How To Choose The Perfect Cremation Urn

Author Frances Kay / Category: Cremation Urns / Last Updated March 11, 2024

Reviewed Alexandra M. Adelyn. Read time: 20 minutes

Our Background On Cremation Urns

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)2023 Burial Report, cremation has risen to 60.5% and is projected to continue to increase in the upcoming years1. Considerations such as cost-effectiveness and convenience and environment concerns play a significant role in that incredase according to the report. Therefore, finding a proper resting place for the ashes of a loved one is an important family decision at the time of loss.

Everlasting Memories has been a part of the funeral industry for over 20 years. We offer thousands of urns in a variety of different materials, themes, sizes and works of art. We have created a guide help families to select the right size memorial urn that will best serve their needs.

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Step One: Is The Urn For An Individual, Couple Or Child?

The first step in choosing a cremation urn for your loved one is to determine who are you choosing the urn for - an individual, a couple or a child? This will narrow down your choices and give you a direct starting point for finding an urn that fits your situation. This leads us to step 2.

Step Two: What Size Urn Do I Need?

Cremation urn capacity is measured in what is called cubic inches. A cubic inch is 1" wide by 1" long by 1" deep4. The rule of thumb is one lb of body weight is equal to 1 cubic inch of cremated ashes. Some typical volumes of cremation urns are as follows:

Individual cremation urns typically hold from 150 - 250 cubic inches of cremated ashes (for a person who weighed between 150 - 250 lbs). Individual urns are available in a wide variety of colors, materials, themes and styles.

Editors Tip - Body Weight and Urn Size

While the body weight of the deceased is important, most individual urns will fit the cremated remains of an average size person. Individual urns typically hold approximately 200 cubic inches of cremated remains. If the deceased is of average height and average weight/build, you can feel confident that most individual urns will more than suffice to hold the ashes.

Individual Cremation Urns

The Summer Sky Stone individual urn is a popular choice for memorializing the remembrance of an adult.

Companion cremation urns typically hold from 300 - 500 cubic inches of cremated ashes (for a combined total of 300 - 500 lbs of body weight.)

A companion sized urn is generally large enough to hold the cremated ashes of two people. Often, companion urns must be reopened in the future to add the cremated remains of the second person. As the example shows, companion urns will generally have a space for two engraving inscriptionss.

Companion Cremation Urns

The Best Friends companion urn is cast in bronze and mounted on a 2" thick wood base. The urn is created useing the lost wax bronze casting method.

Child cremation urns generally hold 10 - 100 cubic inches of ashes (for a child or infant weighing between 10 - 100 lbs).

Child and infant urns are smaller versions of adult urns. Some designs are only made in child/infant sizes, but most are just scaled-down versions of the adult size. One tip that may help broaden your search for a child size urn is to look at keepsake urns in addition to child size. Keepsake urns are generally around 1 to 15 cubic inches in size. They are made to divide the ashes amongst family members for sharing the cremains. Their size makes them ideal for infant urns and are generally more affordable than larger ones.

Child / Infant Cremation Urns

The Purple Flowers urn is available in both an Adult/Individual and a Keepsake size. The Keepsake is 15 cubic inches in size, making it a great choice for an infant urn.

I remember when my uncle passed away from cancer and my aunt was making his arrangements. At his prime, my uncle was a 'big guy' and my aunt was thinking she was going to need an XL wood urn to hold his ashes. However at the time of his death, sickness had had a considerable impact on his weight and his ashes fit just fine in a standard sized individual urn.

Step Three: Where Are You Going To Display/Place The Urn?

Where to display a cremation urn varies from family to family and is an important step in the cremation urn choosing process. Some families display the urn in a gathering area, such as a family room, while others may prefer a more private display, such as a home office.

Displaying your cremation urn on the fireplace mantel is one of the most common scenarios we see with our clients. Just make sure the urn is positioned in a way that the heat from the fireplace is not causing the surface of the urn to get too hot.

Some cremation urns are very decorative and are crafted with the intent to integrate into a home's decor - think like a work of art. Additionally, urns that include a photo of the deceased are a nice option to place in a room where family gets together.

Both of my dads were cremated and where there ashes are is very different. My stepdad's ashes are in an urn in the bedroom with my mom while my stepmom has my dad's ashes in a photo urn on display on the mantle.

An understated urn might be more appropriate to place the deceased's ashes in a niche or elsewhere where they would not be on display. In this case, a classic and simple metal urn or a wood urn would fit either situation.

Cultured marble urns are an option if you are considering burying the cremation urn. Eco-friendly or 'green' cremation urns are another alternative if you are burying the urn and the urns will break down over time.

My grandfather passed before my grandmother and she chose a companion wood urn for his ashes. She used to make a joke about having to move him every time she would go to make the bed. When she passed, my mom mixed her ashes with my grandfather's ashes and she has the urn next to the bed - just like my grandmother. She did also purchase a small metal urn to place in the niche out at the cemetery. Having them at the cemetery is nice because it does give us somewhere to go and 'visit' them.

Step Four: What Urn Material Do You Want Your Urn Made Of?

Urn material is a matter of preference; however it is worth considering when you are looking to purchase a cremation urn. Some materials are a better choice than others depending on where the urn will be displayed or placed.

Ceramic/Glass:  Ceramic and glass urns are ideal for indoor display, and often, you will find they are hand-painted, cut crystal and more decorative. These urns are a good option for a mantle or common area however should be put out of reach where young children or pets can knock them over.

Wood: Wood urns are an ideal option for almost every situation except the outdoors. Natural wood adds warmth to a room and easily integrates into every decor. Wood cremation urns can also be easily personalized in a variety of ways.

Metal:  Brass, bronze and stainless steel urns are affordable and available in several styles and shapes. Typically, engraving can be done right onto the surface of the urn to personalize.  

