Theirs was a courtship rich with classical music and fine dining. So David and Katie Wittenberg of Arlington celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary yesterday with Mozart and barbecued chicken.

"This is so absolutely perfect," said Wittenberg, laughing as her husband took her photograph. "We thought maybe the Kennedy Center heard about our anniversary and planned this especially for us. We both especially like to listen to Mozart -- his compositions contain a certain joyful character that is very appealing on a night like this."

The night attracted hundreds to the opening of the Lincoln Center's annual Mostly Mozart Music Festival, which this year offered a preconcert picnic supper under a 500-square-foot yellow tent on the Kennedy Center's south lawn, complete with clear skies, cool breezes, checkered tablecloths and rocky road brownies.

"This is fantastic, really," said Emily Whalen of Alexandria. "We've got a picnic, a beautiful evening, beautiful music, right on the Potomac River -- what else could you ask for?"

The festival lures sellout crowds each year, but Patricia Paquette of the Kennedy Center said the picnic supper was added to make the evening complete. Nearly 500 people came to the picnic, and more than 2,000 to listen to the work of the 18th-century composer. The evening ended with hours of dancing on the center's starlit terrace.

"This seemed like the perfect thing for a summer evening," said Jay Scrivens, who drove with his wife Jackie from Annapolis. "The music, and the setting, is so sparkling, bright and refreshing."

It took David and B.J. Libe almost 90 minutes to travel from Gaithersburg to the Kennedy Center in creeping rush hour traffic, but both insisted the trip was a small price to pay. "I'd drive much farther than that to hear Mozart," David Libe said. "His music always sounds fresh and youthful."

"Besides," his wife added, "the idea of the picnic sounded intriguing, especially since we just sent the kids to their grandmother's house for the summer. If they had one of these every week, I think we'd make it.