can save a portion of the ashes to scatter in a particular location or to place in cremation jewelry and give as gifts.

I want to choose a cremation urn that will hold my spouse’s ashes as well as my own. What are my options?

Companion cremation urns are a great option, and they typically hold anywhere from 400 cubic inches of cremated ashes up to 550 cubic inches.  Additionally, we can custom make a cremation urn that will hold the ashes of two people.  Simply email us at or give us a call at 1-877-723-4242 with your custom urn questions and we will be happy to find a solution for you.

Can you place the ashes in the urn for me?

Unfortunately, that is not a service that we offer.  Most funeral homes, however, offer this service and can place the ashes in the cremation urn of the deceased free of charge.  We also have a step-by-step guide that is easy to follow and shows you how to add the ashes into the cremation urn.

Do I have to buy the cremation urn from the funeral home?

No, you do not.  Funeral homes have a selection of urns for you to choose from, but you are under no obligation to buy a cremation urn from them.  Our selection of cremation urns includes several different styles that can be customized to reflect the life and passions of your loved one and most ship the same day.  We offer standard shipping and expedited shipping should you need your selected cremation urn right away.

I am so overwhelmed with all of the available cremation urns. What do I do?

Give us a call at 1-877-723-4242 and we will be happy to help you narrow down your options and point you in the right direction.  We will take as much time as you need to answer all of your questions and give you suggestions that best fit what you’re looking for.

I love the 3D Artisan Portrait Urns but they are too small. Can I order a larger one?

Our 3D Artisan Portrait Urns can absolutely be special ordered in a size that is bigger or smaller!  Additionally, we offer custom backgrounds and can completely personalize the photo-engraved plate to reflect your loved one in a way that brings you comfort.  Send us an email at or give us a call at 1-877-723-4242 and we will be happy to discuss your options.

My loved one was buried, but I still want a cremation urn to put some of their personal effects in; their watch, a favorite baseball cap, some letters. Is that okay?

Absolutely!  A cremation urn not only serves as a resting place for the ashes of a loved one, it can also serve as a personal visual reminder of someone you cherished.  Letters, photographs, and other personal mementos are fine to place inside a cremation urn if that’s what you want to do.

I’d like to buy an urn as well as a couple of cremation pendants. Can you offer me a discount?

You bet we can!  We love passing on savings to our customers and you can use one of our official coupons at checkout to apply those savings directly to your order.  You can also give us a call and we can take your order right over the phone and apply the coupon for you.  Call us at 1-877-723-4242 and let us know how we can help you save!

The urn I want doesn’t offer any personalization. What can I do?

We have a beautiful selection of engraved plates and easels that will accommodate every urn.  Our engraved plates are available in three different sizes and will adhere directly onto the flat surface of any urn.  If your selected cremation urn is round, we have a complete selection of engraved easels that can be displayed next to the cremation urn.  The engraved easel can hold up to three lines of text and makes for a beautiful way to enhance the personal nature of your selection.

Do you have military specific cremation urns?

We have a beautiful selection of military and veterans urns.  The urns are available in individual size and will hold anywhere from 180 cubic inches of cremated ashes up to 250 cubic inches of cremains. Some like the American Flag and Eagle Cremation Urn include a decorative plate and the engraving on the plate is included in the price. Others such as the Americana Individual Urn have a red, white and blue motif and make for a beautiful display in the home.

My chocolate lab weighed 65 lbs and passed away.  Do I have to use a pet urn or can I pick something else?

We have a wonderful selection of Cremation Urns for Pet Ashes that were designed to hold the ashes of your pet and make for a lovely visual display in the home. Additionally, you can choose an individual urn or, in some cases, a child urn such as the Small Peony Blue Urn can be used as an urn for your pet. Choose the urn that speaks to your heart and brings you some comfort.

Do I have to use a specific urn to fly with my loved one's ashes?

No, you do not have to choose a specific type of urn for travel. All airlines will accommodate passengers traveling with the ashes of their loved one. Inform agents when going through security that you are traveling with a cremation urn and they will follow airport procedure. To learn more read our TSA Guidelines For Traveling With Ashes.

I want an urn that I can bury.  Will any urn work?

