Behind the Seams: Designing the Perfect Dress with David McCaffrey

For years, I have been refining my style, sharing fashion advice, answering your ‘Ask Alex’ questions. Now I’m embarking on a whole new world – designing my wedding dress.

Like most women, as soon as I got engaged, I began to think about one of the most important aspects of the wedding – the dress. I wanted my dress to reflect my personality, to fit perfectly and to make an already special day that much more memorable. The dress is a big factor in the overall cost of the wedding, but there are so many options that you don’t need to break the bank.

I began by endlessly looking at red-carpet-inspired gowns, but I soon realized that I wanted a dress that would be built on the foundation of my classic style, with glamorous detailing and a flawless fit.

Alexandra Gunn and David McCaffrey

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with designers from the Ottawa region and across the country. Supporting Canadian fashion has always been important to me and so it was without question that I wanted to work with a local designer and keep it Canadian.

There is a wide array of talent across the country and to my luck, I discovered McCaffrey Haute Couture which has been outfitting brides for 15 years with their flagship boutique here in Ottawa. The newly renovated boutique on Sussex Drive further speaks to David McCaffrey’s polished style and compliments the meticulously crafted designs on display.

As soon as I stepped in the front door of the boutique and met David, I knew that I had found the designer who was going to help me create the perfect wedding dress. We connected instantly as he was able to interpret what it was that I was looking for in a dress. Unlike the overwhelming big-box stores, David McCaffrey Haute Couture offered a personal experience focused solely on my vision and that made my initial experience extremely pleasant.

One of the many unique and beautiful designs in the collection.

The dresses at McCaffrey Haute Couture would bring a tear to even the pickiest of brides. Even from afar, the detailing of each dress truly represents the handcrafted nature of each head-turning design. David explained that each dress is precisely crafted in the Canadian Haute Couture tradition. Like a professor at one of the great fashion design colleges, David explained how each dress has components that are delicate and luxurious – silk satins, taffetas and organzas, often paired with Swarovski crystal beading and the finest French laces. The incorporation of built-in corsets completes the workmanship and finishings within the wedding dresses, making it truly couture.

Investing in the fit of the dress should be the top priority for every bride – even if the dress needs minor tailoring. The worst-case scenario is when the dress is too tight or won’t zip up. Proper tailoring or a dress which is made-to-measure is the backbone to feeling fabulous on the big day.  The focus on fit is high on my list, along with creating a dress that is one of a kind. There are only so many different shapes a bride can choose from, but the importance of detail can make the dress unique. When it comes to the details, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a distinctive look. Adding features such as an embellished belt or detailing around the neckline can really change the impact of the dress.

The team behind the dress

I hope you will follow me on my journey of designing my wedding dress with David McCaffrey. In the next issue, we will focus on the design details and explore the possibilities of personalization through accessories.

Photography by: Quame Scott

Makeup by: Noah at

Hair Styling by: Stefania Capovilla at

Wedding Dresses by McCaffrey Haute Couture at

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Follow Alex on Twitter: @AlexandraGunn