Interesting - History of Cremation Urns

The use of cremation urns for holding ashes dates back to 7000 BC where evidence of pottery urns was found near a Jihau site in China5. The discovery indicated that cremation urns were on occasion used for adults, they were primarily used for children.

Step Five: What Is Your Budget?

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

UNDER $150

Budget friendly urns under $150 are typically wood urns that are very simple and understated. These urns are often individual style urns and are an affordable option for family's on a small budget.

You will typically find contemporary or simple styles of urns in this category.

UNDER $250

There is quite a bit of variety of urns that are in the $250 range and under. The urns are available in different materials such as wood, ceramic, metal and marble. This is also a great opportunity for family's looking in this price range to choose a budget-friendly urn and add personalization in the form of an engraved plate or easel that will still come in under budget.

UNDER $500

Most individual urns cost less than $500 and this provides families with a wide variety of options and selections. This is also allows families to share the ashes with multiple family members and offer them the opportunity to find something for everyone and stay within their budgetary constraints.

UNDER $1000

This budget suits families looking for specialty cremation urns in exotic woods or that are very decorative. Hardwood urns, art deco cremation urns, cremation jewelry and memorial packages can be found at this price range.

OVER $1000

Families looking for companion urns that are works of art such as the Dance Of Life Companion Urn by artist Stephen Canneto, expect to pay for the best of the best. Often times urns at this price point are meant to be displayed as a focal piece of art in the form and are typically one-of-a-kind works by the artist.

Stephen Canneto's Dance of Life Urns

Everlasting Memories is the sole distributor of artist Stephen Canneto's Dance of Life urns. Dance of Life Urns are truly a piece of art developed by artist Stephen Canneto years ago. Mr. Canneto's line of cremtion urns are designed and made in the USA.In addition to cremation urns, Mr. Canneto is an accomplished artist with various works on display in public areas in the United States. Find out more about his portfolio of art here.

Step Six: Do You Want To Personalize The Urn?

Given the highly personal nature of a cremation urn storing the ashes of an individual, families may want to personalize the urn on the exterior to reflect some aspect of their loved one. There are several different options when it comes to personalizing a cremation urn. 


Some cremation urns do allow for text engraving directly onto the face of the urn. Families can add a name, a Bible verse or even a short poem. Families can also do a search online for some of the more commonly used phrases or epitaphs for cremation urn engraving3.


Adding a photo of the deceased on the exterior of the cremation urn is another way to personalize. Not only will the cremation urn serve as a physical reminder of your loved one but also having the photo will serve as a visual reminder of the deceased.


Families can personalize their selection by choosing an engraved plate that will adhere to any flat surface on the urn as a way to personalize their selection. Engraved plates are typically available in a wide assortment of finishes and sizes and most will hold several lines of text.


An engraved easel is an option for those that are looking for a way to personalize an urn without disrupting the exterior aesthetic of the urn. Engraved easels are designed to be displayed next to the urn, can be engraved with several lines of text and are available in different metals and finishes.

Choosing A Cremation Urn FAQs

Choosing a cremation urn is not an everyday purchase; families often 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 them 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. 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’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 to 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.

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.

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?

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.

How are the ashes delivered from the funeral home?

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.


When it comes to choosing the perfect cremation urn, it's important to approach this task with careful thought and consideration. You'll want to keep in mind factors such as the weight of the deceased, whether or not you'll be sharing the ashes, and where the urn will be displayed.  We understand this can be a difficult process and we're here to help. If you need assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at or by calling 1-877-723-4242. We are always available and ready to guide you through this process with care and compassion.

Works Cited:

1. "U.S. Cremation Rates Expected to Top 80% by 2045" National Funeral Directors Association, 01 Sep 2023,

2. "How To Place Cremains Into A Cremation Urn" Andrew Loos, Heartland Cremation & Burial Society, 10 Mar 2015,

3. "50 Cremation Urn Quotes" Denise Gib, Eulogy For Life, 01 Apr2020,

4. "Cubic Inches",

5. "Urns: Their History and Collectibility" Judy Weaver Gonyeau, Journal of Antiques & Collectibles,

Author Highlight

Frances Kay is an outstanding writer and industry expert with over 30 years of experience. She is based in Massachusetts, where she began her journey as a wordsmith, recognized for her writing skills since a young age. By the age of 10, Frances was already a published author, and since then, she has honed her craft, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to excellence in her literary endeavors.

Frances Kay is a distinguished authority in the cremation industry with almost two decades of experience. Her contributions to the industry are unparalleled, with over 50 guides and articles that enlighten and inform. She has lent her expertise to numerous blogs, sharing poignant narratives that reflect her personal experiences with life and loss, resonating deeply with her audience.

Frances Kay's influence in the realm of cremation urns is varied and extensive. Her collaboration with cremation urn distributors and urn crafters underscores her commitment to innovation and excellence. From research and design to manufacturing and marketing, Frances has played a pivotal role in bringing forth groundbreaking cremation urns and cremation related products. These products serve as tangible memorials and offer solace to grieving families, blending personalization with affordability in a seamless union.

Frances Kay is a professional and devoted wife and mother. She cherishes her time with family, finding solace and joy in their presence. In her leisure time, she finds respite in the gym, nurturing her physical well-being and indulging in the therapeutic act of gardening. Her love for animals is evident in the time she dedicates to her beloved dogs, enriching her life with their companionship.

Through her enduring commitment to creativity and expression, Frances Kay continues to weave narratives that resonate with readers worldwide. Her writing serves as a beacon of comfort and understanding, offering solace to those navigating the complexities of life and loss. Frances endeavors to impart wisdom and empathy with each word penned, fostering connections that transcend boundaries and inspire hope.