DE CVn is a relatively unstudied eclipsing binary where one of the components is an M dwarf and the other is a white dwarf. Its brightness makes it an ideal system for a detailed study in the context of common-envelope evolution of a detached white dwarf – red dwarf binary with a relatively short orbital period (∼8.7 hours). We present a detailed study of the basic parameters (e.g. orbital period, components' masses and spectral types) for this system from photometric and spectroscopic studies. The eclipses observed during several photometric observing runs were used to derive the ephemeris. We have used spectroscopic data to derive the radial velocity variations of the emission lines and these are used to determine the components' masses and the orbital separation. The secondary component in DE CVn is an M3 main-sequence star and the primary star, which only contributes to the blue continuum, is a cool white dwarf with a temperature of ∼8000 K. From the photometry and spectroscopy together, we have set a limit on the binary inclination. This system is a post-common-envelope system where the progenitor of the present day white dwarf was a low-mass star (M≤2M
⊙). The time before DE CVn becomes a semi-detached system is longer than the Hubble time.