If you are going to bury the cremation urn with ashes we suggest that you select a biodegradable cremation urn.  These urns are specifically designed to break down in a way that is eco-friendly and that will not harm the environment in any way. Eco-friendly cremation urns are available in scattering sizes up to companion urn size.

My children want some of their mom's ashes but I'm not ready to part with them.  Do I have other options?

The choice of sharing the ashes is very personal and it is an individual decision. Personal mementos such as memorial coins and personalized magnets provide a wonderful way to share in the memory of your loved one yet without parting with the cremated ashes. Photo engraved jewelry or fingerprint jewelry also allows loved ones to share in memorializing someone they cherished in a way that is personal yet that does not require you to share the cremated remains.

I am overwhelmed with filling the urn with the ashes.  Can you help me?

We absolutely can! Cremation urns open from the top or from the bottom. If your urn is top opening such as with a vase style urn, the top typically unscrews to expose the interior compartment. If your urn is bottom opening, the bottom will have a plate that is attached with screws. Once you have located the opening of your urn, place the polyethylene bag of ashes into urn. Replace the top or the plate that protects the ashes inside the urn.

You can also read our step-by-step guide to placing the ashes in a cremation urn to learn more.

I want to keep the ashes in my bedroom but would like a small urn for display in the family room.  Do you have small display urns?

Using a small keepsake display urn is a great way to have a visual reminder of a loved one in a room that the family frequents. Keepsake urns hold a very small amount of ashes and can be placed on an end table or mantle and are a beautiful addition to the decor. Consider keepsake urns such as the Purple Flowers Keepsake Urn or the Acorn Keepsake Urn and choose an engraved easel to display next to the urn.

What are the best urns for scattering the ashes?

Scattering urns provide an easy and safe way to scatter the ashes of your loved one in different locations. The urns are tube shaped and some may have decorative accents such as the Honor Scattering Tube.  Scattering urns may hold a very small amount of ashes or can be designed to hold up to 200 cubic inches of ashes.

Other Ways To Memorialize With Cremated Ashes

There are other personal ways in which families can memorialize their loved one in addition to choosing the correct cremation urn for ashes. These alternatives ways to utilize the cremated ashes not only can be instrumental in helping families through the grieving process but allow them to share in memorializing with close friends and family.

Ashes Into Jewelry

Ashes into jewelry provides families with a beautiful and personal way in which they can have a remembrance of their loved one with them all the time.

The heirloom quality pendants are made from .925 sterling silver and the jewelry has a glass-like resin that is blended with a small amount of cremated ashes. Ashes into jewelry can be completely customized with virtually any color and personalized text on the back.

Choose ashes into jewelry as a touching and personal way to display your love in a way that is not only completely customizable but also completely unique to the deceased.

Scattering Ashes

Scattering the ashes of a loved one creates a way to have memories of your loved one in several places that hold special meaning. Sprinkle some ashes at a favorite vacation spot where you went as a family as a way to bring your loved one with you and keep their memory as a part of the family gathering.

Choose a hiking path or a favorite beach where they loved to connect with nature and scatter some of the ashes there as a way to pay homage to a passion that was a part of them. This allows families to continue to feel that connection to the memory of their loved one in a manner that was important to the deceased.

Perhaps the deceased loved to travel and see different parts of the world. A small amount of cremated ashes can be brought along on travels and discreetly scattered in places that were their favorite or that they had hoped some day to travel to.

Keepsake Urns

Keepsake urns provide families with a way to share a small amount of ashes with children, siblings and close friends and family.

Available in a wide variety of colors, themes and materials, keepsake cremation urns hold a very small amount of cremated remains. This allows the family to share in the remembrance while still holding onto the majority of the ashes.

Most keepsake urns can be personalized with an engraved plate or engraved easel.  Beautifully designed and crafted, keepsake urns are a touching way to have a visual reminder of someone you cherished and share that memory with others.

Choosing the correct cremation urn should be done with careful thought and consideration.  Remember to factor in the weight of the deceased, whether you are sharing or not sharing the ashes, and where the urn will be displayed when narrowing down your options.  We are always available to assist and can be reached at or by calling 1-877-723-4242.

Need more information? Let us help! Our selection of cremation urns includes several different types and styles and is a great place to start when looking for a cremation urn for your loved one.  Learn more about the different types of cremation urns and what makes each one unique.

Updated September 12, 2019 by Frances Kay.