My Mom recently passed away very suddenly and I found out all too quickly just how pricey this process can be. Even with going with fairly minimal options, we spent about $11.5k - and none of us were financially prepared to shoulder that unexpected load.
Note that even if the decedent had life insurance to help defray these kinds of costs, you won't see that money for a few months.
One thing I did to save was to buy a "pre-owned" plot. There are ads in the classified all the time for burial plots and these are half or even a third of the price of a new plot and can be in much more scenic, older sections of the cemetary. These are typically plots that families bought as a grouping, but then someone moves away or such and they don't end up needing all of them.
Strange as it may sound, I also bought a discontinued, floorstock casket. It was far nicer - a pretty maple design with roses carved on the sides and a rose-themed pink lining - than the comparably-priced new models.
Think long and hard about some of the other trimmings like the marker or tombstone. Are you truly likely to revisit your loved one's gravesite often? If so, then splurging an extra $1000 on a flower vase may well be worth every penny. My family is spread far & wide across the U.S. and I'm not the "go sit at the cemetary" type, so we opted to keep things very simple.
You really do have to keep in mind the wishes or personal tastes of the person who has passed away. Again in our case, we knew from Mom that she placed little value on elaborate caskets or ornate headstones - she had always said that "any old pine box and a hole in the ground will do." She was very practical in nature, often remarking how what happens with her body after she's done with it is won't matter to her.
Though not at all a financial issue, one last thing I'd urge people to consider is organ & tissue donation. A very common thread to our Mom's life was that she always left a place better than it was when she got there. If we visited relatives, we helped clean up before we left. When we left a campsite, it was litter-free. Well, this theme carried over after she died too - even though she had not previously made arrangements for such, I felt it only fitting to allow for organ & tissue donation via a very respectful non-profit organization called Legacy of Life. Once again - and quite literally - Mom left a place better than it was when she got there. I couldn't think of a finer tribute than to know that even after she was gone, she was still helping others.