How to Engrave Dates on a Companion Urn When Still Living

Question: How do we engrave dates on a companion urn when one or both people are still living?

Answer: There are several creative methods for companion urn inscriptions when pre-planning. Let's take a look.

Planning ahead is always a smart choice. Perhaps the two of you are getting your affairs in order for peace of mind, or maybe your beloved spouse has recently passed away and you're looking into getting a companion urn.

But now you've come to the question: How do you deal with the inscription when one or both of the people whose remains will go into the urn are still living?

This is the second of three articles in this series. For the full picture, you may want to read all three.

  1. Pre-planning an inscription for yourself or another individual
  2. Pre-planning an inscription for a companion urn for two people, when one or both people are still living (this post)
  3. Buying an urn when a loved one is dying soon

Urn Inscriptions for Someone Who Is Still Living (Part 2 of 3)

All the options discussed in this series will be variations on these ideas:

  • Skip the dates
  • Engrave birth date only
  • Engrave years only
  • Rely on another inscription for the dates (a free-standing name plate, a headstone, etc)
  • For companion urns, engrave only wedding date
  • For companion urns, engrave # of years married/together
  • Engrave the urn now, then cover it up with (or add) a name plate
  • Have the urn engraved later

Let's take a look at companion urn inscription options.

Pre-Planning an Inscription for a Companion Urn

When a husband and wife have already passed away, the inscription is fairly simple. Just have both names engraved, with their birth and death dates below each name.

But what about when one person is still living? Or what if both are still living, and you're just being smart by getting the urn taken care of ahead of time?

Let's take a look at your options.

Companion Urn Inscription When One or Both Are Living

When one or both people are still living, you can include the birth dates and then either skip or leave space for the death dates.

We don't recommend leaving a blank space; it's incredibly difficult for an engraver to come along and match the size, layout, and engraving depth of the original etching. It never looks very good.

So instead, along with engraving your names onto the urn, choose one of these options for the dates:

  • Birth dates only. This provides a more specific record of whose remains are inside the urn, as opposed to just the names. But it often feels a little odd without the death dates.
  • Wedding date only. This is a great option because it highlights the couple's relationship. You can always have another plaque etched to go below or onto the back of the urn.
  • Have another surface engraved later. You may find a local engraver willing to take the urn and engrave, say, the back side with name/dates at a later time. So in the meantime, you can adorn the front or top with anything you like - your names, special nicknames for each other, "together forever" and other sentiments, a favorite poem.
  • Add a name plate later. After the two people pass away, engrave the full names and dates on a name plate, and place it below the original engraving, on top of it (to cover it up), or on another surface of the urn.
  • Engrave names/dates elsewhere. If the urn will be buried, the couple's full names and dates will be etched onto the headstone. When the urn is going into a columbarium niche, there's normally a plate that goes on the front of the niche. And if the urn will be kept at home or by other family members, they can have a free-standing name plate made, or get an engraved photo frame or other keepsakes.
  • Write the dates on the bottom/inside of the urn. If your main concern is having the dates on the urn for posterity, consider asking your family to write, paint, or carve the full inscription on the bottom or inside of the urn. The exact method will vary depending on the material of the urn, and if the interior is accessible, but it's simple enough to find a way to get the dates on there.
  • Include a card or photo inside the urn. Because the ashes are often placed into the urn in a plastic bag, you can also put other items into the urn. Not only keepsakes but also photos with names and dates written on the back, or nice card stock with the inscriptions printed on it (get it laminated, so it lasts).

Companion Urn Engraving Examples without Death Dates

In Loving Memory
Jack & Jill Wilson
Together Again


Jack & Jill Wilson
Married August 22, 1955
Always in Love


Jack Wilson
Born January 12, 1933
Jill Wilson
Born November 29, 1934
Married Aug 22, 1955

Note that, if one person is deceased, you can include the years married:

Jack & Jill
Married 61 Wonderful Years


Jack & Jill Wilson
Married from 8/22/1955 to 10/1/2016
61 Years in Love
Until We Meet Again

Learn more from our Complete Guide to Companion Urns.

Shop Companion Urns

Browse our collection of companion urns for two people here, or check out some of our favorites below.

Together Again Wood Companion Urn

Together Again Companion Urn

The Together Again is our most popular companion urn design. You can see why!

Glass Urns

Glass Urns - Available in Companion Size

Shop our collection of stunning hand-blown glass cremation urns. These are made to order right here in Oregon. See options for companion sizes, which are larger and far more difficult to make (and thus more costly; standard sized pricing is what you'll see initially).

The glass urns cannot have an engraving or inscription; however, they are ideal for using a name plate or one of the alternative inscription ideas mentioned above.

Lovebirds Walnut Wood Urn with Maple Inlay

Lovebirds Urn for Two

This gorgeous Lovebirds Companion Urn is made in the USA from solid walnut wood with maple inlay for the lovebirds. The top of the urn presents the perfect surface for an engraved inscription.

Granite & Marble Companion Urns

Stone Urns - Ideal for Inscription

Our Stone Urn Collection features many color options, all of which are ideal for an engraved inscription. Select options to find the companion size.

See All Companion Urns Here