The unveiling is the formal dedication of the headstone. Religiously, an unveiling can take place anytime 30 days after the funeral, which is also referred to as the “Shloshim.” Traditionally, many people wait 11 months to one year past the funeral as it marks the end of the formal mourning period. It usually takes about 8-12 weeks to prepare a memorial so make sure to leave ample time to purchase the monument, and schedule your unveiling accordingly. If you need to have your memorial made sooner, monument companies can usually make the necessary arrangements to have it completed in time, but it is always safer to leave at least 3 months before the unveiling date.
Most people schedule unveilings on Sundays mainly for convenience purposes. When you arrive at the cemetery for your unveiling, your memorial will be installed and securely veiled. The cemetery will be notified plenty of time in advance by the monument company as well. Therefore, it is important that you notify your monument provider as soon as you set the date and the time for your unveiling. If you are having a rabbi at your unveiling, you will want to make sure to confirm the date and time with him/her as well.
You can have a rabbi conduct your unveiling service or you may lead the service without one. Some families feel more comfortable having a rabbi present, while others find the service more personal when conducted amongst family and friends. There is no right or wrong, so do what you are most comfortable with.
If a rabbi is present, he/she will lead the services and you won’t have to worry about figuring out necessary prayers etc. If not, it is advised to pick up a copy of the unveiling service, so that you have some guidance as to how to proceed. Fram Monument Company offers a downloadable and printable copy on their website, which can be found here: frammonument.com/docs/unveiling.pdf. Again, there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to go about it. What is important is for you and your family to feel that you are marking the grave, and honoring the deceased. Don’t forget to pull the veil off of the stone while you are there.